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3D Classics: Kid Icarus (Nintendo 3DS eShop) Review
Review by 
7.71/10 from 17 user ratings

Kid Icarus was released on July 1987. While it was a success for Nintendo, it was unfortunately timed. Both Kid Icarus (July 1987) and its Gameboy sequel Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters (November 1991) were quickly overshadowed by Metroid (August 1987) and Metroid II: The Return of Samus (November 1991) respectively in the North American market. In fact, Of Myths and Monsters wasn’t even released in Japan until this year as a 3DS Virtual Console title. The franchise has lain dormant for over two decades. It wasn’t until Kid Icarus appeared as a playable character in Smash Bros. Brawl that we were given hope of a franchise resurrection. A hope that was proven true shortly after when a secret Nintendo project code-named Project Sora, was revealed to be a new Kid Icarus game for the 3DS named Kid Icarus: Uprising.

The game, Kid Icarus Uprising, was considered a success by pretty much every game reviewer out there and will probably ensure that the franchise will not fade into obscurity any time soon. However, Nintendo probably thought that a lot of gamers have never experienced the original game, so they decided to release a slightly enhanced version of the game as a member of their 3D Classics Series and give it out as a freebie when you pre-ordered the 3DS game. If you didn’t pre-order the game, you could also buy it exclusively from Gamestop for $5.99. This version introduces a few graphical and gameplay enhancements but it largely remains the same game that we loved/hated 26 years ago.

There was once a peaceful land called Angel Land ruled by two beautiful Goddesses, Palutena, Goddess of Light and Medusa, Goddess of Darkness. Palutena was a kind Goddess who helped mankind flourish while Medusa was evil and destroyed their hard work and turned them into stone. Palutena grew tired of Medusa, turned her into a hideous monster, and banished her to the underworld.

Medusa, enraged, vowed revenge on Palutena and her subjects. Medusa joined forces with the monsters in the Underworld and attacked Angel Land with her newfound army. Medusa defeated the Angel Land forces easily, stole the three sacred treasures, and hid them. Medusa turned almost all of Palutena’s warriors to stone and imprisoned her in the Sky Palace.

Palutena used her remaining magic to contact her last remaining warrior, Pit, who was locked inside Medusa’s dungeon in the Underworld. Pit was able to escape the dungeon and set off on his journey to rescue the Goddess.

The graphics in this game are nearly identical to the NES version but they look more crisp. The stages now have actual backgrounds instead of having black or blue backdrops. In fact, if it weren’t for the addition of these backdrops, the 3D effect in this game wouldn’t be as noticeable, since there were almost no layers to speak of before. Some of these new backgrounds include volcanic areas, ice caverns, forests, and my favorite, a starry night sky.

The 3D effect is very nice and, as usual with these 3D Classics, you can modify how intense the 3D effect is in-game, as well as with the 3D Slider. Just like with Kirby’s Adventure, the game screen is surrounded with a frame. In this case, the frame looks like the pages of a book.

An ancient myth come to life. Now in 3D.

My favorite graphical aspect of this game has to be the enemy designs. Even though it is an 8-bit platformer, the enemies have more personality and charm than even those in a 16-bit platformer like ActRaiser. The designers of the game went with the Super Mario school of enemy design and made the enemies look cute and cartoony. This is great because it takes advantage of the limited NES hardware while at the same time making the enemies more memorable. One of my favorite enemies is the Grim Reaper who looks menacing while he is walking left and right on ledges and then suddenly looks like a panicked old lady whenever he see’s Pit. Another great enemy design is the eggplant wizard, which is one monster you will soon not forget.

Some of the enemies in Kid Icarus.

The music in this version is almost exactly the same as in the original NES version. The music is pretty good. I’d say it’s some of the best I’ve heard from the old school NES Nintendo games. Some of my favorite tracks include the songs from the first and third worlds. But of course, my favorite track is the Grim Reaper Theme. It’s a weird little music track that sounds funny but, at the same time, can cause panic amongst Kid Icarus players given the fact that you’re about to be swarmed by little reapers. Some of the music sounds a bit different though, such as when you pass a level. As I learned during my research for the trivia section, the difference in sound between the NES and the 3DS version is due to the fact that the 3D Classics version utilizes the Famicom Disk System's music and sound effects (which utilizes the extra sound channel not available in the NES version).

