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Time Machine: Kid Icarus

A large helping of angel delight...

He loves a bit of destiny, does our Kid. When Medusa invaded Angel Land in 1987's Kid Icarus it was Pit's destiny to reclaim his territory one arrowed demon at a time.

Now, in 2010, he's destined to take flight on 3DS. And it's no mere coincidence: Pit was created under the watchful eye of Gunpei Yokoi, the man who famously tried, and failed, to take portable gaming into 3D realms with the Virtual Boy in 1995.

The fact that Pit should headline the 3DS stage at E3 isn't canny commercial strategy - it's fate. But just who is the winged sprog with the weight of a handheld on his shoulders?

Kid Icarus' creation story shares more than a little DNA with its Grecian namesake. According to the Icarus myth, Daedalus, a famed designer, fell out with the king and was imprisoned with his son, Icarus.

Many years later, in the mid-1980s, Nintendo's R&D1 development team, under Gunpei Yokoi, was getting trounced by Miyamoto's R&D4 - flying high thanks to Super Mario Bros. Daedalus eeded an escape plan and R&D1 needed a hit.

He opted for wax wings, they picked a joint action project: two games sharing dev teams and tech to ease the burden.

IT TAKES TWO
Yoshio Sakamoto created one of these games, a sci-fi adventure about a certain intergalactic bounty hunter with a penchant for door-melting.

Satoru Okada1 directed the other, an intriguing blend of Greek myth, Christian angels and controller-contorting difficulty. Although Metroid and Kid Icarus were released months apart in 1986, similarities betrayed a shared gestation period.

Pit's vertical climbs clearly came from the same architect as Zebes' platforming shafts. And how about the bit where Pit, er, fights a Metroid? Call them Komaytos if you want, but we'd recognise those sprites anywhere.

Both boast multiple endings. Admittedly, Kid Icarus' range of unlockable hats hardly rivals Metroid's underwear reveal, but the journey is rewarding. Alternative endings are unlocked by finding all of Pit's hidden inventory items.

It's not an easy game to begin with, so maximising every power is a true badge of NES honour. Thank Zeus for the password system. It got us through, even if we were forced to scribble cumbersome 24-digit codes on every inch of our bedroom until it resembled a serial killer's lair.

For all its technical ambition, Kid Icarus is something of an enigma in the annals of Ninty history. Radically blending Mario's platforming with Samus' shooting and Link's kit upgrades, this unique Nintendo megamix goes largely unmentioned in the history books.

Or rather, largely unexplained. Okada aside, little is known about the development team. In a company where characters and creators go hand-in-hand, Pit is an orphan. At least we'll never forget his jaunty theme.

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