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Video Game / Kid Icarus

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"Will Pit be able to restore Palutena's light and return it to Angel Land?
Only you can answer that question."
Digital instruction manual for 3D Classics: Kid Icarus

A series of platformer/shooter games made by Nintendo, known by the title Hikari Shinwa: Parutena no Kagaminote  in Japanese. Largely influenced by Classical mythology, the series follow the exploits of the erstwhile angel Pit, the leader of the light goddess Palutena's army, as he works to protect Skyworld and Angel Land as a whole from dark forces.

The original 1986 NES/Famicom game was developed by Gunpei Yokoi's Nintendo R&D1 division, using the same game engine as Metroid. note  This installment sees Medusa, Goddess of Darkness, invade Skyworld out of revenge for Palutena banishing her to the Underworld. Trapped in her palace, and with most of her army turned to stone and imprisoned in the depths of the Underworld themselves, Palutena uses the last of her power to gift a captured Pit a bow and arrow that he uses to escape from the Underworld, gather up the three sacred relics that Medusa stole in her attack, and defeat the fallen goddess and her legion.

It was followed by Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters, a 1991 sequel for the Game Boy. After a nightmare that Palutena has proves to actually be a premonition of an invading demon army, this time led by Orcos, she commands Pit to train himself to use the sacred relics once more to defeat them. Interestingly, this title wouldn't see release in Japan until 2012, only being available to North American and European audiences.

Despite Pit being one of the main characters in the 1980s animated series Captain N: The Game Master, Kid Icarus would spend the next seventeen years as little more than a Cult Classic within Nintendo's NES library known primarily for its high difficulty. The character wouldn't make a reappearance until 2008's Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where he was a playable fighter and received a radical makeover to match. The renewed popularity of the character, and a request from Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata to create a Nintendo 3DS launch title, resulted in Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai using his version of the character as a basis for a brand-new entry in the series: Kid Icarus: Uprising, released in 2012, reimagined the series as a Third-Person Shooter, giving Pit a large and varied arsenal of weapons to use as he aims not only to defeat a revived Medusa, but also her master Hades.

Tropes that apply to the series as a whole (Please put all tropes specific to the individual games on their appropriate pages):

