Kid Icarus NES Review

by | NES

Kid Icarus for the NES was developed by Nintendo R&D1, the same team that created Super Mario Bros. The original 8-bit game was directed by Gunpei Yokoi, who also directed Metroid and Donkey Kong. Yoshio Sakamoto was the game’s art director, and he also later directed Metroid. The music in the game was composed by Kenichi Matsubara.

Kid Icarus was one of the first games to use graphical scaling to create a 3D effect. This technique was later used in games such as Super Mario Bros. 3 and Metroid. Game design and level design are two huge differences between the two games, with Kid Icarus focusing more on platforming while Metroid focused on exploration. While the game design and level design may be different, one thing is for sure: both games are fun to play. 

This game was well-received by critics and is considered one of the classic games of the NES library. In 2007, IGN ranked it as the 50th-best game ever made for the NES. In 2008, GamesRadar ranked it as the 4th best NES game of all time. In 2012, Complex ranked it as the 8th greatest 8-bit game of all time. The character Pit was one of the main characters in the 80’s cartoon Captain N The Game Master. While Pit hasn’t shown up again in cartoons the Kid Icarus franchise still remains relevant today with Paluntena and Pit both appearing in the fighting game Smash Brothers.

Game Story

The game is set in the Greek mythological world of Angel Land. The protagonist, Pit, is a young angel who must rescue the goddess of light Palutena from the evil god Medusa who kidnaps the goddess and steals the 3 sacred treasures. To do this, he must venture through various levels, fighting Medusa’s minions and collecting weapons and items to help him on his quest. The game’s plot takes a wild ride through Greek mythology, with characters and settings that are as free-spirited as the ancient myths that inspired them!

Unique Weapons

The weapons in Kid Icarus are powerful and varied. Our hero starts with a simple bow he fires to hit enemies at a distance. Upgrades include powerful weapons like fire arrows, which can be used to incinerate enemies from a distance. Other power-ups can be found in the game, such as the powerful power sword. These power-ups can help Pit defeat Medusa and rescue Goddess Palutena.

The player begins the game with a weak bow and arrow, but can find powerful weapons and items throughout the game:

  • Fire Arrows can be used to illuminate torches and also to damage the shields of the enemy.
  • Bombs have the capability to destroy walls and enemies.
  • The Mirror Shield has the ability to reflect incoming enemy shots back at them.

The short range of the initial bow weapon is a factor in raising the difficulty level since you have to be much closer to enemies to harm them.

Players can also find several power-ups that will help Pit on his quest: 

  • The Wings of Icarus enable Pit to achieve flight.
  • The Boots of Hermes provide a boost in speed.
  • The Arrow of Light is a formidable weapon that has a limited usage of one per level.

A unique item that breaks the fourth wall is the credit card you use to buy things from a location called the black market whenever Pit doesn’t have enough of the game currency to purchase items.

Game Levels

Kid Icarus is a platform game with action elements so expect to do a lot of jumping especially in the first level. The player controls Pit, who must jump and shoot his way through various levels and in these levels you can find hidden chambers containing weapons and items to help you on your journey.

The game is divided into three main sections: the Overworld, the Underworld, and Skyworld. In each section, Pit must traverse different levels, fighting enemies and collecting items to help him gain the strength necessary to survive the enemies. The final section called the Sky Palace is a flying section where Pit finally uses his wings to fight the final boss.

Gameplay and Music

The music in Kid Icarus is quite catchy and memorable. It was composed by Kenichi Matsubara, who also composed the music for games such as Super Mario Bros. 3 and Metroid.

The music helps to create an exciting and adventurous atmosphere and complements the gameplay mechanics well. The sound effects are used in an effective manner that alerts the player and is not at all tiresome due to some repetitiveness.


In Kid Icarus, the player must fight various boss battles to progress through the game. These bosses have high health and can be challenging due to having to slowly pick at their health. The most famous of these bosses is the evil Medusa, who is the final boss of the game. Other bosses include Twinbellows, Hewdraw, Pandora, and Tanatos (Thanatos).

Aside from the main bosses, you’ll see a wide variety of enemies that differ depending on which world you are currently in. A few notable ones are the Eggplant Wizard who turns the player into an eggplant and Reaper aka Grim Reaper who patrols around and summons mini-reapers if he sees the player. The vast majority of bad guys aren’t too difficult to deal with the platforming can be challenging at times.

Overall Level Difficulty and Game Length

The gameplay mechanics are simple and easy to understand. The player must jump and shoot their way through various levels, avoiding enemies and traps. The game is challenging but not too difficult, making it enjoyable for players of all skill levels.

Controlling Pit is a pretty simple affair, most of the game is a land battle with plenty of jumping which was mentioned before and despite the presence of wings on Pit, he is a flightless angel. The game takes about 4 hours to complete on average, but if you are new to this guy it can take a bit longer to get used to the enemies and controls.


Kid Icarus is fun and enjoyable and is sure to please fans of platformer action video games. The simple but challenging gameplay, catchy music, and Greek mythology-inspired setting make for an exciting and unique gaming experience.

A Game Boy sequel was released in 1991 that follows the events of this game. Fans of Metroid and Legend of Zelda will feel right at home with this classic NES game.

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