Mark your calendars, because on Monday, 19th December, another classic NES game has an anniversary. In 2016 there have been a long list of games that turned 30, including the likes of The Legend of Zelda, Dragon Quest and Metroid. But the year isn't over just yet and there is still one more game on the list - Kid Icarus, originally released in Japan on 19th December, 1986.
There haven't been as many games in the series as other Nintendo franchises, In fact, there's only been three, but as of late Pit, the main character of the Kid Icarus series, has enjoyed some popularity. There was his inclusion as a playable character in the last few Smash Bros. games, as well as his own 3DS outing, Kid Icarus: Uprising along with reissues of the original game as well.
That original game almost never got out the door, as the man behind the game, named Toru Osawa, went through a lot of difficulties in getting the game finished. Most notably, he was left to work on it alone in the summer of 1986, while the staff who had made Metroid took a vacation after the project was completed. He spent his nights at Nintendo, working on the game in almost every waking moment until his 16th December deadline.
Kid Icarus is notable for being a really tough game to play. It is action based, like Super Mario Bros., but mixes in shooting elements from Metroid and levelling up with items like in The Legend of Zelda as well. What you might not know is that there is an experience point system at work in the game, you just can't see it. Once you learn how to master that system, the gameplay gets a little more balanced.
The trademark of the Kid Icarus series is the extensive use of Greek mythology and imagery. The original game is based loosely on the the myths of Icarus and Perseus. Icarus' tale involves him falling from the sky after flying too close to the sun with hand crafted wings. Perseus was able to behead Medusa by using a mirrored shield to avoid looking at her directly, and therefore not be cursed and turn to stone.
While these are well known myths and visible on the surface, there is even more hiding in the game as there are also things taken from Japanese mythology and culture. For example, the God of Poverty who hides in the game's treasure rooms, is an actual Japanese deity who has a real shrine dedicated to him in Nagano Japan. The hot springs and three Sacred Treasures are also taken from Japanese culture, as they are the name for the Imperial Regalia of the Emperor and the royal family of Japan.
To learn more about the development, gameplay and mythology behind Kid Icarus, take a look at the video below. It's a long one, so you might want to cook up some eggplant to eat while you watch and celebrate another Nintendo anniversary. Happy Birthday Pit!
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