  • The Anime of the Game: Three shorts based on the series were released to promote Uprising. While two of them mostly served as Uprising side stories, one of them (Medusa's Revenge) is a prequel to the first game, fleshing out Medusa's transformation into a monster at Palutena's hands.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Underworld monsters. Only one's been introduced, but presumably those who dwell in the Evil land too.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • The sticky talons wear sunglasses.
    • You can acquire a credit card.note 
  • And I Must Scream: Collin, an enemy in the games, is a soldier of Palutena that had his body taken over by Medusa, and monsters pop out of his body!
  • Art Evolution: The franchise's characters and aesthetics were redesigned in a more realistic, anime-like style when Sakurai brought them back for Brawl (which continued into Uprising). Unlike The Legend of Zelda, Kid Icarus was stagnant and largely unknown for almost 20 years; Pit's Brawl redesign was based on the premise of evolving over the years in the same manner as Link, but the contrast is much more noticeable due to Link still having gone through Art Evolution himself while Kid Icarus was dormant.
  • Artifact of Hope: The Arrow of Light, the Mirror Shield, and the Wings of Pegasus, known collectively as the Three Sacred Treasures, are a set of weapons and armor under the possession of Palutena before they were stolen by Medusa's army and protected by Twinbellows, Hewdraw, and Pandora. After Pit regains them, he then uses it to fight and defeat Medusa.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Mostly played straight. The benevolent Palutena fits this trope like a glove, being a beautiful goddess. While Medusa is just as beautiful at first, Palutena turns her into a monster for her evil deeds, further enforcing this trope.
  • Big Bad: Medusa in the first game and Orcos in the second. Uprising brings back Medusa as the Big Bad Wannabe, with Hades as the primary threat.
  • Big Good: Palutena, in all three games. She's the Goddess of Light and ruler of Skyworld; in Uprising, she actually lives up to this trope and assists Pit throughout his quest.
  • Body Horror:
    • Getting turned into an ambulatory eggplant? Oh, that's creepy. Particularly if you can't get to the hospital.
    • Medusa was turned into a monster by Palutena.
  • Cain and Abel: Palutena and Medusa have this type of relationship. It's not hard to guess which one is the evil one. It's subverted in that Palutena did not kill her herself, she only turned her into a monster and banished her. The angel Pit finished the job.
  • The Cameo: Pit has been making cameos for several games in his 8-bit form.
  • Covers Always Lie: Despite the manual artwork of Medusa as an overweight woman, she is actually a Gorgeous Gorgon version of Medusa cursed into a hideous cyclops head.
  • Dark Is Evil: The residents of the Underworld including Hades are Always Chaotic Evil, and Medusa is the Goddess of Darkness.
  • Death Throws: In both Kid Icarus and Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters will have Pit fall off of the screen when you die.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Throughout the series, Pit defeats all manner of powerful gods and Eldritch Abominations.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The pre-Sakurai era can seem rather bizarre to people who got acquainted with Pit through Smash and Uprising. Character designs were very simplistic and cartoonish (mostly apparent in-game with Pit's sprite), Pit could only fight with his bow (which he couldn't even split into two swords like in Brawl), and he had to go to hospitals to be transformed back from an eggplantnote .
  • Enemy Summoner: The Grim Reaper enemies are very hated for it.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: Palutena, which is more apparent with her redesign.
  • Fantasy Pantheon: Has a mix between this and Greek/Roman gods.
  • Fictional Disability: Pit has the classic "flying being that cannot fly" disability for some unexplained reason. All Palutena says is "his wings don't work right". It's quite the sore spot for him. In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Palutena can grant Pit the Power of Flight to guide him places as if he were flying, but not for more than five minutes at a time, or else Pit's wings will come aflame. By contrast, his Evil Knockoff Dark Pit gained limitless flight under his own power by slaying Pandora and plundering her powers until he travelled to the Rewind Spring, where Pandora revived herself from said powers.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: While it's probably not actually supposed to be heaven, Skyworld certainly looks the part.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • Not an animal, but Pit can be turned into a eggplant in all three of the games (though in Kid Icarus: Uprising it wears off without the need for a hospital). In the bad ending he is turned into a Specknose.
    • In the first game and as seen in Medusa's Revenge, Medusa was turned into a hideous monster by Palutena as punishment for her evil deeds.
    • There is also the harp item which turns enemies into hammers. They will change back if you don't grab them quickly enough.
  • God of Evil: Medusa. Before humanity appeared she was just the goddess of darkness, after that she dedicated her life to ruining theirs.
  • God of Good: Palutena becomes this specifically because Medusa becomes evil.
  • Gold and White Are Divine: Palutena, further cementing her status as the Goddess of Light.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Palutena seems to like to turn people into monsters as punishment. She also gives the sacred treasures to monsters in the Game Boy game, because she knows they will fight Pit when he tries to reclaim them. This side of her personality would be emphasized more in later games, where she became an outright Troll despite her status as the radiant Goddess of Light.
  • The Goomba: Shemums serve this role throughout the series, being the most common enemy and able to be taken out with a single arrow in the 2D games.
  • Gorgeous Gorgon: Medusa was originally as beautiful as Palutena, but Palutena turned her into a hideous Gorgon. However, it looks like her spell is wearing off somewhat. It's implied the form seen at the end of the original Kid Icarus was actually her goddess form, as it resembles Palutena's sprite.
