Kid Icarus (NES)

Hell, yes, Kid Icarus! I remember loving this one a lot as a kid but I haven’t touched it since then. Considering the fact that so much time has passed, it’s surprising just how quickly I was able to get comfortable with it again during my play session last night. I was able to complete the game in just a few hours and that’s allowing for being a bit of a perfectionist about getting all the extra items and upgrades. The game’s thirteen levels really aren’t that long.

To start off, I can confirm that Kid Icarus is still super lovable. From the unforgettable enemies like like the histrionic grim reapers and the infamous eggplant wizards, to the excellent sountrack by “Hip” Tanaka, to the adorably incoherent take on Greco-Roman mythology. It’s hard not to like all this.

The mix of vertical and horizontal scrolling platforming levels really holds up. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the three dungeon levels where you seek out and defeat the game’s bosses. The only difficult enemies here are the eggplant wizards and they’re really more annoying than they are tough, since they can force you to backtrack to find a cure if they manage to successfully transform you. This was also the era before Nintendo really nailed satisfying boss fights (Bowser in SMB1 being another example), so the ones here just kind of derp around slowly in super basic patterns until you put them out of their misery. Another downside is that the cool optional weapons that you can collect like the fire arrows don’t work in the dungeons, which seems arbitrary and not particularly fun.

I’ve seen this game described online as difficult (even “brutal”) but, frankly, I don’t see it. You can take a good number of hits from enemies, even before health upgrades. The jumping controls are very precise and enemies don’t knock you around when they hit you, so the platforming bits are very managable. Puzzling out the correct path in the dungeons can take some time, but you’re never saddled with a time limit. All this combines to make the game challenging but in no way extreme.

Ultimately, I recommend Kid Icarus very highly. The dungeon levels and the final overly easy flying level may not hold up that well, but the platforming levels are awesome and the quirky factor is through the roof.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some eggplant parmesan to fry up….

(Originally written 3/31/2017)

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