In the village of Fairyland, adorable kittens, doggies and piggies live peacefully together. Although their cute little lives are idyllic, they all aspire to something greater – supreme happiness in a land of gingerbread and caramel candy houses, where pets fly around on pink clouds and brightly colored ballons. The gates to this city of supreme happiness are only open to those who are in love. To help all of the inhabitants get there in Kiss Me, match the pets with their soulmates so they will float off into the sky and live happily ever after.
Kiss Me is a light-hearted syrupy-sweet strategy game which challenges players to pair up pets according to type, color, and opposite gender. Your piggy companion, Sniffy, will sit at the corner of the screen to tabulate your score and give you hints as you play.
To match-up pets, click on one animal and drag a path towards its mate. Of course this isn’t always straightforward. There are bridges to cross, which move up and down as you click different levers and press different buttons. Square buttons remain active once clicked, but round buttons need to be continuely pressed in order to work. There are also special jumping pads to reach unaccessible (and difficult to see) cliffs. Sometimes a button or bridge is colored, allowing only similarly colored pets to access them. To add further complexity, there are puddles that change the colors of your pets, and some pets will only appear once you’ve matched up all of the others.
Pets aren’t always happy and chirpy. Sometimes they’ll refuse to budge without some food or a special toy. This can be rather frustrating. You can gather these by having your free pets walk over these items on the board, and then give them to your pet by clicking and dragging the item from your inventory. Pets will also refuse to move if their path is blocked, or if another animal is in the landing zone of their choosen jumping point. This requires a bit of shuffling to navigate.
Each round is timed, so you need to meet all of the level’s goals in a timely fashion in order to advance. Unfortunately, level goals aren’t always clear. Sometimes you must feed all of the pets to beat the round, and other times you must play matchmaker to all of the pets, plus all variations in between.
There’s also a bonus game every few rounds where you use your mouse to control a floating pet with a balloon and try to gather as many items in the clouds as you can. The speed picks up as you advance to higher levels.
In it’s favor, the production values of Kiss Me are fairly high, so you can expect good music, and some nicely drawn artwork and animations. There’s plenty of cute jokes thrown in, and all of the screens have animated components.The rules are gradually introduced to the player, so there’s very little learning curve.
Despite the effort that seems to have been taken with the appearance of the game, the actual mechanics are a bit lacking. The controls can be unresponsive, requiring several manuevers to get pets to follow the correct path. Likewise, the graphics can make it unclear where various cliffs and ledges begin and end, so the player may begin a path only to find that she’s misjudged the layout. On the more complex boards, you may need to play at least twice – once to figure out all of the jump spots and levers and cliffs, and a second time to actually form a strategy and move your pets.
Kiss Me also struggles to find it’s audience. The actual gameplay is challenging as you progress, with most levels involving multiple replays and reasonably complex strategies to win. However, despite this, the art and music and story seem to be geared towards a younger audience. In some games “cute” can be a good thing… but Kiss Me goes over the top with all of the lovey-dovey, fuzzy-wuzzy stuff. Considering that the primary market for stratgey games tends to be from the more mature age range and mind set, this is a fairly fatal flaw.
Fans of other strategy games like Wonderland Adventures, or even the more action-oriented Granny in Paradise, might find some appeal in playing the Kiss Me trial. Once you’ve beaten the first few levels it does become more complicated and can prove challenging. However, if you can’t tolerate too much sugary-sweetness or otherwise get easily frustrated, it might not be a good match.