The sound effects also sound mostly the same as the NES version. There’s really nothing special here in the sound department. In fact, some of the sound bites are rather simplistic, even by NES standards. Some of them have been changed too, such as the sound of falling mallets, the Grim Reaper's Cry, when Pit gets hit, and when Pit dies, once again due to the sound being taken from the FDS version instead of the NES version.

Kid Icarus is a very interesting game, gameplay wise. It’s a platformer like Mario, yet you shoot things like in Metroid. You also upgrade your equipment and buy stuff like in Zelda and even raise levels, strength, and vitality (when you reach certain scores) like in Zelda II (even though it came after this game). It’s quite a bizarre mix of genres. Also, the game has different endings depending on your performance.

Mario + Metroid + Zelda + Zelda II= Kid Icarus

There are four types of levels. The first is a vertical platformer. You climb up vertically while defeating enemies in order to reach the goal at the end. Side-Scrolling levels are similar to vertical levels but you have to traverse horizontally instead of vertically. Both of these types of levels can be dangerous because of bottomless pits. If you fall into a pit you will die instantly and will have to start the level again from the beginning. This makes the game really hard. However, the game has a weird backwards difficulty curve. The farther into the game you go, the easier it gets.

You are going to see this a lot!

The third type of level is a maze. These levels end every world and house Medusa’s most trusted monsters which are guarding the Three Sacred Treasures. Each maze contains statues of your fellow centurions which you can free by using the mallets you have collected. These centurions will then help you in the battle against the maze’s guardian.

The first and smallest maze.

One thing to note about the mazes is that it is also the home of the game's most notoriously annoying enemy, the infamous Eggplant Wizard. This fellow comes usually comes in pairs and will throw eggplants into the air. If one of these eggplants hits you it will turn you into an eggplant with legs and you will have to go to a hospital to recover your angel form.

You will learn to hate him with a passion.

Once you have collected all three sacred treasures, you will be able to reach the last level. This level is completely different from the rest of the levels in both genre and controls. It takes the form of a slow horizontal shooter like R-Type. You fly around with your newfound Pegasus Wings and shoot things with your Light arrows, blocking shots with your Mirror Shield. It is a nice change of pace from the rest of the game and culminates in a cool battle with your nemesis Medusa.

It seems Kid Icarus covers one more genre.

Now that we’ve taken care of the levels, let’s talk about the items. Pit is equipped with a bow and arrow which he uses to kill enemies. You don’t have to worry about arrow stock, thankfully. At the beginning, your range and arrow strength will be rather limited. As you progress, you will grow stronger, decreasing the amount of arrows needed to shoot down enemies. You will also be able to buy or earn upgrades to your bow and arrows which will increase distances or add fire to them.

Speaking of buying stuff, those hearts you collect from fallen enemies? They are the currency of Angel Land. The more hearts you collect, the more stuff you can buy. You can buy items from either sellers or black marketers. The sellers have stock at reasonable prices while the black marketers have even better stuff at ridiculous prices. Sellers can be “persuaded” to lower their prices if you have the know-how (and a second controller in the NES version ).

I think I'll pass.

Some of the most useful things you can buy are potions, barrels, feathers, and mallets. Potions will automatically refill part of your health bar when you run out of health. Barrels will let you carry more than one bottle at a time (where he’s carrying the barrels…I don’t want to know). Feathers are extremely useful because they will allow you to float for a short time if you fall into a bottomless pit. And mallets will allow you to free centurions in mazes who will help you in your battles against the guardians. They are extremely useful against the first two guardians.

”Don’t worry bro. We got your back.”

You can also obtain items from Treasure Rooms and Endurance Rooms. Treasure Rooms have eight boxes which you have to open. Each box may contain different items or the God of Poverty. If the box you open contains the God of Poverty, you will forfeit all the items in the previously opened boxes and be forced out of the treasure room. Endurance rooms will allow you to select from three useful items if you are able to survive an onslaught of flying panels.

”Stand right here and shoot up. That's all you need to do.”

