Virtually Overlooked: Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters

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Virtually Overlooked: Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters
IGN's Matt Casamassina couldn't stop hinting at a new Kid Icarus game before this year's E3. Even after Nintendo's presentation came and went, Kid Icarus-free, the rumors and Casamassina's insistence had us convinced that Nintendo was just going to spring it on us at any moment; an announcement would come over the loudspeaker on the show floor or something.

In the absence of a new Wii Kid Icarus sequel, I'd be happy to play the other Kid Icarus sequel, Of Myths and Monsters, released on the Game Boy in 1991. As a bonus, it's guaranteed not to be a terrible 3D reimagining.
Kid Icarus was a natural for the Game Boy. The original shared a game engine and multi-scrolling gameplay style with Metroid -- as does Of Myths and Monsters, built on the same technology as Metroid II. The reason that both of these games appear on the Game Boy is likely Gunpei Yokoi, who produced both series -- and, of course, invented the Game Boy.

Of Myths and Monsters even advances significantly beyond its predecessor. The forced scrolling from the original gave way to free scrolling, turning the game into more of a Metroidvania -- which makes sense, considering that it's pretty much part Metroid.

Pit has learned to use hammers for more than just freeing Centurions. He can use them out in the world as well, to smash walls and barriers. He still has yet to figure out how to use a hammer twice, unfortunately. Pit can even use his wings, once reserved for very special occasions, to slow his fall during jumps.

Despite the new additions, what makes Of Myths And Monsters automatically better than the fictitious Wii sequel is that it remains unquestionably Kid Icarus, the same weird game about shooting snakes falling out of inverted clay pots. You still enter a room not knowing if you're going to enter a shop or a room full of flying enemies. Unless you think the game is ruined because the distinctive Specknose enemies have been swapped out for boring, stupid bats -- and I could see a case being made for that.

But would a new Wii game, made by a Western studio for 2009 audiences, dare to have the same freaky, light-hearted spirit that made a game about a winged boy being turned into an eggplant so great? If Pit's super-serious, boring Smash Bros. makeover is any indication, no.

I don't need to tell you why this will probably never happen. One look at that beautiful grey-on-pea-green screen is all it takes to know that this is a Game Boy game, and doomed to obscurity with the now completely deprecated Game Boy brand. I'm not sure if Nintendo will ever offer Game Boy downloads through the Virtual Console, or even through the new DSi store, where it would totally make sense. Not that Nintendo would ever get around to putting this up on the VC even if they did offer Game Boy games: since Nintendo of Japan drives any kind of progress on the VC, and this never appeared in Japan, it's likely to be exiled forever.
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