I've never made much of a splash over here at Negative World, but some of you guys may remember me from my days in the IGN Wii Lobby many years ago. Back then, I developed a bit of a reputation as a fan of the original Kid Icarus game. Without going too much into detail, back when I was growing up, Kid Icarus was for me what The Legend of Zelda was for a lot of the rest of you. I'm one of those rare guys who actually put a lot of time into the original game and I've been waiting patiently for a sequel for a very long time. Even started work on my own, if you can believe it.
So, with "Kid Icarus: Uprising" on the way, I thought I might go over the top 10 things I'd like to see in the new game.
Now, I'm going to leave out the obvious stuff everybody wants. It should go without saying that I want the game to control well, be impressive graphically, show the polish that Nintendo is known for, etc. Those should be taken for granted. Here, I'm going to be looking at less obvious things, from the heart of a lifelong fan of Kid Icarus.
(I should also mention that I know next to nothing about Uprising. I've seen last year's E3 trailer and a few screenshots. There are things I love and things I'm iffy about, but I'm by no means up to date on my information. So if I start talking about something that's already confirmed to be in or not in the game, then hey, that's news to me.)
On That Other Forum, I read a comment by some poor soul who thought Uprising needed to have a multiplayer mode to be successful. To me, that's just entirely unnecessary and not something I want Project Sora wasting their time on. A sequel to Kid Icarus has been a long time coming and now is not the time to be screwing around with some ridiculous 8 player Deathmatch mode. We know Sakurai has a special talent for loading a game with features, but that's really not necessary for the first Kid Icarus game in 20 years. All I want is a great Kid Icarus game. Nothing else is necessary. I want nothing to divide the development team's attention.
Though having said that, I have one mode I'd love to see: Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters. Wouldn't it be great if players could unlock the seldom-played Kid Icarus sequel from the original Gameboy? It's a well-designed, fun little game and I'd love to see it get a second life as a reward in Uprising. Let people play it, Nintendo. It'd be a good move for the Kid Icarus franchise.
9.) Cameos By Other Long Lost Nintendo Properties
Little Mac might have beat him to it by a few years, but is there any doubt that Pit is the current poster child for all those ancient Nintendo properties that deserve to come out of retirement? As such, I think it would be a lot of fun to see a few cameos by long lost Nintendo characters who are still waiting around for their own sequels.
Who? Well, the Ice Climbers for a start. Considering they have a lot in common with Pit - vertical platforming gameplay, R&D1 pedigree, light-heartedness, something to do with eggplants, etc. - it really wouldn't be too much of a mismatch to have them in there.
I'd be delighted to see walk-on cameos from R&D1 characters like Bubbles, Professor Hector, Stanley the Bugman, or any of the other old NES characters who've never appeared in a game since the 80s. Sora shouldn't just shoehorn them in, of course, but if there are places where their appearances might feel natural (in a crowd in a town, maybe?) I say go for it. Make it not only an occasion to celebrate Kid Icarus, but to celebrate all the second tier Nintendo franchises from the early days of the NES.
8.) The Right Story (And Not Too Much)
It won't bother me if Uprising is a bit more story driven than usual for a Nintendo property. Kid Icarus could work as a cinematic style game - a style Nintendo could use in their roster. So I'd love for Uprising to be built around a good, solid story. But, considering this is a handheld system and something of a retro-throwback, let's not get too bogged down with it. Make us care about the characters, yes, but only after you've made us care about the gameplay.
7.) Some Inside Reference To The Long Wait
The trailer sort of did this already, but I'd love to see something in the game that acknowledges the ridiculous wait we've gone through for this game.
In my own fake sequel, I had Kid Icarus sleeping in the depths of Hades for 20 years. I don't expect Uprising to have something that drastic, but some meta-reference to the wait would be appreciated. It feels like a celebration that a new Kid Icarus game is coming out at all. The game should delight in acknowledging it.
6.) Minor Characters Return
At this point I know Pit, Palutena, Medusa and the Eggplant Wizard will return in some form or other. But how about Crow? Orcos? What role will the Centurions play?
These are really obscure characters and the Kid Icarus series could certainly continue successfully without them. Speaking as a fan, though, I think it'd be great to see these characters back. (Maybe it's because I worry that this might be the only Kid Icarus game for a while, so want to see them in all their 3D glory while I have the chance. Not sure.)
5.) Pit, The Heroic Mute
I think most of you would agree that it is no longer particularly special to have a character in a video game who talks. We're long past the days of Sinistar. Voice acting in games is no longer considered a novelty. In most games released today, it's essential.
Nowadays, I feel even more strongly that a game character only needs a voice when it is absolutely necessary for characterization. With Pit, I don't believe it is. He's a product of the earliest NES days. Pit was associated with Link and Mario back before they had their own cartoon shows, spinoffs and breakfast cereals. And, just like those characters, Pit doesn't have to say a lot to be a great character. In fact, I'll argue that it would be more special to underline that history by carrying on the Nintendo heroic mute tradition with Pit. It sends the message that this is a character from the Golden Age of Gaming. This is a character that shares part of his identity with some of the greatest game characters of all time. Very few modern game characters have that pedigree. And there's just something special about these Nintendo mutes. Why wreck that?
