NOTE: TO CALL THE SHOOTING A TERRIBLE TRAGEDY IS AN UNDERSTATEMENT, AND I AM MOST CERTAINLY NOT TRYING TO MAKE FUN OF IT. ONE-THIRD OF THIS IS TO MAKE FUN OF THE NRA'S STATEMENT TODAY, ANOTHER THIRD IS TO EMPHASIZE HOW DUMB THE GAME ITSELF IS AND THE LAST THIRD IS TO KIND OF SERIOUSLY REVIEW THE GAME. IF YOU'RE OFFENDED, PLEASE READ THIS NOTE AGAIN UNTIL YOU ARE NOT.
Lately, there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the industry of gunsmoke-promoting murder-death that is video games, a point brought out by the friendly people at the NRA. However, in citing specific games that caused the shooter to murder innocent children and shoot fireballs at people, one was listed that I (and I assume many others) have never heard of before: Kindergarten Killer.
Kindergarten Killer is a flash game made by ZSOA, in which the player takes the role of a janitor who is given the task of cleaning up a kindergarten filled to the brim with armed tykes. The following is a basic description provided by the developer:
Kindergarten Killer is a fighting game in which you play as a janitor to clear as many stages as you can. At first you can choose your levels with different health numbers. Click on the start button you will see many kids appearing from different places and the kids will come out more and more as you go further into their base. Aim with the mouse and shoot with the left mouse button. Shoot the kids quickly before they shoot you. Your health goes down if you get shot. You will get health bonuses after each level. With the stages you clear, you will meet the big boss, and shoot him at his head to go to the next stage. And you will meet not only kids but also policeman as your enemy. Look out for health boxes like a key with a plus sign on it, if you shoot them they will give you +20 plus. - ZSOA
As appealing as shooter games are nowadays, can something like Kindergarten Killer stand on its own as a successful IP in a sea of similar shooters like Call of Duty and Super Mario Sunshine? Most would likely agree that such an original concept would draw in both storied veterans of the genre as well as fresh faces but, as Kindergarten Killer proves, an original concept can be squandered by poor gameplay.
The story of Kindergarten Killer puts the player in the shoes of a white-haired (and seemingly senile) janitor who, bored with the constant trifles of cleaning up vomit and smelling the acrid stench of poorly-cooked meatloaf, decides to take matters into his own hands and cleanse a surprisingly well-armed school of its myriad gun-toting toddlers. Considering all the characters involved, I would have expected the story to further develop from its introduction but, as with many modern shooters, the story falls to the wayside almost immediately in order to single-mindedly focus on the action, which is quite a shame considering how many questions the initial setting leaves for players: Who is this guy really? Why do the kids all have guns? Why do some of them have aviator sunglasses and never need to reload? Sadly, none of the aforementioned inquiries are given any time as the game delves straight into its worst aspect: gameplay.
Considering the game in question is a simple flash affair, the gameplay and graphics are nothing special to speak of. In fact, the two aforementioned aspects are so minuscule and lackluster that nothing interesting can truly be said about it. Essentially, Kindergarten Killer takes the point-and-click, on-rails approach to shooters, an archaic concept that, beyond Killer7, has never been utilized in a positive way since the early 90s. Every single area in the game is the same boorish, plain hallway with maybe a staircase placed in the background to spice things up (albeit in the most minimal way possible) and the way in which you move around the map is nonsensical, sometimes going into a building and then exiting it after one floor...only to exit it, go in again, and go to the next floor. Clearly, the developer wanted to convey that the main character had Alzheimer's but, due to the lack of substantial narrative, this conclusion only came about by way of speculation. In fact, the children themselves seemed to have interesting backstories but the game never really considers telling the player.
The children, though not varied immensely in design, do have some interesting habits of pointing guns at the player while wearing sunglasses and, somehow, are only able to die in a single way no matter where they are hit (the only variant being what they look like relating to how they die). Every single one of the children are quick shooters, giving the player no time to breathe which, by the way, adds greatly to the overall difficulty of the experience. However, I would have liked to know how this was possible? There was a prime opportunity for some exposition (perhaps between levels?) but no such effort was made, giving the player only more room to guess as to what was really going on. Lastly, as said before, the difficulty of the game is something that detracts quite a bit from the overall quality.
Though probably designed as a challenge game, Kindergarten Killer is very difficult to play when you only use a laptop mouse and can't really figure out the controls that well because of it. I will admit that I started out on the Easy difficulty, but even then the game was incredibly difficult to play, even during the first level. Indeed, the difficulty is something that will vary the mileage you will have with this particular title.
Overall, Kindergarten Killer, though being a prime example of how big-budget game studios are funding poorly-designed flash game development, is...well actually, it really is an unenjoyable game. I would not recommend it to anyone looking for a good time and, instead, would point to more interesting examples such as Kitten Cannon.
Graphics: F - Nothing but doodles everywhere.
Sound: F - No interesting music to speak of and the sound effects are all the same.
Gameplay: D - Though the controls are easy to figure out, the experience is too repetitive to warrant a decent grade.
Fun: D - Its approach as a concept game adds some intrigue, but not past one try.
Kindergarten Killer is a game that, despite wanting to show how evil a game can be, is nothing more than a gallery shooter with a fingerpaint coat.