The Kid's got game!

The release of Kid Icarus Uprising is upon us, a God-send for fans of the cult classic who have had to wait more than twenty years for another game in the series. We recently took a look at the original NES installment, which crossbred your standard platformer with a few adventure concepts. It was hardly perfect and it was more than a bit strange, but it remains nonetheless a charming gem. Now let’s jump forward a few years and finish the reflective retrospective.

Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters was a double whammy; it featured two products of the genius that was Gunpei Yokoi. The long-heralded Nintendo game designer of Metroid fame is perhaps also best known for being the mind behind Kid Icarus and the Game Boy. So what could be more fitting than linking his two brainchilds (you couldn’t ask for a better pun) together by producing one of his own games for one of his own systems. Yes, it was a match made in heaven – okay, I swear that’s the last one.

Pixel perfect Pit.

Now that I’ve whetted my wit, on to the review. After having aided the goddess of light, Palutena, in defeating the malicious Medusa, young Pit is now tasked with ousting Orcos, another devine demon set on usurping control over Angel Land. Before Palutena’s willing to let her adolescant leader let loose on Orcos, however, Pit has to go through hell one more time in an exercise of training to prove himself in this now penultimate plot. The story doesn’t seem that logical, but hey, Kid Icarus has never made much sense.

Flight Of Icarus

Generally, Of Myths and Monsters played the same as it did on the NES, with a few notable improvements.

Generally, Of Myths and Monsters played the same as it did on the NES, with a few notable improvements. For one thing, the player was given a lot more freedom in terms of navigation. Instead of being forcefully cast upwards or waywards on a single, stationary screen, linear levels were replaced with open, larger stages. The idea was still making it to the end of the zone, but there was no rush this time around, which made for more of a relaxing, adventure-oriented experience, if not a more enjoyable one.

This Kid Icarus was also a lot easier than its principal pioneer, mainly because of the slower pacing. Snakes, presumably loyal to Medusa, ridiculously poured out of those upside-down ceiling vases, as in the first game, but enemies moved slower and were not as prone to littering the level en masse.  Speaking of slowing down, Pit could use his wings to hover while dropping. And buying items from the hundreds of shops at every corner was no biggie; just stand at the bottom of a serpent pot, keep taking out the respawning snakes, and collect all the currency you need.

Pit had to avoid the snake pit. Oh the irony!

Here’s the kicker though: the game was equipped with a save feature. Yes, gone was the 24-digit damnation of a password, and gone were the days of storing your sheets of saves in the confines of your dresser. After each level, you come to a crossroads whereby moving left lets you save, and moving right lets you carry on – pray tell, why would the player not want to save? On top of all that, if you killed enough enemies in each stage, your life bar was extended. There were assuredly challenging moments, especially some of the bosses, but overall, Pit’s platforming was no longer punishing.

Portable Pit

The other main noticeable change to Kid Icarus was its graphics. This was the Game Boy, remember, so Pit was cursed by the gods to complete his charge without colour. The black-and-white scheme was a little drab compared to the vibrancy of the NES cartridge, but slightly improved texturing was enough to off-set the snag. One question though: what is up with the deranged face on Pit when you hit up on the D-pad? In a second, he transforms from guardian to grotesque. Mind you, there’s no specknose enemies from the first game, so maybe they were trying to compensate for the stupid and laughable. I’ll briefly mention the sound department with a minor complaint: the music is not half as catchy as it was in 1986.

Winging It

Unlike many of Sumonix’ Retro Reflections, Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters was not wholly unique or important. It didn’t innovate on a genre, it didn’t change the face of the gaming industry, and like it’s older brother, it’s not an incredible game. But it is an improvement of the original’s gameplay mix of action and adventure, and faithful to its bizarre tone. Ultimately, its legacy is limited to the fact that it initiated a twenty-year hiatus for the Harpie-hacking hero that has just ended in a deserving trilogy.

Prefer moving pictures and sound? Then watch our video retro reflection here.

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