Also, just personally, I don't want Pit to come off like some goofy, Sonic-snarking a**hole. I'd much rather project the personality I've always imagined him to have onto the new game, not have Sakurai reveal it to be something else entirely.
4.) The Mythos Treated With Respect
Angel Land is a weird ****ing place. I won't argue with that. But, to me, that's part of the appeal of the series.
So far, Sora seems to be treating the series mythology with respect. They're not getting rid of some of the more oddball ideas, like the Eggplant Wizards, and they're updating the mythos with care. I like that. I'm happy that I can see Medusa pop up in that trailer, even though there are people who argued she was somehow too much of a lightweight to be the villain (not THIS Medusa, partner. You're thinking of some Medusa from some other game.)
But I hope it continues even more deeply in Uprising. I hope the basic story ideas from the original game stay intact. Not just characters like Medusa and Palutena, but I hope we see, for instance, the Three Sacred Treasures. I hope Pit's role as Palutena's champion is more or less the same. I hope I get to run around in pools of healing water and train with Zeus and try to avoid the irritating God of Poverty. And I hope all of this is done without Sora feeling the need to send it up and make jokes out of it.
Let me also say, I'm glad they didn't dork around with the name "Kid Icarus". Back in the days of the 'Cube, when the Nintendo bashers used the word "mature" instead of "hardcore" and "kiddie" instead of "casual", there seemed to be a movement to drop the word Kid from the title. You know, as if having the word "Kid" in the title was poison to all self-respecting mature gamers. I thought that was ludicrous, but I heard it relatively frequently. These same people wanted to make Pit some kind of generic badass rather than the character we see in all those NES booklet drawings. I'm just glad they didn't get their way.
(Okay, so the original game wasn't called Kid Icarus in Japan. Fine. That doesn't mean it isn't an awesome and memorable title. I'm really happy that Nintendo is keeping it. There was a time when great fighters used to put the name "Kid" in front of their nickname, to show that they were youthful and exuberant. Kid Dynamite. Kid Galahad. Kid Icarus. Works for me.)
3.) Hip Tanaka's Soundtrack Tastefully Orchestrated
Oh my God, does Kid Icarus have great music! So many classic, gorgeous tunes. If you haven't heard them - or haven't heard them in a while - have a listen here:
Personally, I think the title theme to Kid Icarus is the single greatest theme tune from the NES days. Or, at the very least, second only to the Mario theme. Listen to the arpeggios that start at the 0:57 mark. Is that not the most beautiful sound that ever came out of an NES?
While the Gameboy sequel certainly didn't have music in the same league as the NES game, it had its moments. I particularly like the syncopation here.
I'd love to hear perfect, orchestrated versions of these tunes, along with new music in this vein. Kid Icarus is well known for its soundtrack and I hope Sora carries on that legacy. One of the things I'm most looking forward to is hearing these tunes.
2.) A Sense of Humor
I said I want Sora to respect the mythos of Kid Icarus. I believe that whole-heartedly. But part of doing that is recognizing that this game series always had a sense of humor about it, too. Just the fact that the lead character can get turned into an eggplant with legs - that's possibly the single weirdest thing in NES history. And it's meant to be weird. It's meant to be funny.
At the end of Myths and Monsters, Pit flies too close to the sun and his wings fall off. Is that canon? Who cares? It's just there to be funny. I remember falling all over myself the first time I ever saw a reaper start freaking out when it spot me. And then nearly wet myself laughing at the little Reapettes. Just the fact that they're called Reapettes, like they're the Reaper's backup singers. The fact that there were Metroids in the game, or that there were little thugs who'd rob you. Or that you could threaten the shop dealer with the second controller. Or when you die it doesn't say "Game Over" Pit shouts "I'm Finished!" And don't get me started on the Specknoses!
This is a game that never took itself too seriously. And I know it may sound ironic coming from the guy who wrote The Fall of Kid Icarus, but I think it'd be a shame if the game lost some of its quirkiness. Oh, make the threats real. There should be scope and a real sense of danger in the game. But, like with the great Mario games, where Bowser is likely to have a big neon sign that says "Bowser" on top of his castle, don't sacrifice the funny factor just to give the game an epic scope. This is Nintendo, damnit.
1.) Hard-As-Hell Platforming
It all comes back to this, though. The hallmark of Kid Icarus is the extremely punishing vertical platforming in some of the levels. The 3DS might not be the best system to go vertical, but at the very least, this should primarily be a platformer. It should be a hard game, a few levels in difficulty above your average Mario game. Make it dense with enemies and a challenge for people who can cakewalk Galaxy.
And that justifies having another AAA platformer series on the Nintendo roster in 2011. In a way, Kid Icarus is like Ninja Gaiden in the sense that part of the appeal is the difficulty. Okay, the original Kid Icarus is not all that hard by today's standards, but many of us remember playing it as kids and being blistered by it. If you fall, you're going back to the beginning of the level, compadre. It's unforgiving like that.
