"KC Returns!" is the game I would like to have created over 36 years ago, but I was limited by the technology of the day. KC's first game ("KC Munchkin!") had a huge impact during the first Golden Age of videogames. KC's new adventure contains almost all the gameplay aspects of the original, and much more.
Particularly important is that KC is aware of you, the player, and what's going on around the character in the game. KC's eyes will track your cursor movement and look to you for directions and "see" what's happening all around. KC's AI is directed at the player, just like in the original games, except now with a much higher level of intelligence. A very subtle but important part of the original games was that KC looked at you. KC was not just a "thing" but you and KC were a team playing together. This is just as true in the new game.
One other point before jumping into the new game – is KC a boy or a girl? The fact is that it's impossible to tell. Since KC is a gender-neutral name, KC can be whatever you would like KC to be. KC just wants to be your friend as you learn and solve challenges together.
If the following description makes the game seem too complicated, consider this: "KC Returns!" has been kid-tested down to 3- and 4-year-olds, who played for hours at a time. If you have ever been around a 3-year-old, you know that is quite an endorsement. The young folks don't play for the best score but because of how engaging the interactions are. The only instructions given were "Select the play button." The rest became obvious, so "select play".
At its heart, "KC Returns!" is a grid game like the original KC titles, but with very dynamic grids. The real-time, dynamic nature of the mazes takes the idea of a player-programmed grid to its limit.
KC arrives in a new, rarely seen world – the world of the microscopic – in a maze constructed of atoms. The mission is to rebuild a broken strand of DNA. To accomplish it, KC must energize each atom so that it will move off the playfield into the structure of a DNA base pair, displayed on the right side of the screen.
When an atom is selected (by mouse click or touchscreen tap) while in range of KC's photon-producing BeBops, it will be hit by an energizing photon beam. Once energized, the atom will move out of the playfield and into the DNA base pair, leaving behind a stone pod. This pod is difficult to move and over time, or if hit with an errant shot, will hatch and bring out the bad guy: Wild Eyed Willy. Willy's goal is to catch KC and drain his energy and will and ability to continue. If KC is caught while the player still has KC Recharges (shown at the top of the screen), KC will automatically reenergize while all Wild Eyed Willies back away to watch in frustration. As soon as the process is complete and KC is reenergized, the Willies resume their pursuit. Time, of course, is ticking away all the while. Wild Eye Willes can be shrunk with a Photon shot from KC's BeBops until they eventually give up and go away. KC never dies, but can be forced to give up by being drained of energy.
There are approximately 60 atoms depending on the game's level. Each atom moves, can disappear from view, and will impede KC's movement. The atoms will dynamically block and open paths, but KC can move them directly by bouncing into them. The speed of the atoms is a function of their size and what they have interacted with most recently. Big atoms are heavy, smaller atoms are lighter. So it really matters when and with what you engage. The player's actions change the maze and have consequences, including sending KC "Head over BeBops!"
Each level of play has a different Membrane. It's slinky, slithery, and varies in length according to the game's level. The Membrane can be either useful or harmful in moving around the screen. As the player advances, the difficulty goes up. Atoms disappear more quickly and move faster, Willies are smarter, membranes are longer. Clearing the atoms becomes more and more challenging.
"KC Returns!" can be played as either a "twitch-blast-dash" game or more like chess, with great thought given to each decision. Both approaches will yield success and picking the right combination will result in the best score. The quicker you clear the playfield of atoms the better your score. Once KC has cleared all the atoms, there is a celebration. The fastest clear times for each level are recorded. KC Cents, which can be used to buy Power Ups, are awarded each time a new best score is achieved.
Each Level has 7 variable Power Ups that the player can buy with KC Cents. A player is given 100 KC Cents at the beginning of the game. More KC Cents can be earned by answering questions in the "Earn" screen or purchased, but a player can earn all the Power Ups' maximum values without paying for them.
All the Power Ups will assist KC in the mission to outwit Wild Eyed Willy and rebuild the broken DNA strands while learning with the player about this exciting, rarely seen world! This is a world of powerful things: DNA, atoms, molecules, things that shape our lives, but are invisible almost all of the time. This is a world of new wonders to behold and puzzles to solve, a world which must be seen to be believed. As KC always says, "If you can see it, you can solve it!"