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Feature: Kid Icarus - Nintendo's Next Big Franchise?

Posted by Gaz Plant

Taking to the sky

Whether planned or not, Nintendo has fallen into a routine with its franchises. There’s always a big 3D Mario title and an epic yet delayed Zelda game guaranteed for each system, with a good chance of others such as Metroid and Kirby making an appearance in between. This backbone of core franchises has served Nintendo well over the years, and these continue to be the leading software titles across all of its platforms, eclipsing even the biggest third-party efforts. These series have since reached the level of franchises – sequels are connected to prequels either by narrative or throwback nods, and for some of them cartoon series and merchandise have followed, putting them at the forefront of Nintendo’s gaming and marketing line-up.

It’s little wonder then that no series since Pikmin in 2002 has arguably managed to even close in on the leading pack, and even then it’s possible that Miyamoto’s garden-inspired creation has gained more of a cult status than franchise potential. Whether this is due to a lack of effort on Nintendo’s part can be debated endlessly, but this year saw the return of one classic series which does have the potential to join the company's elite. That series is Kid Icarus.

The re-birth of the Kid Icarus series in Kid Icarus: Uprising may as well have been the start of a new IP for Nintendo, as with a 25 year hiatus – ignoring Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters as Uprising seems to have done — few gamers potentially knew the lore or even the gameplay style of the NES original. That was probably for the best, as the 3DS title pays little respect to the original format, replacing the hybrid Metroid-Mario platforming sections with a mixture of Star Fox, Sin and Punishment and an entirely new concept akin to Smash Bros. in 3D. This title is the start of something new, and is also a rare example of Nintendo fully backing a franchise.

The relative freshness and mass unfamiliarity of Kid Icarus has meant that for Nintendo to make it a big success it needed to push it through to a more mainstream audience; after missing that all important launch window on the 3DS, the only way to do it was with a large marketing campaign. So that’s exactly what it did. Appearances on Nintendo Direct, worldwide Smash Bros DOJO-esque Twitter feeds, three entirely new 3D cartoon episodes and a traditional advertising campaign pushed Uprising above and beyond the typical Nintendo release; it ultimately resulted in strong first week sales where it sold 140,000 in the US alone. But Nintendo isn’t finished.

From his surprising return in Super Smash Bros Brawl in 2008 to his leading role in the 3DS unveiling, it has been clear for some time now that Nintendo wants Pit to become part of a major franchise. Uprising saw an unprecedented level of advertising and promotion as the launch approached, and despite its position as an action game Satoru Iwata believes that it could become “an evergreen title”, something that traditionally only Mario and, to a certain extent, Zelda titles have achieved on Nintendo platforms.

But how exactly is Nintendo going to achieve this when, traditionally, new IPs are often thrown out to the public and decisions taken based solely on sales figures? And how can an essentially new IP become “an evergreen title” on its first appearance on stores shelves? While it may seem like an unlikely thing to happen, there is actually a lot of potential that Kid Icarus could become Nintendo’s newest franchise, as the groundwork has already been laid for it to happen.

The most obvious way Kid Icarus will retain its appeal is the simple fact that it’s new and different. In an era where established names are everything and franchises are gradually creeping towards the latest trend, Uprising is a breath of fresh air. Its unique blend of on-rails shooter and fast-paced land combat — despite slight control issues — is completely different to anything else; with a wealth of options and modes, including an all-important online multiplayer aspect, there really is something for everyone. These elements, along with it being critically acclaimed, are important factors in ensuring the title maintains a shelf presence as a community grows around it.

Nintendo is also producing additional products to raise awareness of the Kid Icarus brand. The most obvious example of this is the meta-game AR cards, something that draws natural comparisons with Pokémon. While the cards won’t build a fan-base of their own due to the necessity of having the game to play them, the collectability of them shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s human nature to collect, and with the AR cards Nintendo potentially has a money tree in the making. Nintendo’s deal with Panini to distribute them across Europe in the near future will also help this tree to come to fruition; not only do the cards provide a cheap source of income for Nintendo, but they also provide a rare yet exciting advertising window for the game. How do you keep a title evergreen? By supplying a large range of AR cards in stores that demand the use of the game.

