I have just finished the original Kid Icarus on my New Nintendo 3DS, so I thought I’d take a little bit of time to talk about it.
In some ways, I find it to have aged fairly well. Some of the sprites are really pleasing to look at. I was actually surprised to see how similar Palutena looked to her portrayal in Uprising. I’m not sure whether they redid some models for this version of the game, but I really liked the way a lot of the enemies look.
I also really like the environments. Specifically how they look and play completely differently as you climb back to Skyworld. It’s an interesting idea, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it return in a future game.
The game mostly suffers, I think, from being tedious in some ways. For example, finding your way through the final dungeon is a pain because the correct path involves taking a really bizarre path that no one would ever consider. Going down, left, up, and right. It’s easy once you figure it out, but I was stuck there for quite some time. The final area, too, is a shmup section that doesn’t play particularly well. Pit is rather slow and it’s hard to dodge enemies. And Medusa takes forever to kill, even if you exploit her AI by hovering in her blind spot.
It’s not a great game, by any means. I feel like there’s a good reason this is one of the properties that Nintendo forgot about for almost twenty years, and I think it’s because Kid Icarus doesn’t really have it’s own identity. Is it a platformer, is it a dungeon crawler, is it a shmup? It seems like they tried to experiment with a lot of different ideas and none of them really panned out well. Personally, I would say the only reason I ever finished the game was because of Uprising, and how much it drew from it. I’m amazed at Sakurai’s creativity, personally. It’s like he took every element in this game and made it work in a really unexpected way.
Hardcore fans will have a blast comparing this game to Uprising, but I say it’s no Super Mario Bros. It has not stood the test of time.