KISS: Psycho Circus - The Nightmare Child

Moby ID: 2419
Windows Specs
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Description official descriptions

Wicked Jester, a band of four, are headed for a Friday night gig at The Coventry, a rundown dive outside of town. They arrive only to find the parking lot deserted, the club seemingly dead. The band's members: Pablo Ramirez, Andy Chang, Gabriel Gordo and Patrick Scott, stepping from their van, are startled by a voice from the shadows. She offers them four tickets to a circus -- tonight's the grand finale! Having nothing better to do, the four accept and the nightmare begins.

Based on characters from comic book author Todd McFarlane, KISS Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child brings the horror and carnage of the Psycho Circus to the PC in a shooter format. There are two-dozen creatures to battle with and three classes of weapons to use, each with four specific types: melee (beast claws, thornblade, twister and punisher), common (zero cannon, magma cannon, windblade and scourge) and ultimate (stargaze, galaxion, spirit lance and draco). In addition to the weaponry, temporary power-ups and instant items such as health, attack and defense powers are available.

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Credits (Windows version)

63 People (55 developers, 8 thanks) · View all

Lead Designer
Lead Programmer
Audio Designer
Level Designers
Project Manager
Opening Cinematic
  • Dark Orb Digital
Voice of Madame Raven
Uses Miles Sound System by
  • RAD Game Tools Inc.
Uses Smacker Video Technology by
  • RAD Game Tools Inc.
International Partnering
[ full credits ]



Average score: 69% (based on 42 ratings)


Average score: 3.0 out of 5 (based on 43 ratings with 3 reviews)

KISS Fans this is an FPS for you!

The Good
Being a long time KISS fan I was waiting for this game. More so if you are a fan of the comic books. The occasional KISS song thrown in makes for a nice touch. Some of the weapons are awesome. And the creepy levels add to the game feeling.

The Bad
The controls are bad. And in some places there is too much jumping which results in too much falling. You finish the characters one at a time. Almost starting over level wise each time. Except there are some insanely hard mini-bosses everywhere. I stopped playing about 3/4ths of the way through the second character.

The Bottom Line
KISS meets Doom or probably more closer to Unreal. It is a first person shooter with landscape puzzles to solve. I would recommend this to any KISS fan but others might not enjoy it as much.

Dreamcast · by gametrader (208) · 2006

Better than I thought...

The Good
Let me begin this review with full disclosure: I picked the collector's edition up new for $1.99, so I didn't have any big financial investment in the game.

That having been said, I've been having a blast with this game. It's the first game I've played in a while that I've actually missed when I wasn't playing it. It's managed to kick Deus Ex and Arabian Nights to the side to become the main game I'm playing.

Don't get me wrong, this game is NOT better than Deus Ex. But it's a nice, simple shoot-'em-up that you don't have to invest a lot of time or brain power in.

The game installs flawlessly and runs smooth.

Psycho Circus is all about running around creepy environments mowing down freakish bad guys with outlandish weaponry.

The AI in this game is non-existent, but it manages to throw tons of enemies at you without noticeable slowdown. Also, there are monster generators like those in Gauntlet or Get Medieval. These puppies spit out an endless stream of baddies until you blow them up.

The graphics aren't mind boggling, but they never look poor. This was one of the first games (THE first I believe) to use the LithTech 2.0 engine. When it was new, the graphics were probably great.

Enemy design can be a bit repulsive (GasBags) and downright creepy (ArachniClown) but they always look great. Little details like the overflowing razor teeth of the hellhounds (Stump), the blood-spattered claws of the Headless and the sewn-shut eyes and sphincter like mouth of the GasBags make these things memorable.

The weapons themselves are cool looking and fit right in with the KISS 'look'. I personally like the 'shot gun'. A hulking rusted out piece of piping with chains running down the side and wicked looking spikes. Sure, it makes no sense, but it's wicked looking.

Sounds work. They aren't the best I've ever heard, but they aren't bad either. The gypsy narrator sounds decent. The characters themselves are sort of canned. Luckily they don't speak often.

I liked the in-game music, but see below for the rest of this story...

The Bad
Psycho Circus does have its' share of problems, though to me, none of them are major.