There are a few gameplay differences from the NES version. First, and most importantly, there is a save system, just like in any Zelda game. You input your name and then begin your adventure. Your progress is saved every time you finish a level and you can start off at the beginning of the level you left off at. This means that there is no password system, and since there is no password system, there is no way to input passwords that will allow you to start the game with max strength or jump to the last level of the game. Another minor difference is that If you don’t drink a floating chalice and then enter a room, the chalice will not have disappeared when you come back. It’s a very minor addition but useful nonetheless.

”Finally. No lengthy passwords”

Here are some more changes straight form the Kid Icarus Wiki:
PhotobucketReapers no longer turn around to investigate when they've been shot in the back, they'll continue on their path as if nothing happened.
PhotobucketSacred Words (Passwords) do not appear during a Game Over. Instead, there's a Continue/End option.
PhotobucketControls can now be completely customized with the 3DS' button layout. Also, the default weapon switch (from Bow to Mallet) is now "Y" instead of "Select".
PhotobucketExtra life bars now come with full health for that bar when they are earned.
PhotobucketSince there is no Controller 2, the intimidation trick for Stores is now done by pressing the A and Start buttons simultaneously.
PhotobucketThere is no longer a half-second pause when Pit exits Chambers.
PhotobucketPit's arrows extend a little farther into thin platforms, so Pit can damage monsters who are walking on certain thin platforms (such as ice or the orange platforms in Fortresses) above him. This makes for very different, and potentially easier, tactical decisions in some areas.
PhotobucketIn a large departure from the original version, there is no "New Game +" feature. Normally, Pit automatically restarts at 1-1 with everything he had when Medusa was beaten. Now, he restarts at 1-1 with absolutely nothing, as if the game puts in the password for 1-1 and not just continuing the game.
PhotobucketYou can hold down the "Attack" button (default is 'B' I believe) and Pit will continuously fire arrows. In the original, you had to button-mash to fire at a rapid rate. (Thanks to @GameDadGrant for this info.)
PhotobucketIf you press the "Jump" button while in the air, Pit will slowly descend to the ground. This wasn't in the original version of the game either. This new control mechanic really helps out with the tricky platforming...especially in the first few stages. (Thanks to @GameDadGrant for this info.)

Final Thoughts
The Kid Icarus franchise is one of Nintendo’s most unique game series. I’ve felt a little saddened during the past two decades knowing that Nintendo developed endless games in some for their franchises and yet ignored other awesome series such as this one. This is why I’m so happy that Kid Icarus has finally been revived, ready for old and new generations of gamers to discover the further adventures of Pit. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Pit, Palutena, and the rest of Angel Land.

PhotobucketThe game was developed for the Family Computer Disk System (FDS) because the peripheral's Disk Card media allowed for three times the storage capacity of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) console's cartridges. Combined with the possibility to store the players' progress (a password system was used in the NES version), the floppy disk format enabled the developers to create a longer game with a more extensive game world. Kid Icarus was finished and entered production a mere three days before the release date. Several ideas for additional stages had to be dropped because of these scheduling conflicts. The 3D Classics version also utilizes the Famicom Disk System's music and sound effects (utilizing the extra sound channel not available in the NES version).
PhotobucketThe universe of Kid Icarus borrows heavily from Greco-Roman mythology, as is evidenced by the items, monsters, and characters within. The story itself is (very) loosely based on the legend of Perseus, a demigod youth who made the dangerous boast of being able to kill Medusa. Aided by Athena, and a few fetch-quests to obtain powerful magic items later (Mirror Shield included), he finally slew her.
PhotobucketThe appellation "Icarus" is from a story of a separate youth, the titular son of the famous inventor and genius Daedalus. While kept prisoner, Daedalus created a set of human-sized wings, crafted from wooden strats with bird feathers stuck to the frame by wax. Icarus borrowed the wingframe and flew high into the sky, over the seas. Though Daedalus warned his son not to fly too high to the sun, Icarus disobeyed him and kept flying higher. The intense heat from the sun melted the wax binding the feathers to the frame and Icarus fell, dashing himself upon the ocean and dying instantly.
PhotobucketKid Icarus functions on the same game engine as Metroid. Also, its sequel Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters shares the same engine as Metroid II: Return of Samus. The Kid Icarus universe even includes a Metroid-inspired enemy, Komayto which is said to have come from another planet. "A mysterious floating creature. Nobody knows where it came from. One theory has it that it came from a planet other than Earth. It's a nasty jellyfish monster."
PhotobucketIn the NES version of Tetris (the one released by Nintendo, NOT Tengen Tetris), select a B-Type game and choose difficulty Level 9. Complete the Level on any height, and you will see a celebration scene with various Nintendo Characters. The first one to appear is Pit from Kid Icarus, playing a violin!
PhotobucketCaptain N: The Game Master was a late 80's, early 90's cartoon series about a video game player who gets magically sucked into his TV screen and visits various video game worlds. Pit was one of the main characters in the show.
PhotobucketPit also appeared in the Captain N comic books that were published by VALIANT
PhotobucketLevel 3-2 boss of Yoshi's Story bears a strong resemblance to the Level 3 boss of Kid Icarus, Pandora. Both are a circular-shaped enemy that turns invisible as it floats against the background. The only major difference with Inviso is that he doesn't have the circulating balls that Pandora does.
PhotobucketPit is a playable character in the Nintendo Wii game, Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
PhotobucketThere is a Flash Remake of the game with better graphics and sound.

