Sunday, July 22, 2012

More Kye, If you didn't get enough of green balls pushing down things

UPDATE: Though minor, there are versions that I've discovered following the post's creation, such as Running Cheetah Kye, and Scott's Kye for Palm OS.

Big post lying ahead full of nerdom.

If you recall around September of last year, I made a post based on an excessively unknown PC puzzle game under the name Kye, originally released in 1992 by Colin Garbutt. It was a puzzle game that played similarly to Boulder Dash and Eggerland (the later known as Adventures of Lolo outside Japan), putting you in control of a small green sphere, the Kye, and you must obtain every diamond present in the level by moving blocks; some which obey gravity in a particular direction, and dodging trapping yourself, a diamond, or one of the game's five beasts that pursue you through the many labyrinths. And by many I mean 15.

When Kye first saw release, it was originally bundled with 10 levels, five additional ones were added not long after, bring in a few new objects. The first level was easy; just move right and you win. Pretty hard, huh? Well the difficulty takes a huge leap upwards right on the second level, and goes even higher on the third. People that got a chance to play this game and learn it's complexity were also given an offer to register by donating 20 bucks to "Save the Children" a charity. People that did must have been so darn pleased. Because now they were given additional levels, back then only 20 would be added as separate level packs, later this registered expansion would grow to be 400+ levels, though many of them were difficult alike the main game so I guarantee one'd never see beyond the first few levels unless they spent a lot of trial and error.

The first time I, myself ever laid my eyes on Kye was receiving from my grandfather one of those shareware discs they always distributed "lite" versions of many titles on; which also had Aquanoid, Jumpman LIVES!, and roughly the entire CHAMP series save for CHAMP Invaders. Back then I found Kye to be very interesting, though I could never get past the second level, and even if I did, the third level got me stuck to no end. Sadly I wasn't aware you could restart levels or make/change level sets because pretty much all the games on the disc were the limited free versions, and because these games often omitted extra functions like later levels and if featured, the editor unless the full version was bought and installed, I thought Kye only allowed one to play the normal levels only. Of course I still got a kick out of it as a child, even if it meant toying around with the first level.

Now fast forward to late 2011. I reinstall the disc onto an old computer of mine that I've used for some time, and finally challenge Kye once more. Not only do I beat the second and third levels with little to no trouble, but I also defeat Levels 4-6, and figured out how the level editor worked. So afterwards I searched up Kye online and found a fan-remake that is a grand upgrade from the original; Vexorian's Xye. And since I've gave many suggestions to the game's development and supported it to death, soon the following January distributing my own set of Xye levels. And from there I learnt much more about Kye's history and the many releases it got, both official and from the fans, found all the registered Kye levels and many more; and since then, I was determined to compile every version's levels and features to be playable in Xye.

Among these came our first subject, Christmas Kye. Released as two versions, Christmas Kye and Christmas Kye Jr; this was to be simple a massive re-skin of Kye to make it holiday-themed, coloring the walls teal green (brighter in Jr. in comparison to the original), changing the playing objects; blocks, enemies (Each one replaces a specific enemy species), etc. to a Christmas theme. It also features background music and a Christmas themed background that has nothing to do with Kye.

Christmas Kye features 25 levels, 24 of them taken from already-created levels from the registered version of Kye, re-arranged in almost no particular order, change only the title of each level to wherever number in the game they appear as, and splattered on the screen. The only level that was created exclusively for Christmas Kye was the first one, where they place your diamonds, now presents, in a simple area for you to nab them. Kye Jr. on the other hand, has three previously unseen levels and one slightly modified level, the first one resembling a house in a snowstorm. Those that are taken from other sets have their name, hint message, and level conclusion message changed to fit the Christmas theme. These two versions are very hard to locate, but Vexorian has posted a download for Christmas Kye Jr, while I scouted out a copy of Christmas for Windows which contained Christmas Kye. And yes, I bought an entire CD just for one game. The disc was called "Christmas for Windows" and it can be bought online on sites like Amazon, though if you want to save money, I can just give you Christmas Kye for no profit.

If that wasn't enough, another version of Kye was released, known as Dr. Floyd's Kye. This version is yet another re-skin but this time, it goes back to the theme of classic Kye, even sporting a new background image that at least resembles Kye. It has 24 levels, some of which were in the Christmas Kye games, others are new. This one is even harder to find and obtain, sites do have coverage on it, but remotely no download is available online. However I've heard Youtuber junker15 has the entire disc, including Dr. Floyd's Kye, so I PM'd him about it to see if he could put it up for download. He has yet to reply.

Though through some speculation, I assume Dr Floyd's Kye's levels can be obtained via an alternative source, A standard .Kye file that can be downloaded from Robert Phipps' Kye page. This file is known as "sampler.kye", and via careful research, the first level of this file and a low-res screenshot I found match one another perfectly, and the titles of the final levels "Wild Goose Chase" also match word-for word. While I still want to own Dr. Floyd's Kye for authentic reasons (whatever that means), sampler.kye will do until then, and besides, I'd like to rip the BG graphic in HD.

