Thursday, November 8, 2012

Game of the Day - Kicker

Some games are just better than others.  I know that sounds obvious, but sometimes the reason they are better is hard to describe.  It's just a knack or a feel.  Why is Pac-Man more popular than other maze games? Tempest?  Donkey Kong?  Joust?  All these are games that would be difficult to describe to someone who has never heard of them and make them understand why they are so great.

I'm not saying Kicker is a GREAT game nor am I saying it is in the league of the others I mentioned.  But, Kicker is very simple and yet totally fun and compelling.  It's one of those almost-old-school games that they just got "right".  The quickness of the controls and the subtleties in the programming turn standard stuff into something just a little bit more.

Kicker is a karate/fighting game (no surprise there!).  It's ridiculously simple.  Just one button to kick (or what looks like a head-butt if you are close) and one to jump.  However, that jump is for use in combo with attacking - it's just a small jump that keeps you on the same level, combine it with a kick for a strong attack.  A bigger jump - to the next story/level on the screen is accomplished by move the joystick up.  Move it up and you leap up a story to the roof or ledge above, move it down and drop down a level or to the floor.  This is where the game becomes fast and fun.

The A.I. of the enemies is pretty vicious.  So you quickly learn (especially as you advance levels) that you have to jump up and down and all around with the joystick to avoid AND attack the enemies.  Jump to the roof with the joystick, get in a quick kick, jump down to avoid the retaliation  etc.  Soon, you are being chased level by level and are using the joystick more to jump up and down than left and right.  It's this simple quick-wristed playing that makes the game feel like an old school game where mastering the controls and quickness win out.  By the way, when you are on any level, you can fall off if you get to close to the edge and don't jump, so be careful.

There are many power-ups in the form of colored balls (insert your own gross joke here).  Some are weapons, there is also a shield.  When you have the weapons, you use the kick button to fire them.

Your health and lives are counted down for you as you get four hits before you lose a life.  After each hit, the game shows you what number you are on (and there is a gauge up top).

Kicker has some crisp, spartan graphics (typical for the age) and a simple control scheme - but if you start playing and stick with it a minute, you'll quickly see how it becomes fun and compelling and why I made it today's Game of the Day.

1 comment:

  1. Supreme classic! I spent much money on tokens in my childhood trying to finish it (the another version Shaolin's Road), but only accomplished that in MAME...

    One of my favorites! Ah, and it is a kung-fu game, not karate. The former is Chinese and the latter is Japanese.