There’s also the character factor, an area where this title is relatively well blessed. Thanks to some stellar voice acting and a genuinely funny script, Uprising has a memorable cast of characters that's arguably the match of any Nintendo franchise. The creation of a likeable cast has two distinct advantages in taking Kid Icarus to the next level. It adds an incentive to the AR cards, as fans search frantically for their favourite, and it also adds a wider array of merchandising potential to the series.

Thanks to some stellar voice acting and a genuinely funny script, Uprising has a memorable cast of characters that's arguably the match of any Nintendo franchise.

One of Mario’s strengths over Zelda is that the cast members are continuous and distinctively memorable (with an added adorable factor thrown in), and that makes them marketable. As a result you can buy everything from Mario hats to chess sets, all featuring the myriad of characters that make up that world. Uprising’s cast is as strong and potentially as effective as Mario’s, meaning that ultimately they are as marketable as Mario. While we’re probably a way off Kid Icarus figurines, there is definite potential for a future line of merchandise to help promote the franchise.

Of course the path to becoming a franchise has already begun in some respects, and this is an area Nintendo should capitalise on. The three cartoon episodes commissioned prior to the launch of Uprising were a wonderful window into the world of Kid Icarus, and given the wealth of voice talent and characters available to tell stories about, this has potential. Commissioning a full series is very different to creating a handful of episodes, but it has historically created awareness for a series, with Pokémon again being a prime example of a franchise bolstered by a strong TV presence. Given the humour of Uprising, it’s difficult to see why a cartoon wouldn’t work.

Of course the true mark of whether Kid Icarus can become a true franchise is in the sales. Based on current figures it should warrant a sequel, and surely it’ll get one if Sakurai has anything to say about it. Assuming they retain the same cast of characters and tell another witty story, who’s to say that in years to come we won’t be buying new Nintendo systems for the sole purpose of playing the next Kid Icarus game?

If Nintendo continues its strong marketing campaign, Kid Icarus: Uprising could become the evergreen action title that has remained so elusive to so many publishers for so long. But just becoming another series would be a huge disservice to the world that Sakurai re-invented in Uprising. The series has the potential to be a real money-maker for Nintendo through merchandising, AR cards and even through a cartoon series, and could potentially be its next big franchise. After all, despite in-game jokes about there being 25 years to prepare for a true sequel, we surely won’t have to wait that long again, will we?

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User Comments (70)



Mariokart7fan said:

Yea this game really deserves what it is getting
its the best 3ds game so far!

cant believe they left pit alone for 25 years



BenAV said:

Nice article (if I ignore the fact that you mentioned the controls).
Personally, I'd buy another console just for a new Kid Icarus game.
Uprising is one of the best games I've played in quite a while, and probably the best handheld game I've ever played.
There isn't a bad thing I can say about the game.



Xilef said:

I wonder if they will ever make another 2D KI, or just stik with the same style as Uprising. Maybe both, like Mario.



Kyloctopus said:

Eh.. no
When I saw Pit in E3 2010, I was jumping in exitement.
When I saw Mario in in SMG2 and NSBW in E3 09 I simply nodded and smiled.
When Nintendo does constant sequels it doesn't feel the same.
Not that I don't want Pit to have a sequel. I want Sakurai to set his priorities strait. Of which is better after developement of SSB4, New Kirby, New Pit, or New IP.



SonyFACE said:

I wouldn't mind if this game got a sequel every couple of years, as long as they don't overdo it.



JimLad said:

Hopefully. Nintendo need more 'hero' franchises.
New IPs like Wii Sports, and Brain Training are good but they don't introduce any new characters for people to follow.



Terave said:

Totally agree with @BenAV. This is my favorite 3DS game so far, and one of the best I've played in a while. But yeah, if they want to make a sequel, I'm good with that. As long as they're not bringing 2 Kid Icarus games in 1 year, for example.



CosmoXY said:

I'm hooked on Uprising and very pleased that Pit came back in a big way. I'd welcome more Kid Icarus games, but probably wouldn't buy into offshoots such as merchandise or cartoons, I'm really not that into the AR cards either. But if those things were to help establish the franchise then great. Now please bring KI:OMAM to American VC.