Somewhare around the same time, a 2.5D sequel Kye Deluxe was in production, mentioned in the help files of Christmas and (I assume) Dr. Floyd's Kye. It would have included 200 Nintendo hard levels, new graphic upgrades, difficulty selection, scoreboards, sounds and music, a better editor, and most of all new objects and enemies. Sadly though it went on a date with the trash can and never came back, as Kinesoft, the team responsible for Deluxe, put the project on indefinite hold. It's almost no matter, as Xye (aside from sound and graphics) already accomplishes some of the promises made.

Then years later there was Amazing Kye, a new sequel that went back to basics  but only included a fraction of objects from the original Kye. It has 50 levels, the rest you had to get by registering, but to be fair, the collection itself is nothing special (IMO), For one thing, while there are new never-seen puzzles, a few of these descend from the original Kye's registered version. Secondly, I don't find the new graphics appealing, and the "classic" skin barely matches the original. Thankfully they can be edited so you can rip graphics from screens of Kye, crop them into Amazing Kye's spritesheet, and there you go. But what you can't edit are levels. Somehow this passed off as being a sequel and yet the biggest thing keeping the series alive was tossed aside. What? Where they afraid people'd recreate levels in the registered version with the editor? Were it's very unlikely something like that would happen, and I can't do anything about it. :|

Also, if you like Fortune Street's "Out to Lunch" feature, you'll love Amazing Kye. Watch as the levels solve themselves and it counts towards completion whenever or not a human or a computer beats a level.

The latest official version is Python Kye for Linux. Just features new graphics (the first duller/darker version with faceless Kye is the one I prefer) and levels that are compatible with the original Kye. It has a better editor and it can also record replays of levels. Moving on.

Afterwards, there have not been any official versions worth mentioning since then, so let me move on to what the fans made. I'll start with PYKye from Bradshaw Creations. It's graphics may not seem too faithful to the original game, and it's not very user-friendly; as I have not found any graphic editor nor additional level sets for it. It features not only the usual stuff, but different terrain like water, ice, lava, arrow panels that force Kye or any object in a specific path (the ones in Xye do not launch the player), tiles only Kye or blocks may cross over, attribute modifiers the null the effects of water, lava, ice, and arrow tiles, making them normal ground to Kye, step switches that raise/lower walls and clocker, a-cloker, and reverse tiles embedded in the ground. There's many more obstacles than I can hopefully describe, so you'll have to try it for yourself.

Then there's Philipp Klaus' Cye, a port for not some form of computer or OS, but a video game console, in this case the Colecovision. It has a set of original levels meant to be tutorials, but the biggest feature by far is Cye's two-player co-op puzzles. In the same vein of Portal 2, the second player is necessary to finish a level, as they cannot be accomplished alone. Player 2's Kye is slightly darker than the main Kye, but with the palette of the Colecovision, it's difficult to tell. The game overall is much slower than standard Kye, black holes "swallow" objects at a slower rate, but it does have sounds and music when a level is loaded.

It may interest one to know that there are two versions. One is a demo that only has the tutorial and two-player levels, the other contains levels from standard Kye. Thankfully I have these levels as a .kye file officially loaned to me from Philipp himself. The two-player levels are impassable because no version other than Cye supports two-player.

Kye 3.0 (designed I believe by Luke-jr and Niver) was an attempt at a sequel that replicated the original game down to the last detail. Same graphics, Same gameplay, etc. But it had two new features. For one, the boundaries of the level may no longer carry walls but now serve the "warp-around" feature you saw in many old-school arcade titles where you can travel to the other side in the flash of a pixel, and to keep the subject of teleportation, there are now teleporters that resemble arrows that you can align together and use them- do I really need to explain any more? You just warp to the other one. Of course if there are no tele porters in the same row of one facing horizontally, or the same column of one facing vertically, it's just a normal block and won't work as intended unless they are aligned back together.

One thing that was altered was now the hostile creatures that patrolled the maze now have to step on you to kill you, whereas in the official games, they have to touch you from an adjacent tile (not dingily). This allowed Kye to get into areas he's not intended to be that were normally guarded by enemies attached to magnets, like a vicious dog on a chain, requiring the player to send in something else to do the job. Much like Amazing Kye, it has no editor, and only one level was made to utilize the new features. After the one level is the default Kye levels all over again. But at least you can create levels with a text editor and load in custom levels, but considering how three quarters of you will not be able tp play this for whatever reason, it's more worth passing on.

Finally, Skye from Jim Babcock. It has not only old levels but new levels that weren't as large as normal Kye and called in two new obstacles, which were gaps in the floor that became normal ground when something fell in, and best of all "!" blocks that are actually explosives. Have one collide with an arrow block and watch the madness at work. And when you're done being a demolition expert, it even sports an editor, one that actually allows one to select a group of objects simultaneously.

Then it comes down to what it was made on. Texas Instruments calculators. Besides there being a good number of people that don't have graphic calculators that can connect to a computer, now you can sneak in and play some Kye at school or collage and show those teachers you can kick butt at one of the most challenging puzzlers and they attempt it and don't know what they're doing.

Xye is by far the most advanced and faithful recreation of the original game, but that's not to say you shouldn't try the others. So otherwise I've wanted to port all these levels and the new features they bring upon into Xye, as well as the different graphic sets/skins, which part of it has been already done. Not sure how it'll all do in the next few months or even years, but aside from pink, cyan, and orange blocks, I'd love to see Kye as a whole get bigger and bigger, like every other indie project I support.

Most of the above info came from Vexorian's own timeline/coverage of the series.

No comments: