If this doesn't turn out to be the longest post in the history of our little community, I'll be incredibly surprised. You thought "White Knuckle Scorin'" was an example of me in my worst self-indulgent, overkill mode? Oh man, I hadn't even begun to be self-indulgent and over-killering yet!
What I'm trying to say is, you might want to grab a few bottles of Gatorade and a Lunchable. You're gonna be here awhile.
Or just pull up the bus, if you want to get in the spirit of overkill
This is a collection of the first 5 parts of The Fall of Kid Icarus, an Imaginary Video Game that I started composing in the Wii Lobby back in 2006-2007 (I'm a little fuzzy on the dates, but just go with it). Originally, I thought I could knock out my treatment for a new Kid Icarus game in about 3 parts over a period of a couple of weeks. But the project just ballooned in size so much that I had to abandon it, simply because I didn't have the time to keep going. There'd probably have been 12 to 15 parts, in the end - a good 2/3rds more than what I've got here. But even without an ending (or really even a middle!) I hope you guys can just enjoy it for what it is. This is an idea I had for relaunching the Kid Icarus franchise back when it looked like that would never, ever happen.
You should know that I'm one of those guys who grew up playing the original game. I've been waiting most of my life for a proper sequel. My original drafts for The Fall of Kid Icarus go back to 2003 - well before the announcement that Pit was going to be in Brawl. (I have sprinkled it with newer images, though, just to break up the wall of text.)
There's a lot more I could say to set this thing up and explain where I was coming from, but I think I'll just let you jump in and see if you like it. I'll break back in with some thoughts as it goes along. Look for Felix. That'll mean you're getting a note from Me: 2012 Edition.
P.S.: As pretentious as it is to quote oneself, I came across this line from one of my blog posts, which I thought would work pretty well as an epigraph for the whole thing:
"But even with all my story ideas and perception of the characters, if Nintendo just made a solid Kid Icarus game that had no more story than "find ye the three Sacred Treasures and try ye not to be turned into an Eggplant" I'd probably still love it."
- Your Humble Author, 2009
P.P.S. Don't blame me for all this. It was Zero who invited me to post it!
Context (From 2006): When dreaming up my own sequel to Kid Icarus, I felt it was important to consider a few of the distinctive aspects of the original game.
First and foremost, it was hard! Much of the character of Kid Icarus came from the difficult, vertical platforming levels. Everyone who played this game remembers how brutal it was to climb for 15 minutes and then accidentally miss a ledge, getting the dreaded “I’m Finished!” screen - which meant you had to start over from the beginning. It took me years to get past that first level! Like Ninja Gaiden after it, the sheer difficulty became part of the legend of Kid Icarus. It stands to reason that a sequel should be incredibly challenging and it should include climbing in some respect.
Kid Icarus also had rudimentary RPG elements. Zeus would grant you upgrades, if you could pass his training. You could armor up Pit at the many stores along the way and, consequently, the Pit who fought Medusa at the end of the game looked very different from the Pit who started the game. This progression should occur in the new game as well and the story should account for why it occurs. I also think there’s little question that a sequel to Kid Icarus would exist firmly in the Action/Adventure genre. But, just like the original game, which had a shooter level, there is room to bend genre rules.
Another interesting idea in the original game was that Pit could recover soldiers who would show up and assist in boss battles. A sequel should find some way to incorporate them.
And, of course, there was the mythology of the series. The goddess Palutena should figure into the story somewhere. The beefed-up version of Medusa from the first game should reappear. There’s also no way you can make a Kid Icarus game without the Eggplant Wizard! Other obvious things to incorporate include the three treasures, the Reaper and his little flying dudes, the first level snakes and, of course, our hero Pit.
So, those elements were floating around in my head when I started crafting a story for a new Kid Icarus game. Difficulty. Climbing. Character Progression. Collecting Soldiers. Medusa. Eggplant Wizard. Climbing.
Really, it all came back to climbing. To be a true sequel to Kid Icarus, Pit has to climb his way out of the underworld and back to Angel Land. But how do we get him back down in the underworld? How do we make him totally weak and unable to fly again?
As I was mulling these points over, something else occurred to me. Another aspect of the Kid Icarus legend is completely meta-game: Nintendo fans have been waiting for a console sequel to Kid Icarus for over 20 years. Everyone who knows about Kid Icarus knows about the long, frustrating wait for a sequel. It’s almost as big a part of the Kid Icarus story as the game itself. The trophy of Pit in Super Smash Bros Melee includes a description that mentions the wait. WarioWare:Twisted includes a joke about it. Everyone familiar with Nintendo knows about the long vigil Kid Icarus fans have been keeping for the return of Pit. Where has he been for the last 20 years? Is there a way this wait could be incorporated into the story?
And then it hit me…
The Fall of Kid Icarus (Part I: Ambush!)
The scene opens on an empty, clear sky. Strings play a beautiful, lilting rendition of the Kid Icarus “Title Theme” lightly, but with a slight harmonic tension in it. Very thin, cirrus clouds both above and below us, we seem to be floating at the very top of the stratosphere where the curvature of the Earth is almost apparent. No ground is visible, but instead, seeming miles beneath us, is a carpet of silvery-white clouds. Lens flare as we scan past a bright yellow sun. With the brightness reflecting off the clouds in our eyes and the sound of wind lapping against our ears, a gray feather briefly falls through our field of vision. Then, strangely, another. But we are too high for any bird, right?
Suddenly we see a hand dip into the top of the screen and back out again. It happens again, but this time we follow the curvature of the hand, up the wrist and up the arm to the shoulder. It is a person. His white and gold frock shakes violently in the wind. From his back protrude unmistakable, small wings. An angel! The camera pulls back a bit to reveal our hero Pit. He has as much splendor as ever, and seems to glow a bit in the sun. But, look, we see his eyes are closed! And his body is bent back, contorting a bit in windy gravity. We realize we are looking at Pit’s lifeless body as it falls through the clouds!
We float alongside him, just long enough to consider why he is unconscious. Then the camera zooms out a bit more and we realize Pit’s body, which seemed to be floating gently beside us, is actually barreling down at terminal speeds! In fact, we must be falling at such a speed too, which is the only reason we hadn’t realized how fast Pit was falling! Suddenly Pit’s body zooms out of the frame dramatically, as if we have pulled the chord on a parachute. Tension builds in the soundtrack. We watch as Pit’s body careens toward the bed of clouds below us, surrounded, we see now, by a ball of orange flame. A slight vapor trail is left behind as he disappears into the thick bank of clouds, hundreds of feet below us, a speck of orange barely visible.
Suddenly the camera breaks to a new perspective, traveling beside Pit as he falls. The orange flame around him illuminates the fog of the clouds as lightening crackles around. He breaks through the clouds here and there, only to reveal more layers of violent thunderstorm. The staggering speeds are obvious now, as his clothes, hair and, indeed, body shake aggressively as they cut the atmosphere. In an instant the camera zooms in on Pit’s face and right into his head – into his very thoughts.
We cut to the idyllic landscape of Angel Land, a heaven of ancient Greek architecture among the clouds. The design comes straight from the original game: All Parthenon and Olympus and naïve Christian heaven with gold leaf and white stone and sculpture and fountains of water. The water flows among the clouds, though no explanation is given for why. The sun is closer than we’ve ever seen it from Earth, and yet the whole landscape seems cool and crisp. Calm. Centurions and angels of many varieties walk among the city of Angel Land. There is a palpable sense of a world at rest. A sense of peace.
The sound of a string quartet emphasizes this peace as the scene pans to the Temple of Palutena. It is a behemoth, stone structure recalling the Temple at Ephesus. Gold armored centurions stand at attention along its red and gold carpets. Fires burn in giant bronze basins hanging from the walls, suggesting the temple is fragrant with exotic incense. In the center, of the temple’s facade is a colossal, multi-story statue of the goddess Palutena, perfectly carved in white stone without blemish. The statue reaffirms the stability of Angel Land society: The gentle goddess watches over all.
There is song in the air, as various angels, both male and female, go about their everyday business. No one seems to be working, though, except the Centurions, who all have subliminal smiles on their faces anyway.
A column of Centurions marches up the main steps to the foot of the statue. They have brought an offering of a wreath of giant pink flowers to lie before the statue of Palutena. As they carry it to the altar, we see Pit, emerging from the Temple to watch his guards make their offering. He is proud, strong and happy. We get the sense that he is both a beloved general and a strong, moral presence in Angel Land.
A leader emerges from the column of Centurions and approaches the statue. He is a handsome figure with a powerful physique and he obviously takes his role very seriously. At the base of the statue, facing the goddess, he speaks in a booming voice.
“Goddess Palutena! For centuries you have protected the people of Angel Land. You have loved us and guided us. You have helped us to grow into an enlightened society. You have given us the greatest gift of all: Peace. Today we ask that you please accept this small offering of our gratitude. We ask…”
A voice, very distant, screams. There is a burst of energy in the crowd. The Head Centurion falters and tries to continue. “We ask…” Over his shoulder we see that the column of Centurions is inexplicably full of motion. The distant voice again, this time perceptibly, shouts “Ambush!” We see Pit gasp and, with steely resolve, hurl himself toward the crowd. The Centurion draws his sword, but just as he raises it a magical blast hits him and he becomes petrified: a lifeless stone statue at the foot of the goddess.
The camera quickly pans to the group of soldiers who had brought the offering and, over the ensuing seconds of chaos, we realize what has happened: Most of the Centurions are, indeed, not Centurions at all, but they are rather the dark forces of Medusa disguised in golden armor. The true Centurions fight ferociously, but they are visibly outnumbered. Monoeyes burst out of some of the Centurion armor. Dark creatures seemingly made of black vapor hurl magic power at the people of Angel Land. From beneath the clouds, the very ground of Angel Land, all manner of wicked creatures seem to be rising: Erinuses, Keepahs and McGoos. An evil army has appeared in a matter of seconds to lay siege to the city.
The people of Angel Land fight, but they are obviously ill-prepared. We pan through all this chaos to Pit, who is on the outskirts of the column, now, making quick work of every member of this dark army who stands in his way. He is agile, equipped with his light bow, and a truly miraculous fighter. We see him jump over a Monoeye, shoot it with an arrow as he glides backwards with is wings onto the head of a Erinus, which he also feathers. Flipping off of the collapsing body, he splits his bow in two and, doing a complete circle, throws a dozen enemies into the air.
“Pit! Pit! The Treasures!” Through the chaos and smoke we see a Centurion calling to him. “This is a diversion! She is heading for the Treasures!”
Pit shakes as if realizing he has been duped. He turns and sprints back to the temple. Though completely focused, we see him leap on and over a few enemies on his way, causing them to fall to the ground.
Pit scrambles into the temple and we see him run down the temple’s corridors, where the battle has now spread. He runs up a spiral, stone staircase into a large, green courtyard. Though it is open to the air on two of it’s adjoining sides, along one of the long sides is a stone wall containing a beautiful, recessed carving of Palutena pouring out an urn of water into the rivers of Angel Land. Pit, looks side to side to be sure that he is alone. Seeing that he is, he nocks a light arrow and fires it into the stone. The carving in the stone illuminates and then, along an almost imperceptible groove in the carving, separates to reveal a small chamber behind. Inside this chamber sit the three Sacred Treasures: The Pegasus Wings, The Light Arrow* and The Mirror Shield.
(*For the sake of this game, I make a distinction between the sacred Light Arrow and the one given to Pit by Palutena in the Smash Bros. video. One is a light arrow and the other is The Light Arrow.)
Pit smiles and reaches for them. But what is this? His hand goes right through them. He grabs again, but they are intangible, as if merely holograms or smoke.
From behind Pit we finally see the dark, shadowy body of Medusa. She isn’t, now, the hideous Gorgon whose very sight could turn a man to stone. She is something more powerful and terrifying. She is certainly hideous, and yet has a troubling, demonic beauty to her. She seems in constant transformation between her original, beautiful self and the Gorgon of myth.
Honestly, this is pretty darn close to what I was imagining. Go Sakurai.
“The Sacred Treasures are mine!” Medusa cackles. “Even now I can feel their power building up inside of me.” Pit nocks an arrow, but with the wave of a hand Medusa splinters his bow, exploding it in his grasp to a million shards. “It is over, Pit…” spitting out his name, she draws in a long, poisonous breath. “You’re finished!” She draws up her spindly, charred arm to unleash an unimaginable blast of dark magic; a blast completely bursting with rage and retribution toward the hero who once defeated her.
