TakeN Out of Gaming | Issue 1: Kid Icarus

By Shane Jury 20.08.2011 6


Welcome to a brand spanking new monthly feature on Cubed3! In TakeN out of Gaming we ask ourselves a teeny-tiny question. What if Nintendo - or a third party publisher with a series established on Nintendo platforms - took one of their vast number of in-house franchises and applied it to a medium outside of the arcade and consoles?

This month we look at a long-dormant, but soon-to-be resurrected, franchise that has already dipped its toes into the pool of TV animation, and could very well be Nintendo’s next top earner should its 3DS debut be a roaring success. Will Cupid’s arrow find its mark with Kid Icarus?


Firstly, a brief overview. Kid Icarus was imagined up by Gunpei Yokoi, he of Metroid, Game Boy and *ahem* Virtual Boy fame. His 1986 NES release played similarly to Samus' aforementioned series, albeit with a Greek mythology setting. As the plot goes, the fantasy world of Angel Land is ruled by the Goddess of Light Palutena, and the Goddess of Darkness Medusa. Now Medusa, being, y’know, dark and evil, doesn’t like the humans below and decides to destroy them a little by wrecking their crops and turning them into permanent Tanooki-Suit-a-like stones. Understandably, Palutena gets a little cheesed off about this and chucks Medusa into the Underworld, where she organises a full-scale rebellion with the creatures down there. Whoops.

With a new army at her disposal, Medusa initiates a surprise attack and swipes the three treasures that power Palutena’s troops, ultimately ending in her defeat (next time woman, get a safe!). Before being imprisoned, she uses the last of her magic to send a bow and some arrows to Pit, a young angel who escapes from the Underworld and sets off to find the three treasures, save Angel Land, defeat Medusa, save Palutena, avenge Dumbledore, yada yada...

Kid Icarus on NES is notorious in many an online list for being one of the most difficult games, in direct contrast to its simplistic visual style, with a high number of first time players not even making it past level one. The game made use of passwords to remedy this, and also took advantage of Wii’s insta-save pause feature when it made its Virtual Console debut for the pampered gamers of today.

The game sold a respectable enough number of units to warrant a Game Boy sequel, Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters, a rarity that would no doubt be a prime candidate for 3DS’ overpriced Virtual Console. Thanks to Super Smash Bros. Brawl's introduction of Pit as a playable character to the delight of many a spammer everywhere, interest in the series was renewed, and a new game was greenlit that made use of the newly updated character designs utilized in Brawl. Kid Icarus: Uprising, a title that marks the end of a 20 year gap between Kid Icarus games, will soon grace the Nintendo 3DS with Sin and Punishment-esque rail shooter style gameplay.

Lineage

Though hardly the most prolific of Nintendo franchises, the Kid Icarus series has had some notoriety outside of video game-dom. The example I’m referring to in particular is more than likely something that long-time devoted fans might want to forget about - but I’ll remind them anyway.


Captain N: The Game Master was an animated show that aired in 1989 to '91 (just for American citizens - how lucky!) and was basically Nintendo advertising that had some degree of enjoyment to it. The show featured a gaming enthusiast called Kevin who got sucked through his TV (ouch!) into the world of Videoland, thanks to the divine Power Glove housed there, in order to aid the citizens against the invading forces of the big bad Mother Brain. The series makes use of multiple characters and locations from select Nintendo franchises (and a few close third parties as well), albeit sometimes not in 'legitimate' form. You only need to see the main cast to surmise that.

The character in red is the hero of the show, armed with a NES Zapper that actually lives up to its name, and a special belt buckle that can freeze time amongst other things. The chick on the far left is the princess of Videoland, Lana, and for once not always the damsel in distress. Duke the dog is Captain N's miniature sidekick, while the beefy bloke is a vain and egotistical take on Simon Belmont from Castlevania. Nope, that didn’t go down too well with diehard Konami fans... The little green dude is a colour-warped version of Mega Man, possessing a voice he could easily have defeated the Robot Masters with, and the platform they’re all riding on needs no explanation, imaginatively given the name ‘Game Boy’. Last, and probably least, the winged midget in white? That would be a certain character’s animated debut, or ‘Kid Icarus’ as he’s known in this show, a far cry from the Pit design that fans are currently aware of. Granted, the memorabilia art was similar, but not that imp-like.

Each of the main cast that were sourced from gaming had their respective foes turn up in the show, save one. Simon had Dracula to deal with in a number of episodes, and Mega Man's Dr. Wily was an integral part of the main group of villains. Kid Icarus’ main antagonist, Medusa, was nowhere to be seen however, instead replaced by one of the original game’s deadliest foes, the Eggplant Wizard (right). The most likely scenario is that the writers (though it's hard to believe there were any when you see the clip down the page) didn’t want a godly villain overshadowing who they saw as the prime villain in Mother Brain, and went for one a little less threatening.

