i’d played the original kid icarus on NES when i was a kid but didn’t really remember anything about it when i played it on an emulator about 8 years ago, before i started this blog. i started playing the 3D classics version (downloadable on the 3DS) this week for just a few minutes, but then got sucked into it and finished it all in one sitting.
i hadn’t really realized it at the time, but the game features two different controls, “classic”, which is more like the original, and “custom” which is a more user-friendly version that makes the game’s platforming sections easier overall (see this page for more details). i played through the game with the updated controls, and then went back and tried the classic controls and didn’t find them too hard to adjust to, but it’ll be interesting to go back and replay the NES original to see how they compare. aside from the controls the other main differences are some 3D effects; some odd painted backgrounds that replace the single-color backdrops of the original; and a save-slot feature, which the original famicom release had, as opposed to the password system of the US release. there are also some minor adjustments to make the gameplay smoother, which you can read about here.
okay, enough trivia, how was the game itself? overall i enjoyed my time with the game, although it does feel less polished than its contemporaries that became huge franchises, namely, super mario bros., the legend of zelda, and its sister series metroid (which was created by basically the same team and features basically the same game engine). the game has a unique pacing in that the first few levels are much harder than the rest of the game, mostly because your life bar is so short. the game gets much easier, esp. once you master the specknose rooms and the training rooms. i was stuck on 1-3 for a while, but once i gave up on trying to get through the training area at the end of that level i pretty much breezed through the rest of the game.
the game provides a lot of variety: in the first section you climb from the bottom of the level to the top; at the end of every world (i.e. every fourth stage) is a fortress, i.e. a maze with a boss; and the second section consists of fairly standard left-to-right horizontal stages. not to mention the final level of the game, which is a basically an auto-scrolling shoot-’em-up. i didn’t find the platforming or the fortresses to be difficult, and although i remember the eggplant wizards being fairly annoying before, this time around i found them to be pretty easy to defeat and only got pegged once due to carelessness. the power-ups you earn from defeating the training rooms are pretty great (esp. the shield), although it’s frustrating to have them stolen from you by some enemies.
but all these little frustrations add up to make the game a unique and mostly fun experience overall. despite enjoying the game for the most part, though, the lack of variety in enemy types and its shortness made it more of a diversion than a true classic. i’m still hoping we see a new entry in the series in a form more like the original and its sequel as opposed to the completely new gameplay of the recent 3DS release. here’s hoping!
spruced-up 3D classics: kid icarus links:
– page at nintendo.com
– nice walkthrough with maps at strategywiki.org
– review at nintendolife.com
– kid icarus fansite that includes scans of the NES manual and mp3s of the music
– entry for the original at kidicaruswiki.org. it’s interesting to compare the enemies to the ones that appear in sakurai’s game for the 3DS.
– screenshots of the different endings at vgmuseum.com