But before the blast is unleashed, a blur of smoky, green motion intersects Pit and Medusa. Palutena has appeared in the flesh! She has the stunning presence of a goddess, diminishing any beauty we might have seen in Medusa. Her splendor is undeniable, as is her obvious fierce resolve to protect her world from Medusa. But, alas, the Gorgon’s magic charge, backed up by both her anger and the power she is already drawing from the Sacred Treasures, is just too great. It fires into Palutena, who desperately throws up a shield of magical power. It deflects some of the blast, protecting both her and Pit for a few seconds, but the onslaught is just too powerful, even for her. In desperation she twists her body around to face our hero. We see her love for her subject in the beauty of her crystalline eyes. She reaches a hand out to him, muttering something inaudible as Medusa’s magic flames overtake and vaporize her.
In a fraction of a second Pit is struck by this same flame. But Palutena’s sacrifice has dulled its power, and rather than be dissolved himself, he is merely blown back. He is thrown hundreds of yards over the city and then, astonishingly, falls. He falls straight through the magic cloud cover that makes up the ground of Angel Land.
Seeing this, Medusa cackles with delight, and her voice recalls all the great witches from myth and fantasy. “Ha ha ha! The fraud Palutena is dead! I have the power of the Sacred Treasures! This is my world now! Fall, Kid Icarus! Fall! Fall to the very depth of Hell! Ha ha ha!”
She lifts both arms into the sun as the camera pulls back, behind her. Along the frames of the scene, we see chaos in Angel Land as fires, the petrified bodies of a few centurions, and the last few gasps of the battle prove to us that Medusa’s rule over Angel Land, and indeed the very world, is now certain.
The screen fades to black from Medusa’s victory, as a triumphant, full orchestra builds into a powerful, cinematic version of the “Title Theme” from the original Kid Icarus game. At that first burst of percussion, the title appears. In stark, beautiful letters it reads:
Okay, 2012 Kris again. So that's how it got started. Part II continues and completes this opening sequence, so I'll let you go straight into it before contributing any fresh thoughts.
The Fall of Kid Icarus (Part II: The Seven Day Fall)
A triumphant, full orchestra builds into a powerful, cinematic version of the “Title Theme” from the original Kid Icarus game. At that first burst of percussion, the title appears. In stark, beautiful letters it reads:
The Fall of Kid Icarus
The words hang on screen – a slow zoom giving them a bit of extra weight. We are given enough time to be reminded just how truly beautiful the Kid Icarus title theme is. After a few seconds, the background fades into a cloud-filled sky. As before, there is a carpet of clouds at the very bottom of our view, but there are more pinks and yellows this time, as if they are made of exotic perfumes. The camera hovers over this puffy landscape, again as if we were seeing everything through the eyes of a bird.
As the title fades, we detect some forward motion in the camera, as if the camera were zooming to meet something ahead. We notice a speck a few hundred meters both ahead and below us in the distance. Every now and then a flash of light hits our eyes from that speck as the sun reflects off of it. Suddenly, following a cue in the music, the camera tilts and dives, as a bird might, turning perpendicular to the ground and making a 270 degree circular motion to catch up with that speck. As we come closer we see clearly that it is, of course, Pit tumbling lifelessly through the sky, surrounded by a magic orange fireball. The fire itself burns brightly, but every now and then the orange turns a bit green, as if a different fuel source had been introduced into the flame for a mere moment and then taken out again. This continues throughout the entire sequence.
A canny observer might recognize that we are, in fact, much higher in the sky than before because the sun looks even bigger and brighter. The camera locks back in with Pit and falls alongside him. (In the very, very far off distance it is possible to discern, through the clouds, a few interlocking links of a massive, planet-sized golden chain. But this detail is very subtle and easy to miss.) With this, the opening credits begin to appear on screen. As the credits roll, a complex, but significant, montage of Pit’s fall begins.* The cinematic arrangement of the Kid Icarus title music continues throughout, with instruments, at times, punctuating the visuals.
(*This montage takes a while to read, but in reality I envision the whole thing taking no longer than a minute, or so.)
For a few seconds, there is a shot of Pit from above. He enters a bank of clouds and the camera follows him in, with the bright orange glow illuminating his body in the fog. After a few seconds Pit comes out the bottom of the cloud and we see that there is another blanket of darker, silvery clouds seeming miles below.
The shot fades to a night shot. The clouds seem to have evaporated as we witness, from a near distance but looking up, the fire-illuminated Pit fall against infinite stars. A butter colored moon hangs benignly in the distance. This shot lasts for only a few seconds.
A day shot again. As the camera passes directly through the yellow sun, a muscular white Pegasus springs into view. We follow the Pegasus, which moves almost too quickly for us. We can barely discern a lone rider on its back. The Pegasus quickly turns and circles around our hero Pit, who is falling just now into view. The Pegasus rears up and then quickly darts away into the distance.
Another cut. As before, we tumble with Pit through terrible thunderclouds, full of electricity and rain. A few sparks are raised as a bolt tries to penetrate the fireball, but nothing appears to break through. And now Pit bursts out of the bottom of these clouds and we finally see the Earth below in the form of a massive blue sea churning aggressively with waves.
There is a quick cut to the view of Pit from above as he plummets terminally towards the sea. For the first time we really get a sense of how swiftly he is falling as the waves, which seemed impossibly far below only a moment ago, rise up to meet Pit in mere fractions of a second.
Cut to a shot from beneath the waves. A few seconds pass in anticipation. Then the water explodes into white brine in every direction. Through this tumult we see a glow of descending orange and, perhaps, the corner of a grey wing and a sandal.
In the next shot, the waters have calmed somewhat. And now, an impossibility! As Pit continues his descent through the water he does not seem naturally buoyant at all! Instead he continues to fall as if pulled by a great magical weight tied around his waist. We see large schools of tropical fish scatter as he tumbles near them.
A dark shot in the blackness of the deep sea. An orange and green glow begins to illuminate the black and we see a colossal sea monster – a Leviathan who is seeing light for, perhaps, the first time in many ages. The light intensifies as Pit drops through the scene. Massive jaws snap, but even they are not fast enough to catch him as he falls quickly past. Pit disappears from view and the camera stays trained on the sea beast as everything fades back to its usual darkness. Especially dramatic are the deep shadows along the sea monster’s body as Pit gets far away.
With a downward shot, the camera follows a translucent, phosphorescent crustacean skittering on the bottom of the ocean floor. The glow this creature emits barely illuminates the dirt it is kicking up as it hastily moves. There is a slight zoom out to reveal another phosphorescent creature running beside it. And another. Then the camera turns to parallel the ocean floor and we see that they are running to the edge of a massive crater which, we soon discover, is filled with all manner of phosphorescent creatures. The crater begins to be illuminated by the natural light of the bright orange flame now. Soon, the luminescent creatures – lobsters, trilobites and fish – are all bathed in natural light. In fear, they scatter. And rightfully so! We zoom in dramatically just as Pit crashes into the middle of the crater. But he doesn’t stop here! There is a great shock wave as stones from the bottom of the sea are tossed in all directions. The camera lunges forward quickly following Pit into the hole. Rocks tumble and break in all directions – massive boulders fly passed the camera, but at the bottom of our field of view we see Pit and his magic flame tunneling through the crust of the Earth as if it were merely more sky.
We cut to a shot of a reservoir full of flowing magma somewhere deep under the surface of the Earth. All is illuminated by the red-yellow glow that radiates off the melted rock. The massive cavern is really a trapped pocket of air that extends about 50 feet from the top of the cave to the immense sea of lava below. The camera sits perched on a cliff overlooking all this as suddenly Pit breaks through the roof of the cave! Water, brown sludge and, indeed, giant boulders fly in all directions as Pit bursts into the underground chamber. The camera quickly views this chaos from many angles. Of course, Pit falls straight into the sea of magma, which erupts explosively.
Now we see nothing but glowing orange magma completely filling the screen. But then, we notice a shock of hair. Then a corner of white and gold cloth. Then a knee. Then, suddenly it seems like we have fallen into an impossible chamber of air traveling ever deeper through a massive sea of magma. At the edges of this chamber the magma seems to be whisked away, as if it were mere whipping cream. Pit, still lifeless and motionless, continues his fall inside this air pocket. The camera centers on him and zooms in on his face. He seems at peace. Serene. Sleeping. As we have time to consider his tranquility, suddenly we see the Magma fold away below him to be replaced by inky darkness.
Suddenly there are washes of color on his face – different colors from different angles.
In a mid-distant shot, we view Pit as he falls through wild flashing lights and strange elongated bolts of lightning of every different hue. Explosions occur all around him. Wild, nonsensical figures appear like smoke in the air - like something taken out of a Dali painting, Escher drawing or a surreal Steve Ditko comic book frame – but Pit falls right through them.
A long shot, as indescribable, abstract and unsettling chaos fills the screen. Pit continues his descent through this strange, stream-of-conscious landscape, defying the viewer to understand.
We see a great ghostly shadow fall briefly over Pit, but it disappears too fast to make out much but a skeletal frame.
Back to an overhead shot of Pit’s entire body, we watch as he plunges toward a giant, hideous mouth. The sight is truly terrifying – our hero tumbling into those malevolent, gnashing teeth. Behind the mouth, slight green haze is barely noticeable. The beastly teeth snap shut over Pit, though he clearly just misses being crushed by them.
Anyone familiar with the Kid Icarus title theme music would realize that we are now approaching its finale.
The camera sits at a distance, watching as Pit crashes through the ceilings of the Underworld. The look of the architecture harkens back to the opening levels of the original game, but with more of a hellish, distorted look to it. Flames of red, yellow, orange and green burst up from the ground, casting long shadows of stalagmites onto the wall. The atmosphere is thick and you can almost taste the brimstone.
In quick succession we see Pit crash through many levels of Hell, some peopled with the walking dead, some with ethereal spirits, others with unspeakably terrifying demonic creatures. Monoeyes and small blue snakes turn, startled to see Pit crashing down.
Nearing the last few notes of music, most of the hellish character of the environment seems to fade away to mere dark caverns with no life in them whatsoever.
And finally, with the last crash of music, Pit comes to an abrupt stop at the floor of the darkest, most isolated hole in the universe. The orange and green flame dissipates quickly, though it is possible to briefly make out that Pit has landed in a small, nondescript, dirty cave.
The effect of this montage is clear: Pit has fallen from the height of the Temple of Palutena all the way to the very lowest point of Hades.
With the decay of the last percussive blast of the title theme, the flame fades completely and the camera is left in total darkness. For a number of seconds everything lies black and motionless.
A beat. Consider the darkness, gentle gamer.
There is a stylish, and silent, flash of white light shaped roughly like a diamond. It appears and then fades away immediately.
Another few seconds go by in the darkness.
There’s another brief flash of white light in silence. This time we can make out a woman’s figure, though she’s backlit to almost total saturation. This unsettling beauty is immediately cut off by a brief refrain of Palutena being overcome by Medusa’s flame, only this time viewed from Pit’s own vantage point. The anguish on her face is moving and terrible.
But quickly the entire scene dissolves back into darkness.
After a few more seconds the tiniest sound becomes perceptible: the eerie scraping of insect legs on a dusty floor.
Finally, a match is struck in the darkness and we see, through an informal and shaky lens, the flame-lit face of a man. For a second he uses this match as a light source to look around him. We can tell he is in a cramped chamber of a cave, though we cannot see much of it, nor what it is he is looking at. Then, smiling contentedly at what he sees, the man lifts a rolled cigarette and lights it with that same match. Once lit, he shakes the match out and, for a beat, only the dull orange ember of his cigarette is seen. It brightens as he takes a drag and then room starts to become visible again as he exhales a strange, phosphorescent orange smoke. Throughout the following scene this smoke continues to brighten the room every time he exhales, sometimes punctuating his speech.
The magic glow of this smoke gives us our first clear view of the man. He cuts an unexpected figure for this story. He is ruggedly handsome, with the face of a lifelong fighter and a head of dark, prickly hair. He is tall and muscular - though in an understated, lean way. His dress, while not identifiably modern, is more layered and complex than anything we have seen from characters in the story so far. His clothes are wine red and black, with some gold accents that seem rooted in Roman or Etruscan design. These gold accents are almost as flashy as his “smarter-than-you” smirk.
(Let me not mince words, Wii Lobby (I mean, Negative World -Kris): He looks like a total badass. He looks sort of like Travis Touchdown if you had dressed him up like Auron. But with a slightly more Roman appeal. He kicks ass.)
“Pit.” He fires out the name in a rough-but-attractive voice. “Heh. I wonder if your mother might have foreseen this when she gave you that name.” The camera turns around, showing us Pit’s body collapsed on the floor, still unconscious and completely covered in dust. “I wonder if she could have known that you would one day find yourself here.” He motions to the room. “In the deepest pit in the entire universe.”
The man has now moved to the limp body.
“Well, get up.”
He gives Pit a heavy kick.
“I’m not going to stand around here while the little fallen angel sleeps.”
Suddenly Pit’s eyes open. They blink, then widen straight away. With great speed, Pit kips up to his feet and flips backwards into a three point stance ready to pounce.
