Codex Gamicus

Kid Icarus is a 1986 platformer for the NES that takes place in an ancient Greek setting. In it, the angel Pit must defeat Medusa. Kid Icarus was developed alongside Metroid using the same engine. In fact, both games were produced by designer Gunpei Yokoi. Unlike Metroid, however, Kid Icarus never received a full blown series. It was instead relegated to a single sequel on the Game Boy (Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters), and then over a decade of silence despite a strong cult following. Contrary to popular belief, the main character is not named "Icarus". The title refers to the Greek myth of Icarus, who's wax wings gave him flight. The main character, Pit, can be considered a "Kid Icarus". He, as well other characters, were featured in the cartoon series, Captain N.


Kid Icarus is a platforming video game in which the player controls Pit in sprite-rendered two-dimensionallandscapes. Pit starts the game with a bow and arrows as his only weapon, and with only the ability to jump. The player explores more areas and collects power-ups that grant Pit special abilities and enhance his armor and weaponry. The gameplay incorporates elements of action and adventure games. Among the power-ups that are included in the game are the Flaming Arrows, which makes the arrows light on fire; the Sacred Bow, which lets the arrows go farther; and the Protective Crystal, which protects Pit from some attacks. There are ways to find the power-ups such as the Black Marketer, in which you can buy them; the Sacred Chamber, in which a god will give Pit stronger arrows; and the Sacred Training Chamber, in which a god will make Pit train in order to receive a weapon. In addition to common enemies, Pit encounters bosses that he needs to defeat to progress. Defeating an ordinary enemy typically yields hearts, which are used as currency, while defeating a boss gives Pit more power. To recover health, Pit must find bottles with water of life in them or go to the Hot Spring Chamber.


In a time where man and gods coexisted in harmony, the kingdom of Angel Land was ruled by two goddesses: Palutena, the Goddess of Light, and Medusa, the Goddess of Darkness. While Palutena administered the light and helped the mortals cultivate their crops, Medusa despised the mortals and used the darkness to destroy their crops and turn the mortals into stone. Enraged, Palutena transformed Medusa into a hideous monster and banished her into the dark underworld. But Medusa would not go quietly. She assembled an army of monsters and evil spirits of the underworld to conquer Palutena's home, the Palace in the Sky. War erupted and Medusa's minions overwhelmed Palutena's army, eventually imprisoning the Goddess of Light. Medusa then seized the Three Sacred Treasures, the Mirror Shield, the Arrow of Light and the Wings of Pegasus, and gave them to her most powerful minions. Defeated and imprisoned, Palutena's only hope was to seek the help of Pit, a young angel trapped in the Underworld. Using the last of her strength, she sent Pit a magical bow. Thus, Pit set out on a quest to escape the Underworld, retrieve the Sacred Treasures that would help him defeat Medusa, rescue Palutena and restore peace to Angel Land. Pit retrieves these three treasures and battles Medusa. Having won, Pit travels back to Angel Land, where the newly restored Palutena thanks him. However, if the secret ending is reached (all upgrades and hearts), Pit will be turned into a teenager and will receive a kiss of gratitude from Palutena.


After Nintendo's release of commercially successful platforming games in the 1980s, including Donkey Kong (1981), Ice Climber (1985), and Super Mario Bros. (1985), as well as the critically-acclaimed adventure game The Legend of Zelda (1986), the company was interested in entering a different genre. They began work on an action game. The game was called Metroid. Nintendo released Metroid for the Family Computer Disk System on August 6, 1986, and on the Nintendo Entertainment System one year later. One year later Kid Icarus was developed alongside as its sister game, it shares elements and programmers with Metroid. The game was produced by the same man who produced Metroid, Gunpei Yokoi, who previously produced Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior (1982), and the original Mario Bros. (1983), it featured music written by Hirokazu Tanaka, who also composed for Duck Hunt (1984). The game has been noted to combine elements of Nintendo's three biggest franchises of the time -- Zelda, Mario, and Metroid -- in that lead character Pit can "jump like Mario, object-driven ability-enhancing like Link, and shoot enemies like Samus." After defeating Medusa, the player is given an end screen based on the different points earned in the level. Kid Icarus is one of the first games to contain multiple endings, with five in total. In each one, Pit is given different jobs; the first three include a normal-sized Pit with different helmets that symbolize jobs, while the last two transform him into a full-grown angel. The Japanese ending does not contain the fourth and last American ending, in which the chamber lights up. Instead, it uses the first four endings. The conditions upon which the Japanese endings are based also takes into account how many times the player had to continue the game. The North American version of Kid Icarus uses a password system that was new to the industry at the time, in which players write down a 24-letter code and re-enter it into the game when they wish to continue a previous session. Codes also allow for changes in gameplay; ICARUS FIGHTS MEDUSA ANGELS will give the player invincibility and unlimited feathers. The virtual console of the game was released in North America on February 12, 2007, albeit with all of the pre-programmed passwords removed, leaving only the continue passwords generated at the game over screen.

Reception and legacy[]

Despite being overshadowed by Metroid, Kid Icarus is regularly recognized as a high quality game. It was awarded the 84th slot in IGN's 2003 list of the Top 100 Games of All Time and was also inducted into the GameSpy Hall of Fame. Also from IGN, it was ranked 20th in IGN's Top 100 NES Games. In Volume 199 of Nintendo Power, it was voted number 54 in a list of the top 200 Nintendo games of all time. Nintendo Power also listed it as the 20th best Nintendo Entertainment System video game, praising it for its gameplay and music in spite of its "unmerciful difficulty". Reviewing the Virtual Console version of the game, GameSpot noted that it isn't the most unique blueprint for a video game, but it was fairly fresh back in 1987, he also said that the music was nicely composed, but the few sound effects are all taps and thuds. Another complaint was that the graphics and the audio were very bland and it was very difficult, compared to the games of today, giving the game a rating of 5.1 out of 10, for "mediocre". For the Classic NES Series version of the game, IGN commented that the game's gameplay was fun, but that it wasn’t Nintendo's most focused design. He complimented the story in the game, but complained that game's design hasn't aged in as timeless a manner as many other first-party Nintendo games from the NES era. He finished by saying that the game was still fun, but just do not expect heaven on earth, giving it a 7.0 out of 10, for "decent". Then IGN reviewed the Virtual Console version, complaint about the lack of passwords, saying there was something missing, also given 7.0 out of 10, for "decent".

The protagonist of the game, Pit, was included in Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii. The game had a sequel titled Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters for the Game Boy in 1991. There have been rumors that a sequel to the game will be developed for the Wii, though Yoshio Sakamoto has stated that he is not aware of any projects currently underway related to Kid Icarus, but did say that Nintendo would be happy to produce it, but that they would need to find the right way to make it. Also saying that as long as fans want a new game they will try. Pit also appeared in the American animated television series Captain N: The Game Master. A new title, Kid Icarus: Uprising, was finally revealed at E3 2010 to be a launch title for the Nintendo 3DS. Kid Icarus is slated for release on the 3DS as well, and may feature camera support, 3D support, or analog support. This release was featured amongst other games from the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES to be released for the 3DS on a tech demo called Classic Games at E3 2010.

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