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Kid Icarus - Angry Video Game Nerd (AVGN)

(The Nerd is dressed in a Kid Icarus-like costume.)

The Nerd: Of all the classic myths of ancient Greece, which would you say is the most remarkable? Would it be the story of Prometheus? The Titan War? The Trojan War? The Quest for the Golden Fleece? The Rescue of Andromeda? All would be very fine choices, as would be any of the Legendary Heroes: Achilles, Hercules, Perseus, Odysseus. But there is perhaps one that stands out from the rest. It doesn't come from the writings of Plato, Homer, or Sophocles, but from Nintendo in the year 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) A.D. Not written with ink on papyrus, but as ROM data on a circuit board. Not sculpted in marble, but encased in a gray plastic cartridge. The tale in which I speak of is none other than Kid Icarus.

The Nerd: I'm gonna take you back. No, I mean way back to the early days of the NES library. Think of it like the family tree of the Greek gods. There was the era of the Primordials, followed by the Titans and then the Olympians. The NES itself had its own Primordial age, the black box games as we called them, because they all had that same uniform box art, with those distinct pixelated characters that looked just like their in-game counterparts. These games were simpler to play. They were more arcade-style. some of them being actual arcade ports, like Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Kung Fu, and Popeye. Of course, I can't forget Gyromite, since that game required a Robotic Operating Buddy. But let's not dwell on that again. But without a doubt, the most prolific game of that launch was Super Mario Bros., which would change the course of gaming history.

The Nerd: So let's get into the next era of the NES library, which would be the equivalent of the Titans. This is when the true legends were born and I do mean "Legend." Of course, all those games were previously released on the console's Japanese counterpart, the Famicom, but for the sake of this story, we're talkin' specifically the North American NES releases, because it was in the summer of '87, when the Nintendo Gods descended before us. They came in swiftly like a summer thunderstorm, the sky filled with smoldering clouds, churning, brewing in an electric tempest of gaming genius. And then the clouds opened up, and the golden rays of Heaven shined upon us, and out from the rays floating down, came three games! Zelda, Rejoice! Metroid, Hallelujah! Kid Icarus... (fart sound)

The Nerd: Well, how would I describe that one? Well, I think the best way to sum it up, would be, with a very famous quote from the great mathematician-astronomer-inventor, Archimedes. In his most famous publication, as he so wisely put it, in those Immortal words, "Fuck it." Yes, in this context, Kid Icarus had a lot to live up to. Is it remembered as an NES classic? Sure, it is. But comparably, it was the ugly duckling. Another way I can describe it is, if the Nintendo Summer of '87 was a hard rock metal festival, and you had all these amazing bands perform like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Guns N' Roses, but the headliner was, uh, Nickelback. (fart sound)

The Nerd: And just think, after we first popped in Legend of Zelda, and first took control of the elf-like hero Zelda... Oh wait, that's Link. And then we fired up Metroid, playing as the armored suit space warrior, Metroid. Oh wait, that's Samus. Don't kid yourself. If you're as old as me, be honest. Did you know right away? Didn't you skip those opening prologues and ignore the manuals, before you eventually found out the real names? So with Kid Icarus, the character's name... must be Icarus. It's the title of the fucking game. Well, guess what? It's Pit. Yeah. Well, why wasn't the game called Kid Pit? I guess it has sort of a shitty ring to it. Would make a great movie. Kid Pit, starring Brad Pitt. Well, the original Japanese title translates to Light Myth: Palotena's Mirror, but for whatever reason, they changed it to Kid Icarus. What's the big idea confusing us like that? Those motherfuckers. But not like Oedipus. That guy was the original motherfucker.

The Nerd: Anyway, the name Icarus comes from the story of King Minos, who built a labyrinth and put a monster in it, called the Minotaur. The idea of labyrinths with monsters has probably influenced more video games than we can even begin to count. Anyway, to build the labyrinth, Minos used an architect by the name of Daedalus, like the Neo Geo Daedalus, which converts your arcade MVS Neo Geo cartridges to play on your AES Neo Geo console. The son of Daedalus was named Icarus, who he crafted a pair of wings for to escape his very own labyrinth that Minos imprisoned them in. The fate of Icarus was rather tragic, as he flew too high to the sun, melted his wings, and fell into the sea. With highs and lows, it's very similar to the fate of this game. It sits on a high pedestal along with all the other highly appraised NES antiques. But has it aged like fine wine, or has it spoiled into vinegar? Let's uncork this bastard and find out.