“Heh heh,” the man laughs, nonchalantly. “You have the speed…” He takes a drag. “I’ll give you that. But I doubt you have the strength. Save it. There is much to do.”
Pit reaches for his bow but realizes it isn’t on him.
“A lot has changed since you left this world, Pit” the man continues. “Perhaps, in the distant past, we were great enemies. But I think you’ll discover circumstances have changed all of that.”
A shot of Pit’s face, intense with hatred.
The man notices this look, and his speech becomes a bit more intense. “I confess I had intended to leave you rotting in this hole forever. It seemed only natural after… all… you’ve… done,” he says these last words with slow, careless menace. He inhales deeply, collecting himself. “But now, as you can see, I have come for you myself. For now even I, Orcos, God of the Underworld, have need for you, Kid Icarus.” He spits the last two words out, mockingly.
Enraged, Pit leaps on Orcos, who easily slaps him away with a powerful backhand. Pit crashes against a craggy wall and crumples to the floor. Only now does Pit realize how much his own strength has withered.
Orcos recomposes himself and, adjusting his cloak, continues: “I wonder, now, if it was worth it,” he says dryly. “I see that you are weak and disoriented and you don’t want to listen to me.”
He takes another drag from his cigarette and moves toward Pit’s broken figure, and, with repressed ferocity he growls, “Perhaps you have forgotten.” With this, Orcos exhales more of the bewitched orange smoke which begins to coalesce into figures. Yes, like people sculpted from glowing smoke. Hovering over Pit, the smoke displays once more the fiery death of Palutena.
Terror comes over Pit’s face and we see in the orange glow that he remembers everything now.
Seeing that Pit has become affected by this memory, Orcos softens his speech a bit. He doesn’t seem much more caring than before, but certainly more manipulative. “Yes, my poor friend, this vision is true. Palutena is dead.”
With a wave of his hand, Orcos dissipates the smoky figures. “In fact, she has been dead for quite some time. Medusa rules the heavens now. As she has these last… 20 years.”
Orcos punctuates this revelation with an exhalation of smoke that forms the figure of Pit lying motionless on the cavern floor.
Pit’s shakes his head in disbelief. Surely this is a lie! Could he really have lay unconscious in the depths of Hell for 20 years? But Orcos, though clearly delighting in breaking the news to Pit, is inscrutable. Yes, we see in Pit’s face, the unthinkable must be true.
“Yes, it has been 20 years, little fallen angel - a long time. Medusa the God Killer has been hard at work dismantling everything you love.” A pause. “And now you see why you should cooperate with me.” Orcos offers his hand to help Pit to his feet, but Pit rises on his own, kicking the dust off of his sandals. This amuses Orcos who flashes a devilish smile. “However, I’m not sure the years have left you in any shape to help me.” Orcos snickers briefly to himself. He lifts his right hand and, with a small flash, a simple bow and a quiver of arrows appear from thin air. “Take these.” Orcos hurls them at Pit who, upon catching them, examines the bow. It is obviously poorly crafted. “I suspect that the Great General of Angel Land is unaccustomed to such crude weapons. But then, surely, a great general should be able to use any weapon. Shouldn’t he?” Orcos says this with great smugness. He clearly delights in the humiliation of the general who once defeated him.
Straightaway, Pit nocks an arrow and fires it at Orcos, who disintegrates it with a wave of his left hand. Orcos continues as if this did not happen. “I have a temple, many miles above us. It is my lowest temple. If you can find your way there, I shall give you provisions and we shall speak more on...” He chooses his words carefully and the camera zooms in on his lips, “the things we have in common.”
The camera pulls out again. And we see Pit standing strong in the face of the more powerful Orcos. “Otherwise feel free to roam the Underworld for the rest of eternity. Heh. You wouldn’t be the first.” Orcos snickers again. “But I warn you, you are many, many leagues below even the lowest circles of Hell. I wasn’t certain that this chamber even existed until my spies found you here.” There is a brief cut to a deformed beetle scuttling across the floor.
Orcos now straightens up a bit and speaks these last words more formally than before: “I do not think that it would be much of an existence to run from me. I am Orcos. The dead have a way of coming back into my care…”
With that, Orcos disappears in a crack of light and smoke.
Without missing a beat, Pit runs through the lingering smoke and through a hole in the rock, hurling himself into the journey ahead.
And so we begin the game...
(End Part II)
Afterword (From 2007)
Whew. This took a long time to write, especially the opening montage. Sorry it took me so long to get posted, but the challenge of Orcos was a bit of a challenge to write!
Yeah, Pit's fall really did take seven days, which will be discussed more later.
I know there’s a risk of being too talky at the beginning of games, but I figure that Nintendo has almost no games that take the cinematic approach, so maybe the audience would be more accepting of this type of opening. I hope I have done it right.
I did want to address fully a comment that Hell’s Rider made after I posted the first part.
Hell’s Said: "I was wondering if Medusa will be the ultimate evil of this story, because you see the problem I have with that is that nowadays people want that larger than life boss that is both amazing to look at and cool to face and take down and I don't think Medusa cuts it especially since A)some people have been exposed to God of War and Kratos pretty much easily kills off Medusa and B) since your using Pit's absence and incorporating that into the story, I'm sure their is a bigger evil (or evils perhaps) that has surfaced after all this time has passed. Just a thought."
While I understand Hell’s view, I feel strongly that Medusa is meant to be Pit and Palutena’s arch-nemesis. Removing her from the game, to me, is sort of like removing Ganon from The Legend of Zelda.
I understand completely that versions of Medusa have been used and abused in modern video games to the point that she’s maybe become a joke to some gamers. I remember fighting her at the beginning of Castlevania, too. She was quite the softball. But if you look at the original Medusa from myth she’s utterly terrifying and absolutely no joke. She could kill you with a glance!
And if you look at how the original Kid Icarus game treats her, she’s even more powerful than in myth. She’s clearly supposed to be a Satan-level threat to the forces of good. So that’s the way I’m approaching her - a completely evil force with command over fierce and spiritual black magic. She’s also a conqueror who, as you’ve read, has absolutely destroyed the good goddess Palutena and controlled the universe for 20 years. This is no joke. She actually does this in my game. Be prepared to hear the name “Medusa the God-Killer” over and over again, because that’s the identity I’m giving her.
That said, Medusa isn’t the only force at work here…
I’ll confess right now that I’ve never gotten my hands on a copy of the Kid Icarus sequel for the Game Boy (Kris 2012: Well, I have played through it multiple times since I originally wrote this. It rocks!) The moment I see a copy of it at my local game store I’ll snatch it up. But, until then, my understanding of Orcos comes strictly from researching the game on the web.
More about Orcos will be revealed soon. But I think it’s worth noting that he isn’t above humiliating Pit, whatever his other motivations may be. He didn’t take his defeat in Kid Icarus II nearly as lightly as he wants to let on. But isn’t he a badass? I’m not sure if I’ve gotten his speech pattern down pat, but I really do want him to be an attractive, interesting character that the player wants to know more about. Any thoughts you have about him are welcome.
I have a lot to say about the shape and scope of the Universe that the story takes place in, but I’ll save that for another time, or below if you want me to get into it.
Whew… Kid Icarus is serious business… Thanks for reading.
2012 Kris, again! How many bottles of Gatorade have you burned through? Do you feel yourself winning from within? Eaten the Lunchable yet? Those crackers are good! You do realize you're less than halfway through, right? But don't look for sympathy from me. Can you imagine how long this took me to write? But I'm not complaining. I did it all for you!
Okay, enough flirty jabber. I'm going to stop here and interject a few thoughts.
First, I sincerely hope you're enjoying it. I really do.
Beyond that, I want to add that I've been pretty happy with the text, reading it over again. That's a pleasant surprise. There are a few minor things I'd change - mostly to do with syntax - but I like the way it reads, overall.
We're about to get into the stuff that gave me a bit more of struggle to get down on pixellated paper. It's probably easier to write a story than it is to design a reasonable video game and then make it entertaining to read about. I'm not sure how well I succeeded, but I can't change that now. (Or, rather, won't bother.)
Next you're going to see two "Supplements" that I posted on my IGN Blog discussing some of my thoughts and ideas about gameplay in The Fall of Kid Icarus. Some of these ideas are reiterated a bit in Part III, because I didn't want to assume that everyone who read Part III was also reading my blog. I apologize for the redundancy, Negative World, but I thought there was enough good information to make the Supplements worth your while. If you're on a time crunch, feel free to skip to Part III, though. I'll never hear about it.
The Fall of Kid Icarus Supplement 1: Notes on Game Design
Friends, let me confess to you right now that I am not a master game designer.
Add to that my total distaste for reading paragraphs explaining how the A-button is for jumping, the C-button is for crouching and how the 2-button brings up a map with points marked on it if you’ve discovered the pen tool at the bottom of the second fortress, etc.
Then mix in the sheer tedium of reading, no less writing, paragraphs of text about the distinct mechanics of some obstacle Pit has to overcome. Then imagine doing this over and over again for each level in an epic 20 hour game.
Makes me want to vomit.
So I’m counting that you’ll understand my choice to not be so detailed about the actual mechanics of the gameplay in “The Fall of Kid Icarus.” This isn’t because I don’t care about how the game is played. Actually it’s quite the opposite. It occurs to me that being too specific about the gameplay at this point would limit the potential of the game. I realize that a big part of game development must be concerned with determining what controls, character abilities and level designs are actually fun in practice. All of these particulars have to be worked, reworked and refined until the experience is perfect for the player. So I admit outright that I can’t do all that digital chemistry on my own and feel confident that I’m describing to you, in an entertaining way, the best Kid Icarus game that a team of developers could imagine. I just can’t do that.
So I won’t do that.
Instead, I prefer to talk in generalities about the philosophy of the game design and assume that the particulars of making it a gripping experience would be worked out over the course of development.
Sure, Chief. Looks good to me.
First, I’d like to again reference the legendary difficulty of the original NES game. It was brutal, I tell you, especially those first levels. It tested both your skill as a gamer and your patience as a human being without ever feeling unfair or broken. If you fell, it was because you messed up. And, of course, the game punished you for messing up by making you start back at the beginning of the level. Most people who played it never beat it. It was a game for the hardcore, even then.
“The Fall of Kid Icarus” would have this same audience in mind. The polish of a good Nintendo game would still be there, but the difficulty would be ratcheted up. Think of the later levels of Super Mario Galaxy – levels after the 60 star halfway mark - and then imagine that’s the starting place. Imagine an entire game made from those hard and exciting parts.
Borrowing ideas from other Nintendo properties is consistent with the previous entry in the series. “Kid Icarus” worked because it combined successful aspects of the best early Nintendo games into something new. As the early marketing proudly proclaimed, Pit could “…jump like Mario, shoot like Samus, and explore like Link.” It was a collage of Nintendo’s better gaming concepts of the day, mixed together with some character of its own. Honestly, I think any new game in the Kid Icarus series should operate the same way. It would aspire to be the ultimate Nintendo game and, like many games from the company, it wouldn’t fit neatly into a single established genre. I imagine it particularly drawing from “Super Mario Galaxy” and “The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.”
And even though Pit spends a good portion of the first part of the game crawling around in caves, the game should absolutely never feel like a Tomb Raider game. There should be very few puzzles to slow the game down - though cleverness and quick thinking would still be a requirement to work out how to overcome obstacles. Think again of Mario, here: Good, fluid game design that comes at you pretty fast. Mario games don’t typically get bogged down having you push boulders around to solve some uninspired physics puzzle or other.
What the--? Now I'm just putting in pictures to put in pictures!
Another preference: Pit, having such an appealing character design, should be visible on the screen. I’m not interested in any Kid Icarus game that takes a first person view. That said, unlike the Pit missions in Subspace Emissary, all of the levels in this game would be truly 3 dimensional, and never feel merely like an old “2 and a half D” leftover from previous generations. Archery should also be a key part of the game, with enough enemies that Pit should rarely have to put down his bow. If it works in practice, I’d love to see the game utilize the IR in the Wiimote for this mechanic.
As the story unfolds, we see that the levels change from vertical platforming (sometimes very strict vertical platforming, punishing falls harshly by setting the player back by 10 minutes or more, as the original game did) into an open world where the focus is exploration and interaction with other characters. From there… I’ll keep the secrets of the later game to myself, for now. But the point is that the nature of Pit’s adventure should not be obvious from the start. It is not simply a platformer or a dungeon crawler or a shooter. It is all these things.
The key to all of this is for Nintendo to get smart and creative game designers to make levels that feel immediately satisfying both in platforming and in fighting enemies – levels the player wants to play over and over again. Because of Nintendo’s track record with level design in the Zelda and Mario games, I take it for granted that this can and would be done.
That’s enough design philosophy for now. Hopefully you can see where I’m coming from.
