Kid Icarus (JP) (known in-game as Kid Icarus: Angel Land Story) is a platformer developed by Nintendo R&D1 (now known as Intelligent Systems) and TOSE, and published by Nintendo for the Famicom Disk System in 1986 and the NES. It is the first game in the Kid Icarus series.
The story of Kid Icarus is set in the fantasy world known as Angel Land and revolves around Pit, an angel, and his quest for Three Sacred Treasures which he must equip to destroy the evil goddess of darkness Medusa and liberate the goddess of light and rightful ruler of Angel Land Palutena.
The player controls Pit through two-dimensional levels while fighting evil creatures and collecting items. Their objective is to find and defeat monsters that guard the three treasures.
The game has been re-released several times: on August 10, 2004, for the Game Boy Advance as part of the Famicom Mini Series in Japan only, on February 12, 2007, on the Wii's Virtual Console and on January 18, 2012 a 3D remake was released on the Nintendo 3DS known as 3D Classics: Kid Icarus.
Kid Icarus is set in a time when man and gods coexisted, living in harmony in the kingdom of Angel Land which was ruled by two goddesses, Palutena the Goddess of Light and Medusa the Goddess of Darkness.
Palutena lived in the Palace in the Sky and administered light, assuring that man was able to grow crops successfully and live in peace. However Medusa, Goddess of Darkness, hated humanity and sought to undo the good Palutena had done; drying up crops and turning people into stone.
In anger Palutena transformed Medusa into a hideous monster and banished her to the Underworld. Medusa promised revenge, planning to take over the Palace in the Sky. Medusa joined forces with the monsters and evil spirits of the Underworld and soon her army began to surpass that of Palutena's centurions.
A war between Palutena's forces and Medusa's monsters soon began. Medusa led a surprise attack upon Palutena's army which suffered heavy losses, many of the centurions being turned to stone.
It was then that Medusa took possession of the Three Sacred Treasures, the Mirror Shield, the Arrow of Light and the Wings of Pegasus, which she gave to her most powerful followers. Palutena was imprisoned deep within the Palace in the Sky, now ruled by Medusa. The previously peaceful realm of Angel Land was quickly turned from a paradise into a land of darkness ruled by the dark god Medusa.
Without any other hope Palutena sought the assistance of Pit, a young warrior who used to be in charge of Palutena's personal body-guard who was locked in a dungeon in the Underworld at this time. Palutena used her magical prowess to arm Pit with a bow and arrow to assist him in his escape from the Underworld. With most of Medusa's guards now occupying the Palace in the Sky Pit's escape was made possible.
Pit must then travel out of the Underworld, across the Overworld and into Skyland before confronting Medusa in the Palace in the Sky after having retrieved the three treasures. After defeating Medusa Pit finds the restored Palutena within the palace. She then bestows on him new armor. If the secret ending is reached, (all upgrades and hearts) Pit will be turned into a teenager and afterwards receive a kiss of gratitude from Palutena.
Pit is the main protagonist. He is an angel and leader of Palutena's army. He carries a bow and has wings, though he can't fly.
She is the Goddess of Light and ruler of Angel Land. In the beginning she helped the Mortals cultivate their crops and was very kind while Medusa was cruel to them and destroyed their crops. So Palutena turned her into a hideous monster with snakes for hair, gills, and claws. Then she banished her to the Underworld. Medusa gathered a group of monsters together and then she kidnapped Palutena and took her away. Using the little magic she had she freed Pit from the Underworld so that he in turn could save her.
Medusa was once one of the two goddesses that ruled over Angel Land. She was cruel to the to the mortals and destroyed their crops while Palutena helped them. So Palutena banished Medusa to the Underworld where she gathered a group of monsters and sought revenge against Palutena. She turned Palutena's body guards the Centurions, into stone and imprisoned her.
Old man Zeus is a God that gives Pit a mission. You are placed into a room full of falling bricks. If you can evade all the bricks, you receive a weapon.
