Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Kid Icarus - One Credit Challenge, Level 3-4

So, over at a forum I read, they have started a weekly series called "One Credit Challenge". Basically, each week they pick an older game (generally one that is available on the Wii's virtual console) and people see how far they can get in the game without continuing. I find this idea very compelling as it presents a completely new way to play a game that people just don't do anymore. The first game in the series was R-Type for the TurboGrafx-16, a game which I love but had only played in the arcades previously. Not actually owning the game, I found a way of playing it, but using my computer's keyboard just isn't the same.

Kid Icarus is different. It is a game I do own. In fact, it is one of the first games I owned for my Nintendo. It is also incredibly difficult. Since my parents had gotten me the Nintendo Deluxe Set, I didn't have Super Mario Bros so Kid Icarus was the first serious platformer I had. As if figuring out jump height and momentum (which is a little wonky) weren't bad enough, there are a huge varieties of enemies that come after you and you will get hit. You have a life bar, but this only helps so much. The game has unlimited continues, but since you always start off at the beginning of a stage and they are long, this only helps so much.

One of my clearest childhood gaming memories is finally beating stage 1-2. After a fair amount of attempts, I could beat the first stage, but the second seemed absolutely impossible. Whether it was missing a jump and falling to my death or, more likely, getting beaten down by enemies, I just could not advance much past 2/3 of the way through the stage. Fortunately, I was persistent. It was summer and I was going to a summer day camp. I would get up at around 6:45 each morning and wait for the van to come pick me up around 8. I often had about a half hour between finishing breakfast and the van coming and would often use that to play Kid Icarus. One day it just clicked. I was carefully jumping up the platforms, dodging the enemies swarming around me, and suddenly I realized I was farther than I had ever been. I managed to get the next level and was furiously writing down the password while the van was honking its horn outside.

That was kind of a watershed moment for me. After beating level 1-2, I suddeny "got" platformers. Not that they no longer held challenge for me, but I now knew I could overcome their challenges. It didn't take me nearly as long to beat level 1-3 and I know I managed to beat the game that summer (granted, the game gets significantly easier once you reach the second world).

I had beaten Kid Icarus many times before, but this was a new challenge. Could I do it without dying?

I will repeat here my post in that forum:

Argh! I should have had it.

I made it through 1-4 to the hot spring, and after that it was smooth sailing. I breezed through worlds 2 and 3 to the fortress at the end of 3. And then I didn't remember where the boss was, so I wandered around. Without warning, I managed to find the boss' lair... as an eggplant. My only hope was the one Centurion I had, but he didn't last long.


So, world 3-4. So close.

For those of you having trouble progressing, here are my suggestions for getting so far. (There may be some game mechanic spoilers, so don't look if you want to figure out how everything works for yourself.)

Kill all the enemies you see and don't progress too fast. Generally, every time a new enemy group appears on screen, it appears as a group of four. If you kill that group and take all the hearts from it (or they disappear), the next group of four appears and there will be four such groups of four. Keep killing them for experience (gives you more life at the end of the level and gets your arrow upgrades in special rooms) and hearts. However, if you scroll to fast, the groups will stop appearing and you won't get the whole group of four.

At the beginning of the game, the patterns of the enemies are pretty simple. The little snakes with wings shouldn't be too hard. The red eyeball things float back and forth as a wave and at some point will swoop down toward you. Learn when this is as it is when you can fire vertically or horizontally and hit them. Also, I find that if you are at the far left or right edge of the screen, they will almost always swoop down at you when they hit that side. You should probably also kill the grim reapers. You can get two shots on them when their backs are turned, but watch out as they do quick turns to check behind them every so often. If she calls the reapettes, I have no good advice, but if you are at a spot where you can move between the right and left edges of the screen, it makes dodging them a lot easier.

In the first regular shop, buy a life bottle. In level 1-3, when your life bar should be two bars long, then buy the chalices you have less than one bar of life. Buy a feather when you can as well. Basically, I try to always have a life bottle in reserve. If I have one, I try to at least have one full life bar. If I have that and don't have a feather, I'll get a feather. Two feathers is probably the most you'll ever need. Oh, and the black markets (shops that sell life bottles and feathers at a markup and sell barrels) the only thing you want is a barrel. Unless you are truly desperate or swimming in cash, don't buy anything else there.

Unless you are going to look up the patterns for how to always get all eight treasures in the treasure rooms, they should probably be avoided. You lose five hearts for each treasure you shoot at.

The monster rooms (with the groucho marx glasses enemies) are great sources of hearts. Enemies basically either fly from top left to bottom right and back or from left to right and back (occasionally, you will get a bottom right to top left). Concentrate on not getting hurt over killing enemies so you can collect their hearts. I try to fight my way to the bottom left and from there it is easy to take out any enemy that comes near me. Then I work my way out, taking them on one at a time.

Be sure to get the arrow upgrade in the room toward the end of level 1-2. At the end of level 1-2, you should get a life upgrade (20,000 points) and at the end of level 1-3, another one (50,000 points). Also, be sure to do the challenge with the columns (I always thought they looked like mirrors) that fly at you in the room about 2/3 of the way through 1-3. Choose the rod, as after you beat the first fortress (and recover some health if necessary) you will have two orbs spinning around you that damage enemies.

Anyway, once you beat the first fortress, the game becomes significantly easier. I was never in danger of losing all my health (or even less than two bars) past the hot spring in level 2-1. I did fall twice, so my feathers came in handy, but that was that. Enjoy the metroids in world 3. Just be sure to cure your eggplant condition in the world 3 fortress before wandering into the boss' room. :(

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