At the risk of turning 8-Bit Mondays into ‘Hip Tanaka Days’, I’ve got another classic tune by the master of the 2A03. It’s hard to not pick a Tanaka piece actually, considering how many good songs he composed for the NES and Gameboy. Of course, there’s a lot more than 50 games he made, so the entire 8-Bit Monday series won’t become the ‘Hip Tanaka Series’! Anyway, today’s piece is from Kid Icarus, the sister game to Metroid that was released in 1986. Kid Icarus wasn’t really that memorable – except for the fact it was incredibly brutal. It breaks the sidescrolling pattern in many ways by being primarily an upward-scrolling game where falling off the screen will result in immediate death – and falling (or dying from enemy combat) was incredibly easy to do. Each level stage is also marked off with a Zelda-like temple stage. I think the game simply took too many different play mechanics and tried to combine them in such a way that the game lost its focus – is this a sidescroller or an exploration game? As such, Kid Icarus has kind of become one of those quirky titles that got lost to history, only to be revived once again, like in Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008). In any event, the soundtrack found its way onto the Famicom 20th Anniversary Original Sound Tracks Vol. 1 (2004) along with about a dozen other NES games (they used 99 tracks – the max a CD will take!).
The “Stage 1” theme is probably the piece I remember most. This level was so difficult because you started off with absolutely nothing and had to fight your way through hordes of difficult enemies with really poor equipment. It was easy to get hit and lose energy. Items were so expensive and you had to kill many enemies to get enough money to buy them. You also had to survive Zeus’s trials, which were basically avoiding tiles flying at you from every direction. To top this all off, you couldn’t fall off the screen or you’d die (quite easy to do) and you were also timed to reach the top!
Anyway, “Stage 1” to me perfectly illustrates how this game was so mismatched. It’s got this great drumbeat with a pompously confident march – how could you possibly NOT fail? Read the rest of this entry ?