I want this mystique back. I want people to say "I beat Kid Icarus: Uprising" and have it mean something. You gotta have good reflexes and a quick mind to beat this game. You gotta know your platform gaming and play close, close attention to what's going on as you play. You gotta take the opportunities to power up. I want to see levels absolutely swarming with snakes, Monoeyes and Reapers.
It took me over a decade to beat this game. I would adore seeing the gauntlet thrown down again.
I want to fight this game all the way to victory. Make it so, Sakurai.
Hahaha... one of my first major posts here at Negative World and I put my name in the title. I should do that more. Top 10 Reasons I, Kris Wright, Should Have My Name In Every Post Title I Make.
Say, I did call my webcomic "Kristopher Wright Tests Your Patience". Maybe I'm just vain.
Anyway, I think by the time this was posted, it was already clear that Uprising wasn't going to be exactly what I had in mind for a Kid Icarus sequel. But I was fairly smitten with Uprising, in the end, so everything worked out ok. It took me a while to get on the hype train, but I got there eventually.
Here's my opinion of the scorecard:
10.) No Extra Modes - I was wrong about this, but probably right in spirit. I think my concern about extra modes was driven by my disappointment in the Subspace Emissary from Brawl. Sakurai is known for overstuffing his games. My worry was that we might get a package that was stuffed with less-compelling side features and the main game would suffer - not a problem in Uprising. Also, I think I'd started listening to people who said there should never be multiplayer modes in Metroid and started to agree for some reason. Light and Dark was a ton of fun and I'd like to see it come to the Wii U as a downloadable stand-alone title.
Of Myths and Monsters wasn't on the cart, but it was on the VC. I'm not sure why I thought it wouldn't come to the VC back when I wrote this. Maybe Gameboy games hadn't been announced yet. But my primary motivation for bringing this up was so people would get a chance to play the game. So... again wrong in point of fact, but right in spirit.
9.) Cameos - Definitely didn't happen. Would have been fun, though I don't know if you could have had mute Ice Climbers in Uprising, the most talkative game in the history of Nintendo.
8.) The Right Story - Sakurai nailed this one, though there was more story and new characters than I expected. The advantage is that he told the story throughout the gameplay, so it wasn't a bunch of cutscenes - which is better than my own treatment, which basically turned into a movie.
7.) Reference to the Long Wait - Yeah, there were some cheeky references to the wait, the 8-bit nature of the old game. I'd have liked for it to be a plot point, but it wasn't necessary.
6.) Minor Characters - What's funny is that Sakurai definitely brought back minor characters, but he brought back different ones than I would have! Crow and the God of Poverty aren't in there but Pandora and Thanatos are. Totally not expected. (I would have done more with Pluton, too.)
5.) Pit, the Heroic Mute - HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. No. Pit is the least "gonna shut up now" hero ever. But Sakurai made it work. To answer T-Bun's question, I love what they did with Pit. He and Palutena are a sublime double act for comedy. It's sorta sad to me that so many Nintendo fans didn't play this game because they really missed out on two of Nintendo's best characters.
4.) Treating the Mythos With Respect - Ok... Yes, they did. But I want to express one bit of disappointment I have. Hades. He's such a great character and yet I'm saddened that they had to job Medusa out so early and make him the new bad guy. There was nothing wrong with Medusa as the heavy. She's AWESOME. The new design, even more so. And even though Hades is also awesome, it just feels it robs the big bad spot from Medusa to throw him in the game.
Still, like a lot of things in Uprising, it comes down to complaining about too much of a good thing.
3.) Music - Again, yes they did this right with one big complaint. Where the hell was the title theme? I mean, it's the FREAKIN' TITLE THEME! It's my favorite piece of music in the history of Nintendo games and it's barely in the game. It sort of appears in one of the cavern levels and it trails off almost immediately. What. The. Hell. Sakurai.
Everything else, amazing, though I hear the Underworld theme as more martial and less big n' brassy than Sakurai.
2.) Sense of Humor - AND HOW! Even more than I originally envisioned, Sakurai made the case that Kid Icarus shouldn't take itself too seriously. This is probably the area where I give him the most credit, not only for the funny script but for realizing that the original Kid Icarus really was a comedy all along. That's why you have a credit card. That's why you get turned into an eggplant. That's why your wings fall off when you fly too close to the sun. This is one of the funniest games I've ever played. Totally delivered.
1.) Difficulty - Yeah, the game was difficult in parts, but not in the way I originally envisioned. The love/hate ground controls aside, what I was talking about was technical vertical platforming - and Uprising really didn't have this. That said, the cauldron really added a lot to the game and, in many respects, it's the hardest Kid Icarus ever. So it's all good.
So, by my count, he got 6 and missed 4 of them. And you could have gotten me to agree to 10 back then, and Sakurai outright proves me wrong on 5. So really, only the cameos and platforming are the two things I'd list as disappointments. Pretty good result for Sakurai, considering how different our visions for Kid Icarus were.
I think this is an okay Top 10 for my first one. And it stayed on topic, which is rare for me.
I concur. This game really does span the spectrum of tones, from comic to dead serious. All seamless transitions. I am truly amazed Sakurai packed this much content into a single 3DS game. Can't wait to see what all Smash 3DS is gonna offer.