  • Heaven Above: The angelic protagonist of the games serves the very literal Skyworld and its benevolent goddess, Palutena. The realm is overflowing with clouds, brave soldiers with wings, and glowing white temples dedicated to Palutena. In case you forget where the good guys work after all that, every level in Uprising ends with the protagonist being surrounded by Rays from Heaven and flying straight up towards the realm of Palutena.
  • Heavenly Concentric Circles:
    • Lady Palutena, the Big Good, rules the Skyworld as the Goddess of Light. Her redesign brings a downplayed example of this trope. From her asymmetrical belt hang several golden accessories, one of them consisting of a small circle surrounded by two increasingly bigger rings. They aren't exactly concentric but skewed to the top. Her white, glowing halo is designed this way too, being a filled circle encased by a ring. In general, Palutena has round figures as her geometric motif.
    • Kid Icarus: Uprising: Official artwork of the Skyworld depicts it as a vast mass of clouds. Some of them shape strange structures —i.e., concentric arcs towering over a platform of clouds.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted: Pit wears a helmet in the last level of the first game, even though it wasn't one of the mentioned treasures he collected. The Silver Armor comes with a helmet in Of Myths And Monsters. In Uprising and for his Final Smash in the fourth Smash Bros., Pit wears a helmet again (along with a full set of armor) due to his having collected the Three Sacred Treasures.
  • Hijacked by Jesus
    • The games are themed after Greek mythology, but the Underworld, Overworld, and Skyworld that make up the setting are collectively referred to as "Angel Land", and Pit is an angel. Overworld even has graves with crosses on them in the first game.
    • A putto is not out of place in a Greek Mythology world, and while putti in Greek myth were much different from angels, that did not stop Italian artists from treating them like angels during the renaissance period, meaning the hijack predates Kid Icarus.
    • That Medusa is a goddess (in the classical tales she was the only Gorgon not to be immortal) may refer to Hellinism highjacking Berber culture. Some historians argue Medusa was an aspect of Athena in Libya before Greek scribes got their hands on her.
  • Inconsistent Spelling: Mick's name is spelled as "Mik" in Uprising, and Tanatos's name becomes a more accurate "Thanatos". The latter gets lampshaded in the English localization, with Thanatos claming that he added the "h" to stand for "HAMAZING!"
  • Invisible Bowstring: The games feature a curious example: Pit's bows do have strings, but only when he is shooting an arrow. They strangely disappear when not in use. Smash not only omits the bowstring, but allows him to separate the bow into two swords, which plays even more into this trope.
  • Kill All Humans: Medusa's goal in both of her appearances.
  • Kill the God: Pit kills Medusa, the Goddess of Darkness; T(h)anatos, the God of Death; and Pandora, the Goddess of Calamity. Since Death Is Cheap (especially for Thanatos, who has certain perks from being the God of Death), they're able to be revived in Uprising, only to be soundly defeated again.
  • Level 1 Music Represents: The Underworld theme is the most iconic music of the series. Though given the time you'll spend there due to its difficulty it's not too surprising.
  • Light Is Good: Palutena, in direct contrast to Medusa, is the Goddess of Light.
  • Medusa: The Big Bad of the first game and the third game at first.
  • Never Trust a Title:
    • Despite the western name of the series being "Kid Icarus", nobody is actually referred to as an Icarus of any sort in-universe. Ironically, there are Icarus characters in the Japanese version — the original name for a Centurion is Ikaros.
      • The original game used it as a Character Title, calling the main character "Kid Icarus" on the back of the NES game box and then referring to him as "Pit" in the manual. Captain N called him "Kid Icarus" exclusively, apparently having never read the manual.
      • Of Myths and Monsters tried to reconcile both names, also on the back of the box, by indicating the game title was an epithet: "Pit, the original Kid Icarus". It also nods to the Centurion's original name by referring to the combined forces of the Centurions as the Icarus Army.
      • More modern titles have started distinguishing Pit from the title. Uprising invokes and lampshades the title confusion in one of the tutorial videos, where Pit wonders just who this "Icarus" guy is, and when he'll get to meet him. Palutena tells him not to worry about it. It happens again in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, where the cast mentions the naming confusion in relation to Samus being called "Metroid".
    • The Japanese title, which can translate to "Light Mythology: Palutena's Mirror", also suffers this, in raising the question of what exactly Palutena's Mirror is or has to do with anything. The likeliest candidate would be the Mirror Shield of the Three Sacred Treasures, but this is never made explicit in any case.
  • No "Arc" in "Archery": Though it's justified, since Pit's arrows are made of light when using the Three Sacred Treasures, and several other weapons such as the Palutena bow. His first bow and a few others like the crystal bow are purely A Wizard Did It cases.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Pit resembles Cupid and the putti of the Renaissance art. His proportions would sometimes be baby-like and sometimes child- or teenager-like, before finally settling on the latter for his redesign.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Hewdraw is little more than a sea serpent. In Uprising he becomes a flying hydra.
  • Praetorian Guard: Rare example of this trope not belonging to the Big Bad. Palutena has one in the form of the Icarus Army. Pit, the goddess' most loyal servant, is their leader.
  • Production Throwback: As a nod to its sister game, one of the enemies that shows up in the first and third games is the Komayto, short for "Little Metroid."note  The resemblance is stated outright in Uprising. This doubles as a dev team in-joke, since Kid Icarus was built on the same game engine as Metroid and shared the same staff.
