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3D Classics Kid Icarus

by Zachary Miller - May 5, 2012, 5:17 pm EDT
Total comments: 10


It's better than you think.

The original Kid Icarus, released in 1987, has received a lot of flack. The game is stiflingly difficult, hard to control, ugly, and features infuriating dungeons. It received a Game Boy sequel (Myths & Monsters) in 1991 and appeared early in the Wii’s Virtual Console life. For reasons we’re still struggling to understand, NWR gave the game a “recommended for everyone” verdict, when in fact the opposite is probably true. Now, in the Year of Our Arceus 2012, Nintendo got around to releasing Kid Icarus: Uprising, a game that’s infinitely better than the original. However, if you pre-ordered the game through The Black Pit (GameStop), you received a download code for the 3D Classics version of the NES original. For those who didn’t pre-order, Nintendo went ahead and made the 3D Classics version a GameStop exclusive, so you can just go into one of their stores, give the cashier six dollars, and receive a download code. I could go into why this is stupid, but whatever.* Besides, you can now get it straight from the eShop, which I recommend.

Like all the other 3D Classic games, this one was developed by Arika, and features the same front end Excitebike 3D and Kirby’s Adventure 3D have. But they’ve done more than just pretty the game up with 3D graphics. This version of Kid Icarus is actually playable and—dare I say it—enjoyable.

The game now has nice, colorful backgrounds, which improve the 3D effect nicely. Arika has also included an alternate “control scheme,” which isn’t so much a new control scheme as an improvement over the existing control scheme. If you select it (and I suggest you do), Pit will have a faster reaction time, subtly slow his descents if you hold down the A button, and fire continuously if you hold down the Y button. The game also does away with insanely long passwords. Instead, the beginning of each stage is a save point. The continuous fire thing is the real saving grace. Whereas you couldn’t fire fast enough to defeat a formation of enemies under the original controls, you can destroy them all in one pass here. This makes heart harvesting an actual reality, and the more enemies you kill in a stage, the better your chances of getting a health upgrade between stages.

Pit can buy new powers in shops along the way, like a feather that saves him from falling off the screen, or a drink that refills your energy upon dying. You can get a long-shot bow, fire arrows, and orbiting crystals for protection. Certain enemies can also take these items away from you, but luckily they’re offered at almost every shop you come across. Certain rooms will test your dexterity and, if you survive, you’ll get damage upgrades. The non-dungeon levels are either upwardly directed or side scrolling. In upward levels, you can actually die if you fall down, which is irritating, but it doesn’t happen that often. If you find a harp, you can turn all the enemies onscreen into mallets for a little while. What are mallets for?

They’re used in dungeons. Dungeons cap each level, and they are (for the most part) annoying. Enemies respawn every time you re-enter a room. You must find the dungeon map and buy two more items (a torch and a pencil) from a dungeon shop in order to get the most out of your map—and even then, it’s not very helpful. Your goal in the dungeon is twofold: use mallets (which you can also buy) to rescue soldiers turned to stone by Medusa. There are plenty of them in every dungeon, and you will get a better score the more you rescue—but they also fight with you during the boss fight, three at a time, until they’re all killed (by merely touching the boss). The bosses themselves are very easy; two of them don’t even attack, they just wander around. The game’s fourth level is just a single side-scrolling shooter stage and an incredibly easy fight with Medusa.

This 3D Classic is surprisingly good given the base material. I actually recommend it highly. Try playing with classic controls first, then custom controls, and see how much different the experience is. As somebody who’d simply dismissed the game up until now, I’m glad I had the chance to play it because Kid Icarus is unexpectedly enjoyable.

*Full disclosure: I was bemoaning this travesty on Twitter when @LAAG64 offered to grab me a download code when he went to get his copy of Xenoblade. So yes, I indirectly purchased something from GameStop. No matter how many times I scrub my hands, I can’t make them clean again.


  • Catchy soundtrack
  • Custom control scheme makes the game playable
  • Looks great with the new backgrounds and 3D sprites
  • A few cheap hits and deaths
  • Dungeons are not much fun
  • Enemies who take your power-ups are a pain


Pixelated PixiesMay 05, 2012

Great review. I had quite a similar experience with this 3D classics version of Icarus. I never got past the third level on the NES version, but the subtle gameplay improvements and additional graphical flourishes for this new release just made it far more playable for me. I've enjoyed it much more than I thought was possible.

Despite being a huge Metroid fan I've always found it difficult to get into the original NES Metroid. I'd really like to see them give that game a similar treatment. I imagine the addition of new backgrounds would go some way towards making the various areas in Metroid more distinctive.

NemoMay 05, 2012

What the original Metroid needs is a map. That would solve a lot of its problems.

GoldenPhoenixMay 06, 2012

Doesn't the 3D Classic Kid Icarus have a difficulty setting?

On another note, everything I've heard about Kid Icarus is that it is pretty poorly balanced in that the first few levels are the extremely difficult ones and from there it actually gets easier.

Chocobo_RiderMay 06, 2012

I believe I already talked about 3DC KI in a few other threads but I'll briefly say it again here...

Absolutely phenomenal game.  The NES original? Highly meh.  Probably the best you could say is that, in its day, it was an interesting and (overly) complex title.

But the 3DC remake? Oh good lord... it's like a whole new (and amazing) game.  The control adjustments this review mentioned, the detail (and relevance) of the backgrounds, the 3D effect with the 2d assets... oh man, I honestly played through the whole game before I fully dove in to Uprising, I was enjoying it that much.


I don't recall a difficulty setting... though I may have missed it.

And yes, the game absolutely gets easier level by level.  The difficulty curve is completely "inverted" as I believe Jonny Metts called it.  However, this is under the pretense that you understand the importance of leveling and how to do it.  I recommend checking some FAQs just to equip yourself with the knowledge needed to make this game as enjoyable as it certainly can be.

TJ SpykeMay 06, 2012

I think GP is confusing it with the 3DS game (which does let you select the difficulty).

purevalMay 06, 2012

Wow. Until reading this I had no idea this game had auto fire. That makes it easier. Without even looking I knew Zach wrote this. Maybe it is just my own retail experience, but I will never understand the intense hatred of Gamestop (not trying to start a war BTW).

LittleIrvesMay 07, 2012

Only played the original briefly way back in the 80s, but have always wanted to give it a go. So glad I decided to buy this. The backgrounds are surprisingly effective, both as visual markers of how close you are to the end of the level and also just as lovely backdrops...  And the game's fun! I've actually played through it twice now. Something strangely addictive about it.  Great to see them acknowledging the control issues and tweaking them when they could have just painted the backdrops, separated the 3D layers and released it. Very smart.

Now I guess I should finally buy KI: Uprising, hmm...

ivanincubusMay 08, 2012

Sadly this game also comes with a game informer and a powerup rewards card shoved up your ass.

Not anymore. It's actually in the eShop now.

CericMay 08, 2012

On the Reverse Difficulty Curve if game mimicked real life that would be more par normal.

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Genre Action

Worldwide Releases

na: 3D Classics Kid Icarus
Release Mar 23, 2012
jpn: 3D Classics Hikari Shinwa Parutena no Kagami
Release Dec 19, 2011
eu: 3D Classics Kid Icarus
Release Jan 05, 2012
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