Kid Icarus

It’s been years; my memory is a bit cloudy. I think I said this game was the Pits.

Review Date: March 6, 2021

Release Date: July 1, 1987

Platform: NES

Genre: Linear Platformer

Anecdotes: As the oldest, I had a lot of influence over what games our family got, but occasionally, I put no input into it at all. My brother got to pick a game and he chose Kid Icarus. We played it a bit, but he didn’t like it because he felt it was too “feminine,” so it got returned. At that point, we never got past the first level, so I think the difficulty may have been the real issue. Eventually, as we got a bit older, we went back and bought it again and kept it this time. By some miracle, I finally got through the first level and I began to understand the game better.

Description: Pit starts off in the underworld of Angel Land. After three levels of climbing, Pit will have to find his way around a fortress. World 2 (Overworld) and World 3 (Skyworld) work the same way, three linear levels and a fortress. The only difference is that the Overworld levels are horizontal instead of vertical. Each fortress is a maze, with the objective of beating a boss to obtain a sacred treasure. Pit then gets to use those treasures in World 4, the Palace in the Sky, where Pit has special abilities he can only use there, such as flying.

Positives: Well look at that. Nintendo found a way for players to save progress. Nintendo introduced a password Sacred Words system for Kid Icarus. Metroid also used a password system very similar to this one. That means that players can walk away from the game, turn the NES off, go fry up some bacon, and come back later. This was nice. Players can then start on any level in the game and retain any upgrades that were collected before. What’s nice about this system is that Pit can start at any level. However, anything obtained after starting the level is erased. Passwords Sacred Words were novel for their time; eventually they became obsolete once save cards became a thing. Nintendo was the first company to create a system like this; other companies followed suit shortly afterward and games without save systems would become the minority.

I noticed that enemies can strategically be left on screen. Both Shemums and Commylooses show up in groups of four, but if all four are killed or disappear off screen, a new set of four shows up if Pit is still in the area where they appear.

As I’m playing in 2021, keep in mind that it’s been years since I played this game, so I don’t remember everything. Anyway, I got to stage 1-4 and struggled. The health bar just wasn’t staying filled and the eggplant wizards were taking 12 hits to kill. There is a recovery spring, so on the better runs, I could make it to Twinbellows:

I got a Centurion in tow, so let’s fight Twinbellows!

However, Twinbellows owned me a few times. I already knew Centurions are useless and not worth the effort from playing as a kid, but what was I doing wrong? Well, this is when I did a little research and learned that I wasn’t scoring enough points to get upgrades. As a result, I started over, slowing down and making the effort to defeat enemies, trying to rack up 50,000 points to get health upgrades. I made it back to Twinbellows:

I’m back and I have green hair this time! Say goodbye, Twinbellows!

That worked much better, and that’s why the whole story is in the Positives section. The developers made sure that everything exists for a reason (well, except those stupid Centurions) and that rewards for doing tasks in the doors are worthwhile. A training room can be completed for Crystal Rods, Sacred Bows, or Flame Arrows, all of which are nice. Specknose rooms are good for grinding hearts. Treasure rooms can lead to major helps, like feathers and Life Bottles. There are also rooms where Pit will receive arrow upgrades.

This man is so supportive of Pit that he will always dye his beard the same color as Pit’s hair.
Even Pit’s shoes and belt have to match Pit’s hair and the other guy’s beard.

Negatives: Two words: Eggplant Wizards. Two more words: Ratchet Scrolling. Two even more words: I’m finished.

If Pit is hit with an eggplant, his head becomes an eggplant and his weapons are disabled. He’ll need to go to the hospital…
…which is conveniently inside the fortress. The doctor won’t appear if Pit is fine; she must be busy with all the people trying to navigate to fortress.

More Screenshots:

This treasure room yielded a Bottle of Life. There is a trick to these, but I didn’t use it. I just guessed the God of Poverty would be in the same place as it was on my previous visit. If I save that pot for last, it changes to a valuable item.
Such judgement. Anyway, I see Angel Land uses the same door construction people that Argool uses.
Pit takes a break to enjoy the fortress jacuzzi.
So…what’s the weirdest thing in this picture? The star shaped stars? Pit and his purple hair, shoes, and belt? His wings? Or the Yeti dancing around in the lava?

Final Opinion: Kid Icarus is a great game, but too many cheap deaths due to ratchet scrolling and the frustration of trying to find a hospital after getting hit by an eggplant prevent me from giving this an A.

Grade: B

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *