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 Kino One  PC,  ItBGames/MangaPage

You gotta love the style of some games coming out these days, and the methods used by companies to create "new" videogames for our gaming appetites.  I'd been going back and forth on this one, Kino One, from ItBGames.  $4.95 gets you Kino One, a vertical shooter, as well as 4, possibly as many as 5 games on top of that.  Not a bad deal!  The other 4 games are clones, as well as title #5, which the website cabinet says is "Out of Order", I assume it's a developer issue or, since that 5th game is called Street Fight 2, there may be a legal issue behind this one.  The other titles are: TacMan (Pac-Man), Invaders from Space (Space Invaders), Spacerocks (Asteroids), BreakN (Arkanoid/BreakOut), and Ping (does Pong need a new name? I guess so!). 

So how to tackle this one.  Well, first, we have Kino One, a vertical shmup with increasing difficulty and increasing amounts of enemies.  Between levels there is an anime comic story being played out, something about invading Earth to get back a spaceship or something.  The invading forces are confronted by the Earth forces which, of course, are blown away with a single blow (literally, they last a few seconds after scrambling!)  Of course, the one ship that can save the Earth, is the lost or crashed spaceship on Earth!  The only person who can save the Earth?  You, in the role of.. Flash Brannighan The comic-strip scene represents this with an "Insert Gamer's Picture Here" hero of the next day (or two). 

The  slow moving comic strip backstory can be quickened by tapping a button to continue.  It's not that I don't appreciate the story, or being told what's going on, but I grew up playing games in the late 70s and 80s, I don't need no fekkin' story.  Stories are a good addition to any game, and I mean any game, even if it is totally 100% unnecessary and/or 100% stupid.  The deepest stories are about as shallow as a shotglass in many  videogames.  Even the Super Mario Bros. story is so simple-stupid, you may as well tell it like this:  "Start at A, go to B, wander through C and D, then get to E, your endgame!"  Roger Ebert says games can't be art, well, he should also state that games can't be literature.  Games are an escape.  Do I want to think really hard about it?  Nope.  Unless, if I do, $100 bills will pour out of my ass while doing so.  Oh, before I forget, we love you, Mr. Ebert!  Wait, what? Kino One, that's right! 


One thing you'll notice, for the price, this game looks really good, and it's fairly smooth.  Blow away wave after wave of enemy, pick up power-ups and point-ups, destroy large enemy battleships with a powerful wave beam, and save Earth!  The first few waves are tutorial-type waves, where you will be learning different attacks, defenses, enemy types, etc.  Each wave is basically the same: Start, Shoot, Finish, Repeat.  Hey, it's a shmup, it's not fekkin Shakespeare or Goodfellas.  The game supports 1 or 2 players, both on the screen at the same time.  As a matter of fact, each of these games is 1 or 2 players, both on the screen at the same time.  Not bad, unless you use a keyboard to control, and Player 2 is an ass and keeps hitting your buttons or moving your ship in the wrong direction.

There are hundreds of free shmups out there, and some are better than Kino One.  But, again, this one comes with 5 games and 1 out-of-order game for $5, and supports indie game makers, which is always fun to do.  You will wonder how they got away with using the actual sounds in the other 4 games in the collection when you play, but such is gaming.











PopCap Games

Alright, now that we've gotten through Kino One, let's take a walk through the rest of our little Virtual Pizzeria Arcade ( I assume these titles are free, while the $5 you spend is for Kino One). The next title to jump into is Tac-Man.  Really.  If you don't believe me, check this out:


It looks like Pac-Man, it plays (mostly) like Pac-Man, it even sounds like Pac-Man!  But, it's Tac-Man.  The intermissions aren't there, but the rest of the game is pretty much on-par with what it's trying to be.  The maze does change every 2 levels, and when you die, the ghosts don't return to their "cage" but your Tac-Man will return to its start-point when he dies.  When you chomp the ghosts, they disappear, and re-appear in their cage, their eyes don't zoom back through the maze.  The graphics, obviously, are different: Tac-Man has teeth and what looks like lips, the ghosts have individual looking faces, the dots are much more visible because they are larger circles instead of smaller pixels.  Lastly,  the game doesn't stop until it's Game Over or you get passed a level.  There is a two-player mode with a little twist as well: two Tacs on screen at once, Man and Woman!  Interesting..


After that, there's Space Rocks.  That'd be Asteroids for you young kids out there.  It's pretty much what you expect, the sounds are more or less the same, the graphics are a bit smoother than the classic vector-Asteroids look, the rocks are more circular, whereas the Asteroids asteroids were jagged and linear.  Again, not a bad game, but you have played this before, just in a different arcade cabinet or game compilation.

Invaders from Space is Space Invaders, of course!  It's a wonder that generic sodas don't have names like Cola Coca or Pepper Doctor.  Can they do that?  Because, technically, it's NOT Coke or Dr. Pepper.  Invaders from Space is a passable clone, and the 2-player on-screen fun could rear its ugly head again, for better or worse.

The weak sister is BreakN, which is Arkanoid with the fun zapped out of it.  The blocks have smiley faces that grimace, look around, and look like they cheer when they get destroyed.  Your bar-spaceship thingy even has a face which, with a nice touch, has eyes that follow the direction you are pointing with your controller.  I didn't last too long with this one, it really isn't that fun.  Considering its free, however, I had no buyer's remorse, and soon was over it.

There's another title, PING, which is PONG, which is PingPong, and I really have nothing else to say about that title.  It's fekkin' PONG.

Lastly, we have Skreet Fighta II, but it may not be finished or may be having trouble with Capcom's lawyers, as it's unplayable.  Dunno.

Kino One & Friends for $5 is a pretty good deal.  Sure, as I said before, there are tons of free shmups online, and clones of classic games for that matter, but you will feel no buyer's remorse with this package, even with Skreet Fighta II being "Out of Order".  However, be wary of BreakN, there's a good chance you will hate that game!


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