Whopper744 said:

Would very much like to see more of this series. Hope they sell the AR Cards in the US sometime too.
I really enjoyed the characters in the game.
The voices where great. I think one of the best actors actually was Hades. Sounds like he is not having to try too hard to be in character, and I usually found him pretty funny.



metafaniel said:

I've just finished today Kid Icarus Uprising!!! (of course, I need to complete Hades treasures yet!!!) but I indeed still enjoying the game! Can't wait to Kid Icarus 2 =D (or Kid Icarus "4" in fact?? Anyway...)



LittleIrves said:

Okay. I really have to buy this game. Less than two weeks until my self-imposed embargo on new games is lifted....



NintyMan said:

Totally agree with everything this article said. Kid Icarus released in the same time period as Metroid and Zelda, and yet it still didn't get much attention. I believe if it had been given the same love as the other big games back then, it would be right up there with them today.

However, I think it's safe to say that Kid Icarus will not be left behind ever again. There will be another game in the future. I would gladly collect more AR cards if they were sold in stores and have a figurine collection. It has the potential, and Nintendo should keep it up so it can become a true franchise.



ScreamoPichu said:

Make a sequel to Uprising on Wii U and I'll be happy. But, in a few years from now. After SSB4. But don't focus on him like he's the only franchise we're craving.



CowLaunch said:

Kid Icarus action figures would be good.

I thought Pikmin was on the way to becoming an established franchise, and then Nintendo decided that Pikmin 3 wouldn't appear in our lifetimes.



ScreamoPichu said:

after actually reading the article I completely agree. Nintendo needs some new merch as it is. Mario and Zelda, mostly Mario, everywhere. I'd buy some Kid Icarus merch right away! Hopefully, they'll do the same with Pikmin. (My personal favorite.)



hYdeks said:

honestly, I'm ADDICTED to Kid Icarus Uprising and Nintendo made me fall in love with the series in NO TIME. First I played the 3D Classics Kid Icarus which is amazing, than I watched the anime re-run on Nintendo Channel, than I finally beat Kid Icarus Uprising, and still playing it alot with higher difficulty, online and such. It's a great game, I hope Sora makes a sequel to it someday for the Wii U.



grumblebuzzz said:

I won't buy another KI game unless the controls are simplified a bit. I just can't play it. My hands don't work like that.



drumsandperc92 said:

@RVN yes. agreed. i don't do hand helds anymore. not since GBA. two factors. i got older and found myself less interested in playing games everywhere i went, but also although this sounds backwards, the increase in power in DS/PSP was a turn off. I dont really like looking at 3D games in a small screen. I dont really care to play Ps2 or N64 or now Wii level games on the go, if I wanted that, I'd just play my Wii at home.
I liked the retro gameplay that came with the GB, GBC, and GBA. DS still largely had some games like that, but now with 3DS its going all 3D. But i really dont want to stare at that small screen to play a good looking game, i want to view it in full glory on a nice big TV!
Anyway, 3DS has been getting some games that make me consider buying one. Mario 3D land, MK7, OoT3D, SF643D, and KI Uprising.
The mario games, I'm not worried about because there will be more on the Wii U. OoT i've already played to death anyway and the graphics overhall really didn't impress me enough to spend more money on the same game ive been playing for years. Same with SF643D. But KI uprising, now I do hope that becomes another Nintendo franchise and makes an appearance on Wii U, because unless I get a 3DS (which I dont plan on) I wont ever get a chance to play that game.
I think between Mario, Zelda, the NSMB series, DKCR, Kirby, the return of Pikmin, and hopefully a return of: the metroid prime series, F-Zero, Star Fox, and now Kid Icarus, the Wii U could have the most AAA Nintendo franchises all on one system since the days of SNES



Geonjaha said:

It's strange to think that Nintendo left Pit behind in the GB/NES era, but it'd be an interesting turn of events if he turns out to be one of their main selling franchises. Then again, as others have stated, we DONT need sequel after sequel - dont overplay this newly dusted off card Nintendo.



Bass_X0 said:

Is one game for each new console in future too many? thats what mario kart does and people consider that too many. I disagree. More than one game per console perhaps unless its a really big game like Super Mario Galaxy 2.



