Saturday, October 19, 2013

#GamingBucketList: Kid Icarus (NES/FDS)


Here again we find ourselves at the end of another one of my random journeys to find efficiency in the games of old and share it with all of you. Kid Icarus has always been a game for me personally that I dabbled in to say I did but never gave the time to delve into. Until now. Even after saving Angel Land for the 1st time (Cue Dog Pound & Applause Here) is that this game lives up to its reputation on the surface to be a difficult game to get into much less stepping on the path of mastering all it has to offer. The thing is that in 2013 we have a lot of equalizers that we didn't back in 1986 and this was key for me making it to the end. To be honest the game pushed me to a point where I understood that it wasn't going to let up or play fair so if I wanted to see the end then I needed to even the playing field as I always do. With knowledge. I needed to dig deep into what the vast World Wide Web had to offer and when I got here I started to see this game in a whole new light. This game under the hood for a game that came out in 1986 is mind blowing. I'm mainly getting at the limitations of NES and passwords and what they actually keep track of compared to the FDS' ability to save progress to the disk. This is in comparison to Metroid and what it kept up with a year prior. And while I'd love to keep talking technical feats with you is that this isn't what we're here for. We're here to even Kid Icarus' playing field with 27 years of experience shared by millions of people condensed into something you can use to better your enjoyment with a great game that I've enjoyed the hell out of AKA what I always do when I do a GBL. And as usual I need a starting point. But where to start seeing as they are many.

How about Pit himself. Makes sense anyhow seeing as in order for everything else I'll cover to make sense we have to start with the basics. B shoots arrows and A jumps. The basics. TA-DA! He can also duck by holding Down and he can slide in this position by holding Down-Forward or Down-Back to slide in the respective direction. Pit can dodge some projectiles this way and this also carries the effect of falling through certain objects which in most cases will kill Pit. You'll fall through a couple accidentally because I'll admit I did even after getting used to the mechanic. So, at this point you know that you can defend yourself by shooting. And get to places by either jumping or ducking. So what's next?

The next logical step in progression is getting into offense and how Pit does such a thing. When the game starts you're weak. Very much so in fact. The game does offer a myriad of opportunities for Pit to grow stronger and add additional fire power to his arsenal. The game does this in 3 ways.

You gain additional HP by killing things and when you cross certain point thresholds AKA Leveling Up (20,000/50,000/100,000/200.000 for L2/3/4/5 respectively) and its pretty mandatory if you want to survive that you need to grind a bit. Luckily the game provides a couple of points in the game where you can do this relatively safely. Where these spots happen to be is for you to discover. Know that they exist and they're key for survival.

As you play the game you'll find Sacred Training Chambers & Sacred God Chambers that'll either challenge Pit to complete some training for an additional weapon or a chamber that'll grant Pit additional strength if he meets the requirements for it.

When it comes to the Sacred Training Chambers is that all you need to do is survive and nothing more. Don't leave during or the God will call you a weakling and since chambers don't come around to often you'll want to complete these training exercises as you come upon them. For completing a trial you're awarded with the choice of 1 of 3 weapons.


From left to right we have the Fire Arrows, Sacred Bow & Crystal Rod.

The Fire Arrows technically let you fire 2 arrows for every 1 by way of the fireball attached to the arrow does the same damage as the actual arrow you've shot. If the fireball happens to kill the enemy then the arrow will continue to hit any additional enemies in a line if they're there.

The Sacred Bow allows to shoot much further than you could before and allows you to kill enemies from a lot farther away which is great for making your platforming escapades a lot easier later on.

The Crystal Rod as you see in the picture gives Pit a way to not only defend himself but also attack as well. As you can also see it doesn't always cover Pit all the time so it isn't a be all end all to the enemies you face.

So after conquering a Sacred Training Chamber what should you choose? In my opinion you should go for the Crystal Rod, Sacred Bow and Fire Arrows in that order. Why?

