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Hi there! Aside from being a gamer I am the leader of The League of Cartridge Gamers - a Gamespot union where we celebrate the greatest game software medium ever (cartridges). I am also the host of its original show Solid State Weekly - the game info news show where it's all cartridge games all the time. we demonstrate games, consoles, and peripherals, and generally have a fun time during the process...
Game Title: Kid Icarus
Release Date: December 1987
Developer: Nintendo (Gunpei Yokoi)
Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System
Genre/Type: 2D Platform Vertical Scrolling Adventure
Game Rating: [III/V]
While this game has a some ambitious ideas along with a fantastic soundtrack, Kid Icarus ultimately suffers from various technical problems.
Kid Icarus is an interesting game primarily because of what it tries to achieve. It definitely takes a cue from three iconic games. In the game, an angel by the name of Pit is called upon by Platenia to save Angel Land from the evil Medusa. However, that will not be an easy task as Pit is trapped in the realm of Hades, and must make his way up there, fighting minions of evil on the way.
The game play in Kid Icarus is interesting and almost unique in a sense. It adopts its side scrolling platform game play from Super Mario Bros., its vertical scrolling platform game play and combat (and password system) from Metroid, and its dungeon crawling adventure game play and item collecting from The Legend of Zelda. In theory, this ambitious idea to culminate these vastly different **** of play into one game seems like one of the greatest ideas for this game or even gaming in general. In practice, however, Kid Icarus does not quite come together in a cohesive or functional way.
In terms of character control, Kid Icarus is below mediocre when at its best. The things Pit is physically capable of is fairly limited as a result of design and not of technology. In Kid Icarus Pit can can shoot his bow and even aim upward, but cannot jump while aiming upward. Issues like this have been solved by this time with Metroid. Another issue concerning control is ducking in Kid Icarus. Ducking down to avoid enemies is a very useful feature in the game, but when on a semi-solid platforms ducking while standing on them makes Pit pass through the platform which, more often than not, ends up with Pit falling to his death. Also, Pit has wings on his back and yet he cannot fly without a special and expensive feather powerup which is still not so great as it is only temporary. In the end, the control comes up as being unnecessarily crippled.
The game starts out with some levels designed after Metroid's vertical scrolling platform game play. This level and game play ****is by far the most unplayable part of the game. When Pit jumps to a higher platform, the level environment scrolls downward. However, the level's geometry cannot move back up, so falling or moving back down is not an option and results in death if attempted. There is a problem with this. If the floor beneath Pit is not visible on screen, then it does not exist in the game's logic. An example in which this is an issue is if Pit climbs up just enough where the level scrolls down just enough to make the floor not present on screen. It could be the ground floor that pit started on. If Pit were to drop to that floor (that is not present on screen only by an inch) Pit "falls to hid death". That is pretty lame considering that floor is just a little shy of existing on screen. That is not to say that this is the only technical issue that hurts this game. With how the level's geometry scrolls, the levels play as if what is shown on screen and what is a solid platform are two different entities that have little or no cohesion. This results in Pit's unintended ability to clip through corners of platforms and even through solid entities. This coupled with the fact that level design calls for some precise platforming does not help as certain level sections play as if they were not designed to accommodate for this technical anomaly. An other design flaw has to do with how enemies generate and exist in the level's overall environment. Only a couple of enemy types exist native to a platform within the level. This is fine on its own, but enemies sometimes spawn within solid entities in the level's architecture. On top of that, the other monsters will just fall from the sky. The problem with this is that there could be a ceiling above Pit where the enemies are coming from, but since it is not present on screen, it does not exist. This makes very little sense and makes the game more frustrating because of this illogical feature. The game does not get more difficult when done with these levels.
Kid Icarus contains boss battles, but require you to do lots of dungeon crawling to get to those fights. This is where the game The Legend of Zelda comes in as another one of the three core competencies of this game. Like The Legend of Zelda, Pit has to traverse a series of rooms on a dungeon map. One of these rooms contains the boss of a particular world. It plays like a 2D platform game, but it is fairly standard. Another adopted feature is the currency and item portion of Kid Icarus. In the game, the currency is hearts. every level has a store in which Pit can bring his purse of hearts and purchase goods. This all seems well and good. However, there is no real proper balance between how much life Pit loses versus the cost of store items (which is unnecessarily high). This just turns the dungeon crawling levels into a long and tedious grind to get enough hearts to buy the bare bone items required just to survive and get by in the dungeon, let alone hammers to free the petrified soldiers of Platenia. The difficulty from one room to another is also something that seems vastly unbalanced. some rooms are a breeze to traverse as where the next room could contain enemies that are among the toughest to defeat. The previously mentioned sprite collision issue as well as the environment clipping are also substantial issues in this segment of Kid Icarus. Expect to spend anywhere from forty minutes to an entire hour when attempting to beat one of these dungeon crawling levels.
The third and last significant game play ****is exhibited in the side scrolling levels that pay homage to Super Mario Bros. in a big way. The level designs of these particular stages are fine, but the way they all play out is standard of any generic game that features any platforming. However there is something good to be said about this particular level ****as the only serious technical problem that seems to be present is the shoddy sprite collision with items.
Now, all this does not mean that Kid Icarus is a terrible game. One of the things that may keep someone going back to this game is the role playing game like persistence in Kid Icarus. While clearing levels and killing monsters, Pit will come across some upgrades that add to his overall attack power and life capacity. This will something that is bound to attract some people because it's a part of Kid Icarus that is not broken nor is it unbalanced.
Another fantastic aspect of Kid Icarus is its Soundtrack, which seems to capture the essence of the ancient greek mythological trappings in which the game takes place. There may not a terrible amount of songs in the game's entire musical score, but the quality of the compositions overrides the physical size of it. This is clearly the high note of the experience this game has to offer.
Lastly, the general art direction of of Kid Icarus is one thing that makes the game so inviting initially. The depictions of the Greek landscapes, Hades, and Angel Land. The visuals stick in the mind long after playing it. The sprites are nicely designed, but the animations could have complemented that.
It is abundantly clear that Kid Icarus has issues. That does not mean the game is horrible. It does have its high points with some of the graphics and all the quality music. However, every time game brings itself up, it just puts itself down all the time with its game play and balancing problems. With that, Kid Icarus is okay, but its questionable quality makes it impossible to recommend to just anyone.
In this showing of this podcast, I'm joined by game lover and overall wild man Dan Garret. We discuss my weird obsession with nights, Dan's obsession for that obscure Yugioh game, the ethics of trading games in, Mega Man 9, Bionic Commando, and most importantly the coverage on Kid Icarus. Be sure to drop your feedback off at email@example.com. Enjoy!
I'm just curious. I mean, the layout and design looks practically the same.
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