Slapshot said:

Personally, I won't buy another Kid Icarus game if it has the same control scheme as Uprising.



Knux said:

Uprising was awesome, so I certainly will buy more Kid Icarus games. A Kid Icarus game for the Wii U would be a system seller for me.



JayEm said:

This article pretty much sums up what I could say about the potential of Kid Icarus to become Nintendo's next big franchise. I just hope that Sakurai will continue developing Kid Icarus after next Smash Bros, but still hope it won't be too much of recycling the Uprising's story and gameplay. Something new should be added while they'd fix something that didn't seem to work in 1st game.
I don't have enough words to express my love to this game, news about this game and possible sequels keep me more excited than news of Pokémon Black 2 and White 2.



theblackdragon said:

Honestly? I don't really see myself buying another Kid Icarus game until i'm that bored with everything else I own (or that is available for me to purchase) and i'm truly desperate for something I haven't played before. i like games that break the fourth wall on occasion, and i like it when games take a break from being serious sometimes, but KI:U takes the freakin' cake. maybe i'll be able to get into it sometime after i'm done with Xenoblade, i hope :/



SkywardLink98 said:

PLEASE NINTENDO PLEASE MAKE A SEQUEL SOON!!! Or give us some DLC. I'd buy ALL of it. Preferably a Dark Pit themed one were you can play as him, like in "Scorched Feathers", that would be amazing.



SteveW said:

I prefer the gameplay of the original game, Uprising is disappointing...



AltDotNerd said:

We need Star Fox!
"Star Fox! Are you there?! Sony and Microsoft have declared war! They're releasing new consoles that block used games! Our army alone can't do the job. Hurry, Star Fox!"



Mk_II said:

Kid Icarus has a lot of franchise potential. The AR cards are a brilliant move and could make a bundle for Nintendo if they play their cards right (pun intended). Nintendo: please release the soundtrack album in the West, get those cards in the shops now and add a couple of t-shirts and other promo loot to build up the profile.



Hejiru said:

Uprising gave Kid Icarus the potential to become a full-fledged franchise on par with Zelda and the like. But it may take a while; Sakurai isn't going to even start working on a hypothetical Kid Icarus sequel until SSB4 is done.



New_3DaSh_XL said:

I'm hoping for another KI, but Nintendo, take your time with the next SSB. I'm not expecting another KI for, idk, 5-6 years. But yes, Nintendo, keep making KI.



Objection said:

I'd be down with KI becoming a full-on franchise. I really enjoyed Uprising and look forward to a refined sequel.

If Nintendo is trying to push the brand though, they need to release the cards (as in, buy packs or buy them on CN) in North America, too.



Aqueous said:

If they come out with this quality and as often as Zelda, I'm all for it as I really enjoy this one.



Cotton said:

I dont know if you guys know this but viridi is the same voice as princess bubblegum from adventure time plus i really want a sequal for wiiu and 3ds and the multiplayer to be cross platform



WingedSnagret said:

Yes, Pit should definitely be among the other "elites" of Nintendo. I for one would like to see continuation of the series as well, maybe even one prequel game where you go back between the original and Uprising and find out what happened within the last 25 years. And one more thing, they really should do a full-blown anime series!



Prof_Clayton said:

KI:U is the only game I've ever played where I can remember the name of Every Character! (Even bosses). This would be a good moneymaker for Nintendo, hopefully the same controls on WiiU. This is my favorite 3ds game now!



Zergling said:

If you want new franchises and not rehashes just get on the e-shop that is where it is all happening. Dillion's Rolling Western, Mutant Mudds, Sakura Samurai, Pushmo, Etc.



Token_Girl said:

Ever since E3, I've identified Kid Icarus as the "mascot" game of the 3DS. It was the definition of what unique things the 3DS was bringing to the table. I think it could be a new franchise - there haven't really been any big name, uniquely portable franchises since Pokemon. Kid Icarus could be what Mario was to the NES, Pokemon was for the Gameboy, Zelda was for the N64, Metroid Prime or Pikmin was for the Gamecube, or Wii Sports/Wii Fit was for the Wii. The game franchise you think of instantly when you think back to that system.



bahooney said:

Kid Icarus: Uprising deserves to be the introduction to an evergreen status. Seriously, it's one of the best games I've played, ever. It is definitely a system seller for the 3DS! Sakurai should be revered as one of the best developers of our time... right up there with Miyamoto. His games are few and far between, but they're consistently game-changers. His wealth of ideas is nigh-unmatched.



