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.
Story 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.
Graphics 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.
Sound 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.
Gameplay 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:
Reapers no longer turn around to investigate when they've been shot in the back, they'll continue on their path as if nothing happened. Sacred Words (Passwords) do not appear during a Game Over. Instead, there's a Continue/End option. Controls 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". Extra life bars now come with full health for that bar when they are earned. Since there is no Controller 2, the intimidation trick for Stores is now done by pressing the A and Start buttons simultaneously. There is no longer a half-second pause when Pit exits Chambers. Pit'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. In 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. 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. (Thanks to @GameDadGrant for this info.) 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. (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.
The 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). The 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. The 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. Kid 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." In 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! Captain 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. Pit also appeared in the Captain N comic books that were published by VALIANT Level 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. Pit is a playable character in the Nintendo Wii game, Super Smash Bros. Brawl. There is a Flash Remake of the game with better graphics and sound.
Tips 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.