NECRO'S 8 BIT FLASHBACK

 
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Necro loves video games, especially old ones. He has constructed a portal to the past that leads you to a land where children of the 1980's can visit to remember the games they grew up with.


KID ICARUS

 

DEVELOPER: Nintendo

PUBLISHER: Nintendo

GAME TYPE: Side Scrolling Platformer

SYSTEM: Nintendo's NES

RELEASE: Some Time Around 1986

 

I was six years old the first time I laid my hands on my beloved Nintendo Entertainment System. One of the first games I ever played was kid Icarus. This little game had alot going for it at the time, and all those who were able to play it at a young age were captivated by it's  awsome gameplay and imaginative graphics.

 

So what's the lowdown?

 

THE STORY:

In this wonderfully bright, scrolling, platform jumper, you play as a flightless angel who's name is, interestingly enough, Pit. What is Pit's problem? Well, aside from having a name that rhymes with shit, he is trying to save Angel Land from the clutches of the monstrous Medusa. Pit has to work his way upward, to a Sky Palace so that he may face Medusa and put Angel Land back to order, as well as save the Goddess Palutena. Nothing too grounds-breaking here. Another game about a dude saving a chick, but remember that it's not the story that matters in this case, but rather the atmosphere and game mechanics that really make this game stand out above the rest.

 

THE VISUAL ENVIRONMENT:

The atmosphere is a mixture of Greko-Roman flavored art styles and characters (Medusa, Icarus) mixed with Christian Lore (Angels and Angel Land or Heaven). What you end up with is a sort of Greco-Gothic playing environment. Despite the pudgy, disarming design of Pit and the fact that he lives in a place with the quaint little name "Angel Land", this game is anything but cute. The worlds feel dark, old, and gothic - which translates nicely when contrasted against Pit's round, fleshy avatar. Most of the monsters are pretty scary looking, especially the last boss, Medusa, with her single piercing eye.

 

THE AUDIO ENVIRONMENT:

Kid Icarus' soundtrack was composed by Hip Tanaka, the composer who is also know for his work on Metroid. He is one of those videogame music composers who's tunes stays with you, well after the game is over - similar to Miyamoto. This game's soundtrack is awsome. I often find myself wanting to get to certain levels, like the fortress, just so I can hear its theme music! The soundtrack sets a wonderfully epic atmosphere, and really makes you feel like a hero as you are playing.

The sound effects aren't as memorable as the music, but they are still much better than most games. It's pretty cool how each enemy has its own set of sound effects. Some of the effects are similar to those in Metroid, but not to an annoying degree. My personal favorite sound effect comes from the enemy known as Reaper, who marches back and forth on a platform, until it sees Pit coming and totally freaks out, yelling for it's little Reapettes to come to its aid. That yell made me laugh when I was little, and still drags a chuckle out of me when I play it today.

 

 

GAMEPLAY:

The controls for this game are pretty standard. Pressing Up makes Pit point his Bow and Arrow upward, Left and Right make you walk left and right and down makes you duck. Pressing the "A" button makes you jump, and the "B" button makes you shoot. Although, jumping back for a moment, it should be noted that certain platforms within the game allow you to pass through them when you press down, and it isn't always clear which ones let you pass through, and which ones don't. This can result in some very annoying accidental deaths!

Which  brings us right to the next aspect of game, platforms!

For the majority of the game, you are not moving from left to right, as in Super Mario Bros. Instead, you are constantly moving upward. The screen follows your upward movement, but if you fall down past the bottom of the screen, it does not follow you and you will perish. It's the nudge affect that made Super Mario Bro. so freaking annoying, the screan moved right, but you couldn't go back to the left to grab that missed mushroom. Same thing here, only it is put to greater (and deadlier) use. This is the interesting dynamic I was talking about earlier that makes Kid Icarus such a fun and challenging game. The bottom of the screen acts as a moving bottomless pit that follows you as you make your way upward. In my mind, this makes Kid Ikarus the ultimate platform jumper because the game is essentially all platforms.

If you move to the far right or left of the screen, you get the "pass through' effect common in older games like "Joust". So if you move Pit all the way past the right side of the screen he will appear on the left side. This forces your mind to think nonlineal about where you're jumping and how you're going to get to the next platform and also makes the game feel more "Puzzely", if that were actually a word.

Speaking of jumping...

Pit's jump is unique, and may take a little practice for the newcomer. It's not a solid jump, as in Super Mario Bros. but more of a delayed, fluffy jump (similar to Metroid, but without the twirling) - which actually makes sense considering the nature of the character. It's a bit difficult in the beginning to judge where you're going to land or how high you're going to jump, but after playing for a while, the movements become very intuitive and fluid.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Looking back on this game, I'd have to say that it paved the way for many innovative games that followed it. I'm sad that we haven't seen any second, third or fourth generation renditions (ala Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 or Game Cube) but I've heard rumors that suggest that a next generation sequel is in the works. Whether it will be made for the NintendoDS, Game Cube, or Revolution is anyone's guess, but rest assured that no matter which system picks it up, the end result will be a game few will forget. And even if the rumors turn up false, we'll still be able to play this awsome game on the Nintendo Revolution's Virtual Console when it is finally released!

 

 

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