The Centurions are the royal guards of Palutena and in turn of Angel Land. When Medusa invaded Skyworld, they were all turned to stone. If you save the Centurions, they will come and help you in your final battle. However, it only takes one hit to kill them.
The Reapers are minor antagonists that appear in the game. If they see you, they will be thrown into a panic and call down four Reapettes. A Reaper will not call down more Reapettes if there is still one left from his last call.
The Eggplant Wizards are minor antagonists that appear exclusively in the fortresses of the game. They are infamous among gamers for their ability to turn Pit into an eggplant, making him incapable of attacking, until he reaches a nurse to remove the curse.
Kid Icarus is an action platformer with role-playing elements. The player controls Pit through two-dimensional levels, which contain monsters, obstacles and items. Pit has basic abilities such as jumping and crouching but despite having wings, he cannot fly.
Volume 204 of Nintendo Power contained an article which described the game as blending together elements from Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda and Metroid, stating that Pit can "jump like Mario, collect items like Link, and shoot enemies like Samus.
"His primary weapon is a bow with an unlimited supply of arrows, known as Arrows of Strength, that can be upgraded with three collectable power items:
- Protective Crystal: Shields Pit from enemies with a pair of twin crystals that rotate quickly around him, providing a physical barrier that damages enemies in close vicinity.
- Fire Arrow: Adds a spinning fireball to each arrow shot and is capable of hitting multiple targets.
- Sacred Bow: Increases the speed and range of arrows.
Additionally, the player can upgrade the strength and power of the standard arrow ammunition a total of five levels: standard, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Sacred. These upgrades will work only if Pit's health is high enough. The game keeps track of the player's score, and increases Pit's health bar at the end of a level if enough points were collected.
Throughout the levels, the player may enter doors to access seven different types of chambers:
- Stores and Black Markets: Offer items in exchange for hearts such as Water of Life, Mallets and Angel Feathers.
- Treasure Chambers: Rooms filled with jars that Pit can break open in the hopes of finding items.
- Enemy Nests: Rooms filled with monsters. They can be useful for collecting extra hearts, but can also be very dangerous.
- Hot Springs: Pools of golden water that restore Pit's health when he stands in them.
- Sacred Chambers: The strength of Pit's arrows may be increased depending on several factors, such as the number of enemies defeated and the amount of damage taken in battle.
- Sacred Training Chamber: Zeus will task Pit with a test of endurance. If he survives, he will be awarded with one of the three power items.
- Hospitals: If Pit is afflicted with the Eggplant Curse, caused by being struck by an Eggplant Wizard's magic, a nurse will cure him.
The game world is divided into three stages – the underworld, the surface world and the sky world. Each stage encompasses three unidirectional area levels and a fortress. The areas of the underworld and sky world stages have Pit climb to the top, while those of the surface world are side-scrolling levels.
The fortresses at the end of the stages are labyrinths with non-scrolling rooms, in which the player must find and defeat a gatekeeper boss and acquire one of the Three Sacred Treasures. Within a fortress, Pit may buy a check sheet, pencil and torch to guide him through the labyrinth. A single-use item, the Mallet, can destroy stone statues, which frees a flying Centurion that will aid the player in boss battles.
After receiving all three sacred treasures, he is able to access the fourth and final stage, the sky temple. This last portion abandons the platforming elements of the previous levels, and resembles a scrolling shooter.
Kid Icarus was designed by Nintendo Research and Development 1, one of Nintendo's oldest development teams, and the programming was handled by the external company Intelligent Systems. At this time Nintendo R&D1 was headed by Gunpei Yokoi, producer of Metroid and later the creator of the Game Boy, who would serve as producer on the project.
The original Famicon Disk System version made use of save slots whereas the English version uses passwords, known as "Sacred Words" in the game. The Famicon version of Kid Icarusalso takes advantage of the system's wavetable sound channel to produce higher quality music and sound effects. Kid Icarus was Toru Osawa's debut as a video game designer.
