Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy
  • Developer:
    • TOSE
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • US 11/05/1991
    • UK 05/21/1992
Score: 70%

This review was published on 04/02/2015.

Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by TOSE and published by Nintendo for the original Game Boy. It was released in North America on November 5, 1991, and Europe on May 21, 1992. Despite being a first-party Nintendo title, this game didn't get released in Japan originally. That's awfully peculiar, considering Japan is Nintendo's home base. This game is the sequel to the first Kid Icarus, which was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in the late 1980s. It's sort of a recreation or reimagining of the NES original on a portable, though it does feature different content. Some may think that this is a downgrade, going from a home console to a handheld, but aside from the graphics and sound, this game is mostly better than the first one. It even replaces the archaic passwords with a real, bona fide save system! The game still suffers from many of the quirks that made the first one hard to tolerate, though.

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Set in the Greek mythology inspired world of Angel Land, this game stars an angel named Pit. The world in which Pit resides in is ruled by the benevolent goddess, Palutena. One ominous day, Palutena has a terrible nightmare. Vexed by the foreboding dream, the goddess visits a soothsayer to help her make sense of it. According to the soothsayer's interpretation, the nightmare is foreshadowing an invasion by the evil demon Orcos and his many minions. Palutena then commands Pit, the leader of her angelic army and the hero of this game, to go take care of business. First, however, Pit must undergo many trials to strengthen his abilities, for in his current state, he isn't powerful enough to defeat the impending menace. Once finished with his training, Pit will be strong enough to wield the three sacred treasures and use them to fight Orcos. Until that fateful moment, Palutena has the sacred treasures protected by three fortress guardians, which Pit must triumph over to complete his arduous training. Life is tough when you're an angel.

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Pit is armed with a bow that, due to angelic magic, is able to fire unlimited arrows. He can also jump, and is now able to flap his wings to slow his descent. The angel's jumps take some getting used to, but he is easy enough to control. Another new feature added to this game is the handy dandy camera control. After pushing the pause button, you can press the d-pad to scroll the screen around to get a better view of Pit's surroundings. The sole issue about this, though, is that you'll have to hit the start button twice to see the status menu. It's not a huge deal, but it does get irritating after a while. For the most part, controlling Pit is easy, especially since he doesn't slide around as much as he did before. The added camera control is also appreciated, even if it does make menu access more bothersome.

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A total of four worlds exist in this game; the first three have four levels each, but the last one consists of a single level. Unlike the previous Kid Icarus, levels in this game scroll horizontally and vertically, allowing for free exploration in all directions. This is a cool change, because it lets you return to previously visited areas. The other cool thing about this change is that Pit will no longer die if he falls to the bottom of the screen, as the game will now scroll there instead of treating it like a bottomless pit. That makes the game way more forgiving. Further adding to the forgiving nature of this game, you have the option of saving your progress after every level. Like the original, a vast majority of the levels are vertical in design. The vertical levels wrap around horizontally for some reason, which is weird, but can be used to your advantage if you're clever. World two changes things up by being entirely comprised of horizontal levels, playing more like a standard platform game. Levels go back to being vertical in world three, though. The level design is never mind blowing, but the huge emphasis on vertical jumping makes Myths and Monsters unique among platform games.

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Doors are everywhere in this game. Every level has a bunch of doors that lead to special rooms that have different things to offer. Some doors lead to shops that sell helpful items in exchange for hearts, hot springs that fully heal Pit's wounds, information centers with hints, rooms where you can play a mini-game to win treasure, and more. Whenever Pit leaves a room, the door leading to it will close. In the old Kid Icarus, there was no way to re-enter doors outside of fortresses, but in this game, you can find or buy keys to reopen them. Also, once you open all the doors in a particular level, a master key can be found near the level's exit, and grabbing this key reopens all the doors. It's frustrating that revisiting rooms still isn't freely allowed, but at least doing so is possible this time around.

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Outside of the final world, the fourth level of each world is a fortress stage. These play quite differently from the main game, revolving around dungeon exploration similar to Zelda. Fortress stages are giant mazes you must navigate through to reach the boss at the end. Any doors entered in a fortress can be revisited, free of charge. Rooms inside fortresses can have entrances and exits from all four sides; the left and right sides are usually doors, and the top and bottom are typically ladders. There are items Pit can find or purchase to make fortress exploration easier, like the map, pencil, and torch. The map shows the fortress layout, the pencil marks previously explored rooms, and the torch shows Pit's current location. Eggplant wizards return to turn Pit into an eggplant. Nearby hospitals are able to cure the condition, but the jaunt there is fraught with peril, as Pit is totally helpless as an eggplant. Becoming an eggplant isn't always a bad thing, because it occasionally lets you take shortcuts. After beating a fortress guardian, Pit will obtain a sacred treasure. The sacred treasures can only be used in world four, though. Anyway, dungeon exploration is still the most enjoyable part of the game.

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As part of Pit's training, he can permanently increase his maximum health or strengthen the power of his arrows. To do the former, Pit has to earn a certain number of points before beating a level. There are three problems with this; one, this is basically grinding, because you'll have to repeatedly kill enemies to gather points, two, the game doesn't tell you exactly how many points you need, and three, you have a limited amount of opportunities to get these life upgrades, since they only happen in between beating stages. As for powering up Pit's arrows, the conditions for achieving that are even worse. Pit has to locate specific doors that lead to rooms known as sacred chambers to power up his arrows, but this only works after he's completed certain tasks. What those tasks are is anybody's guess. It's theorized that you need to get lots of points without dying or getting hit too many times, among other possible factors. Completely hiding this information from the player is completely stupid. The first game had the same issue, but that doesn't justify it.

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On top of the three sacred treasures, Pit is able to arm himself with additional weapons. Scattered throughout the land are sacred training chambers Pit can enter for a chance to obtain one of the special weapons. Inside these chambers, Zeus will test Pit's endurance to see if he's worthy of wielding such destructive power. The test involves Pit surviving an onslaught of flying metallic plates that will attempt to crash into him. If he succeeds, then Pit will be able to choose between one of the three weapons. The first is a fire arrow that adds a swirling fireball to every one of Pit's shots, the second is a long bow that extends Pit's attack range, and the third is a protective crystal that circles Pit at all times. However, his life meter must be a certain length to use each weapon. If his life meter ever drops too low, then the weapon will deactivate until he regains his health. Certain enemies can steal your weapons, though, and then you'll have to spend a fortune buying them back from the black market. On the bright side, the weapons now work inside of fortresses, unlike the previous game. As long as you don't lose them, these weapons are neat.

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Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters is an overall improvement over the original, but it still retains some of the same problems. Graphically and musically, the game did receive a downgrade, but the improvements outweigh that. The biggest improvement is the screen's ability to scroll in all directions, and as a result, Pit no longer dies from falling below the screen's boundary. Dungeon exploration is still mostly the same, but that's not a problem, because it's still fun. Unfortunately, this game didn't remedy some of the original's biggest problems, like the ambiguity surrounding the upgrade system and the grinding. You'll have to grind to increase Pit's life meter, attack power, and to buy the ridiculously overpriced items at the shop. If you don't, then you'll find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place. The only positive thing about this is that grinding is easier now, thanks to being able to backtrack to previous parts of a level. Besides those blemishes, Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters is a solid title for the Game Boy.

Word Count: 1,642

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