Kid Icarus is the epitome of what it means to be an action/adventure title. There are different scrolling stages, newer and newer challenges, status effects, upgrades, lots of interesting items, and an ever-increasing difficulty. Bottom line, if you haven’t tried this title, you’ve seriously missed out on 8 bit action/adventure goodness.
Available For: 3DS, GBA, NES (reviewed), VC
Developer(s): Nintendo R&D1
Release Date: 1987
Archetype(s): Action, Adventure, Platformer
When you hear the premise, this game doesn’t sound like much. Pit, an angel trapped in the underworld, must journey upward and onward acquiring three sacred treasures and saving Princess Lana from the clutches of the evil Medusa. Actually, if anything it sounds like a derivitive of Darksiders or Bayonetta, but from a different angle.
In any case, Kid Icarus is a game that may dissuade people initially with the premise of fighting the forces of evil as a cute little cherub, but trust me, looks can be deceiving. This game is pure action/adventure goodness, featuring both vertical and horizontal scrolling stages with all kinds of pitfalls, artificial or otherwise. Actually, what may turn some people off is initially you do the vertical scrolling thing and much like the 3rd stage in Contra, you can die from “falling too far,” meaning falling below the screen, even if there was a floor right fucking there 2 seconds ago.
Not going to lie…this is one of the most frustrating aspects of the game with the boss dungeons being a close second. See, every 4 stages, you enter a dungeon that has a super complicated map the likes of which Zelda could only hope for. And it’s usually within these dungeons that you have two equally annoying concepts: eggplant wizards and healers.
Why is this so annoying? Well, eggplant wizards can give you an eggplant curse where your body turns into 90% eggplant. You can move around, jump, climb, etc., but you cannot attack. Therefore, you need a healer. This is annoying, however, because you have to remember where the healer is. In fact, it’s a good idea to keep a map of the dungeon handy (meaning you make it your goddamn self) because you’re going to need to visit and revisit some areas to get through.
The final annoyance to this title is it’s entirely password based. However, that being the final negative point, let’s tap into the positive. Firstly, the music and visuals are quite nice. Now, given that I haven’t been too terribly impressed by visuals so far, you might wonder “what gives.” Look, here’s the deal. Nowadays, everything is about being photorealistic, hyper fantasy, and whatever.
Problem is it’s gotten to the point of being oversaturated, but I digress as this could, in and of itself, become a new article entirely if I delve too far further. Back in the NES vs. Genesis days, great graphics with lots of vibrant colors meant big bucks. Further, those of you that are looking for an oldschool trip but did NOT grow up with games like this will, undoubtedly, tune out for anything less than excellence, so there is that as well.
In any case, yeah, it has that. The items you come across in the game are interesting as well. For example, you can upgrade your equipment, which means you down enemies quicker, improve life bar, etc. It also changes your color palette. Now at first, that seems pretty standard and isn’t that big of a deal, but beating the game several times myself I’d also like to point out it slightly changes the ending.
See, at the end, you get a still of you standing there with Lana. However, you’ll be dressed totally different depending on how far upgraded you are. Just a small touch, but a cool one all the same. You can also get a credit card, which allows you to buy anything you’d like in a store, but puts your money in the negatives, which you then have to pay off before you can buy anything else.
Actually, there are a lot of interesting concepts at work here. There are various minigames you can participate in that are similar to gambling, little rest areas where you can heal up, and all kinds of wacky enemies to trudge through. All in all, it’s a pretty solid entry in the NES library and definitely recommended for any 8-bit fan and/or nostalgia tripper.
But what about everyone else? Well, let’s put it this way. Most everybody else has at least tried the older Mario and Sonic games and more than likely enjoyed those. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Kid Icarus and especially if played on an emulator, you don’t have to worry about pesky passwords. I honestly can’t think of any one person to not recommend this title to.