He intended to make Kid Icarus an action game with role-playing elements, and wrote a story rooted in Greek mythology, which he had always been fond of. He drew the pixel art, and wrote the technical specifications, which were the basis for the playable prototype that was programmed by Intelligent Systems.
After Nintendo's action-adventure Metroid had been finished, more staff members were alloted to the development of Kid Icarus including it's co-directors, Satoru Okada and Yoshio Sakamoto. Okada filled the directing role while Sakamoto helped to streamline the development process, and made many decisions that affected the game design of Kid Icarus.
Several out-of-place elements were included in the game, such as credit cards, the Eggplant Wizard, and a large, moving nose that was meant to resemble the composer, Hirokazu Tanaka. Sakamoto attributed this unrestrained humor to the former personnel of the R&D1 division, which he referred to as "strange".
Osawa said that he had originally tried to make Kid Icaruscompletely serious, but opted for a more humorous approach after objections from the team. To meet the game's projected release date of December 19, 1986, the staff members worked overtime and often stayed in the office at night.
They used torn cardboard boxes as beds, and covered themselves in curtains to resist the low temperatures of the unheated development building. Eventually, Kid Icarus was finished and entered production a mere three days before the release date. Several ideas for additional stages had to be dropped because of these scheduling conflicts. In February and July 1987, a cartridge-based version of Kid Icarus was published for the NES in Europe and North America respectively. For this release, the graphics of the ending were updated, and staff credits were added to the game.
Ties to Metroid
Due to the large percentage of the team having come straight off of work on Metroid, there are many similarities to the game. Both Metroid and Kid Icarus use the same game engine, both are platformers with shooting elements and both have multiple endings which vary depending on gameplay. Kid Icarus even includes an enemy said to have come from another planet, known as Komayto, which looks almost identical to the titular Metroid enemy. Both games were released in North America in the summer of 1987.
It is rumored that the name "Kid Icarus" was derived from the mythological story "Daedalus and Icarus". In this story, Daedalus, a talented craftsman, built a labyrinth for King Minos of Crete in which could hold the minotaur. Soon after, King Minos imprisoned him, and in order to escape, he crafted himself and his son, Icarus, two pairs of wax wings. He warned Icarus to be careful when he flew, and not to go too high nor too low.
In spite of this, Icarus's giddiness and curiosity when flying caused him too soar to high, and his wings had melted. Icarus then struggled to stay airborne but unfortunately fell to the ocean and drowned. Many of the character names are taken from Greek mythology, with the notable exception of Palutena.
Although, based on Palutena's actions towards Medusa (transforming her to a beast and sending her to the Underworld) it can be said that Palutena's character is related to that of Athena, the goddess of wisdom in Greek mythology. In the story of Athena and Medusa, Medusa claimed to be so beautiful, that Athena punished her for it.
Legacy and Reception
Despite having a mixed critical reception, Kid Icarus is today regarded as a cult classic, and had shipped 1.76 million copies by late 2003. Reviewers praised the game for its music and its mixture of gameplay elements from different genres, but criticized its graphics and high difficulty level.
It has been included in many "best of" lists such as Nintendo Power's Top 200 Games, where Kid Icarus was placed at number 54 and IGN's 2003 list of the Top 100 Games of all Time, in which Kid Icarus placed at #084. A short review which accompanied the nomination said that it "packs an awesome style, tight design and is still a lot of fun to pick up and play today."
A sequel of the game was released on the Game Boy in 1991 called Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters that some fans argue is superior to the original. The game's popularity led Pit to be featured as a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Brawl in 2008. Pit also appeared as a major character in the television show Captain N: The Game Master. Pit also made cameo appearances in Tetris, F1-Race, Super Smash Bros. Melee (as a trophy) and an edition of Howard & Nester in Nintendo Power. A third entry to the series, Kid Icarus: Uprising was finally released in 2012.