(The Nerd reaches over and insert the game into the console, albeit off-screen.)

The Nerd: So the nature of this game is simple. It's a 2D action platformer, where you go around shooting enemies while collecting power-ups. Not much to explain. It has only four stages, though it's so difficult and grueling it feels more like 50. You're underpowered with a short-range arrow attack. Yeah, Pit sucks. But at least he's not like the hunter, Orion.

The Nerd: In the classical Greek myth, did you know how Orion was birthed? Do you wanna know? Well... okay, Zeus... Hermes... and Poseidon... urinate onto a bull's hide. They bury it, and out from it spawns Orion. Imagine if your ENTIRE EXISTENCE... came from getting PISSED ON! Not just being pissed on but pissed on by a GOD!  NOT just by a God, but by THREE GODS! That'd be the most epic golden shower ever! Wow, holy shit! More like HOLY PISS!

The Nerd: Anyway, back to the game. So the first stage is vertical... You know, I'm sorry. I gotta ask, did the three Gods piss on the bull hide at the same time, like a big Olympian Circle piss party? Okay, back to the game.

(The Nerd sits and thinks.)

The Nerd: No. Boy, you don't even want to know about the Egyptian myths.

(The Nerd tries to hold it in, but can't help himself. He pauses the game.)

The Nerd: Okay. So, Horus and Set are in competition to claim the Throne of Egypt. Set cums on Horus' hands, and then Horus cums on Set's lettuce, which he eats, and then the God Thoth tries to settle it and asks who came on who, and, uh, the seed of Horus actually answers. With words! The crazy thing is, I'm not making this up. The ancient Egyptians did. Yeah, man, you- you thought going all the way back those stories would be more intellectual than what we have nowadays? No! Those gods were pissin' and cummin' on each other all the time! Three thousand years later, Mike Judge creates Beavis and Butt-Head. Nothing's changed. Anyway, uh, let's start over. So, there's this game on NES called Kid Icarus. (smiles)

The Nerd: In this game, you fight enemies while collecting power-ups. Yeah. Your health power-ups are... get this... wine. That's awesome. That's the best idea of a power-up I ever heard. It's a game... made by Nintendo, with kids in mind, where... in order to get your health up, you must consume an alcoholic beverage. And a LOT of it!

(The Nerd drinks wine.)

The Nerd: Man, he drinks a lot of wine, and he graduates to barrels. Full fuckin' wine barrels! I mean, just to get his health up, he's got to get shit-faced, and dude, wine drunk is the worst. I mean, his teeth are like, reddish purple, he's staggering around!  It's just... (tries to drink) why isn't this coming out? Oh, I forgot to take the bung out the bunghole. That's what it's called, not a joke. That's what it's called.

(The Nerd drinks out of the barrel.)

The Nerd: And whenever you see wine, you better get it. You think you could go in that door, and then come back, and it'll still be there? (laughs) Of course it isn't! Where's my fuckin' wine? Don't TAKE my FUCKIN' WINE away!

The Nerd: So, if the wine is health, what are the hearts? Well even though they look exactly the same as the hearts in Zelda, their currency. Well thanks again for confusing us, Nintendo! You take those hearts and go into the store. But the store doesn't always have the item you want. So to get the item to appear, you gotta leave the store and then come back in... leave the store... come back in... leave the store... come back in... leave the store... come back in... Do it again... and again... and again... and again!

The Nerd: Oh, and you see the item you want, don't buy it just yet, because there's a special sale going on. To take advantage of this special sale, you must pick up the second controller and push A and B. How would you know to do that? I know what you're thinking magazines right? Nintendo Power! Find the clues that you can use! Nintendo Power! No, no, this was before Nintendo Power. Yeah, the power wasn't turned on yet. It was the dark ages. So what did you do before the internet and before Nintendo Power? Well, the answer is you didn't do shit!

