Kissma stands out immediately as a very Japanese game. At first you’re barraged by pinks, yellows, retro pixel-art, and sounds that for some reason remind me of the Japanese band Polysics. A moment later (if you’re anything like me) you’re scratching your head asking yourself what’s real and what’s not.
The menus allow you to really look into the world of Kissma. There’s no doubt that there’s a color theme to the game; everything is in bright pink and yellow. There’s also no doubt that the developers are insane (in a good way!) by Western standards; they offer a number of downloads for the game – including a PDF mask you can print out (and presumably either cut out and kiss or attach to your face and kiss others). It’s cute, but slightly disconcerting at the same time. It’s difficult to tell whether or not this is satire or not, but it’s obvious that a miniature culture for this game has been provided rather than allowed to spring up on its own.
And then there’s the game itself. Oh, lord. If you couldn’t guess from the title, the obsession with lips might have given a clue – the game is about kissing. And that’s it. According to the “KISSMA INFO” page in the menu, you take the role of “Kissko”, who is a “Bar’s Mama”. You control her movement with the mouse and control her kissing action with a click of the mouse. Various different kissable characters fly around the screen; both they and Kissko happen to be disembodied heads. It’s a bit eerie – until you realize the absolute absurdity of the situation and allow yourself to just sink in. Each game lasts for 60 seconds, and the goal is to score as many points as possible by kissing everything and anything in sight.
While the kissing can be a bit inaccurate, the power-ups make up for it. At 50 seconds and 25 seconds, a bottle floats onto the screen. If Kissko is moved to it, she begins to drink from the bottle, turning her into a random super…something. She can become a ninja, an aerobics instructor straight out of the 80’s, a slot machine (isn’t that supposed to come after kissing?), a crazy bazooka-wielder, a spider, etc etc. Some of these forms allow you to score points more easily than others, making luck an important factor. You can also destroy all enemies on the screen (after a short delay) by pressing the “k” key; this can be done once a game.
Each character flying toward the left side of the screen (Kissko faces the right) happens to have a different movement pattern based off its sprite; for instance, ninjas appear halfway across the screen while ghosts can teleport vertically on the screen. After being kissed, a trail of lipstick remains on the other character and points are scored (100 for the first kiss, 200 for the second, and 300 for the third); after the third kiss the character will fall off the bottom of the screen. It’s not quite “death by kissing”, but it’s close. Bliss, perhaps?
The most interesting part of this game is how terribly addicting it is. Because rounds are so short and there’s a large luck factor, it’s easy to keep clicking “REKISS” and try again. It’s also quite easy to lose track of the time while playing. The inclusion of a high score listing on the title screen is also enticing – I was at one point consistently 10000 points away from the top 30, and I needed to keep trying. The worst part is knowing which power-ups are best – because you’re able to convince yourself that if you just get the right combination you’ll have a new personal record…
Unfortunately, the game also has some downsides. The quirky controls actually add to the game, but the sound effects don’t. They get very repetitive, and I was nearly sick of them even before I played my first round. To be fair, though, the visual action on the screen takes your focus away from the sound effects – and they certain evoke the right kind of mood (a goofy one!). I still can’t help but be irritated by them when I hear them in the menu, though – just a personal gripe.
By the way, did I mention this game is addicting? Depending on who you are, this could be a good thing or a bad thing – but I need to shut it down for now.
Meanwhile, I have a terrifying mask PDF staring longingly up at me from the OSX dock. I’m not sure how to feel about that.