Choosing the Crystal Rod when you complete your 1st Sacred Training Chamber is for this reason. The Crystal Rod is a huge equalizer and you'll realize this as soon as you start using it. In this case a great offense is led by having a great defensive equalizer for your enemies to deal with. And it comes right on time as the game starts to switch it up and you'll be very prepared for it.

By time you complete the 2nd Sacred Training Chamber and choose the Sacred Bow is that it'll also come right on time because of where the game starts placing enemies and being able to get the drop on them by sniping from a distance will make your platforming a lot easier to manage.

And getting the Fire Arrows last when you do will be right when the game ramps up so you'll be able to take out your enemies with no problem at all because of how the Fire Arrows work.

This order comes from a lot of play and the order helped me manage the game a lot better because of experimenting with each of the weapons as my 1st pickup to see what they offered before coming to this conclusion. Feel free to experiment with the order and choose what will make the game more manageable for you.

There is one small caveat to using weapons. Remember earlier we talked about how Pit levels up. This goes hand in hand with each additional weapon Pit collects because in order to be activated and used is that Pit needs to be 1 additional level per weapon picked up. In other words he needs to be L2 for the 1st weapon and so on. And on top of that his HP needs to be at said level before it can be activated but once activated it'll stay active. And the other point to note is that while the game will offer you a weapon you've already acquired is that you can't power it up by picking it up more than once. There is a reason however a weapon you've already acquired is offered to you again but I'll explain the why behind it later. But if you think that's a doozy then let us talk about Strength Upgrades because there's something there to see as well.

To acquire a Strength Upgrade from a Sacred God Chamber upon entering is that you need 10,000 Points of Skill (Separate from your actual score total) to earn the upgrade. You can only earn 1 Strength Upgrade per level even if there are multiple Sacred God Chambers in a level. How is Pit's skill judged? Just take gander at the list below and I'll break down the parts you need to pay attention to.

-300 for taking damage, except for damage tiles like lava
-10 for firing an arrow
-500 for breaking a jar in the Treasure chamber
+300 for entering a Holy chamber
+100 for defeating an enemy that drops a small heart
+300 for defeating an enemy that drops a half heart
+500 for defeating an enemy that drops a big heart
+100 for collecting a small heart (if you have less than 998)
+300 for collecting a half heart (if you have less than 994)
+500 for collecting a big heart (if you have less than 989)
+100 for collecting a mallet
+1000 for collecting or buying back a Weapon
+100 for buying anything in a shop except a Glass or Weapon
+300 for entering the Score tally screen (redundant)
+8000 for killing a boss (redundant)

What I bolded is what you need to pay the most attention to because these 6 events you as the player are in the most control over. There's going to be a point where you'll have more hearts than you know what to do with. As you see with the bolded is that you collect skill points by picking them up but if you're maxed out then you'll score no skill points and with our goal of evening the playing field you'll want to get stronger as fast as you can as the opportunities present themselves. If you play it right, by the time you get to Stage 3 Pit's strength should be maxed and most things in the game won't stand a chance once you cross this threshold. And just a mathematical note for reference. You only need 9700 Skill Points to get a Strength Upgrade because you get 300 for entering a Sacred God Chamber. TMYK as always. Now you know how to be strong. Now let's learn about staying strong.

Staying strong in Kid Icarus isn't easy and for the point we're aiming at is it isn't cheap either. As Pit goes about his duties to save Angel Land is that he'll run into stores where he can buy items to keep him in the fight. Now there are 3 "types" of stores you should be aware of.

There are the stores ran by the friendly shopkeepers of Angel Land who for a fair price of hearts will sell Pit a wide variety of items.

There's the Black Marketeer who doesn't mind selling things at a premium and knows he has a couple of items in particular that are worth the price he's selling them for. However if you play your best you'll never have to deal with this guy ever. We'll be talking more about him a bit later.

And there are the shopkeepers of the Fortresses that Pit must conquer. They're just like the friendly shopkeepers Pit meets in his travels except they offer some special items that only work in the fortresses in which you find them. But what are you buying?