The Nerd: If there's a strategy guide for this game, it would be only one page and say good fucking luck! I mean look at this shit! The first stage is vertical and if you fall back, you're dead! What killed me? The airspace I just occupied two seconds ago. Oh man, not again! And when you die, take a guess what happens, it sends you back to the beginning of the stage. Stayin' alive is only the first issue besides being a Bee Gees' song, I'm funny. Next, the game becomes a where-the-fuck-do-you-go type of game. Yeah, W-T-F-D-Y-G, one of those. Oh geez, I just barely missed that ledge. Now how the hell I get back there? I don't know.

The Nerd: You gotta get the map, it's essential. It basically looks like a waffle. No really, it is a waffle. Yeah, pour some syrup on that shit. Oh, but guess what? The map does nothing! In Zelda, you know, that other Nintendo-made game that came out around that same time, wasn't there a little dot to mark where you are on the map? Here, there's nothing of the sort. That-that means... it's a waffle. Did you ever have a waffle that had a dot on it, telling you where to go? No, pretty useless I'd say to rely on a waffle while fighting monsters and navigating through labyrinths.

The Nerd: Okay, really now. It is the map. It's not lying, but you need to buy a pencil to mark your spot. A pencil! The character needs a pencil to mark the spot! He's in the middle of fighting monsters and he has to stop and write shit down! Oh look, I finally get to use something for my fashionable pouch right here. So he's like- Oh wait, hang on just a minute! I gotta write that! Oh, and meanwhile he's like chugging just massive barrels full of wine and he's got his his sword and his shield and all that shit! and he's got his his bow and arrow right here- (The Nerd shoots the arrow on the screen.) Oh shit! And then-then he's got like fuckin' torches and all that, AND WHY IS THAT TORCH MAKE NOISE? WHY IS THIS TORCH HAVE TO MAKE NOISE???

The Nerd: But here's the deal, we accept it. It's made up video game shit. How does Link carry all that stuff? Doesn't matter. It's the kind of thing you're not meant to think about. BUT YOU KIND OF DREW MY ATTENTION TO IT THERE! Not to mention, it's a pencil in ancient Greece!

(The Nerd throws the pencil away.)

The Nerd: But what'd you expect? He's writing with a pencil, with toxic green LED! Let's talk about the enemies. It's definitely a far cry from the monsters of Greek mythology. Actually, I think, wasn't it the twelve labors of Hercules when he faced off against a bunch of flying Groucho Marx, noses and glasses and... Goombas? They're Goombas! Did Nintendo rip off... Nintendo? Metroids? Um, definitely. It's beyond question. These... are Metroids. Maybe the games named after them, maybe they're called Kid Icarus'. There's also the Syren's, which are naked as hell if you look in the manual. Imagine being five years old and seeing that. It's a Nintendo manual, with tits!

The Nerd: But the enemy you don't want to run into is the Eggplant Wizard. This guy was actually one of the villains on the show Captain N. So what happens here, he turns you into an eggplant. This isn't the only game to have eggplants, they also appear in Adventure Island and likewise, you don't want them. I don't know what it is with eggplants and NES games, but I hear that eggplants have sort of come back into fashion again recently, I don't know why. I'll have to look into that, or not.

The Nerd: So now that you're an eggplant, you can't attack and can't do much of anything. What do you expect? You're an eggplant, you're lucky to walk. So now you just gotta avoid everything. It's like, "Hey, out of my way! Fucking eggplant, coming through." You gotta get to the hospital. Yeah, there's an actual hospital room where they cure you of your eggplant status. Can you imagine walking into the ER and being like, "Hey, uh, I'm an eggplant. Okay, here's some paperwork. Sit over there."

The Nerd: The only thing I hate worse than the Eggplant Wizards are the Bumblebees or whatever they are. Look at this asshole! He just took my protection barrier away. I worked hard for that! I had to buy the wand, and those things cost 700 hearts, and that brings me to another point. The most annoying taxing and draining thing in the whole damn game is getting enough hearts to increase your health limit. You have to pick a spot and just kill enemies over and over. In fact, you better do it on level one because if you don't, your health meter will be so minuscule, you won't last on the later stages. I'm not messing around, I'm saying you better get 999 Hearts before even thinking about moving forward. It's mandatory, and is that fun? Is that what you want to do? Nowadays, they call this farming. I wonder who came up with that one? Farming?

