Games Meet Metal: DJ's All Time Favorites: Kid Icarus

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Friday, September 10, 2010

DJ's All Time Favorites: Kid Icarus

Arguably Nintendo's most overlooked IP, going nearly 2 full decades without a new installment. It got its start on the original NES, released alongside Metroid which was met with more success. The two games were designed by the same team, had similar game infrastructures, and even shared an enemy. One thing Kid Icarus lacked was the sheer isolation and haunting atmosphere that Metroid is known for. In its place was a cartoony, Nintendo-esque spin on Greek Mythology, having as much in common with its source material as Legend of Zelda did with Celtic Mythology and Medieval European culture. It had the aesthetic and imagery, but it had almost nothing else in common with Greek Myth. Pit fought many absurd creatures that you will never find in the Odyssey or Illiad, such as Eggplant Wizards (i.e. annoying bastards that could turn Pit into a walking eggplant), and he even had his own credit card. All this works in its favor, because what fun is life without a little imagination?

I was introduced to Kid Icarus about 3 years ago. This was around the time that the series was beginning to receive more recognition, largely as a result of Pit's inclusion in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I already had a soft spot for Greek mythology, as well as platformers and Nintendo's more whimsical approach to game design. So despite its age, Kid Icarus seemed to be right up my alley. What made it stand out the most was its varied level design, including its vertical scrolling platforming levels, and lopsided difficulty. Pit may have a pair of wings, but he is not able to fly until much later in the game. The first 3 stages are pure brutality, with enemies flying at you from all directions as you carefully leap across tiny ledges. It can get pretty frustrating, but the subsequent levels do a good job of justifying the uphill battle, as they are vintage 2D platforming bliss. The music is really bouncy and fun too. The game shifts back to sheer madness once you reach the fourth and final section of the game, though. Also, Pit's arrows won't travel very far in the beginning. You can get upgrades later, much like the aforementioned Metroid.

The game was only a mild success and was almost completely eclipsed by Metroid. There was a sequel, titled "Of Myths and Monsters", released for the Game Boy in 1992. It seemed as though it would become a regular series for Nintendo, just like Zelda and Mario before it, and they even had an SNES version planned. However, the plans were aborted, and the series lay dormant for nearly 2 decades as Metroid became one of Nintendo's biggest properties (despite its limited popularity in Japan). But as of this past E3, it looks like Nintendo is once again taking its criminally neglected franchise seriously, even going as far as positioning it as a flagship title for the 3DS launch window. I remember the big stupid grin I had on my face during the Uprising trailer as Pit lept into action, apologizing for his long absence ("sorry to keep you waiting!"), and then proceeded to kick all kinds of ass on screen. It's about damn time, Pit, ya fuckin' jerk!

On another note, can anybody come up with a better name for my blog series than "all time favorites"? It just seems really plain and corny, in my opinion.

1 comment:

  1. What's up dude. Just downloaded Kid Icarus on the Wii. Haven't played it in probably 20 years. Just need to kill Medusa then get to do it all over again... with the long bow and flame arrows. Nice write up.