Kid Icarus: Angel Land Story

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North American box art.

Kid Icarus: Angel Land Story is a platform action game developed and published by Nintendo originally for the Famicom Disk System on 1986-12-19, and ported to the NES in July, 1987. In the game, you play the angel Pit who has been banished to the Underworld by Medusa who has also kidnapped Palutena, the Princess of Angel Land. You must guide Pit from the underworld, the overworld, skyworld, and finally back into the Palace In the Sky, Angel Land.

Kid Icarus is the "sister game" of Metroid. They were both developed by Nintendo R&D1 and shared several staff members, they use a similar game engines, and the were both released in gray "Password Pak" boxes in the USA. Kid Icarus even has elements of a Metroidvania in the fortress levels. However, where Metroid became a fairly popular series with over a dozen titles, Kid Icarus remained obscure with only three games. Although I don't care much for the game, I would have loved to see a Game Boy Advance remake in the same vein as Metroid: Zero Mission.

I first saw Kid Icarus in The Official Nintendo Player's Guide, and thought the game looked amazing. I remember my sister telling me that one of the families she babysat for had the game and I offered to help her babysit for them (but she saw through my clever ruse and refused). Years later, I found out the my local flea market included a trade in system where I could get rid of unwanted games for new games, and I swapped two games (I don't remember which) for Kid Icarus. At first I was very excited to finally play this game, but, after getting a game over repeatedly on the first level, I quickly became disenfranchised. Luckily, a friend of mine found the ICARUS FIGHTS MEDUSA ANGELS password, which starts you halfway through the game with invincibility. This allowed us to get a bit more life out of the game.


I own this game on the NES, but have never beaten it.


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3 3 4 6 3

Best Version: 38%


  • I really like Pit's character design.
  • Wrapping the character around the screen in vertically-scrolling levels is a good design and adds a lot of variation to the map.
  • The labyrinthine fortresses are a nice change of pace from the scrolling stages. And it's a relief to not have to worry about falling death for awhile.
  • The Reaper, with his Reapettes, is a creative enemy.
  • Although they're really annoying, I kind of like the Eggplant Wizard. It's a very original design and the obnoxious eggplant curse immediately increases the tension for any room they're in. I just wish they gave you more time to react before throwing their eggplants after you enter.
  • Hirokazu Tanaka's soundtrack is enjoyable and highly fitting to the game.
  • I like that you can get a credit card to buy items on credit, and the anachronistic method fits the quirkiness of the game.
  • Being able to rescue centurions who will help you during the boss fight was a great idea.
  • The manual is really complete and fully illustrated.
  • The game's typeface is pretty nice and unique.


  • Although there are a few decent tiles, most of the backgrounds are poorly drawn.
  • Not being able to use the three treasures until world 4 is stupid, and so is the removal of your power-ups for the fortresses.
  • It's not always clear which platforms will allow you to jump through them and which ones won't. Also, ducking causes you to drop through certain platforms. While this is standard fare for platformers, it doesn't work when reaching the bottom of the screen ends the game.
  • Monster rooms seem to exist solely to let you grind out hearts faster, which is boring. This wouldn't be necessary if shops were just cheaper, and then the rooms could be used for something interesting.
  • Rather than having an empty room when you haven't earned enough point to impress a god, they could have the god say they're not impressed, and give a clue for what can be done to impress them. This was a missed opportunity. And, for some reason, the designers made the first room a god room, which is empty unless you've on a second play-through, which was a bad choice.
  • The checkbook, torch, pencil system of mapping seems like a good idea at first, but it's too expensive, and, by the time you have all three items, you've already traversed most of the map. And, since the in-game mapping system doesn't show you doors, one-way
  • Stores only let you purchase one item, even if you can afford multiple items. Not exactly a smart business model!
  • Having multiple endings based on how well you performed is a nice addition, although, in order to get the best ending, it isn't a matter of how well you played or how quickly you beat the game, but rather how long you spent grinding.
  • Despite the game being titled "Kid Icarus," the game's protagonist is named "Pit."
  • The password system doesn't use a very good error correction system, so a lot of nonsense passwords yield positive results.


  • The controls are terrible. Pit is slow to respond to the gamepad, and collision with a solid object above you stops your momentum. In a game where a single mistake can give you a game over, this is unacceptable.
  • Most of the enemies are poorly designed, both in their look and movement. For example, the Specknose is a pair of Groucho Marx glasses, WTF? Also, far too many of the enemies movement patterns are reused with sprite or palette swaps. A few are expected for a game of this era, and even somewhat enjoyable, but, when you tally up all the palette and sprite swaps, the Specknose movement is used seven times! Several of the enemies aren't even animated (Rokman, Minos, Totem, etc.)
  • There is an overall sameness to the game. Worlds 1 and 3 are very similar and all of the fortresses are similar reusing many of the same rooms and enemies. There just isn't enough variety in the game.
  • The invincible item-stealing Pluton enemies are extremely annoying, although, having to re-buy your stolen items on the black market was a clever idea.
  • Although I like the idea of world 4 changing mechanics into a scrolling shooter, it was poorly executed. It's not just a matter of surviving, you have to kill a certain number of enemies before reaching the end of the map or you'll be cycled around again until you do. However, unless you've got a lot of arrow strength, the enemies will be too powerful to kill before they leave the screen, so it will take a couple cycles before you can reach the boss. Also, it's just kind of dull.
  • The final boss Medusa is incredibly easy. She has, not one, but two locations where you can safely remain motionless and shoot at her while never taking a hit.


Box Art





Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Kid Icarus: Angel Land Story
Japanese 光神話 パルテナの鏡 Hikari Shinwa: Parutena no Kagami Light Mythology: Palutena's Mirror


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