(I’d also like to briefly mention again that I’ve never played the God of War series. Since both “Kid Icarus” and “God of War” are action games that draw on established myth, it’s quite likely that some of my ideas might have been explored already in that series. I have no way of knowing this. While I think all consideration should be made to make “Kid Icarus” distinct, I’m not going to bother to make changes to accommodate something that may have already been done in “God of War”. If there is overlap, for now I say “So be it.” It certainly isn’t intentional.)
Supplement 2: Pit
Despite being a more cinematic game than Nintendo typically produces, there is at least one company tradition that “The Fall of Kid Icarus” would keep: Pit never speaks. It is up to the gamer to project the details of Pit’s personality onto his character.
Still, some of Pit’s basic traits are obvious. He’s quite young for a general; A teenager, in fact, though relatively uncomplicated emotionally. Pit’s age often expresses itself in youthful eagerness, as when he immediately attacks Orcos even when it is clear Orcos entirely controls the situation. The desire to do good, even if only symbolically, sometimes clouds his judgment.
Pit is also clearly noble. He knows Medusa’s reign is fundamentally unjust, which serves as his prime motivation. However his intense loyalty to Palutena also drives him. It is very possible that Pit is not above a little vengeance, if you see it that way.
His relationship to Palutena is complicated from a historical point. The original game had multiple endings and the best of those endings showed an older Pit and Palutena falling in love. That’s a nice idea and all, but unworkable for storytelling purposes in the game I’m imagining. Pit would have to be aged to the point that such a relationship would be appropriate and I just don’t want to take the story in that direction. Instead, I like to imagine this relationship closer to what is seen in the cutscenes from The Subspace Emissary. Palutena obviously has warm feelings for Pit. She knows he’s special. But any thoughts of romance are premature at this point. Pit, on the other hand, idolizes Palutena (well, she is a goddess after all) but doesn’t yet have the maturity to actually fall in love with her. And that’s as far as I’m willing to take the romance angle in “The Fall of Kid Icarus.”
I would like to briefly address the use of the name “Kid Icarus.” As everyone knows, the lead character of this series is named Pit. His name was never Kid Icarus, despite what we all saw on the cartoon “Captain N” on Saturday mornings back in the 80s. Pit has always been the character’s actual name. Thankfully, the release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl seems to have cleared up that mistaken belief for good.
It is also true that the original Japanese title makes no reference to “Kid Icarus.” A case could be made that this English version of the title is obsolete now; a relic of regional marketing during the NES era. I have heard people say, almost as if it was common sense, that the next game in the series should be called simply “Icarus” or take on another title entirely.
Personally though, as a long time fan of the original game, I think that’s being extremely pedantic. “Kid Icarus” is an original, evocative name for a game series. It has a history with gamers and I see no reason to discontinue using it. Moreover, I’m pretty well convinced that these suggestions come more from the desire to remove the word “Kid” from the title of the game, since Nintendo fans have long been stigmatized as players of kiddie games.
If you do fall into that latter camp, let me ask you to reconsider. The word “Kid” in this instance has nothing to do with being a child. “Kid Icarus” strikes me as a nickname that was given to Pit to honor his youth and fighting prowess. In boxing, the name “Kid” has often been given to young, fierce fighters as a title of respect. Mike Tyson was often called “Kid Dynamite” when he was an up-and-coming boxer. One of the most fearsome boxers of all time, and a video game star himself, Tyson never thought the name was childish. The history of boxing has been full of these sorts of nicknames: Kid Chocolate; Kid Gavilin; Kid Azteca; The Comeback Kid, etc. There’s a famous boxing movie from the thirties called “Kid Galahad,” which stars no less than the hard-smoking and harder-drinking Humphrey Bogart. Now there was one of the toughest S.O.B.’s ever put on film and everyone understood what the title of his movie meant: Galahad was a young and powerful prizefighter.
I use the nickname Kid Icarus in a similar way for Pit. He’s obviously young by the standards of Angel Land society, but he’s already a tested and trusted general who has saved Palutena’s realm twice already. He’s a national hero at this point. Also, as I hope the opening sequence of “The Fall of Kid Icarus” shows, Pit is perhaps the most gifted fighter in all of Palutena’s army.
So I encourage you, when you read “The Fall of Kid Icarus,” to view the sporadic use of the nickname the way I intend it. I see no good reason to deprecate it.
The Fall of Kid Icarus (Part III: The Temple of the Lowest Circle)
After this introductory sequence concludes, we finally step out with Pit into the first Underworld level of the game. For brevity’s sake I’m not going to give detailed descriptions of every feature of the gameplay. As I have said in my blog, describing these components would be so mind-numbing and take up so much space that I’m pretty sure I’m doing us all a favor by not going into too great of detail. Instead, I’m going to give a bullet-point list of certain aspects of the gameplay and leave the actual level-design to your imagination.
“The Fall of Kid Icarus” is an adventure platformer that melds a number of the best ideas from currently successful Nintendo franchises into one consummate Nintendo game. At heart it’s a platformer and it most naturally resembles the later levels of Super Mario Galaxy in creativity of level design and speed of gameplay. Emphasis is primarily on quick reflexes and arrow shooting more than puzzle-solving, though cleverness is required to pass certain obstacles. Weapons and items are managed and upgraded similarly to Zelda or Metroid games and the player must make smart use of all of Pit’s resources to prepare him for the demanding struggle ahead. Pit must get stronger as the game progresses if he wants to survive. This said, the main thrust of “The Fall of Kid Icarus” is vertical platforming just as it was in the original “Kid Icarus” game. These early levels in particular focus on climbing to vertigo-inducing heights. Time and again, those of us who are scared of heights must confront this fear in “The Fall of Kid Icarus.”
Like the original game, even the early levels are difficult and punish failure harshly. It is foremost a game for experienced Nintendo players, not for people who have never mastered a 3D platformer before.
Pit follows the tradition of the Nintendo “heroic mute” and never speaks in the game. Also, like previous games, he has wings but cannot fly. If he falls, after tumbling a few feet, you can use his wings to glide to a safe landing. However, this usually sets you back quite a bit, just as in the original game. But those are the breaks, hardcore gamer. No whining.
We begin with Pit in literally the lowest point in the Universe. It is cold, lonely and the spare design of the cavern drives that truth home. The level is lit only by the glow of Orcos’ cigarette smoke – eerie, beautiful, burnt orange, phosphorescent particle effects that swirl around Pit, sometimes forming figures depicting “memory” scenes from the opening sequence. Created entirely from smoke, we see Palutena overcome by Medusa, Pit falling toward the earth, minor characters from the introduction being felled by Medusa’s Army. Sometimes we just see Orcos hovering, watching Pit as he climbs.
In this first cavern, Orcos’ disembodied voice sometimes offers help to the player, though usually in a sardonic or backhanded way (ex: “Try shooting an arrow to cause an avalanche here, Pit. What do I care? I’m never going back down there again.”) He never repeats any of these tips, so they do not irritate us, and they make Orcos a bit more likeable since he’s sometimes quite funny. But his deep-rooted hatred of Pit should not be undercut by making him too flippant. He’s sometimes just plain mean or unhelpful.
After the first instructional level is complete, Orcos grows tired of waiting for Pit. (“You know, Pit, I have things I want to do today and you’re taking too long. Let me hurry things up for you.”) He then teleports you to a higher part of the Underworld, this time populated with stylized versions of enemies familiar from previous Kid Icarus games: Snakes, Monoeyes, Kobils, etc. Orcos jokes, “Well, you didn’t expect me to bring you straight to me, did you? I want to watch something try to kill you first!” Strike up the famous Underworld music, because you are straight up playing Kid Icarus, now!
Maybe without the Wolverine claws, Bub.
Throughout the Underworld, multiple climbing paths offer you choices in how you want to tackle a climb. These paths needn’t all be the same level of difficulty, as experienced players may deliberately choose to scale a harder section just for the fun of it, or for the greater rewards in treasure and items the harder paths offer.
As in the original game, Pit sometimes comes across bottles of wine which you can use to heal yourself. You may also find fragile magic harps that, when played, turn nearby enemies into mallets. Unlike in previous games, Pit uses mallets to burst open secret chambers hidden throughout the game world. In these chambers, he can fight off swarms of bizarre creatures (though not the infamous Specknoses) for whatever treasure they drop. You might also encounter a room full of jars that Pit can break open for further treasure. There is no “God of Poverty” in the Underworld, though. Instead, certain pots will burst open with Orcos’s ember smoke and his voice will bark out, “Why so greedy, Pit? All this treasure belongs to me, now.” And the treasure in the room will be magically confiscated by him.
After climbing through some stunningly beautiful and tricky levels, Pit finally approaches the “Temple of the Lowest Circle,” Orcos’ deepest fortress. We first see the temple from quite a distance, set deep within a massive cavern. Dwarfed by the cliff face behind it, the temple itself seems small, at first. But this is an optical illusion. As we approach, fighting off swarms of various enemies upon an ancient and forgotten battlefield, the imposing size of the fortress becomes clear. It is enormous!
Like all structures in these levels, the Temple of the Lowest Circle appears shaped by some ancient and arcane stone craftsman. It may once have had a twisted beauty, but it long ago went to ruin. Orcos clearly doesn’t spend much time down here.
As a side note, I recommend listening to Mazedude's remix of the original Kid Icarus fortress music. This isn’t the exact style I have in mind for the music of this level, but it has such a nice atmosphere that it’s worth listening to.
The fortress itself appears rooted in Ancient Greek Ionian design, but with some Eastern influence of a vague nature, as if some ancient stonemason crossed The Temple of Artemis with a towerless Angkor Wat. Its aged magnificence should unsettle us a bit, especially when close approach reveals wild-eyed and frightening figures sculpted right into the face of the stone. Multi-eyed monsters and barely clothed figures with over sized tongues stare out at us, challenging us to enter. An inscription, crudely carved maybe thousands of years later, reads “To Ancient Gods, Long Dead”. Gods that perhaps even Orcos himself never knew.
Inside, the temple resembles an abandoned cathedral that has been reclaimed by nature over the course of centuries. Pit must navigate his way through its labyrinthine rooms, which serve as a multi-storied maze full of foul beasts and stale, murky air. Curiously, there are sections of the fortress that are full of ice, and Pit sometimes shivers from the cold. The main feature of the Temple, apart from the hordes of enemies within, are the number of deliberate traps set up, including a few that drop snakes out of clay pots from the ceiling onto Pit’s head, just like in simpler times. The rooms circle a main Great Hall at the center of the fortress, which is not actually accessible until the very end of the maze. We catch glimpses of the Great Hall from a few rare angles throughout the temple but we never get a clear view, though something very large is obviously moving around in that room. After working our way through a satisfying gauntlet of rooms, and after passing through a room with some gold “healing mist,” we finally locates the entrance to the Great Hall. Pit steps out to finally lay eyes on The Accuser.
Boss Fight: The Accuser
The Great Hall is more temple than throne room. There are two, large, tarnished incense urns that have not been lit in centuries. Even so, the stone walls seem to have absorbed something of the old, mystical smell. The leftover threads of great tapestries lie in piles on the floor, beneath where they once hung. We see strange and incomprehensible corpses – some in armor, some in primordial robes that have somehow never decayed. Something important, proud and terrible once took place down here. But now, the room that once was used to venerate wild and dangerous gods is merely a prison for a younger, unspeakably terrifying and colossal demon.
Not Exactly What I’m Talking About.
The Accuser is a six-winged demon, straight from the most horrendous of medieval imaginations. His body is as immense as the temple itself - many stories tall, though he is hunched over and bound by many chains and ropes both large and small - some of them crackling with magical energy, some of them merely big and heavy. Because of these chains, his movement is considerably restricted. But he isn’t completely pressed to the floor, either. Some of the chains he has managed to break over the years. However, it is apparent that he long ago gave up on ever breaking the rest. Also unnerving are his three faces, each with its own toothy maw, unkempt beard, and a pair of eyes that, we see in a close-up, cry massive tears which spill down the monster’s face and immediately turn to ice. It seems The Accuser’s tears are the source of all the ice in the fortress. In fact, the demon himself is covered in frost.
Eh, a little better.
When The Accuser finally notices Pit, he stares at him for a moment, as if he were making a silent appeal for empathy of some kind. We wonder if the tears are real or if they are merely a ploy. Is The Accuser a cornered animal sizing up for a potential attack, or is he truly as pathetic as he seems? The tears continue to stream down the cheeks and freeze. We see a shot of Pit standing aghast. A closeup on his bow. After a beat, The Accuser, sensing no pity, lets out a bone-shaking roar, harmonizing from each of his three mouths. Massive stones fall from the ceiling, throwing prehistoric dust everywhere. A shot as Pit looks up to see a hole of broken rock where The Accuser must have originally fallen into this enormous room centuries ago.
Far above and behind the great demon, unseen by the six crying eyes, a shaky camera zooms in as a dark figure leans on the ledge of an ornate stone balcony. A near shot reveals Orcos, in shadow but still exhaling his ember smoke.
We see a shot of Pit, surprised. He then incredulously looks down at the poorly made wooden bow in his hands, as if to say, “Who could be expected to subdue this greatest of all demons armed with such a negligible weapon?”
A close up shot of Orcos, smirking in his orange haze.
Pit’s eyes quickly tighten with determination. He goes into a three-point battle stance. “Kid Icarus, that’s who!” He lunges forward.
Well, and then you fight a colossal demon with the sorriest weapon possible. Forget shooting The Accuser. Arrows bounce off of his skin or splinter into a hundred pieces on impact. The Accuser tries to fly - getting nowhere because of the chains, of course. But the mighty wings create such wind that Pit sometimes falls over or takes damage from large bulleting shards of ice or, bless him, just gets hit by a beating wing. If Pit gets too close, he might even take a swipe from one of The Accuser’s enormous claws. If Pit is caught, the demon grabs him and immediately lifts him to his mouth and begins to chew him to pieces, resulting in immediate death. So that’s not recommended.
That’s more like it!
But there are multiple ways to subdue The Accuser and a clever gamer can work them out on their own. Careful shooting towards his many eyes gives some results, though the precision required to get a direct hit makes this very difficult. Some quick thinking and use of the environment comes into play, better. Fire can be created in the incense urns using old tools designed for just this purpose. Pit can then fire arrows through the fire and finally penetrate the demon’s skin. It’s sloppy, but it does a little damage. Rope found on the ground can also be used to make a makeshift “firewhip” that can burn the monster. A keen shot at the rocks over the demon’s head can land a boulder shot or two, which can stun the demon and make it possible for Pit to climb onto him and shoot directly into his eyes. Ultimately, there are a number of ways to defeat The Accuser and Pit need not use every technique possible to do it. Finally, after many blows, the demon falls over in defeat - not death. Not even close. But The Accuser gives up fighting and crumples to the floor, subdued and shivering again in its own icy misery.
We see Orcos sink back into the shadows.
Pit looks from the body of The Accuser up into the balcony. And now, with the same determination he showed before, goes into a run, up the back of the broken demon and flips onto the balcony where Orcos stood just moments before. He follows him into the darkness.
Pit now enters a respectably sized banquet hall that, unlike the rest of the temple, is well lit, well furnished and feels warm and cozy. Orcos stands waiting beside a long table filled with food. Upon entering the room, Pit nocks two arrows and fires them both straight at Orcos’ heart. Orcos catches them both with a quick movement and then smiles.
“No, Pit. That is not in the cards for you today, I’m afraid.”
A profile shot of Orcos as he addresses the hero. “But you must be so very tired. Hungry. 20 years is a long time to go without food. Sit. Eat.”
The camera quickly zooms out to reveal Pit already chowing down and not listening to anything Orcos is saying.
Orcos takes a seat at the head of the table and amusedly watches as Pit devours fruit, ham and various other dishes.
Fade out and back in. Pit has now made his way to the foot of the table, having eaten everything at the head. Orcos is pacing back and forth in perturbed boredom.
Another fade out and back in. Pit is back near Orcos again at the head of the table, relaxed and contentedly holding his stomach, which purrs. The table is full only of empty dishes now.
“A miraculous appetite, Pit. Great magic must have sustained you all those years.” Pit’s stomach growls even louder. “Still?” asks Orcos. Pit nods, sleepily. “Then onto the main course.” Orcos presents a silver serving tray, which he lifts with an ironic flourish. “Eggplant parmesan.”
A shot of Pit as he comically wrinkles his nose and sticks out his tongue in disgust. He raises both palms to say “No thanks.”
“No?” Orcos lets out a slight, masculine chuckle. “Then dinner is over.” And now, deathly serious. “It is time to talk about business.”
Orcos strikes a match and lights another of his magical cigarettes. He breathes deeply from it.
There is a beat. Pit stares drowsily at the floor, holding his stomach.
For the first time, Orcos speaks in an almost approving tone. “You did well against The Accuser, little angel. Do you know anything about him?” Pit shakes his head. “He has been bound to this temple for many centuries. A dozen gods and demigods worked for months just to restrain him here.” There is admiration in Orcos’ voice, though it is impossible to tell who in the story he admires. To the left of Orcos, the ember smoke now takes the form of The Accuser being assaulted with mighty force from many sides by unknown characters. “But he is broken now, howling for an age that no longer exists.”
Orcos takes another long drag from his cigarette as Pit sits quietly. “An age that no longer exists,” Orcos repeats dreamily. Pit shakes himself out of his somnolent haze and begins listening with rapt attention.
“Oh, I had nothing to do with the death of your goddess, Pit. I know you’ll never believe that, but it is true. I admit I did rejoice when I heard that Medusa had finally broken the back of your army. Defeated the Fraud Palutena. I may be a god, but I’m not above a little petty vengeance.”
Pit becomes furious. He reaches for an arrow, but his quiver is suddenly empty. He reaches for his bow, but now even that has disappeared, too. Orcos shakes his head. Pit just glowers at him.
The ember smoke now forms a montage of scenes relating to Orcos’ soliloquy, including shots of Medusa cackling as Pit falls, her Army tearing down the great statue of Palutena and Medusa herself delightfully cracking open a great fountain of water with her magic, spilling the contents everywhere. As Pit sees these images, his face darkens in unbelief.
“I knew the reign of Medusa would fill my Underworld kingdom with many new souls. And so it has been. It was enough to empower me to support her. Medusa, The God Killer. The new Goddess Above.”
We see Orcos triumphantly standing on a mountaintop staring into a sunset, clearly humbled just to have the sun on his skin again.
“Unlike Palutena, I also knew that Medusa’s dark heart would permit me to come back into the world. And for a time, she did. And I became one of her most trusted allies. More than a mere ally, in fact…”
Orcos cuts himself off.
“But this has all changed. Medusa’s thirst for power has turned her against even her greatest followers. She is a demented and paranoid goddess, now. Afraid of anyone who could potentially threaten her rule. She no longer distinguishes her friends from her enemies. Medusa, the God Killer, has thrown down hundreds of her most loyal supporters and surrounds herself with only the most obsequious of sycophants. In her dementia she cast me back down into the Underworld and constructed powerful magicks to contain everything from this world inside. My most powerful demons and I have tried for years to break her terrible shields. But it is no avail. She has become too powerful. We are trapped here.”
A shot of Pit, whose face shows no pity to Orcos.
Orcos notices Pit’s stoniness and thrusts himself forward to emphasize these final points. He blasts through the following words as if revealing for the first time thoughts that have been in his mind for many, many years.
“Understand, Pit, that no one can bring your Palutena back. She has passed on to Elysia - to that great void where even gods cannot touch her and no one ever returns. I do not promise you a restoration of the old world you used to know. That world is surely gone. But I do believe one thing, Pit: You are the only living person in the Underworld. And, for that reason alone, you can penetrate Medusa’s magicks. She has long forgotten you. She has made no provision in her plans if you might return.”
The smoke now shows Pit in full battle armor vanquishing foe after foe.
“Defeat Medusa, Pit. Defeat her for your own reasons. Do it because her rule is fundamentally unjust. Do it for vengeance. Do it for spite. Destroy the God-Killer, as you did before, and restore someone, anyone, who can watch over this world with some…
He searches for the word…
Pit looks down. His thoughts are only his and the player’s to decide.
The camera pulls out on the scene and we get a two shot of both characters at the table. The atmosphere of the room has changed, though. There is a heaviness. A darkness.
A beat, as the weight of the task ahead sinks in.
Another beat, as the awkwardness between these two hopeless allies becomes apparent.
“Thirsty?” Orcos produces a bottle of wine.
A shot on two glasses, with Pit’s face behind, as the wine is poured. Pit looks disinterested.
“No? You want water, don’t you? Well, there is no water down here. In Hell, we drink only wine.”
Orcos raises a glass to Pit in a silent toast and drinks.
Haha. In Hell we drink only wine. I freaking love that line. And the cool thing is, I wrote it! Go me. Okay, I got nothing new to add. Let's move on to...
The Fall of Kid Icarus (Part IV: The Healing Mists)
Fade in, peering down on Pit’s face as he sleeps. The camera continues to zoom out from Pit at the same speed as it was zooming away from the table with Orcos, so this fade seems almost like a part of the previous shot, only the subject matter has changed. Pit is now lying on a table made of small, multi-colored mosaic tile - part Byzantine Empire and part tacky 70’s public restroom - but nothing more can be seen of his location.
His face is neutral, unencumbered by worry or anything other than the impartial relief of deep sleep. As the camera continues this zoom, the tiles under Pit’s sleeping body fade away and are replaced by yellow-white clouds. We have now zoomed out enough to see Pit’s entire upper body tumbling towards these clouds, exactly as in the opening sequence. Suddenly the camera pulls back, away from Pit who now bullets out of the shot with burst of noise, showing us again how perilously fast he fell to earth. We know this is a flashback because Pit’s body is surrounded by that same orange-then-green fireball. The camera pans away from Pit to reveal a man hovering in the air on the back of a great Pegasus, whom Pit has just streaked past. The symphonic music hits a sinister chord, here. This new character wears intricately stylized gold-armor but his entire body is also carefully wrapped in red cloth, a costume that resembles a North-African Bedouin or Arab style, though is somehow untraceable to any known culture. Only his eyes are naked.
He quickly raises his right hand perpendicular to his body, simultaneously tugging on the Pegasus’s reins with the left causing the mighty horse to rear in the air. Swiftly he brings his right hand down as if to signal “Go” to an unseen companion.
Red cloth streaks past the camera. It spins and turns back down toward Pit, now miniscule below us, and we see a dozen or more similarly armored soldiers in flowing red cloth rocketing toward Pit at such speeds that they blur in our vision. We hear the air being cut violently by their bodies. As the camera points down, the upper body of the Pegasus flies into the shot, its rider partially seen and partially obscured by the edges of the screen. The camera and horse now dive together towards Pit, who slowly begins to rise up to meet our view. Now closer. Now closer. In a blink we pass through a light cirrus cloud. Now closer. Now the details of his lifeless, falling body are clearly visible. We see the fastest of the soldiers has caught up with him. The soldier raises an axe, bringing it down on the fireball with an ear-splitting boom. An explosion of flame and smoke bursts forth and the soldier is blown instantly out of the shot in the opposite direction. Mere micro-seconds later the next soldier brings down a great saber on Pit. But this soldier too is blown away by the fireball. In a blink, each soldier, one at a time, attacks the great fireball with a variety of weapons and each is thrown back in the opposite direction of their attack with a thunderous blast.
Finally, we see the rider on the back of the great Pegasus has drawn a highly wrought, exotic and jagged spear with an oxidized bronze head. We watch as the spear is thrust at impossible speed towards Pit’s abdomen. All is obscured by orange and green flame. We hear a bass-saturated explosion. Did that final blow penetrate? We cannot tell.
The flame quickly fades away and we see Pit burst awake upon the table. He looks to his right to find a well-lit, mostly empty room decorated entirely by strange mosaics. He turns to his left to see a mid-sized window opening out onto a street. A hunched little goblin man is walking by with a cane. Noticing Pit, the goblin stops for a second, shakes his head disapprovingly, and keeps walking. Pit searches again for his bow but comes up empty.
He begins looking around the room and, as he does, the camera backs quickly out of the window and surveys the surroundings. We see that Pit is in some kind of complex that has indoor and outdoor elements. There is a main avenue upon which we can see wells, courtyards and many small to mid-sized buildings which feature intricate mosaics of mysterious scenes related to the history of the Underworld. As the camera surveys the complex a small subtitle appears that reads: “The Healing Mists”.
The Healing Mists
The best way I can describe The Healing Mists is that it is a bit like Windfall Island from The Wind Waker - if Windfall Island was located in the 4th circle of Hell and was populated by a bunch of random evil characters from the Underworld.
Pit meets many dark, sometimes darkly comical, minions of Orcos here. There are imposing evil wizards who are visiting the mists before going off on some unknown task given to them by their master. There are many bumbling goblin “attendants” who function as directors and administrators of the mists, sometimes giving out shreds of vital information and sometimes just making you laugh at their wicked, albeit bureaucratic, nature. There are huge, intimidating demons that remind us any humor we encounter at the Healing Mists should be balanced by the knowledge that the Underworld is full of evil and violent creatures who just want Pit dead. There are also a number of human spirits enslaved by Orcos to work in the mists for eternity. There is nothing at all funny about them either, as most of them bear scars of beatings and lashings they have sustained over the years. The humans do seem relieved to have jobs at the Mists as opposed to more tortuous tasks that they have apparently experienced in the past. However, each of these enslaved human spirits speaks as if they were bearing a great weight of sadness and regret.
The point of this section of the game is to give the player a chance to do a little exploring, learn some particular details about the game world, get a few items and shreds of information that will be helpful on the rest of the journey, and to hit upon a major plot point and continue the story.
We discover very quickly, from talking to people within the complex, that Orcos has brought Pit to the Healing Mists to have his health checked out. Orcos wants to be assured that Pit has not been irreparably harmed by Medusa’s magic during all those years at the bottom of the Universe. He wonders if Pit can survive such a long journey with little provisions.
We learn from talking to a few different attendants and spirits that Pit has, in fact, been sustained by magic of an unknown type all those years and that his miraculous hunger at the Temple was a by-product of that magic being broken. However, a few “treatments” in different types of healing mists are prescribed to stabilize this hunger and to increase his stamina. A treatment is simply exposure to different colored mists in various saunas at different parts of the Healing Mist complex. This, of course, means the player has to fully explore the complex to get all the right treatments. The upside is that each treatment increases Pit’s life bar by a bit and, anyway, the area is so fun to explore that it isn’t a bother. While exploring the mists, these details are uncovered:
Pit runs a task for an old goblin – a mini-game of some sort – and as a reward the goblin gives him a bewitched compass that tells Pit how many days away from his “journey’s end” he is. This adds an optional readout at the bottom of the HUD that tells how many “days” Pit is from reaching Medusa. The number is unbelievably high at first: something like 1,529 days. Throughout the game this number will sometimes leap considerably if Pit finds a magical route or an alternate mode of transportation.
Pit can also see a map of the known Universe, which gives the player a more visual idea of how far there is left to travel. Hint: It’s impossibly far. I will discuss the unconventional shape of the Universe next time.
For the first time, Pit has access to a shop where he can purchase wine bottles, mallets, keys and other items. He can also locate a character who, if befriended by Pit, turns out to be a black market dealer who can sell him the much-needed barrel for holding wine bottles. These items all work similarly to the items in the original game.
What’re you buyin?
Orcos has set gigantic, demonic guards at all exits. These guards are in full armor and rough Pit up if he comes too near, which isn’t much of a problem for Pit since he can always go heal himself again. They express total hatred toward the hero, shout insults at him and dare him to try to escape because they want any excuse to kill him. In fact, pretty much everyone in the Mists is nasty to Pit in some way or other, save for the human slaves.
All the required tasks while in the Mists are easy for the player to work out. If someone is just trying to blaze through this section of the game as fast as possible, they could probably do it in 10 to 15 minutes. But a leisurely player could spend an hour or two exploring all the corners, finding secret rooms, talking to characters and playing mini games. Again, think of it as similar to the better villages in Zelda games, only with a slightly perverse sense of humor mixed in.
When all required tasks have been completed, the door to the “finishing treatment” becomes available. When Pit goes inside, he finds himself in a dark room with a near-Eastern European style to the furnishings. All is lit by violet candlelight. The camera zooms over to the attendant, an enslaved human spirit, as he looks up from his work. The spirit sees Pit and gasps with fright: “Can it be? Oh, how happy and afraid I am to see you… Pit. My friend.”
A scene plays out where we learn that this is Pit’s old friend Crow, who has been “lost” and cursed to the Underworld. Orcos forces Crow to work at the Healing Mists because, even in death, he is an expert at the healing arts. He begins to tell Pit an important story but they are interrupted by an imposing Dark Wizard who enters the room and is immediately suspicious of both of them. Crow then administers the final treatment to Pit, increasing his health and healing him completely. Then, after the Dark Wizard enters the sauna for his own treatment, Crow tells Pit that he will meet up with them later, back at Pit’s room, after all the goblin attendants are asleep.
The player can now explore the Mists for the last time and, when they are ready, go back to Pit’s room for some rest, just as Crow instructed. Crow then wakes Pit from his sleep. “We must move quickly, Pit. I take it you have no intention of following Orcos’ plan?” Pit shakes his head with no hesitation. “Good. Then we can set my plan in motion. Quickly. We must go to the Wheel House. I have a plan for your escape. We must not be seen.”
The player then must bring Pit to the Wheel House without being spotted by the demonic guards, who’ll wonder aloud what he’s sneaking around for. If they see him, they’ll come over and pummel him. So stealth is the key. The Wheel house is the largest structure in The Healing Mists which Pit has likely already seen at the northernmost end of the complex. Earlier, Pit learned that the Healing Mists are synthesized from unrefined dark magic that flows as thick, black vapor in the River Acheron, which runs adjacent to the complex. The Wheel House is where that Dark Mist is collected and pumped throughout the complex to be refined into Healing Mist. Upon reaching it, Crow outlines his plan to sabotage the magical pumping mechanisms to overload them with pressure and blow out the wall. Then Pit will have a few moments to scramble out of the complex to a nearby bridge and find some place of safety in the hills. It’s a risky plan but, hey… The player chooses from many available methods to sabotage the equipment. And Crow, with his incorporeal body, enters the equipment to do some internal work.
Once the pressure begins to build, Crow and Pit take cover in a makeshift bunker under a large metal plate and wait for it to blow. As they wait, Crow calmly recounts a story to Pit.
“I will be tortured for helping you escape, of course. But I had no choice. I had to do this…” We see a close up of Crow’s face. His eyes are more sunken than we noticed before. Despite these heroics, he carries with him that same sadness and regret that all the humans in the Healing Mists possess. “Palutena is lost, Pit. She is dead. She is gone. Forever. And I need you to forgive me, Pit. For it was all my fault.” A shot of Pit who, at first, appears shocked. Then his face becomes cautiously stern. “Surely you must wonder why I am here, your reliable friend so deep in the Underworld among the cruel and the violent… I thought I was a good man, Pit. I believed that here, in my heart. But I was seduced by Medusa. Completely. And I didn’t even know it.”
We cut to scene in Angel Land during happier times. Crow is obviously alive, both in form and inner spirit. He jovially walks through a wondrous, open air bathhouse, built from stone and furnished with bronze sculpture and beautiful, hand-painted frescoes. Residents of Angel Land splash around behind him in the inviting hot springs, going about their happy-go-lucky business. “Remember, in those days, the Goddess had put me in charge of the Healing Waters - the great hot springs that we all enjoyed. The healing power of the water came from her, of course. But I learned to refine it. Doing so, I made better, more potent waters. And Palutena allowed this, because it delighted her and benefitted us all.”
We see a buoyant Crow standing before the serene and beautiful Palutena on the steps of the Palace In The Sky. The camera quickly pans to his left, at nothing, and then down, on a cherubic child who seems meek and intimidated to be standing in the Goddess’s presence. Crow produces a flask of bright blue water, shows it to Palutena, uncorks it, and ceremoniously dumps its contents over the youth’s head. A comical beat as the child stands stunned, his hair soaked and falling flat across his face. Palutena gives a charming laugh, which she tries delicately to cover with her hand. Then, the child’s body radiates a blue glow. He looks down at his hands in wonder. Now empowered, the young angel demonstrates the effects of the tonic by wrapping his arms around Crow’s leg and effortlessly lifting the grown angel off the ground. Crow is taken by surprise, but quickly balances himself, salvaging his dignity. He smiles with pride and bows to the Goddess, as much as he can while being held in mid air. Palutena rushes to Crow and throws her arms around him in a generous hug, obviously appreciative for the quality of his demonstration and also out of respect for his true-hearted offering. She then scoops up the child, turns him in a circle and plants a motherly kiss on his forehead. Unwittingly, the child wipes this kiss off, which causes both Crow and the Goddess to laugh. So she plants another kiss on his head, in mock defiance. He does not wipe this one off.
“But, after that, I entered a dark, emotional period. My mixtures of new and greater tonics were not producing lasting results.” We see Crow in a bathhouse, looking through vials of different sizes and colors. Such is the innocence of Angel Land that he is obviously experimenting with his tonics right in the middle of his public bathhouse, as angelic kids streak by and angels of all varieties enjoy the waters. “And I sometimes wondered, though I tried to put the thought out of my mind, if Palutena had started holding her magic back from me.” Crow looks up from his work, across the waters of the great bath in front of him.
“And that’s when I first met her.” The camera slowly zooms in on a disarmingly attractive woman, lounging in one of the pools. She is a full-bodied brunette with perfect facial features and blue-violet eyes. A simple, upbeat guitar melody plays. Like a scene from a romantic comedy, she notices Crow’s stare, tries to pretend to not notice, then looks quickly back at him and smiles. “She was the most beautiful woman I think I have ever seen. I wish I could tell you that I did not still feel this way, Pit. But that would be a lie. In my heart I know it is still true. That’s how deeply she enchanted me. I feel strongly about her even to this day.” A shot of Crow, accidentally pouring out one of his vials onto the table as he stares back at her.
Crow falls for Lynda Carter, basically. Can you blame him?
“I do not wish to remember how quickly we became close. But it was very fast. Suspiciously so. She had lots of questions, of course. About simple things. About nothing at all. About me. About my work. About the magic that flowed into the Hot Springs. I thought she was, at the very least, a good student. Soon, she began showing me ways to improve my own magic, though she’d never take the credit. She seemed mostly interested in transformative tonics, which she told me she had some experience with but could never get to last. I should have seen her intentions right away. But how could I have known such a flower would be so full of poison?”
A shot of Pit looking down, half-disgusted and half-sympathetic.
Crow finishes his story, thusly: “I failed you, Pit. I failed Palutena. I failed the whole world. I taught Medusa to make transformative potions that would last long enough for her purposes. I gave up your troop movements to her on that day. She was supposed to help protect you. But it was an ambush.” Upon this word, a careful gamer might realize that it was Crow’s voice who first shouted ‘Ambush!’ in the opening sequence. “I never knew who she was until that day. She only wanted to conceal her army from Palutena. Everything that has happened to the world. The present darkness. It is all my fault.”
Suddenly, there is a blast as the boiler explodes. Black vapor is thrown everywhere. Distant shouts are heard. The famous Kid Icarus Underworld theme starts up in a panicked remix. The player is in control of Pit again. Crow shouts, “Run!”
(End Part IV)
Afterword (From 2009)
Now, I thought I might say a few words about the shape of the Universe in "The Fall of Kid Icarus". Early on I decided I wanted to try something different than I'd ever seen in an adventure game before. I wanted the "world" to be completely based in fantasy and myth, not really informed by good science - as if the game were being designed way back in antiquity. So I decided I would base the Universe off of the old Ptolemaic perception of the Universe, including bits of Milton and Homer for good measure.
So Milton's cosmology is a good place to start:
You can see here that Hell is completely separated from the world. It is not at the center of the earth or anything like that. It is at the bottom of the Universe and is separated from everything by something called Chaos. Medusa, Orcos... the lot of them would have had to travel through Chaos to get to the world.
Chaos, in my perception, is a delirious realm of unformed matter and thought. It appears akin to old Steve Ditko panels of Limbo from 60's Dr. Strange comics, but maybe with a bit of Mario Galaxy mixed in. Chaos is a total acid trip and Pit is going to have to navigate through it.
Beyond that is The World itself and then the heavens.
Now... I wanted to have some fun with this. So here's another shocker: The World is Flat. It should go without saying that anyone playing the game will know that that this isn't true. But for the purposes of this game, we're operating by ancient ideas about the shape of the world.
Not only is it flat, but as in the Iliad, it is held in place from the middle of its disk by a gigantic, planet-sized golden chain that is anchored in the unmovable heaven. Angel Land is then above that.
Mind blown yet? I know this is ridiculous. But, then, an Italian plumber jumping on walking mushrooms is ridiculous. A wizard that can turn you into an eggplant is ridiculous. The point of this ancient cosmology is to do something different. And I really like the idea.
While at the Healing Mists, Pit sees a map of this cosmology, and Orcos, who appears briefly, goes over the details with him. Pit's journey, in the most general terms, would be as follows:
The Underworld The Mouth of Hell Chaos The World The Golden Chain Angel Land The Palace In The Sky
Now, I won't spend equal time on each of these (It's going to take 5 parts just to get out of the Underworld!) but that's about the shape of the Universe.
Aaaaand that was as much as I ever posted about The Fall of Kid Icarus, originally. But it isn't everything I ever wrote. In fact, I got about 3/4's of the way through Part V before I suffered from a case of "What Am I Doing With My Life?" and put the whole project down.
Some of the best writing was in Part V, though. So... well, you know me. I went ahead and wrapped it up the other day.
So, here it is. I present to you, for the first time ever...
The Fall of Kid Icarus (Part V: The Mouth of Hell)
“I never knew who she was until that day. She only wanted to conceal her army from Palutena. And I gave her all the tools to do it. Everything that has happened to the world. The present darkness. It is all my fault.” A beat, followed by a great explosion.
