KOU

so, there are pretty much no images of KOU on google

 

I wasn’t aware you could get profound with whac-a-mole. The moles emerge; tentative, unknowing, and then you cave their tweeny-weeny heads in with a mallet, right?

KOU (aka King of Underworld) has something to say about that. Here’s a whac-a-mole game that not only has its own world overview screen, online multiplayer and 6 unique moles to pulverise but also, of all things, a narrative!

It’s madness. There’s this place called the underworld which, you know, history tells bodes poorly as far as choice of name goes. But it was peaceful for a while. And then this bad mole Stanton, he rocks up to try to steal the crown. Or something. Anyway you’re Prince William and you have to macerate moles into slop to save the underworld. However that works.

And man you will not believe how fast your fingers can dance across the iThing until you’ve played KOU. In all likelihood you’ll play it without even considering the actions your finger takes. It’s almost worrying.

Moles emerge gingerly from 9 holes in the ground, you whack them or prod or poke or finger or er, whatever it is you do on the iDevices and they return from whence they came with a head twice as wide as it is long. You build up a multiplier based on how many moles you hit, with it resetting each time you let a mole dart back in to sanctuary.

but these promo pics don't lie

Levels last little more than a minute or so but by the 30-second mark shit has truly hit the proverbial fan. Moles spring up five at a time, your finger instinctively homing in on each while your conscious mind tries desperately to keep up. Occasionally you’ll hit one of the buttons at the foot of the screen. These represent the various power-ups earned for every 30 moles hit but by God you won’t have time to see which one you’ve opted for. Again, it’s mostly instinctive. Power-ups tend to rain death in various guises but there are other slightly less cruel items that increase the time remaining or your score too.

Some moles turn up prepared, sporting hard hats or capes which magically make them quicker than the amateurs who showed up with nothing but a tuft of hair to halt the thundering, skull-shattering jurisdiction of your finger. One little cretin even emits a shroud of gas to protect everyone else should you accidentally slay him in the heat of genocide. Team player.

Okay so it’s far from profound, just fail-safe whac-a-mole propped up with some power-ups and a farcical story. But how deep can you get when your character’s only tool for negotiation, his only understanding is that of the brute, face-crushing power of the hammer.

Credit where it’s due though, this brief yet comprehensive rendition of cracking mole skulls is a riot.

7/10

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