Kid Icarus


Review by Charlie Reneke



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Kid Icarus was to be the big Nintendo franchise (other then Mario), not Zelda. Things didn’t quite turn out as expected. Thus far, Kid Icarus has only spawned one sequel, for the Game Boy, and hasn’t been spoken of since around 1991. In fact, Kid Icarus’ biggest claim to fame was a recurring role on the Saturday morning cartoon Captain N: The Game Master. What went wrong with our favorite little angel? Quite honestly, he barely made it out of the starting gate.

The NES game Kid Icarus was a very early NES title, and one of the first two video games to use a password back-up system. The objective was to guide Pit, the title character, through four worlds, slay their big bosses, and collective the Three Sacred Treasures which were needed to defeat the evil Medusa. The plot is set against both Greek and Roman themes, and so most of the characters borrow from popular mythology.

Unfortunately, the level design crushes any good that could come from this game. Two of the four worlds you navigate through are tower-climbing style, and from the very first level of the game, faults begin to appear. Often, the view point raises up so much on a single jump that you can no longer see the ledges below you, and once that happens they no longer exist. Fall to the bottom of the screen, and you’re dead. The game does not scroll down, so once it raises up, you better be ready to go higher. The other two worlds you navigate through are done standard side-scrolling style. There wouldn’t be a problem with this if the levels weren’t so damn boring. There’s just nothing interesting about them, and they’re too easy.

After completing the first three levels in a world, you enter that level’s dungeon. This is where the game gets especially frustrating. The dungeon is designed like a giant maze that you must navigate through to find the boss chamber, and it incorporates both horizontal and vertical scrolling. Actually, it’s pretty good, and the entire game should have been done like that… except of course the Eggplant Wizards. You might remember the Eggplant Wizard from Captain N. He was the annoying one eyed purple thing that hung around with King Hippo and could never seem to get his job done right. Well, in the video game, he is this annoying one eyed purple thing that turns Pit into an eggplant. Once you’re an eggplant, you can’t use your weapons and you’re pretty much helpless against whatever monsters you might be encountering. You can find a nurse who will restore you to normal, but if you happen to walk into the boss chamber by mistake, game over. That’s it, you’re only hope is to let the boss kill you. Of course, you’ll use up whatever reserve life you have stored in your barrels (more on that later). Quite frankly, sometimes you just can’t die, and that is just poor design.

Speaking of poor design, who was the idiot that thought up the item system? Sometimes items work, and sometimes they don’t. It just doesn’t make any sense. You save up hearts to buy an item, only to see it not work. Just horrible.

Despite what is obviously a poor game, Kid Icarus features some pretty darn good graphics for the period. The columns, settings, bushes, etc all look excellent, and the monsters look good too. The music is catchy and upbeat. Too bad the sound effects are so flat.

Now for the biggest problem of all: control. Specifically, the game’s unresponsive jumping. It’s next to impossible to accurately land on some of the narrow ledges in this game. Furthermore, upon landing you have to feather the controller to make sure you don’t skid off and fall to your death. Cheap deaths are plentiful in this game. Be warned.

Bottom line: well that was pretty bad. On one hand, the level design is poor and on the other hand it’s the controls that are poor. And even if you can get past those faults, it really doesn’t matter. Ultimately, this game is boring. On a system where such epics as Legend of Zelda or Dragon Warrior exists, why would anyone want to waste time on this junk? It’s also pretty common so it’s not even a collectible. If the Kid Icarus from the cartoon saw this, he would likely say that this game “Sucksacus!”


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Last updated: Sunday, January 11, 2004 09:29 AM