Black vapor and clockwork shrapnel flies everywhere. Deep, distant shouts are immediately heard over the decaying groan of the blast. The famous Kid Icarus Underworld theme starts up in a panicked remix. The player is in control of Pit again. Crow shouts, “Run!”
The River Acheron
Pit has no weapon other than his bare fists at this point. So the goal is to outrun and dodge the pursuing demons along the bank of the river – a river flowing not with water but with thick, rolling, black mist. This section of the game is reminiscent of a lateral version of those rising lava levels from Super Mario Galaxy. And while it is rather short and linear, it is a tricky obstacle course and is designed to be quite an intense bit of twitch gaming. Hey, everyone loves a good chase scene!
To the player’s right is the river, which you cannot cross or enter. To the left is a large field, but in the distance you can see enemy forces approaching. So, leaving the bank of the river to run toward them is hopeless and bound to lead to defeat. But in the distance we can see a hillside that leads up to a stone bridge. This was Crow’s plan all along and Pit’s only hope. There is not much room for error, here, and even a skilled gamer may have to run this level a couple of times.
Crow runs/floats alongside Pit the whole time, looking back and shouting tips based on what he sees behind them. His comments range from worried, “They have spotted us, Pit. Oh, I’d hoped we’d gain more ground before they spotted us!” to outright panicked, “A giant! There’s a giant! His stride! We’ll never reach the bridge before he does!”
The player must dodge arrows, fireballs and great boulders as they come crashing down from behind. Of course all these pass right through the ghostly Crow. We can also hear the approaching voices of the demons that were stationed at the Healing Mists. They are shouting what can only be described as muffled obscenities. A few times, winged creatures swoop down and Pit must knock them to the ground quickly with his bare fists or by scooping up and tossing stones at them. Crow also helps at this, demonstrating that he isn’t useless.
A suicidal player who doesn’t care might try to run into the thick of the pursuing monsters. While it results in death every single time, it might be exciting, in its own way, to find out what happens if Pit is caught by a giant rather than one of the demons or one of the wizards. In every case it’s pretty gruesome, for a Nintendo game anyway.
But the point of this scene is to run like hell! Run toward the bridge to cross the river! The run itself is reasonably short – this sort of gameplay probably isn’t something you want to drag out - but there are enough unique ideas, with obstructions to jump or dive under and enemy fire to dodge, that it’s always a fun little run. Again, think of the most frantic levels in recent Mario games. The opportunities for solid motion control boggle the mind, too.
Once Pit gets close enough to really see the bridge clearly, we see a massive boulder – almost like the peak of a mountain – tumble out of the sky. It was obviously thrown by the giant and it succeeds in atomizing the bridge to dust. Crow panics and shouts out “No no no no no!” But there is still no choice at this point. Pit must run to the cliff or turn back and face the demonic hordes.
Pit and Crow reach the cliff and are now boxed in by enemies who want to kill them. The player has two choices, dive over the cliff or wait and be trampled by Orcos’ horde. When they choose to dive, the only logical choice, there’s a very quick scene, shot epically from below, as Pit glides over the river, arrows just missing him. Pit grasps the stones on the opposing cliff face and, just when it looks like he will pull himself up and get away, an arrow lands mere inches from him and explodes, disintegrating the entire wall. We watch as Pit grasps at the falling stones and tumbles into the dark mists of the river below.
Crow, watching from the cliff shouts frantically, “Pit! That is Medusa’s dark magic! They will kill you in there!” Crow then turns to see the oncoming horde and, with no other choice, dives feet first into the mists himself. It’s serious enough that the tension never lets up, but still worth a chuckle. The action returns to the player. Pit is now under the surface of the Mists, able to move just as agilely as before, but he does let out intermittent coughs. The overall look resembles a deep forest during a wildfire, though the smoke here is designed for artistic impact with uneven density, stray particle effects and a heavy, penetrating darkness. This should be one of the darkest looking areas in any video game. However, luminous objects float in the black, helping with the visibility by lighting the path, similarly to the intermittent lights on an interstate highway late at night. Consequently the player has a reasonable depth of vision along the ground and even a below average player should be in no danger of getting lost. Since this is the floor of a river, there are really only two directions you can go, in any case, and Crow is there to make sure you’re pointed in the right direction. Crow immediately encourages Pit to keep running. “The demons are afraid of this river but I can’t guarantee they won’t try to follow. We have other worries now…”
Indeed a few of Orcos’ demons do follow Pit and Crow into the river, but they are immediately attacked from all directions by the luminous orb sentinels, which swiftly penetrate the demon bodies and present an incandescent vaporizing effect, as if the very material of the demon bodies has boiled over into foul steam and light. Visually, this resembles some of the great optical effects from film history. At some point, Crow speculates that, since he and Pit are not endowed with any of Orcos’ dark magic, the denizens of the river are not immediately interested in attacking them. Crow also explains at some point that there was a very deep well a few hundred yards on the other side of the bridge that had a secret passage that lead to a slave camp. His original plan was to lose their pursuers in that passage and plan the rest of their journey from the camp. That plan is scuttled, now, for obvious reasons.
Below the surface of the river, Pit and Crow encounter a number of different dark creatures made of black smoke or luminous light. These creatures look quite different than others we have seen so far in the Underworld. The visual designers can let their imaginations go into very twisted and terrifying areas, though points of reference might be piranha, komodo dragons or giant salamanders. Emphasize claws and sharp teeth. Each creature has its own individual character model and there is a deliberate inconsistency from one creature to another, as if twenty different ecosystems were mixed together in a giant bowl and poured out into the river just for the hell of it.
Some of these creatures, especially the very large ones, do not even seem to notice the heroes, though they will fight if attacked directly, usually with perilous results for the player. Many others start trouble right away and Pit must fight them off with his hands or with makeshift weapons he can find on the floor of the river, like stones or wooden posts, etc. If played with a certain amount of discernment, this whole area might resemble a classic beat-em-up, though stealth and use of cover really benefits the player better than picking fights with everything he sees. It may also be reminiscent of a game like Endless Ocean, where simply exploring the environment itself is the whole appeal. It should certainly be artistically interesting but somewhat unsettling to the player, with the environment itself nebulous and untrustworthy.
The journey also leads through a cave at some point and Pit finds some architecture uncharacteristic of the rest of the Underworld. Crow, in particular, seems struck by this. “Who knows how far back the unwritten history of the Underworld goes, Pit? This network of caves probably has a million secrets. Too bad we don’t have time to explore them, now.” Just a nice detail.
Consider the entire River Acheron section of the game to be a compelling amalgam of horror, chase sequence, obstacle course, beat ‘em up and the gentle tranquility of Endless Ocean, with a keen eye for visual impact. Mostly this serves as an opportunity for the player to see something different, do some bare-handed fighting and to offer a different sort of level experience than they’ve likely ever had – an on-foot journey that takes place on the floor of a river. Most importantly, the River Acheron is designed carefully so that it ends before becoming repetitive and before it appears to have revealed all of its mysteries. When the player thinks back on this part of the game, they should remember how beautiful and creepy it was and that they never quite figured it all out.
A few minutes into this part of the adventure, Crow begins to put together a plan: “There is a stroke of luck, here, Pit. I never considered entering the Acheron worth the risk because everyone knows how deadly it has been to Orcos’ men. Praise Palutena that the beasts in here are mostly uninterested in us!” Later, he adds, “This actually gives us a more direct route to a place I needed to take you, Pit. We’ll have to hurry, because Orcos will surely put out patrols along the riverbanks. But, as long as we move quickly, we may have saved ourselves a day’s journey.” (The Bewitched Compass wittily takes a day off the journey at this point, turning over from 1,529 days to 1,528 days with a happy “Ping!”)
The Tears of Palutena
Eventually Crow realizes they've reached their destination. "Yes! This riverbank here!" The two angels climb out of the Acheron and, following a winding path up a cliff - and facing the trickiest platforming in the Underworld - make it to a crevasse near the top of the cliff. "Just here. I remember...," says Crow. They climb into the cravasse and, travelling a few winding yards through craggy rocks (illuminated by video game magic and full of snakes) they reach their destination.
Pit finally sees where Crow's been leading him. Tucked away in the rocks, apparently undisturbed for many years, lies the skeleton of some poor, unfortunate traveler.
But as Pit looks closer, he begins to recognize the armor. Is this... a centurion of Angel Land?
He looks to Crow, who crouches beside the remains. Crow lets out a melancholy, heartbroken sigh.
“This, Pit… This is me.” Crow’s hand gently touches the face of his mortal body, like a father caressing the face of a sleeping child.
“I came for you, Pit. Through the disc of the earth. Kept my wits through the madness of Chaos. Slipped passed the great jaws to enter the Underworld. But this cave, here… this was as far as I got. I knew all along that there was little hope. I knew that you must have fallen deeper than I could ever expect to go. All of us knew. But I volunteered. I had to. I thought, if I could just find you. If I could heal you. Bring you back to the surface. That you would know what to do. Because you’ve defeated Medusa before, Pit. And I knew I’d never have that power. She knew my weaknesses too well…
As Crow relates this story, we see the events in montage.
“But my body was poisoned while crossing the river. I pulled myself up into this hole and lay in agony for days. The temptation to throw the whole Universe away just to save myself was so great. So great. But I knew I couldn’t. I knew this was the end for me. And that I deserved this end. But the pain. Such pain, Pit. Such pain. And then, suddenly, there was no pain. And I left my body. I could stand. And I rose and I walked. And a great sadness came over me. A sadness that has never gone away. And then Orcos came and... and, after a time, I was sent to work in the Healing Waters, since I knew the art so well. And I was there for years. I was not happy… but I felt useful. And I thought, “I might have to do this for all eternity.”
“But then, suddenly, the river exploded. For hours the water boiled over and burned. And the once mighty River Acheron evaporated before our eyes. It was Medusa’s doing, they said. And, along with the river, the Healing Waters went. But the river began to flow again, not with water but with her own dark mists. And great sorcerers and conjurers and dark wizards the likes of which I’d never seen before were brought amongst us. And they devised to create a new magic that could replace the Healing Waters. And they failed many times. So many human spirits were mutilated by the work, Pit. Agony that even the Underworld has rarely seen. But the conjurers never stopped. And, in time, they created the Healing Mist. It is artificial. Poorly-crafted and inferior in every way. Brackish Dark Magic. And they hate it. But it is all that sustains them, now. They have no alternative.
A look of boyish glee appears in Crow's eyes, now.
“But I knew something they never knew. I knew that there was a draught of Healing Water left in the Underworld. And it is here, Pit. Here. Search my pocket. Yes. Beautiful isn’t it? I brought this for you. Before I left our Angel Land, I dipped my flask in the water flowing from Palutena’s fountain – from the first fountain where she originally brought all water to Angel Land. Medusa shattered it to pieces just minutes later and it never flowed again. This is the last water that ever flowed from the Palace In the Sky. The last great work of our lost goddess. And I smuggled it away. We called this draught of Healing Water “The Tears of Palutena” and we intended to deliver it to you, Pit. We intended to heal you with it, if necessary. And, if it were not, we hoped you would know what to do. We hoped that, just maybe, you would know a way to use this water to restart the fountain that Medusa stopped so long ago.
“Take it, Pit. Take these tears. And then I will know that my journey - and my end - wasn’t in vain. That the sacrifice was worthy. That it was made for your victory.”
From the Lake of Fire to the Mouth of Hell.
Pit nods his head, respectful and grateful for the brave sacrifice of his friend. He conceals the glittering flask of healing water in his cloth belt. It goes into the inventory and is unusable by the player (if you IR over it, the text warns you, "It's tempting to drink, but you'd better not. It's the last of Palutena's healing water left in the world."
Also accompanying the body is a sturdy bow with a quiver of arrows. Kid Icarus is back in action.
Pit and Crow continue forward, through a few levels similar to those in Part III. Multiple paths of varying difficulty. Tougher enemies, etc. Comments from Crow inform the player of the next part of the plan - that they will continue their climb toward the Mouth of Hell, where they will improvise a way to pass the giant, gnashing jaws. Here, we start to see more obviously "hellish" features of the landscape than before. Flumes of fire. Magma. Souls burning in the flames. Creatures that seem more and more demonic in feature. Creative platforming levels reminiscent of Mario Galaxy. Lots of snakes and ganewmedes - those skeletal monoeyes - of different varieties. Arrow-shooting galore!
Along the way Pit meets a rogue leader of a slave insurgence, a character named Flip, who has been looking for Crow since word got out about their daring escape at the Healing Mists. Flip tells them one of his men overheard a couple of Dark Wizards discussing a lobbying effort to get Orcos to surrender Pit to their dark order. The order believes they have a set of spells and incantations that could break the magical lock Medusa put on the denizens of the Underworld. They'd gleefully sacrifice Pit's life to release Palutena's Magic and break the seal. Flip informs them that he and his men will keep a watch on events, but that Pit should by no means surrender to Orcos, in case the Dark Wizards were in charge, now.