Here are some maps I modified to help me reach the bosses in each maze level as fast as I could. Special thanks to Kenneth Brown who made the initial maps 11 years ago.

Stage 1-4

Large Version

Stage 2-4

Large Version

Stage 3-4

Large Version

Here's a video made by Nintendo with some useful tips:

And last but not least, here are some very useful tips by our very own @kriswright (click on his name).

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Posted: 04/09/12, 10:50:12  - Edited by 
 on: 04/09/12, 21:22:19    
Why not sign up for a (free) account and create your own content?
I was sleeping, but then my Kid Icarus Sense went off and I had to jump out of bed to read your review. Great work, SMS. I love this game, obviously, but I'm really curious about how it's going to play on the little 3DS screen. I guess I'll find out when they release it properly to the shop.

Hope those tips help. They work for me but, as always, your mileage may vary.

Posted by 
 on: 04/09/12, 11:43:25

Is it even possible to hit max level without it? I don't think it was in the NES version...

Anyway, nice review. :)

Posted by 
 on: 04/09/12, 18:02:04
Good review Sam! I just beat this one recently and found the 3D effect rather impressive. The new backgrounds really help tell the story of Pit fighting his way out of the Underworld on his journey back to Sky World.

Those little comic panels under the Story header are pretty cool, are they from the NES game manual?

I should have suspected during my playthrough that the new sounds were taken from the Famicom Disk System version, since I own the FDS music soundtrack! It sounds great.

The bottomless pits do make the game really hard. Getting past the first stage was hard for me at first, not just because of the pits but also the pathetic amount of health you begin with. When you reach your first Reaper, you inevitably battle his demented Reapettes. The little guys have a somewhat wonky flight pattern, making it difficult to avoid touching them as you shoot arrows.

sirmastersephiroth said:
The farther into the game you go, the easier it gets.

Yeah, this is true for the most part. I love how Pit powers up through the game, and his color changes too as a badge of honor, or something. There was one frustrating moment later on though, where these small jumping enemies (who were seemingly impervious to my attacks) would steal one of my three power-ups (that I had fought bravely for in the flying panel rooms, or Endurance Rooms as you called them). I would then have to save up my hearts and buy them back from the Black Market dealers at rather high prices.

Oh look, the guy I'm talking about is mentioned in @kriswright's tip #6. Pluton is a little bastard indeed.

I was a little sad there was no New Game +, as you pointed out Sir Master. Although, to be honest, I don't recall whether this added anything to the experience before (would it allow you to go for the best ending?).

I, too, am excited for the future of the Kid Icarus franchise. It's been a looong time coming!

Posted by 
 on: 04/09/12, 18:08:48
Cool review! I love all the details and trivia you added! Nice work!

