There was a hierarchy among the games of the Nintendo Entertainment System, a hierarchy which was clearly represented by the game cartridges. In the very beginning, the rank and file game had gray cartridges with black labels (this would soon change, of course, as third party publishers put out games cartridges and labels in many different colors and styles, but all games published by Nintendo originally followed this pattern). There was one game, though, whose cartridge and label were gold; this was The Legend Of Zelda, and as indicated by this gold cartridge and label, this game was the very top of the Nintendo library. And then there were two games whose cartridges were gray but whose labels were silver; these games were Metroid and Kid Icarus, and as indicated by these silver labels, they were just a bit below Zelda yet far above the rest.
Now Metroid would become one of Nintendo’s franchise hits; several sequels on several consoles followed the original. Oddly enough, though, Kid Icarus would not; it had one sequel (Kid Icarus: Of Myths And Monsters on Game Boy) and then faded away into relative obscurity. Sure, Pit, the midget angel archer who was the game‘s main character, would be featured on the Captain N cartoon and in Tetris, but neither he nor his game would reach the heights of Samus and Metroid or Link and Zelda or Mario and Mario Bros.
And that’s really too bad because Kid Icarus was really a good game. Not a great game, perhaps; it had several flaws. For example, you could not backtrack as you could in Metroid and so you could not make very good use of the store feature; you had to hope you had enough money to buy what you needed when you stepped into a shop because you would not be able to step in again. And it was very difficult to recover health; killed enemies would not leave health behind as they would in Metroid and Zelda, and the “wine glasses” and “hot springs” that restored were few and far between. But it was still a very good game. The basic idea was great; an exiled angel fights through hell to save heaven. Pit’s weapon was pretty good; the bow and arrow weren’t the equal of Samus’ hand beam, but it had some good power-ups, such as fire. The castles at the end of each major section were excellent; they took a lot of back and forth exploring. The Greek soldiers who would come to your aid in the boss fights were helpful. And the Eggplant Wizards? Well, I think it’s safe to say there’s nothing like them in any other Nintendo game.
Now I hear that a new Kid Icarus game will soon be released for a new Nintendo system. I probably won’t play it as it will be too modern for me (I usually don’t own or play any console until it is at least five years old). But I still play the original from time to time. I still like it. I still think it is worthy of that silver label and that special status in the Nintendo library.