DerpSandwich said:

Judging by the success of those Spyro Skylanders, Nintendo is sitting on a gold mine. Cards that are fun to collect and also affect gameplay? Yes, please. Yes very much. It's like a much more awesome and simple version of the E-Reader.



Mk_II said:

bahooney wrote:

Sakurai should be revered as one of the best developers of our time...

Agreed. And I'm really looking forward to Super Smash Bros. 3D now... it will be totally brilliant if Kid Icarus Uprising is anything to go by.



Emaan said:

I loved Kid Icarus Uprising! Best game I've played in a while! The characters, story, music, gameplay, it was all amazing! I really hope it gets a sequel on Wii U, and like others have said Kid Icarus has a lot of potential to become one of Nintendo's front line series. Let's just hope Nintendo makes this happen.



PuzzleMaster7 said:

KI Uprising is my favorite 3ds game so far. The graphics and voice acting are amazing. Along with all of the bonus content and online features, it could become the next major Nintendo franchise. As long as a sequel doesn't come out until at least three years and the controls are fixed, I plan on getting the next.



aaronsullivan said:

I think the big challenge to this becoming a new franchise is the overlap in gameplay when compared to Star Fox. They really are similar, aren't they?

So, to me, it will be interesting if Nintendo tries to differentiate the two franchises by taking them in two very different paths. I'm really not sure what I'd want those paths to be because I haven't had the pleasure of playing through Kid Icarus yet, but I'm interested what people think about this.

And also, did Nintendo foresee this possibility and will the diverging nature of the games show itself in the possible E3 unveiling of a new Star Fox game? Will be fun to look out for!



Marks said:

I am totally for a sequel!
It would be awesome for it to be developed on the Wii U and use the U's new features.



Nintenbro said:

"few gamers potentially knew the lore or even the gameplay style of the NES original. That was probably for the best, as the 3DS title pays little respect to the original format"

This statement is just like telling someone it's probably for the better if they never experienced the original Super Mario Bros., before they've experienced Super Mario Galaxy 1 or 2. In my opinion, that's a very ignorant remark to be made.



WaveBoy said:

I'm hoping the nex Kid Icarus is a brand new '2D' sequal in the same tune as the NES original but obviously more advanced and the like. I think it would be 'too much' if Nintendo released a direct sequal with the same gameplay style as Uprising. With that said, time to blast down to Angel Land and play me some Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters tonight.

Ya, I still haven't gotten around to Uprising yet....I'm enormously Balls out excited for it, but i need to beat the games i have in my collection before i buy any more releases where I'll end up feeling even more overwhelemed.



ianmage1 said:

YES. Seriously. Kid Icarus could be right up there with Mario and Zelda! After playing Uprising, I'll buy any other Kid Icarus game that Nintendo releases.



MitchVogel said:

I really did appreciate this game. Honestly, I think Nintendo has been getting waaaay too over reliant on their good old franchises. Not that they haven't done anything new recently, but I can't even remember the last time a "new new" Nintendo game got such mass coverage as this. Everything else has just kind of been swept under the rug it seems. It was a real breath of fresh air to see a brand new thing like this come out of Nintendo and I think this game alone can stand as a testament to Nintendo's vision of innovation.



Haxonberik said:

They should support Pikmin like these too, it was a really memorable experience that hasnt get the attention it deserves. I hope it changes with Pikmin 3



HappyHappy said:

One thing that I think led Uprising to becoming a huge success was the marketing. Nintendo obviously put a lot of effort to ensure that people knew about this game to the point that ads were seen on the internet, billboards, buses, and on television. I only wish Nintendo could do this for their other franchises, because over the years I have noticed that some games that Nintendo doesn't really put effort in marketing doesn't really sell as much as you would expect from a Nintendo game.



