Hot on the heels off the resurgence of popularity KISS have been enjoying in the mid-to-late nineties, their Psycho Circus tour theme would become the basis for the Kiss Psycho Circus comic book published by Image Comics. And then Third Law Interactive - a studio made out mostly of former Ion Storm employees that walked out of the company in middle of Daikatana's development - would make a First-Person Shooter that follows up that comic, released for the PC in 2000, with a later Sega Dreamcast port.
The game iself follows Wicked Jester - a KISS tribute bandnote - who expected to have a gig at a deserted club, only to be summoned by Madame Raven, alerting them to the existence of The Nightmare Child. Before getting to confront the ultimate evil, the player would have to go through each of the four elemental realms - in any order, although there's a recommended order: Water, Earth, Air and then Fire - of the Psycho Circus as each band member (each coming with their own melee and ultimate weapons they'd get, in addition to four weapons used by all of the members), blasting off myriad of bizarre circus-themed creatures and collecting pieces of armor that bring them closer to becoming avatars for The Elder.
Respect your tropes... or kiss your ass goodbye:
- Arm Cannon: The Zero Cannon, Magma Cannon and the Rocket Launcher have this sort of design. The Ball Buster enemies also come with their own.
- BFG: Each of the Wicked Jester members have their own. The Starbearer has a screen-clearing Stargaze, The Beast King has a Spear that can pierce through enemies like it's a Railgun, The Celestial has the Galaxion cappable of creating Black Hole portals and The Demon has a head of a Dragon that serves as the flamethrower.
- Blade on a Stick: The Beast King's own BFG, which he uses like a Railgun.
- Bottomless Magazines: Ammunition being finite aside, reloading isn't an issue.
- Circus of Fear: "Psycho Circus" is it indeed.
- Clothes Make the Superman: Each of the Elder armor piece you pick up comes with a bonus. Only the belt piece actually increases the defense, as the bracelets, vest and mask increase your max health, while the boots increase jump height and the inner armor increasing your melee damage. Each of them also increase your ammunition capacity.
- Colon Cancer: The full game title includes the band (KISS), the concept theme/comic book (Psycho Circus) and the game's own subtitle (The Nightmare Child).
- "Everyone Comes Back" Fantasy Party Ending: The game ends with Wicked Jester - now in full KISS getup - getting to play God Gave Rock And Roll To You II in front of a crowd consisting of mooks and bosses from the game.
- Four-Element Ensemble: The protagonists form this. The Starbearer represents water, The Beast King is earth, The Celestial is air and The Demon is fire.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Around as en vogue in First-Person Shooter genre at the time as it was ever.
- Maniac Tongue: Once Gabriel Gordo completes his The Demon getup, he pulls this off about as well as Gene Simmons himself.
- Mook Debut Cutscene: New mook types are heraled in cutscenes, complete with names being displayed at the bottom of the screen.
- Mook Maker: The game features these in the vein of Spawners.
- Monster Clown: Plenty of the enemies are this, including one enemy type that is mixed with spider legs.
- Mythology Gag: Wicked Jester are named after Wicked Lester, an early incarnation of the band that would later become KISS.
- Our Monsters Are Weird: One of the earliest common monsters is a head-less crab-like thingy and the weirdness usually escalates from there.
- Overlord Jr.: The Nightmare Child is this to The Nightmare King from the comic.
- Rogue Protagonist: The bosses at the end of each realm before you'd face The Nightmare Child itself were all former hosts for The Elder - and thus protagonists from the comic - that underwent an evil possession.
- Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: Monster infighting is possible.
- Shock and Awe: The Celestial's melee weapon is a pair of shock gauntlets that shoot close range lightning in a vein similar to the gauntlets of the necromancer.
- The Walls Have Eyes: The room the final boss is situated in is covered with these.
- The War Sequence: The amount of enemies one can face at once - mostly because of the Spawners, regardless it's not uncommon to blast off at least around hundred enemies per single level - makes this game an early example of a Horde-style First-Person Shooter before the formula would get eventually refined by the likes of Serious Sam and Painkiller.
- Whip It Good: Available as one of the common weapons, can also double as a grappling hook if aimed at certain hooks.
- Wolverine Claws: The Beast King's melee weapon of choice.
- Unrealistic Black Hole: The Celestial's BFG creates these.