Let's start with The Water of Life. (210 for a Chalice. 350 (Friendly/Fortress) & 480 (Black Marketeer) for a Bottle) It restores 7 HP upon pickup when using a chalice and 7 HP upon losing all available HP when a bottle is used. You'll find Chalices of Water not only in shops but through your adventures as well. Make sure to pick them up when you see them especially when you're about to enter a door because when you come out it'll be gone. Pit can store a single Bottle of Water in his inventory unless you have an item that will let you store more than one. And that item is...

The Barrel. (500 from the Black Marketeer) This is an item that is worth what you pay for it because it lets you store 8, count them, 8 Bottles of Water. You may never use all 8 but having that type of insurance for your journey is invaluable. Now don't fret. There's another way we can get the Barrel for free if you do it right and follow my lead. We'll talk about later. In the now however another one of the awesome items Pit can acquire is...

The Angel Feather. (390 Friendly & 480 Black Marketeer) This item is a must during your playthroughs because of what power it bestows upon Pit. If you fall off of something that the game considers death then the Angel Feather will kick in and allow Pit to fly for a bit to make it back to safe ground. Its the Beat Whistle before the Beat Whistle. I'd always suggest having at least 2 of these at all times once you can afford to just to cover you just in case.

You can also find and buy Mallets. (20 in either a Friendly or Fortress Shop) You find mallets during your adventures by collecting the Harps you see which turn your enemies into Mallets which you can collect. Mallets only have 1 technical application. In Fortress Stages you'll find statues of fallen soldiers called Centurions who've been turned to stone by Medusa. By freeing them as you find them you'll have them help out in the boss encounters in the Fortress Stages. In order to break them free you need to activate the mallet by pressing Select and then attacking the statue to free them. They can be pretty helpful because for every shot they land on the boss does 5 damage and every little bit helps. However they're pretty weak seeing as soon as they get hit they die. So if you need a bit of backup then be sure to free Centurions as you venture through the fortress. And for a fun note you can actually use the mallet to attack enemies. It does 5 damage but it's a real waste for not using them as they're intended to be. Just here for a note but just don't do it.

However, speaking of the fortress there are 2 exclusive items you can only buy in Fortress Stages. They're the Torch (120) which once you find the map will show you your exact location on it. And the Pencil will show you where you've been so far. Here's the thing. Because this is the year 2013 is that maps exist that show you the full layout of each of the Fortress Stages so there's never any need for either of these 2 to ever be purchased. Ever. And I just so happen to have the hookup for each of the fortresses.

Level 1's Fortress

Level 2's Fortress

Level 3's Fortress

These 3 maps are another equalizer in this quest. I'd figure I'd link them now but we're going to talk about Fortress Stages in a bit more detail later.

Back to the hustle of shops because there's a bit more to it. When it comes to the Black Marketeer is that he's in league with some of the worst enemies this side of the NES called Plutons. Plutons are very invincible and what's worse is if you happen to run into one they'll steal one of your extra weapons and this is something you never want to happen. Now if this unfortunate event befalls you there's 2 ways to get the weapon in question back. You can either find a Sacred Training Chamber and earn the item again or buy it back from the Black Marketeer for a very exorbitant price. (Fire Arrows for 600. Sacred Bow for 500. And the Crystal Rod for 700.) But since there's no actual penalty for death in the game is that if you get robbed then just kill yourself and start the stage over again. No reason to put yourself through that when on another run through said stage will fare better. Now if you happen to need something from the Black Marketeer and you happen to be short a bit is that even in Angel Land there's a way to put a purchase on Layaway.

You do this with the aid of a Credit Card of course. The Credit Card works like this. If it is in your possession and you buy something but not enough to afford it is that until you pay what you owe is that any hearts you collect will go to paying the debt back. Now whether this is good or bad is for you to decide but first thing is however is actually finding the Credit Card in the first place. Just so happens we have a place for that.

Treasure Rooms are just that place and with what you've learned so far is that everything isn't as straight forward as you wish it was. The object of a Treasure Room is to clean it completely out without running to the GOD OF POVERTY. I didn't know I was actually in the game. Referential joke. Anyhow, there's a way to never meet him and this is key for not only possibly finding the Credit Card but a free Barrel, Bottles of Life & Angel Feathers as well. Here's the thing. In order to even take advantage of a Treasure Room you have to have hearts to do so. It costs 5 hearts for every Treasure Pot you break so in all honesty this isn't much of a Treasure Room as it is gambling hearts for a chance at something cool. But it is another way to make those hearts back, pick up extra mallets and find all that cool stuff the Black Marketeer wants your soul to purchase. So now that I've explained it, how about you learn about getting over like Rover the Casanova!



The above are the Treasure Rooms for Levels 1 & 2 respectively and this is how they look before you start smashing everything in sight.

Now as I said our goal is to clean each and every one of them out so we get cool stuff to make our journey easier. Here's how. There's a way to know what pot the God of Poverty will be in if you break certain pots first.


Now the pots I've marked with stars are the 3 you should break for any Treasure Room you find in Stage 1. Here's the trick. Depending on how many mallets you find in the 3 pots you break you can easily know where the God of Poverty is.

If you find no mallets, break the pot in the lower left corner last.
If you find one mallet, break the pot in the upper right corner last.
If you find two mallets, break the pot above the entrance last.
If you find three mallets, break the pot in the center of the room last.


The game doesn't change for Stage 2 either. Break the marked pots first then use the guide to avoid the God of Poverty and collect the goodies.

If you find no mallets, break the pot in the lower right corner last.
If you find one mallet, break the pot right below the marked pot on the left side of the room last.
If you find two mallets, break the pot in the center of the room last.
If you find three mallets, break the pot in the upper left corner last.

And once you break that last Treasure Pot one of the items we talked about earlier will appear. Now during my run of the game I never picked up the Credit Card and if you play well you should never need for Pit to put anything on Layaway. Getting another Bottle of Water or Angel Feather for your troubles is nothing to sneer at but you'll want to try to get the Barrel early. Your first Treasure Room is in 1-1 so if you make it to the Treasure Room and don't get the Barrel or Credit Card if you're looking to Rent-To-Own it is that you may want to reset the game and try again until you do. The Barrel is that important to Pit's quest to have it ASAP and you won't regret the choice either. And with me getting off topic a bit about shops and such there's one more important thing you should know.

In Friendly & Fortress Shops you can actually haggle store prices. It's more technically scaring the shopkeeper to lower the prices because of how it works. You do this by pressing A+B on Controller 2 while in a shop. And with a Yin & Yang concept going here is that successfully haggling prices is determined by Pit's current Strength Level. It works just like this. Whatever stage you're on your strength level needs to be +1 that. So for example if you're in Level 2 then you need a Strength Level of 3 or higher to punk out the shopkeeper. The Black Marketeer doesn't play that and any attempt at such tomfoolery will get you nowhere. You might be wondering how deep is that discount. I got you there too.

The Water of Life (Chalice 100 & Bottle 270)
Mallet (10)
Feather (150)
Pencil (100)
Torch (70)

If however you try to haggle and you're Strength Level isn't what it should be is the shopkeeper will proceed to tell you "He's The Juggernaut, Bitch!!!" (Does not actually say this!) and raise the prices on you!

The Water of Life (Chalice 400 & Bottle 760)
Mallet (50)
Feather (630)
Pencil (250)
Torch (200)

Know that if you aren't successful in haggling is that while the prices change over you can get them for what they normally cost if you're quick about it. Figured I'd let you know that as well. And now that I've explained all this maybe we can talk about actually playing the game now.

Kid Icarus' battles are fought on 3 fronts. Vertically Scrolling (Stages 1 & 3), Horizontal Scrolling (Stages 2 & 4 is a forced scroll.) & the Fortress Stages (every 4th Level).

