Together Retro Game Club: Kid Icarus


Presented by: Fastbilly1, Marurun, & Racketboy
New To Together Retro? Check out the introduction to the club

Welcome to the second entry in the Together Retro Game Club. For our first entry we featured the arcade hit Defender, one of the most challenging arcade titles around. We know we hit hard but we’re not quite ready to grant mercy just yet. This time around we’re offering up a much-neglected, oft-overlooked Nintendo classic, Kid Icarus.


Kid Icarus is the paternal twin of Metroid. Built on the same engine and released the same year on FDS floppy it was overtaken by Metroid in popularity and now, many years later, you can see what that popularity bought. Metroid has numerous sequels and updates while poor Kid Icarus has only a Gameboy follow-up and Game Boy Advance and Virtual Console rereleases.
Like Metroid, Kid Icarus allowed 3 saved games and used the extra FDS FM synth sound functions. When it was brought to the US it was switched to a password system and the music and sound effects were altered to fit the standard capabilities of the US NES. Unchanged is the challenge level. Harder than Metroid but easier than Defender, Kid Icarus is like many games of the early NES generation in that it is tough as nails.

Kid Icarus has some great atmosphere and an interesting theme inter-twined with elements of mythology. In Japan the game is called Hikari Shinwa: Parutena no Kagami, or in English, Legend of Light: The Mirror of Palutena, but the English name is almost more mood appropriate given the periodic Greek myth references. You, Pit the angel, set out to defeat Medusa to save the goddess Palutena.
Depending on the level the play area may scroll up (but never down, so don’t drop off the bottom of the screen and die), sideways, or room to room. As you extend your life, gain new equipment, and buy items you become better able to conquer what the game throws at you. And it’ll take practice and memorization just to make it past the first couple levels. But oh is victory sweet. There are multiple endings to boot, but we’ll leave that for you to figure out.

Recommended Ports

Now, Kid Icarus is actually pretty easy to get your hands on if you have a Game Boy Advance or a Wii, and it’s not exactly rare on the NES. This is a game worth owning and the price is pretty reasonable no matter what your path. As far as I know, the GBA version was only released in Japan, but GBA games are region-free and of course, you can emulate it. For those of you who have a Wii, Kid Icarus is also available as an inexpensive download on the Virtual Console service.

Kid Icarus NES Cover Kid Icarus GBA Cover Kid Icarus Virtual Console

Emulation for Kid Icarus

If you don’t have an NES, emulation is are very viable option. NES emulators are a dime a dozen and available for just about any platform. Most emulators will also let you use “save states” that will allow you to save your spot in the game instead of depending on the password system built into the game.

Another bonus for emulator users is that if you use the right emulator you can play the original Japanese Famicom Disk System version for the extra FM syth sounds. In addition to your normal Windows/Mac/Linux emulators, below are some NES emulation options. If you need assistance setting up any emulator, please post your question in the Emulation section of the forum

How To Play / Controls

The controls in Kid Icarus are pretty straightforward, but Pit’s jumping can take a little getting used to. You press A to jump and B to shoot arrows. You hold up to aim up or climb ladders. As expected, the directional buttons move Pit around the stages. (Check out full Kid Icarus Manual)

  • Left/Right: Run left/right
  • Up: Climb up, aim weapon up
  • Down: Duck, Climb down
  • A Button: Jump
  • B Button: Use weapon
  • Start Button: Switch to sub-screen
  • Select Button: Select items from sub-screen

Together Retro Goals & Discussion

Instead of posting in the comments section of the blog, we will be using the forum for all of our discussion in order to keep things more organized. So play Kid Icarus and talk to us about your thoughts and play experiences in the forums. We want to know your tactics, your strategies, your successes and your failures. We want to know how you feel about being squawked at by the grim reaper while his little mini-mes try to take you out, how you showed Mr. Reaper who’s boss. Heck, if you want you can even rant about how much cooler the Eggplant Wizard is in the game than in the old Captain N cartoon.

Additional Resources

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