Smooth27 said:

Not that im complaining, because this game is extremely awesome, but I kind of expected it differently. Before it was released the dev said that it was gonna be a hardcore game, which it is, but in a arcade way. The only hardcore about is the intensity and how it controls; not that is a bad thing, love the game. However I was wanting a hardcore game non-arcade kind of like a mix of god of war mixed with third person shooter.... That would of being amazing. By saying ''god of war hardcore'' I dont mean a carbon copy of it. More like hardcore gameplay in ways of how he kills the undead army like metroid other M when she does a cinamatic jump over the enemy and aims her cannon on the enemies head and.... Boom! those type of amasing hardcore kills. The levels were pretty but land levels were too linear, dont flame me its a great start for the game, but like any other, it can only get better right? Lastly the weapons sounds, all sound too alike. I want my bullet blade to sound like bullets dropping the floor.



Smooth27 said:

As far as multiplayer goes iys an amazing start, only multiplayer game that'z amasing aside if resident evil but its only 2 player online. The things I want for next game is more modes, maybe a regular death math, domination of some sort. Secondly a reason to make me comeback and play more like a leveling system something addicting besides just fun to play. A pre-game lobby that doensnt take you to the match ride away, that way you can invite your friends and play with strangers at the same time instead of a friends only mode. Lastly most important customization of character or weapons, and voice chat to use team work properly.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Gaz Plant you're a wizard.
A really great article on the marketing Ninty does for the title.
A movie or a TV show could be really great if done right, i like the humor.
I think a new game in the vein of Uprising should come to the WiiU. It deserves a place on a home console. Wii Remote and Nunchuck controls wouldn't hurt either. To have the same mission structure would be bearable once more though at least after that i'd love 'em to do a more coherent story mode.
And please give us more 2D platforming KI goodnees too, Ninty.



Samholy said:

kid icarus is a game i will remember forever. just like the good old days of the snes. it has this little something more than the others.

truly the best 3DS game so far, and also probably theb est looking too.
i really hope they do it again. i will probably not buy the Wii U at lunch, and wait for a year or so. unless... pit has something to say about it ! i had more fun with pit than the latest mario games !



kidkeith said:

Love the article. I am a HUGE fan of Kid Icarus!!!! I just got an 8-bit tattoo of Pit in his first angel suit on my inner forearm and have talked to my tattoo artist about making it into a bad ass sleeve. The first tat came out brilliantly and i have people stopping me on the street here in the Elmwood Village(Buffalo, NY) to tell me how cool it is. One guy stopped me and we talked about our love for Pit and everything about the original NES title. After a half an hour i went back to my artist and told him i needed to set up my original NES and needed to play through the game until i found my favorite part, and also a part of the game which would translate nicely to my body. Some tats need to be certain sizes to be able to get the kind of detail that is neccessary to look good. If anyone would be interested in seeing my first Pit tattoo or give some advice to me on certain screen shots I would use as part of my masterpeice, email me at . I am a very friendly person and love to share my ideas, love, etc, on everything Kid Icarus and the original NES games. I have another tattoo that says, CARPE DIEM, which in Latin means seize the day. That tat shows my love for the movie "Dead Poets Society" which is an Icarus story in itself. Remember what the Icarus myth teaches us everyone. Moderation. Taking the middle route, euphoria, etc... Icarus became infatuated with the birds flying high into the air towards the sun, forgetting what his father told him, stick to the middle air. But as a youth he had not learned what his father was trying to convey. And like the game, when the wax that held his wings on his body melted, he fell to his death, into the ocean with a scream, " Im Finished!!" There are actually two Icarus's in "Dead Poets Society". I will let you figure out who they are because I could talk for hours on the subject, But as you can see i love great games, brilliant movies, and the childish simplicity of early Nintendo. The Icarus story relates to my life in soo many ways that the tattoo was a long time coming. And even though early Nintendo games such as this were much more simple in graphics, this game is much more intricate in soo many ways. To everyone, Carpe Diem, cause i know i will. thanks ps. I still want to marry the Princess, never understood why people talked about the game being so difficult, i never thought so, once you hit the Overworld its all gravy!!!

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