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Wii Virtual Console: Kid Icarus Review

by: Hollan ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

Pit the angel boy has my vote for the 'Manliest Video Game Hero of All Time' award.

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    Released in 1986 in Japan and 1987 in the rest of the world, Kid Icarus is yet another platformer for the NES. While it has been re-released a number of times (a Gameboy Color and a GBA release), Nintendo decided to re-release it again for the Wii Virtual Console. Is this one worth 500 points or should you stick with the Super Smash Brothers Brawl version of Pit and forget the game that spawned him?

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    Long ago in Angel Land (I kid you not) the two goddesses, Medusa and Palutena, had a pretty bad argument which ended with Medusa being imprisoned in the Underworld. Well, Medusa wasn't too happy about this. So she stole three sacred treasures, gave them to her strongest minions, and imprisoned Palutena in turn.

    Palutena enlists the aid of Pit, a little angel boy (yes, I said angel boy) who is stuck in the Underworld. She gives him a magic bow and sends him on a quest to regain the three sacred treasures: a mirror shield, an arrow of light and the wings of Pegasus. Apparently, above the Underworld is Hyrule. Who knew?

    This is actually quite deep for a NES game. I also like how it takes place in Hell, of all places. While the story isn't really the main part of games like this, I appreciate that the developers have the imagination to create one. Plus, Angel Land sounds like an awesome place to live.

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    Like many classic NES games, Kid Icarus can be really really hard. While the controls are simple with the Wiimote (directional pad is moving, A is jump and B shoots arrows), the game itself can be insanely difficult. The point of the game is to jump from ledge to ledge and kill anything that is trying to kill you. It's not timed, which is a relief since you'll have different things to worry about. There are three worlds each with four levels and a boss level. In two of the worlds you are going up and not to the right like a normal platformer. So, what's wrong with moving up? Well, one misstep and Pit will fall off of a ledge and die. That's the theme of Kid Icarus: you die! A lot!

    You can't scroll backwards which is a very common trait of NES games, but that doesn't make it any less annoying. There is a little life meter so at least you can see how much life you have left. However, it is really hard to get life back once you've lost it (from jumping on lava or touching enemies). Enemies do give you hearts, but hearts don't heal you. No, that would be too easy. Hearts are like money, you can trade them in at sporadically placed shops. But not every random door you find is a shop. Some are totally empty rooms with lava in them. I guess the Underworld doesn't want to make escaping it very easy.

    Along with hearts, you also collect mallets which are used to break statues and free angles. These freed angels will help you in boss battles, which is pretty cool.

    Unlike most platformers, you have an item screen that shows how many sacred treasures you have, your weapons, hearts, strength and endurance. It is nice to have this RPG element thrown in and gives the player a greater sense of accomplishment.

    Also, there is a password (called a sacred word in game) at the end of every level. Therefore you don't have to replay the entire game when you die. Since there are no saves, this is a handy feature.

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    Graphics and Sound

    The graphics are better than a lot of NES games. While the backgrounds are nonexistent (everything is black because it's the Underworld!), Pit and the enemies are quite nice looking. Pit even has a cute little face. However, everything does start to look the same after a while. There isn't as much variation as there could have been.

    The music and sounds are actually pretty poorly done. There is one song (an annoyingly heroic ditty) that is used throughout most of the game. The boss battles usually have different songs, but they are as equally forgettable. I don't know why the developers didn't try to mix it up, Mario style.

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    Kid Icarus is moving up!

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    I'm not sure. I had fun, but I also got frustrated a lot. Kid Icarus can be so annoying at times you just want to throw the controller and never look at the game again. But if you really love a challenge, you'll probably like that aspect of it. It has the potential to be fun, but I think it will be based on your disposition toward difficult games.

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    Kid Icarus is a solid game. If you loved it on the NES you may want to re-play it for nostalgia's sake. However, if you haven't played it before, be warned that it is difficult. But if you are ready for the challenge you won't be disappointed.