(Cut to a commercial of Nerd Farms, being dressed as a farmer Nerd.)

Announcer: On Nerd Farms, we take pride in growing weapons and health items for your gaming needs. We work with the most fertile ground where purple snakes respawn, delivering fresh-tier characters inventory and health meter. Whether it be slices of pizza for your Reptilian green friends, or boomerangs for your purple bat-suited hero. We raise the finest free-range Turkey legs for your vampire whipping adventures. We're proud of the quality of our purple-glowing orbs to keep you charged during those alien planet excursions. Direct from the land, we make our own blue shimmering capsules, for your robot blasting excapades. This ain't just power-ups, this is family. Nerd Farms. Now that's what you call a Seal of Quality.

(Cut back to the Nerd)

The Nerd: Another term I hear a lot is grinding, you're not getting a skip for that one.

The Nerd: A few other random things, the password system goes by the term "SACRED WORDS". Never seen that one before, but I sure have some "SACRED WORDS" to say about this game! The bonus rooms have some weird rules. When you shoot the barrels and reveal the items, you can't touch the item or else it sends you out of the room. And if you expose the bad guy, called the God of Poverty in the manual, then same thing, you don't get any items. You get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir! So basically you gotta cash out before you find that guy, kind of like a Press Your Luck round.

(Cut to the Press Your Luck big board, showing the Nerd behind the screen.)

The Nerd: Big bucks! Big bucks! No God of Poverty! (STOP!) AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!

The Nerd: Along the way, you spend a lot of time freeing soldiers or centurions as they're called in the manual. They've been turned to stone by Medusa but after you've collected them, they fly around and help you out. So, of course I had to get all those guys, then I get to this purple dragon which looks as if the "Game Over Worm" from 3D World Runner and Barba from Zelda II got together and.... um... Well, that's quite an image. Anyway, no fear! The centurions are gonna help me! (The game pauses) Well that was a waste of time.

The Nerd: By the way, I should have known, that red stuff on the bottom is lava. It confused me because it looked just like the Hot Springs that heal you, or whatever that is. Maybe it's Tang. Yeah, remember Tang? After going through the final stage, which becomes a horizontal shooter, you come to the last boss which looks like something Matt Groening would create. After you shoot out the eye, Medusa appears. And after she's finished, the game is over. You rescue the princess, she thanks you, and depending how well you did, Icarus gradually becomes more muscular. Sort of like in Metroid where Samus wears less clothes. And then it says: "Medusa was destroyed and the light of peace returned to Angel Land. But in order to maintain peace, Pit's struggle... continues?" Oh, no! There's a second loop? Well, I'm not playing that shit again! Kid Icarus, more like KID DICKARUS! I'd rather have a cyclops take a big cycloptic shit all over my head, while Medusa freezes me in the stone preserving the moment for all eternity! But it is a classic game in its own way. It's great, but it fucking sucks.

The Nerd: If all the ancient video game heroes had constellations, I would say Icarus or Pit deserves a spot. Oddly, with all the Greek constellations, there never was an Icarus. It was only in 2018 when a distant star was discovered and named Icarus. At 14 billion light years away, it's speculated that it took so long for the light to reach Earth that the Star has likely burned out by now. So to see it would literally be to look back into the past. And that sums up this game's legacy. It shined bright in it's glory days and you can still relive those days through nostalgic memory. I induct this game into The Cosmic Nerd Hall of Fame. So next time you look up to the night sky, think of Icarus.

(The Nerd aims to target the bow and arrow over the Kid Icarus game cartridge, then he shoots over the night sky, making it to become a constellation of an 8-bit Pit character. Alongside with the other constellations, a Mushroom from Super Mario Bros., a Larva from Metroid, and a Triforce from The Legend of Zelda. Finally, the Nerd gives us a salute as we fade to black.)