All of the non Fortress Stages & Stage 4 are all about the platforming. We talked about earlier about all the helpful items Pit can acquire for his adventure and now's the time to use them. Just be sure to be careful in how you approach the platforming the game offers. Simply pausing the game when you aren't sure of how to get to the next one will do you a lot better than dying and having to start over again. Also know that there are no boundaries on either the left of right of the screen in Vertical Scrolling sections so be sure to keep that in mind as well. And I just happen to have maps for all of those as well.

Stage 1-1

Stage 1-2

Stage 1-3

Stage 2-1

Stage 2-2

Stage 2-3

Stage 3-1

Stage 3-2

Stage 3-3

Having these maps when you play are great for knowing when & where the chambers are so you can plan your route and strategy accordingly. Just a small note. Any empty chambers you see are actually Sacred God Chambers. Keep this in mind for strategy as well. What about those Fortress Stages? What about them.

Know that Fortress Stages are a different beast entirely and there are things that need to be understood as you make your way through them. The game is always going to force you to go the longest & most treacherous route to find the boss. Always. And just to remind you is that having a map handy and planning your route before hand is very key to for making it to your destination and taking care of the business at hand. So much so that I'm going to present those links to those fortress maps again. It's that serious!

Level 1's Fortress

Level 2's Fortress

Level 3's Fortress

When you make it to a Fortress Stage your first move is to pause the game and bring up one of these maps and make sure to become intimate with where things are. You'll want to plan your route to the boss lair first so you know exactly where you're going. Knowing where the shops are along the route just in case you need a Chalice or Bottle of Water will be helpful to you. Also knowing where Hot Springs & Hospitals are because being healthy is always awesome and that Eggplant Wizards are the fucking devil is important to know as well. The Eggplant Curse sucks and not being able to defend yourself is never a good look. The best way to deal with them is take advantage of Pit's long invincibility time to make it past them. Taking a hit to make it past them is a small price to pay for having to go completely out of your way to find a Hospital to cure that curse! You can try to stand up to them but I wouldn't suggest this unless you strength is L4 or 5 and you don't see a way to take the hit safely and even then it's suggested to just take it anyway to not have to deal with the consequences of being cursed. Also if you feel you need the help of the Centurions to defeat the boss and have the mallets available then free as many as you can. I really didn't need them during my run but I freed a couple anyway and I will admit they do speed up boss encounters so they have that going for them as well.

To be honest I'd give you a lot more but all of the above should be more than enough to equalize Kid Icarus' playing field and still get the full enjoyment of a classic NES title. You know I'm never down with taking away the experience but I'm all for making said experience more efficient for me and you!

I have to say that this is the most informative and in-depth GBL I've done and I'm damn proud of it and Kid Icarus deserves that much! Before we part ways for now is I'd like to thank and credit those responsible for some of the information found here.

Gunpei Yokoi, Hip Tanaka & everybody at Nintendo R&D1. These folks are responsible for this masterpiece I've talked at much length about. From tip to tail this game is something special and I'm glad I know now and so much better for this experience!

Ultimortal & Disch Wersher for the awesome information I was able to gather from Ultimortal's FAQ about Kid Icarus. It was very helpful for not only my playthrough but for making this GBL as awesome as can be. There are some additional things there I didn't touch on so if this GBL isn't enough then feel free to look at the FAQ HERE!

Rick N. Bruns & all the great folks at NESMaps.com. His maps are the ones linked to in this GBL and were just as helpful for planning my route through the game. NESMaps.com is an awesome resource all its own. I even used it to plan the Super Mario Bros. 2 #RunDatReXXX run which we'll be finishing up soon. So be sure to take advantage of the resource like I have!

The things that can come from watching 2 dudes on YouTube rage quitting a video game is a special thing.

As usual, Thank You for spending some time with me and I truly hope your quest to save Angel Land is as awesome as mine was and the continued quests I'm sure to have. Until next we meet!

-Triple Da G.O.D!

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