Review: Kid Icarus – Of Myths and Monsters

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I’ve had the last few days off of work so I’ve taken advantage of this time to knock out a few of the shorter games on my to-do list. One of them being another classic that I somehow missed out on the first time around, Kid Icarus: of Myths and Monsters.

This game is a sequel to the original Kid Icarus, but was lost in obscurity for reasons that I can’t understand. The title received pretty good reviews at release but I never once saw a copy of it for sale or knew anyone who actually owned it. Recently, the game was released a digital download for the Nintendo 3DS and I finally got a chance to play it for the first time.

Overall, this title is pretty true to the original game. Here we have the goddess Palutena receiving a vision that Angel Land will soon be invaded by a powerful demon. In preparation for this, she commands Pit to undertake training. Most of the game consists of Pits working his way thru the trials, but climaxes when the demon invasion actually happens. Much like the original game, the last level see’s Pit equipped with the sacred treasures so he may do battle with the demon Orcos.

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The game features play that is very similar to the NES original. There are a few differences that are very welcome changes. First of all, the levels are free-roaming. Meaning you can go up, down, left, right and back again. The original game did not allow any backtracking at all.  Also, the difficulty in this title has been lowered a bit. So while still challenging at times, it’s not nearly as frustrating as the original.  The password system is also gone, now your progress is saved at the end of each level.

Players of the original Kid Icarus will certainly feel at home with the environment here, but there is also enough new about the game so that it does not feel like a re-hash or a cheap port.

Overall, I feel that the game is actually a bit of an improvement over the first, but it does seem to lack some of the charm of the first Kid Icarus title. I think perhaps, if this game has been presented in a color 8-bit format, it would have better represented what Kid Icarus should have been.

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Difficulty: Medium  –  This game is much easier that the original, but it still has a bit of challenge at times. Players who mastered the NES game or have a lot of experience with platform titles should have no problem completing the game in a few hours.

Story: As with most action games of this era, the background story exists mostly in the instruction manual and a brief intro at the beginning of the game. While there’s no Medusa this time around, the demonic Orcos makes for a really great bad guy.

Originality: In many ways this game is a rehash of the original with a few welcome updates to the gameplay. This is an example of “improvement progression”.

Soundtrack: The music in this game is very similar in style to the original. So thematically, it’s well done. However, neither the original game nor this title have tunes that I found to be very enjoyable. The music is quirky and peppy, but somehow seems a bit out of place to me.

Fun:I actually enjoyed this game a lot more than I thought I would. It is very dated, but I feel that’s easily overlooked. It’s not near as frustrating as it’s counterpart.

Graphics: I feel the game suffers a bit here. This title was released in 1991, The Game Boy was two years old at this point and many developers had a good handle on things.The graphics are clear and not particularly bad, but overall it’s a bit uninspiring. There’s a few exceptions, some of the bosses are well drawn, and the final boss is pretty cool looking. But most of the trash enemies seem poorly rendered. Same for the background scenes.

Playcontrol: This game controls quite well for a portable title. Motions seem quick and smooth. An improvement over the NES game.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3Myths and Monsters is a good game, but it doesn’t really bring anything new to the table and there are many other similar games that seem to be more entertaining. I feel that it is a step in the right direction for the franchise, but it would be many years until fans would receive another game in the series. The game suffers a bit graphically and the soundtrack leaves a lot to be desired.

Currently available on: 3DS eShop

Other Reviews In This Series:

Kid IcarusMyths and Monsters – Uprising

Review: Kid Icarus

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Flipping thru my retro collection, I found myself playing another classic Nintendo title, Kid Icarus. One of the quirkier first-party Nintendo titles, Kid Icarus is often compared to Metroid in the sense that it is both an up-and-down and side-to-side platformer. However, unlike Metroid, the world is not open and the player cannot progress backwards.