By the way, there are two other additions to the 3D Classics version of this game that were not in the original:

1.) You can hold down the "Attack" button (default is 'B' I believe) and Pit will continuously fire arrows. In the original, you had to button-mash to fire at a rapid rate.

2.) If you press the "Jump" button while in the air, Pit will slowly descend to the ground. This wasn't in the original version of the game either. This new control mechanic really helps out with the tricky platforming...especially in the first few stages.

Posted by 
 on: 04/09/12, 18:19:13
I'm not a fan of the remake's backgrounds. At least, not all of them. Like the lava one. The indoor ones look nice.

Posted by 
 on: 04/09/12, 19:12:55
Thanks all!

@kriswright The game looks great on the 3DS screen. It's very crisp and the 3D effect is awesome.

@Kal-El814 I was very disappointed when I learned this too. I was ready to begin my New Game+ game and suddenly realized that my health was down to the minimum and so was my arrow strength.

@roykoopa64 Yep, the comic panels are from the manual. And yes, I too hated those damn Plutons!

@GameDadGrant Thanks for the added info. I corroborated your findings and added them to the review giving you credit for them. It's interesting that they added the floating mechanic. I believe this was actually a feature of the sequel.

@Secret_Tunnel My favorite is the starry night. You can see it under the second paragraph of the Graphics section.

Posted by 
 on: 04/09/12, 21:29:54
Very thorough review, great job!

Disagree with the score though, this game is a 10 out of 10.

Posted by 
 on: 04/09/12, 21:46:22

See, that looks out of place to me. Maybe I'm just used to the original game.

Posted by 
 on: 04/09/12, 21:53:02
First time I ever played KI was with this game and I beat it in like 4 hours. fun game and no items used!!!

Posted by 
 on: 04/09/12, 22:00:37
@sirmastersephiroth I guess the thing I worry about is whether or not the sprites are too small. I've sort of had that problem with a few of the NES Ambassador games.

Posted by 
 on: 04/09/12, 23:01:45
Why is this fan-created review of an ancient NES game about ten times better than your average paid game journalist's review on a much bigger site? Excellent, thorough review, sirmastersephiroth. I've always enjoyed this game and you did a great job covering all its intricacies.

And yeah, Pluton is a real butt. And he's still a butt in Uprising, go figure. He and Eggplant Wizard can have a butt-off.

Posted by 
 on: 04/10/12, 00:03:46
I demand this game be patched to add in NG+. :|

Posted by 
 on: 04/10/12, 00:25:42

lol 'butt-off'.

I for one would like to see Kris do a photoshop of that. I predict the perfect blend of hilarious and horrific.

Posted by 
 on: 04/10/12, 01:08:23
I never really played the NES game back in the day. I don't think I would have liked it much. However, this 3D Classics version? Oh my god, I love it!

Great review, sir! I love how thorough it was.

I'm pretty bummed that there is no NG+. But I think considering all the other additions it's OK to lack one thing... but a patch would be nice.

The art in the backgrounds and the 3D effect? Man, just mind blowing. I am definitely open to more 3D Classics now!!

Posted by 
 on: 04/10/12, 01:14:42
Huh. Thats weird how the game borrows from both Perseus and Medusa but in different ways. It was Athena who cursed Medusa; why not keep her in the game as the other Gods are?

I like the Saved Game / Continue deal. I had a password from 3-4 that I had written down, and when I went to put it in, it told me it was wrong. What. I breezed through 3-3 on my first venture, so the next password I had was 3-2. That kinda stinks when you have to redo TWO stages to get back to where you should be.

I don't think I'll play the NES one again, but I'm not entirely sure. I'm all maxed out now and stuff.

That last round is weird, isn't it? (Of course, I'm talking about NES, not the 3D version) Its totally different, and the background/whatever doesn't even really matter as you can fly ANYWHERE. I wasn't expecting that to be "it," but I guess "surprise?"

Good review, and I, too, like the instruction art. Lost to the ages..

Posted by 
 on: 04/10/12, 01:52:36
Shadowlink said:

lol 'butt-off'.

I for one would like to see Kris do a photoshop of that. I predict the perfect blend of hilarious and horrific.

Posted by 
 on: 04/10/12, 02:28:17

Haha what the heck?

