ScrewAttack’s latest entry into their Video Game Vault is a nice, overlooked little piece of Nintendo history: Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters, the sequel to the NES pseudo-classic.

One thing I found interesting about this title, besides how much it’s overlooked (even Super Smash Bros. Brawl fails to acknowledge it very much, if at all), is the form of Pit; the good ending of the original game saw Pit grow from an Icarus kid into a manly, manly man. And here, he’s back to being the youthful kid again. Which is fine by me; truth be told, I prefer Brawl‘s “evolution” of the character, which seems to meet halfway.

For all the crying over a sequel since the original, though, I wonder how many Kid Icarus fans know of this title, or more accurately, know that it’s not just a port of the original (a mistake I’ve seen here and there). Following the lead of the much higher-profile Metroid II: The Return of Samus, upon which the same engine is used, things have changed, but not too much. What I’ve played of the game seems ultimately more forgiving, if only slightly, in not having the bottom of the screen ready to swallow you up should you tread too far down (one might attribute this in the original as a sort of penalty for going back as Pit attempts to escape the underworld), plus some slight use of Pit’s wings to slow your descent.

Another interesting point is the way the screen moves; in the original, Pit would leave one side of the screen, only to appear on the other, a common trait carried over from games such as Mario Bros. back in the day. But in Of Myths and Monsters, the screen actually follows Pit as it loops around; you’d think you’re walking really far just by going left to right, when you’re actually going in circles. If memory serves me correctly, however, it’s not as bad as it sounds, as this gave them more room to work with while retaining some element of the original mechanic.

This game definitely makes a strong argument for a portable game Virtual Console, one thing I hope may come to fruition on the DSi. Of course, there are other options I wouldn’t mind: A remake which takes advantage of the DS’s power, or perhaps even a WiiWare remake. Nintendo has a great catalog of portable games, but sadly, they seem to be left to languish in relative obscurity.

Finally, I’m left to wonder: As noted earlier, Metroid II seems to be remembered by far more people than Of Myths and Monsters; I wonder if the deciding factor could have been that little “II” that follows the name of Metroid, and if that could have done anything to turn Pit’s fortunes from a character once popular enough to costar in Captain N: The Game Master, who then became little more than Nintendo trivia until Brawl, to a bona fide Nintendo superstar franchise that could stand alongside the likes of Metroid, Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda.

–LBD “Nytetrayn”