The storyline of Kid Icarus borrows greatly from Greek mythology, but it takes quite a few liberties. In this game, the world is ruled by two goddesses, Palutena and Medusa. As it turns out, Medusa is evil and dislikes mankind so she summons her army from the underworld and invades Palutena’s palace in the sky. Using her powers, Medusa imprisons Palutena and turns all her bodyguards into stone. The angelic residents of the palace are imprisoned in the Underworld while Medusa rules supreme.

The game begins when the young angel Pit, escapes from his prison and begins his ascent back up the heavens. His goal is to find the three sacred treasures needed to defeat Medusa and rescue Palutena.

Recently, an enhanced 3D remake was released for the Nintendo 3DS. For the purpose of this retro review, that is the version I played. As a kid, I spent countless hours with the original version of the game, so I was very curious to see what an “enhanced version” would be like. I must say, the enhancements make a huge difference. I’m not a fan of the whole 3D thing, so I usually turn it off. But the new sprites and backgrounds are a huge improvement over the original. The new version of the game saves after every level, so the old password functionality is gone (thankfully). I’ve read that the difficulty has been lowered slightly, but I don’t really see it.

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Original and Remake comparison

This is one of the classics from my youth. Back in the 3rd and 4th grade, this game really sparked my interest in Greek Mythology. At the time, I remember finding the game very fascinating but also very frustrating. The game is divided into several liner stages. At the end of each world is a maze-style palace. The palaces are open, so you can revisit areas previously accessed. At the end of each palace is a boss, once the boss is defeated, Pit recovers one of the sacred treasures and can progress to the next world. Eventually, once the full arsenal is recovered, Pit equips himself and flies to the final stage to do battle with Medusa.

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The content of the game is what kept me fascinated as a child. The ascetics of both the graphics and music leave a lot to be desired. (Which is really bad, because I hear that the graphics for the US release were an upgrade from the original Japanese version). On top of that, the game is frustratingly difficult. It spares no mercy, even on the first few levels.

Having completed the new version, I found it to be a nice trip down memory lane. But sadly, this is one game that has not aged well in my opinion. Recently a long-awaited sequel has been released and I look forward to playing it soon. I purchased it for my son some time ago and he thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Difficulty: Very Difficult  – This is your standard 8-bit platformer. The monsters are the same every time, so with practice and memorization it gets easier. But it’s still pretty brutal. This is more true in the beginning of the game. Once you acquire several upgrades things do tend to get a bit easier. That being said, the last level of the game is pushover. It’s the grind to get there that is tough for many.

Story: The backstory is a pretty interesting mix of real life legend and fantasy concepts. Aside from what is printed in the instruction booklet, there’s very little story in the game itself. Although, this was common back in the old days 😉

Originality: While there was really nothing NEW brought to the table with Kid Icarus, it is certainly a unique game. Looking back, a lot of the game feels like various ideas all duct-taped into one cartridge. It’s flimsy, but yet it manages to hold itself together.

Soundtrack: I found the game soundtrack to be poor in quality but good in composition. With one exception.. the DAMNED REAPER TUNE. Never before in the history of gaming has their been a more annoying and yet, mocking tune composed. The funny thing is, I think that’s *exactly* what they were going for. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, you’ve obviously never played the game. — Side note: the fortress music is classic!

Fun: If you a person that is not easily frustrated, this game can be a lot of fun. However, for many, it’s a really nice way to get pissed off in record time.

Graphics: The original version was pretty nasty looking, even by 80’s standards. The new enhanced version is a nice upgrade. It kind of brings the game up to a 16-bit color palette with very nice background rendering.

Playcontrol: Pretty spot-on as far as the controls go. As a platformer, there are many precise jumps needed; so steady hands are a must. The character of Pit is not particularly agile, so first-time players will need a little time before getting the feel for it all.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 2 – This game represents attributes of both a good and bad game. It’s hard to give such a poor score to a classic title, but in all honesty, it’s not a very good game. I have read that it was a rushed work, and it really does show in the final product. Dispute my low overall score, I do feel it’s worthy of a purchase either on the Virtual Console or the eShop.

Currently available on: Wii Virtual Console or Nintendo eShop

Other Reviews In This Series:

Kid IcarusMyths and Monsters – Uprising