I enjoy history quite a bit, any kind really. I watch YouTube videos when going to sleep about any kid of history I can find. Past presidents, wars, greek mythology, religion, and natural wonders. I took seven history classes during my college career and I didn’t even minor in it. So it only comes natural for me to want to learn and play the history of video games. That’s why I love video games, you don’t watch or listen the history, you experience it, you play it.
I know the Nintendo Entertainment System had a lot of gems in its collection so I randomly picked out a game to play. That happened to be Kid Icarus from 1987, and with that, my first review of a NES game.
From the story on the booklet and I’m going to paraphrase here because it’s a long one. There were two goddesses, one of the light named Palutena and one of the dark named Medusa. Paluntena made humans happy by giving them light and helping them farm, while Medusa hated humans and turned their crops into dust. Upset by this, Palutena, transforms Medusa into a monster and sends her to the underworld. After time passes, Medusa raises a monster army and attacks Paluntena stealing the three sacred items, a mirror shield, light arrows and the wings of Pegasus. Medusa imprisons Paluntena in a sky temple but with a last effort, Paluntena sends a bow and arrows to an angel named Pit who is being held in the underworld.
That’s where the game starts!
You are Pit, the angel, with a mission to rise from the underworld and fight Medusa’s army and rescue Paluntena. The gameplay is actually quite clever for the game being from 1987. Instead of being a side scrolling from the beginning, you start by climbing up platforms and avoiding enemies as you try and escape the underworld. The first few levels are much tougher than the final ones. Each time you kill an enemy you get a heart, which to my surprise didn’t raise your health, but instead, gave you points. Now I really didn’t care about points, I just wanted to beat the game but that was my first mistake. If you intend on playing this game. GET THE POINTS. As many as you can. After each level you complete, your points get tallied and you are given boosts in health and power. I didn’t know that so heading into the final level my character was relatively weak due to my lack of point collecting.
Kid Icarus (I have no clue why it is called that) is challenging. Enemies come at you from every spot on the screen, hordes repeat and it takes more than one arrow to kill them.
Each level is filled with little stone statues of Palutena’s soldiers, once again I didn’t do my research so I didn’t know you could free them with a hammer, the hammer is a secondary weapon that you can only use a few times so use it wisely. The reason you want to free Palutena’s soldiers from their stone imprisonment is that they help you battle the bosses when the stage is done. Whoops, no one told me that so I was left fighting the bosses by myself until the third level where I figured it out. Kid Icarus has many different things about it that make it a good game for being from 1987. For one it has a shop in the middle of the level where you may purchase upgrades, weapons and health. The other is that the levels besides being extremely difficult, are complete mazes. Don’t believe me? Check out the layout of a level from the game.
As you can see, not only do you need to avoid and kill enemies for points, you must navigate your way through a maze while stock piling on points, weapons, health and allies. It’s quite the checklist from a game so old. I imagine before the internet back in the 80s and early 90s, gamers who played this probably mapped out the levels on a piece of paper. How nostalgic.
Once you climb out of the underworld, the levels become a little bit easier, it’s more side scrolling instead of jump, jump, jump. That makes the game a bit more easier. Reaching the final level I was excited to meet Medusa and end her reign. Oh, how I was so unprepared. I battled my way though the side scrolling level, at this point you are given all the power ups, including the wings of Pegasus so you can fly. Well I reached the end of the level and it looped back to the beginning. I thought to myself, what the hell. Maybe I had to do this twice, I know a lot of Nintendo games back in the day were quirky about that kind of stuff. Well I once again got the end and it looped again. I was pissed this time so I looked up why it was doing that. Well wouldn’t you know, you have to kill 50 enemies in that level to reach Medusa, so the level loops over until you defeat 50 bastards. It wouldn’t be that big of deal, except because I didn’t collect a lot of points, my weapons weren’t very powerful so it took about five shots from my arrows to kill one enemy, and to top it off, you glide through the level so you can’t stop and wait for enemies, you have to shoot non stop all over the screen hoping you hit an enemy five times before you fly off. It was extremely challenging. I was mentally drained, frustrated and pissed at how stupid this was.
Finally, I reached Medusa, and while it was difficult I managed to defeat her by drifting in one spot while avoiding her snakes that she sends at you. Medusa also looks…..like a green bean with facial hair?
There are multiple endings in this game (once again to my surprise). There is the good ending in which Pit is transformed into a full glowing angel, and there is the average ending in which Pit is given head gear from Palutena.
The verdict of Kid Icarus? The game had many new concepts to a game from that time, it was very difficult, but if I had played it correctly then the game would have been a little bit more easier. The graphics don’t age well, but hey it’s from 1987, and most NES games don’t age well. The story was cool, although obviously, there isn’t a whole lot presented in the actual game. If you like platform, side-scrollers with mazes and a challenge I recommend it, if not. Move along. I give it a 7.1/10. If you do want to see the game but just don’t want to play it, below is the video walkthrough Kid Icarus from start to finish!