One, is that this game really does have a story to it. Not a great one but a story none the less. Sadly, you only know this if you read the story in the booklet. The game itself gives a confusing introduction that establishes mood but explains nothing.

Speaking of the game booklet, it doesn't explain ANYTHING. You grab pieces of armor through the game that give you different enhancements. The only way to see what these enhancements are is to play the game and try to notice what's changed.

Also, there are items in the game ala Duke Nukem, Blood or Soldier Of Fortune. Again, the manual tells you nothing about them. I still don't know what the black crystals do.

There are pamphlet pages you pick up through the game that add a page to a book you carry. This is supposed to take the place of information in the booklet and explain what things are for. This wouldn't be such a bad idea, as you'd get to learn what these mysterious objects are for as your character does. But the pamphlets are few and far between and they're so scattered they can be easy to miss. Also, the game doesn't seem to remember that you've picked pages up. Though I have so far picked up ten, for instance, my book might only have eight listings. Those will disappear from your pamphlet as you move on.

Another thing is that there's very little KISS music in the game. I'm not a KISS fan and I liked the in game music well enough, but it is funny that a game based on the lore of an over-the-top heavy metal band has so little of that band's music. (One cool touch though, is that you can turn on jukeboxes or radios throughout the game and KISS will play you a song.)

One last critique and for me it's the worst one. The game has a habit of spawning bad guys behind you. I don't mind the monster generators I mentioned above (in fact, in a game like this I kind of like them), but I've noticed that when you approach one of these, there will suddenly be bad guys attacking you from behind, even though there was nothing there a second ago. So you wind up swamped in the bad guys from the generator, think you're doing okay only to be killed from behind. (Also, the bad guys that show up from behind tend to be more powerful than the bad guys the generator makes.)

The Bottom Line
Overall, this is a rock solid game that was maybe a little ahead of its' time. It wasn't trying to change the face of PC gaming, just deliver a good, old school shoot-'em-up. Thing is, the story shooter (Half-Life, Deus Ex and Thief 2) was the hot property of the moment and people weren't ready for nostalgia.

A year later Serious Sam came along doing the same thing to much acclaim.

Though they are similar, I liked Psycho Circus more.

Windows · by Atomic Punch! (186) · 2003

Great idea, mediocre execution

The Good
Rock and roll superheroes? Sure! The four members of Kiss, fighting their way through corrupted amusement parks and deserted gothic landscapes, hacking apart oceans of hideous horrors seen only in hallucinations and on heavy metal album covers? Great! And, oh, the monsters... mutant clowns... horrible crustacean Headless... horrors that would have given Lovecraft nightmares, and beautifully rendered!

The Bad
Y'know, for a game featuring a band, one would have expected there to be more of the band's MUSIC in there. Aside from a few brief instances, there isn't any. Spawners. There are various widgets here and there in the game that sit and spawn monsters out the wazoo, and will continue to do so until you destroy them. Dealing with an infinite supply of monsters isn't anyone's idea of fun, I don't think. Ultimately, this game features very little you won't find in any other shooter out there... there are flickers of inspiration, but very little is done with it. It LOOKS great... but in practice, it's never much more than mediocre.

The Bottom Line
I bought this one out of a bargain bin for five bucks, and at that price, I got an excellent deal... but unless you're just desperate for a new shooter, or you're a KISS collector, this one is safe enough to miss. It's not BAD... it's just not very GOOD, if you know what I mean...

Windows · by Dr.Bedlam (55) · 2002



The US game box of KISS Psycho Circus came with a bonus Heavy Metal 2000 - Hyper CD that contained promotion/advertisement for the PC game Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K. 2. It linked directly to the official website to deliver high quality video and CD-quality audio via the Web without any of the quality loss of streaming or the lengthy download time associated with the Web at large.


Iin the U.S., the game was released in five different boxes. There was one box each with a drawing of each particular band member on the cover and then a Collector's Edition which had all four members on the cover.

Information also contributed by Atomic Punch!


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  • MobyGames ID: 2419
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by jeff reitman.

Dreamcast added by Adam Baratz.

Additional contributors: Roger Wilco, Jeanne, Patrick Bregger.

Game added September 16, 2000. Last modified January 21, 2024.