Pit, or ‘Kid Icarus’, isn’t really given an episode that focuses primarily on him and development of his character, but many references to the Icarus game’s plot devices and enemies are used. The three sacred treasures, for example, are targeted by Mother Brain to aid a Videoland takeover, and the Eggplant Wizard even tries to take the Triforce for himself during a Legend of Zelda crossover.

For a late 80s/early 90s show, the animation and voicework is what you’d expect, with Pit’s character and lineage in no way done any justice - though to be fair it was a new game series at the time.


 

Chances are good that when a video game makes use of a good soundtrack, that track will eventually break away from the confines of the cartridge and end up on a CD or two. Or to be more specific in this case, a vinyl and a mini CD:


Funnily enough, there is actually a American indie rock group called Kid Icarus, who sadly only have the name in common with Nintendo’s series as a tribute. They’ve released four albums to date, and a live DVD too.

Aside from these stand-out examples and some cameos in other Nintendo games, there has been little in the way of Kid Icarus memorabilia - something that could soon be remedied...

Future Possibilities?

With the impending release of the third game in the Kid Icarus series, and a chance for Nintendo to capture new Kid Icarus fans with a fresh third person perspective and powerful hardware for it to show off on, also comes an opportunity to expand on the Greek history setting the game loosely adheres to; in particular through the mediums of films and art.

In recent years cinema goers have been treated to a good number of flicks that base their theme around Greek mythology. Just last year we had two: a Clash of the Titans remake, and an adaptation of a popular kids book; Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, both of which centred on the gods of Olympus and their half-human half-god offspring. Both these two films were live action, and if we were to look at the quality ratio of gaming-related non-animated movies in the last few decades, the slopes would make Line Rider squeal. Nintendo’s output in the film industry has been primarily in the animated sector, with a bazillion Pokémon movies and even a Mario direct-to-VHS release, plus an Animal Crossing feature that unfortunately didn’t make it out of Japan. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume then, that Nintendo could follow Disney’s example with Hercules should Kid Icarus take off. Maybe, like the strong-armed son of Zeus, Pit could have another shot at an animated show, albeit a more faithful adaptation.


 

Cutscene from Production I.G.. Imagine a Kid Icarus movie like this. *drool*

Nintendo’s more prolific franchises, like Zelda and Metroid, tend to get the manga treatment, so to see Pit popping up on a black and white page wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility. Like the example just to the left there, a manga strip could take the ostracised approach, with Pit being different to all the other angels, earning his wings, so to speak, by traversing through the Underworld and putting a stop to Medusa’s ways. His origins and circumstances could be explored along the way; who he is, why he ended up being different, what sets him apart from the others, that kind of thing.

A less imaginative, but a safer and more fan-friendly approach, would be to simply follow the plotlines of the games and only slightly deviate to add plotline and character. Pit’s first mission in taking down Medusa, his subsequent training in being able to handle the three treasures, and lastly the snake-haired lady’s return. Should it prove popular, then let the writers see where the story could go from there.

With Kid Icarus’ relative obscurity and very few games, it is rather difficult to see where it could go beyond its gaming borders. The plot mythology structure lends itself well to expansion, but requires more instalments in the series, which as always depends on purchases. Will you be taking flight with Pit’s latest adventure in the near future, and have you relished in his legacy through Virtual Console?

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Comments

Well for this to work Nintendo would DEFINATLY need to rework what they think today's audience wants. The old Super Mario Bros. Super Show was nice & charming for it's time....but Nintendo needs to make high quality shows & not Disney channel/Teen Nick garbage.

The F-Zero cartoon they had going was pretty decent I'll say.

It is not wise to speak on subjects you do not know all facts about, nor is it smart to judge a game based on looks alone. PSN: Nintendo_Gamer 3DS: 4296-3029-7422

Nice article, though id rather see Kid icarus stick to games for now, if the 3DS sequel does well then a wiiU verson will be nice. What about Star Fox for the nexr TakeN, I think the characters have huge untapped potential for other media

Star Fox will definitely be an option in the future but I have something else in mind for next month's edition. Smilie

If you don't remember what a vinyl is, it's one of those discs Simon Pegg lobbed at the zombies.

Made my day. Smilie

AdamC3 (guest) 21.08.2011#5

I would have preferred Nintendo to take Kid Icarus in a darker direction, with a grand platform adventure rather than a light-hearted shooter. It will definitely be interesting to see how Kid Icarus Uprising fares upon release and what the reaction to the AR cards will be.

Next article? Birdo and how he/she loves to cross-dress and may start a special Birdcage show, drawing in a new market - transvestites and transexuals!

Hmm...or maybe not... Smilie

19KB (guest) 26.08.2011#6

Icarus was quite a grim tale.

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