Anyway I haven't posted in here yet but have read the review. That was an excellent job! I should play through it again soon but I really enjoyed it when I finally got to finish it on the Wii. Never got very far on the NES back in the day but still loved what I played of it.

Posted by 
 on: 04/10/12, 02:31:55
@deathly_hallows Thanks. This is actually my lowest reviewed game ever.

@Secret_Tunnel I knew as soon as I saw the backgrounds that it would be hit or miss with fans. I love them, but your mileage may vary.

@Nintendo.Wii I remember wasting a lot of time on deaths, hospital trips, and getting lost in the mazes. It took me a whole lot less time this go around because 1) I actually knew what I was doing because of experience and the internet, 2) I made the maps before I tackled the mazes, and 3) I wasn't hit by a single eggplant for the first time in my life.

@kriswright After reading your comment, I measured the used screen real estate for this game and there was a loss of about 2MM from the top and 2MM from the bottom. Ambassador games use the entire vertical real estate. 3D Classics Kirby's Adventure has even less real estate than Kid Icarus because it has a frame within the frame. So you may use that as reference for how you think it will look to you. Honestly, I wish the 3D Classic games didn't have frames but it doesn't bother me that much either.

By the way, with regards to your Top Ten Kid Icarus Tips. I do have some different opinions on #10 and #8.

With #10, I feel the centurions are of great help for the first two bosses. There is a trick to using them well since you have to know how to control them. Just remember that they sway with you with a little bit of a lag. They also shoot farther than you, so that helps a lot. They helped me beat the first two bosses really quickly, the second one without getting hit or losing a single centurion. The third boss destroyed all of my centurions quickly since it's very difficult to evade both the boss and his "orbs."

With #8, I think you shouldn't farm so much on your first playthrough since you may die a lot and grow frustrated when you find out that you lose your hearts.

I have to try out #9 and #4 in this version. I remember doing both as a kid but I didn't actually take advantage of these tricks this time.

With regards to #2, what I did was just release the D-Pad and Pit would stop moving forward.

You should make this an official Top Ten for real! You have enough material and the tips are really useful.

@TriforceBun Thank you very much. Wait...you guys don't get paid?

@Kal-El814 Ditto. I was very disappointed when I found out it wasn't there.

@NinSage I agree. Kid Icarus and Kirby's Adventure have really showed us that Nintendo is not adverse to remaking "longer" games in 3D. I can't wait to see what Mario, Zelda, and especially SNES games will look like as 3D Classics.

@VofEscaflowne Why no Athena? That's a good question. It's because...um...yeah, I got nothing.

I might actually play the Wii version now and try to max out to get the best ending without any codes.

I also miss instructions booklet art. I always read the booklets before playing any game. Now I just pop it right in because instruction booklets suck, now adays.

@VofEscaflowne Thanks! I really think you should play the 3DS version because of the save system and added quirks.

@Shadowlink & @kriswright:


Posted by 
 on: 04/10/12, 05:37:02

Fair enough on the gameplay points. My attitude to the centurions is that, if you've properly leveled up along the way, Twinbellows and Hewdraw are going to be simple, anyway. Last time I played through, I admit that Hewdraw was a bit harder than I'd remembered, but I still got nowhere near losing my life reserves. So I'm of the opinion that the centurions, whether you can get them to do real damage or not, are less valuable than the hearts you can get from the same monsters. But I generally like the centurion system and so I don't mean to discourage people from using them if they want to. But I'd rather get the barrel as soon as possible, personally.

I don't typically exploit the second controller trick, but I do tend to push my luck in the treasure rooms. I don't have the code memorized, but I do remember where the "safe" pots typically are. So I get decent returns in treasure rooms, even when I'm not being deliberately cheap with it.

As far as turning it into a legit Top Ten... don't get me started. That article is cursed. Twice now I've tried to write it and both times all my work was lost due to freak brown outs. The last time I was literally doing final edits - about 5 minutes left to go - and the power went out.

Naturally I went out and shouted at a passing bird.

Posted by 
 on: 04/10/12, 05:52:19


kriswright said:

Naturally I went out and shouted at a passing bird.


Posted by 
 on: 04/10/12, 06:11:02
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