  • Progressively Prettier:
    • In the manual and Japanese advert, and even in the final battle, Medusa is depicted as a giant, overweight cyclops monster, even so big that she takes up a whole wall in the final stage. Once defeated, however, she returns to being the same size as Palutena, and kinda cute. This version of Medusa is more prominent in Uprising, where her monstrous form is a last-minute transformation.
    • Both Pit and Palutena received brand-new, anime-styled redesigns for Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which were retained and further refined for subsequent games.
  • Rapid Aging: Pit grew rapidly from child to adult in the good ending of the first game. Post-series revival, he remains a young teenager, so this ending is widely assumed to be non-canon; however, a younger Pit appears in the anime short Medusa's Revenge more closely resembling his appearance in the early games, which brings the whole thing into question (whether the ending is truly non-canon or whether he aged naturally for 25 years).
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Medusa, the God of Evil Big Bad, has snakes growing in her hair. The snake-like Shemum are The Goomba, while Hewdraw and T(h)anatos both have serpentine forms in the first game.
  • Sacred Bow and Arrows: Pit is able to use the holy Light Arrows, once wielded by the goddess Palutena.
  • Sadly Mythcharacterized: The game is filled with obvious draws from Classical Mythology, but plays fast and loose with how true it is to the source material. Uprising expanded on the cast and made a few more draws that were notably closer to the source material, even if not exact.
    • Mostly due to the western title, Pit is a nod to Cupidnote  (note that the gameplay includes collecting hearts), possibly the putti (which were artistic figures rather than mythological), and the more obvious reference to Icarus, who flew too close to the sun using his father's artificial wings, only for the wax to melt in the heat and Icarus to fall to his death. (Of Myths and Monsters faithfully makes the full reference during the credits). In the first game and Uprising he also takes on the role of Perseus, who battled the original Medusa with a mirror given to him by Athena.
    • Palutena is widely considered to be at least vaguely derived from Athena, but very few depictions are as faithful to the source material as Medusa, who is fought as a hideous, cyclopean monster with a head full of snakes (and revealed to have been a beautiful woman prior to being cursed by Athena).
    • Twinbellows and Hewdraw are monsters based on the Orthrusnote  and Hydra.
    • Pandora, known in-universe as the goddess of calamity, is inspired by the original Pandora, who did manage to unleash all the evils in the world from their box, but wasn't a goddess in the source material. She gets an upgrade in Uprising known as Amazon Pandora, but outside of being an Action Girl, there's no further reference to the mythical all-female society.
    • Thanatos is an interesting case. In his original appearance, under the name Tanatos, he appeared as a secondary figure during the boss fight with Medusa, a single, if giant, snake that would bounce after Pit, perhaps a nod to the legendary python. Uprising retcons him to be much closer to the source material, establishing him to be the god of death.
    • The original game also had "Uranos" and "Holer", minor enemies declared to be gods of the sky and plants, respectively. Holer may be named for the Horae, goddesses of the seasons.
    • Uprising introduces Magnus and Viridi, who don't share names with anyone in Greek mythology, but do occupy specific roles directly reminiscent of the source material. Magnus, as the World's Strongest Man, would seem to be derived from Hercules, while Viridi the nature goddess is reminiscent of Demeter or even Persephone.
    • Hades is also introduced in the third game, and while he's properly identified as the god of the underworld, he also happens to have a case of Everyone Hates Hades going for him, too.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Several enemies are named after deities and beasts from Greek mythology, though many of these names have been slightly altered (or, more likely, bungled in the translation). Also look out for creatures resembling Goombas (Shulm) and Metroids (Komayto = Ko-meto = baby Metroid). Finally, one monster is called Mick and takes the form of an oversized mouth with its tongue sticking out, and the worm-like EelEye which emerges from the Collin soldiers/suits of armour is called Phil in Japan. Thus, Phil Collins.note 
    • The items Pit needs to collect on his quest are called the Three Sacred Treasures (there's four of them; the Light Arrows and Wings of Pegasus are in both games, but the Mirror Shield was replaced by the Silver Armor in Of Myths and Monsters, though it seems some kind of armor was part of the original set anyway) While they're not the Three Sacred Treasures, the naming convention for the set of items was probably intentional.
  • Third Is 3D: In both the polygonal and pop-out-at-you sense. Though most people tend to forget the second game existed, just counting the first and Uprising.
  • Took a Level in Badass: The two lead characters underwent this under Sakurai.
    • In Brawl, Pit got a much more physically able, realistically-proportioned design, and gained the ability to separate his Palutena Bow into dual swords or use it as a double-bladed staff. Uprising then gave him access to even more weapons and had him take down the universe's version of Hades himself, and he would bring all these traits back into the fourth Smash game.
    • Brawl also had Palutena actively help Pit during his Final Smash by summoning her army of Centurions. In Uprising, she would take an even more proactive role and aid Pit by granting him various powers and helping him along the way, and fought him directly when possessed by the Chaos Kin. The fourth Smash game then had her fight on her own, using the powers she granted Pit.
  • Winged Humanoid:
    • Pit obviously, as well as Dark Pit, his not-so-Evil Counterpart in Uprising.
    • The Syren resembles a human female, except with large bird-like wings instead of arms.