Finally, after climbing out of the tallest vertical section of the Underworld, Pit beholds the fabled Lake of Fire. This is one of the key set pieces in the Underworld and in The Fall of Kid Icarus. It is expansive, imposing, contains multiple paths for attack and is designed to be the lava-platforming level to end all lava platforming levels. Basically, the design team would have remixed elements of every great lava level you've ever played with their own new innovations, with an emphasis on daring twists and speedy platforming, all on a landscape that resembles the corona of the sun. Your speakers rumble with the magmatic roar of the greatest furnace ever devised by the gods. After this, we can retire lava levels in games, forever.
Crow assures us as we play, "We're almost to the end, Pit. Beyond this is the Great Monoeye that guards the Mouth." The camera pans across the Lake, where we can just make out, in the foggy distance, an enormous, disinterested eye.
The Lake of Fire is a major section of gameplay, but I won't belabor all it's features. It is sort of the concluding level of the whole Underworld, so it should feel like a kind of sprawling, level-sized Boss Fight all its own.
Upon completing the Lake of Fire, Pit finally stands a few hundred yards from the exit to the Underworld. Before him floats the Great Monoeye. The trouble is obvious: The exit cave is a gigantic, circular hole in the wall, but the Great Monoeye is so abnormally large it nearly fills it! We're in Shadow of the Colossus territory, here. It is larger in circumference than a hot air balloon, and lashed from every direction to the exit cave - beyond which we see the dancing shadows cast by the Mouth itself. Crow's mind reels. "Oh my! It's bigger by half than when I last saw it. And they've pushed it back into the exit. I had not planned for such a circumstance! We can't tunnel through that rock without being caught or noticed. What should we do?"
Pit looks down at his bow, skeptically. But across the field we see the Great Monoeye suddenly bolt up. Crow blurts out, "He see us!"
Pit, maybe somewhat rashly, bolts at the eye in a rage. But just before you expect another boss fight there's a puff of orange smoke and Orcos scoops Pit up off his feet.
"So your roughhouse with The Accuser gave you a taste for fights where your opponents are chained up? Tsk tsk. This is a bad precedent, Pit."
He throws Pit into the dust. Pit looks up and finds himself surrounded by a group of dark soldiers. He knocks an arrow and raises it, but realizes that his captors all have their bows at the ready, too.
"That is an impressive bow, little angel." Orcos says with apparent sincerity and bemusement. "Where did you find that, I wonder?" He looks over to Crow, who is being held by the throat by one of his soldiers. "What other discoveries might you have made on your hopeless little sidetrack?" His eyes narrow as he turns his attention to Pit's belt. Close up on the Tears of Palutena.
The Great Monoeye lets out a bullish grunt, and the camera focuses back on the crowd of soldiers. They all seem a little shaken by it.
Orcos softens slightly. "Well, you can keep your secrets for now. We have to do this more quickly than I'd intended. I'll prove to you that I've been on your side all along. I've brought you provisions. You've been on a fool's errand, Kid Icarus. There's no way you could survive the insanity of Chaos without my help." His chest puffs up with demonic pride. "I was the one who found the path through the madness of that realm, while others wasted entire lifetimes searching for it. And here is the fruit of my discovery: The map to the Chaos Gates. They are the quickest and only sure path through Chaos. Follow them and you just might make your way back to the World before being driven insane."
Pit lowers his bow and, with obvious trepidation, takes the map from Orcos' outstretched hand. He looks at it, unsure if his old enemy speaks the truth.
Orcos nods his head, ever so slightly. He then calls to one of his men. "Artisan!"
From the crowd steps a hunched-back, twisted, hilarious-looking goblin of a man. Bubbly green skin and one eye that is 4 times larger than the other, he speaks with that cackling enthusiasm reserved for all scene-stealing henchmen: “I’ve added a few special anti-Reaper arrows to this quiver. Now, don't use them right away, though – the Reapers have gotten pretty good at blocking these things over the years. But once you’ve worked a Reaper down with conventional arrows, you can blast them with one of these! Ahahaha! That’ll banish him for a little while! Leave him with a barking headache, too! Ahahahaha!" But then he stops, comically, mid-cackle to say: "Beware. He’ll come back. Oh, yes! They always come back! Ahahaha!"
Pit looks confused, as he takes the quiver of strange, large arrows from the Artisan.
Orcos explains. “Oh, of course, you don’t know. It's almost legendary in the Underworld, now, but you've never heard. Yes, you’ve had a Reaper trying to get down here to collect your soul ever since you fell. The laws of the Universe compel him to pursue you until he’s finished you off for good. But I refuse to let Reapers into the Underworld, because they’re such assholes. So he’s just been hanging around the Mouth for the last 20 years trying to find any way possible to get in.”
The Artisan cuts Orcos off. “They say he’s gone peculiar up there. Heh heh! Peculiar even as far as Reapers go. All those years just circling the Mouth over and over again. His mind warped by all that time in the Bedlam Realm of Chaos. Well, wouldn't your eyes go a little googly too? Aha-ha-ha-ha...” His giant eye begins spinning around in impossible directions as he cackles himself into a frenzy.
“Get out of here,” Orcos barks, and the Artisan immediately vanishes in a puff of orange smoke, mid-cackle.
Orcos then turns to Pit. “Your Reaper’ll be waiting for you the moment you pass those jaws. So you'd better have your bow out. Now, our plan is to use the Pandemonium Catapult to..."
Suddenly there's a thunderous explosion. Looking down on Pit from above, the camera zooms out to show the circle of dark soldiers that surround Pit are now, themselves, surrounded by a larger circle of Dark Wizards.
Orcos doesn't miss a beat. "Ah, my friends! You come at a fortuitous time. We had just sent word to you. Yes. It's true. We have apprehended the rogue angel." He extends his hand to the largest, grumpiest, scariest, oldest wizard of the bunch - the apparent head of this order of dark wizards. They shake hands, but there appears to be no friendship in it.
"He was not among the slave camp, fomenting revolt, as you're informants had said," the Old Wizard grumbles.
"No. We, followed a last minute tip from one of our spies. But it doesn't matter now. The important thing is that we have him. Our plans can go forward."
"Yes..." The old wizard moves toward Pit. "YES! I can feel right away that he has the Mark of Palutena on him. This is Fraud Magic like I have not felt in years." He staggers like a man overcome by some twisted combination of horror and pleasure. "I had almost forgotten..." The rest of the dark wizards begin to look at each other, perhaps sensing the importance of this discovery. "...the intensity..."
There's general murmuring, but another, louder bullish grunt from the Great Monoeye cuts them off before they get too carried away. Orcos immediately takes charge again. "Yes, well we knew that already. Everything is in place. We will do this according to plan. Do you need to consult your incantations again? We have all the time we need."
"No!" Shouts the Old Wizard. "We will not stall! We know exactly what to do with this shameful follower of the Fraud..." From his sleeve he pulls a glowing green dagger. A chant comes up from the Wizards. Pit shoots an arrow at the Old Wizard, but it melts on contact. The soldiers look toward Orcos, whose dignity seems to have escaped.
But then, a miracle! With a bowel-trembling grunt, the Great Monoeye suddenly crashes into the crowd, scattering soldiers and wizards in every direction. The camera pans out to the cave exit, where we see Flip and his revolutionaries discarding the cut lashings. Now they charge into battle with their own bows.
Crow calls out: "They're sacrificing themselves for you, Pit! Quick! Run for the catapult!" The player then fights a chaotic battle alongside the slave revolutionary forces against the disorganized dark wizards, soldiers, and the crushing body of the Giant Monoeye. The goal is to make a scramble for the exit as fast as possible, while fighting off the dark forces. It looks rather like a battle from The Lord of the Rings.
Fighting through the chaos, the player enters the final chamber, beneath the Mouth of Hell, itself. A quick, spinning camera shot looks up at it, a literal, immense, stadium-sized pair of gnashing jaws fitted with craggy, monstrous teeth that Pit views from the inside looking out. The camera then spins in front of Pit, looking over his shoulder. We see that he's made it a few dozen yards into this last chamber, but he's being followed by the whole horde of enemies, now. It's too late to do anything but bolt for the catapult.
The Pandemonium Catapult itself lies in the center of this chamber. It looks more like a rail cannon, but it's stylized and appears part technological (a first in The Underworld) and part magical. The player must navigate a mess of quick platforming through some stylized fountains of lava flow to get to the Catapult. If the player goes too slow, they might be overtaken by Pit's enemies. If they go too fast, they risk falling from the platforms and dying in the lava. So this is intense stuff - the most intense part of the game, so far. It's short, and more beautiful and flashy than technical, but you gotta get it right the first time.
As Pit makes it to the Catapult, he suddenly gasps, realizing he doesn't know how to work it! Suddenly, there's a cackle.
"Aha-ha-ha. Just jump in. I'll do the rest," says the big-eyed Artisan, who already stands at some sort of control device. "But get those Reaper arrows ready, I tell ya!"
Pit looks behind him at the oncoming horde and then, without any other choice, jumps into the device. Then... ZING! He's hurdled into the air at such incredible speed! As he's launched skyward, he pivots his body to start shooting arrows at the enemies below. He feathers a few.
But, quickly, the enemies stop their pursuit. They look up and suddenly the player is aware of a visible bubble - a sort of magical force field - that Pit is streaking toward. It's the magical seal Medusa had put over the Underworld. The soldiers below seem unsure that he'll be able to penetrate it. Close-up on Pit's face, determined, rocketing toward Medusa's magic.
Pit bursts through the bubble as if there was nothing in his way! The hole immediately closes up behind him.
A smile cracks on Orcos's face. “Well, I’ll be damned.” He glances over at the Old Wizard who looks winded and defeated. Quickly, he summons back all the dignity he'd lost, barking to all the denizens of Hell, like a General in the thick of war...
“Men, it looks like there will be no Plan B, today. The Mouth! Stun the Mouth! That's an order!"
The soldiers and dark wizards, together, quickly focus their attacks on the mighty gnashing jaws. Through every frequency of the audio spectrum, the Mouth of Hell shrieks in pain. The jaw slams shut once, quaking violently, but quickly falls open and limp, just as the body of a comparatively miniscule Pit hurtles through.
Orcos announces to the gathered crowed, with regal intensity, "The God of the Underworld takes pride in his men, today. You served me admirably. Now, all the hopes of Hell lie in the determination of that little rogue angel.”
There's a low rumble of discontent from the dark wizards, who apparently regret the missed opportunity to murder their hated enemy.
Orcos face appears offended, and furrows into a rage.
“Any more grumbling and I’ll toss your filthy souls into the Lake of Fire. All of you. I am Orcos, the God of the Underworld. You obey me.”
The denizens of Hell grow silent. If there had been any doubt who was in charge of Hell, there could be no more. Now they look into their chaotic sky. The camera points up from their vantage point as a tiny white star, Pit, continues to ascend into the swirling darkness beyond the devastating jaws, into the realm of Chaos, a land that demons can only dream of reaching someday.
There's a beat. Consider the hopes of hell, gentle gamer.
We see the awed faces of hundreds of dark, damned souls. They are transfixed by that star. And Orcos is the first to look away. Remembering his own fallen majesty, he pivots and turns back toward the exit cave, where we can see the skelton of the Giant Monoeye in the distance, and lights a cigarette. Over his shoulder, Orcos calls out to his men.
“Now gather your best slaves. We have magic to build.”
(End Part V, and perhaps the entire Fall of Kid Icarus project.)
Good stuff, Kris... you were right. We're on the same wavelength here. I definitely do approve of your gameplay and design ideas. Your control scheme is pretty much exactly what I had in mind. We know now that the melee fighting aspect could be even more fun with the Motion Plus too.
I think I failed to recognize the importance of vertical levels and falling in my Kid Icarus thread. That is indeed an important element.
The one thing I worry about is whether vertical platforming transfers particularly well to 3D. I've never seen much of it, so that makes me wonder. Then again, it might just be that no one really considered building a game around it. Personally, I'd just like to see a Kid Icarus team try.
Super Mario Sunshine had quite a lot of vertical level design... and levels such as the clock in Mario 64. Falling and having to redo stuff frustrates people in this day and age, but it's not like all of them would have to be vertical.
Maybe levels could even be segmented into vertical and non-vertical areas.
Good point. I wonder, though, if those are frustrating because it's Mario and we expect a certain kind of thing from a Mario game, you know? With Kid Icarus, we can take for granted that vertical sections belong in the game. It's a part of the original gameplan. Maybe it's frustrating in Mario because we don't really welcome vertical platforming in that sort of game.
I mean, those levels you mention are pretty fun, if you're in the mood.