Today is the day Kid Icarus: Uprising hits stores and some of us here at ZI are thoroughly enjoying our adventure through Uprising and the original on the NES. We have to thank one man for it, no seriously, thank this man. He worked on the game all by himself for the majority of its development. This one man is Toru Osawa. You can see his work in Nintendo titles such as Super Metroid, Ocarina of Time, and For the Frog the Bell Tolls.
Osawa joined Nintendo in the year of 1985 and less than two years there he asked to create his own game. While Osawa was given the chance, he was basically neglected in the process, causing him to have to develop the game alone, without any help from anyone, for more most of its development. Having written the design documents and made all the sprites, he took it to Tose Co., Ltd and continued through to the game’s completion.
While the development staff of R&D1 did take a vacation from completing Metroid, Osawa had been left inside Nintendo’s office and struggled to complete the game by its deadline. Upon returning, Yoshio Sakamoto saw that the only parts of Kid Icarus’s game mechanics complete were the running and shooting aspects. Believing the game wouldn’t be able to meet its deadline in December, Yoshio had the entire R&D1 staff assist in completing the game.
In turn, Kid Icarus went through a form of development hell that resulted in three months of the staff pulling all-nighters and developers’ trying to sleep in the office of what is described as broken down cardboard boxes. Sometimes they’d end up working until sunrise as a result. Going from the hot summer weather of August to autumn and winter, the team was forced to stay inside the building without a heating system.
To make matters worse for Osawa, he had just gotten married and had to take three days off instead of going off on a honeymoon. To make matters worse, on his 2nd day off he received a call from Yoshio Sakamoto and was forced to return to working on his project.
By the 2nd week of December, Kid Icarus’s deadline of December 19th was well within reach, but the game had not been completed yet. Osawa stayed behind and worked on his project until three days before release where he had no other choice but to send out the master copy of the game for release. He was told on the 16th, “If this doesn’t have any bugs, it’s finished.” And that his plea of “It took great pains to produce…” were left ignored as well.
Sadly, there was no time for a staff roll to be added into the game, but it did eventually see one upon its release in North America, however, despite his efforts, Osawa’s name, sadly, was left out.
Its rushed development is quite evident in the final product and can mainly be seen in the game’s difficulty. This is shown by how easily Pit can fall off screen, to the Terrible Reaper and Pluton Flies that can easily lower the levels of your weapons permanently with one hit.
The final stage where Pit takes Palutena’s sword, mirror shield, and wings to destroy Meduas was added at the last minute in order to surprise players.
Osawa’s mark can be seen throughout the game’s design as well as the inspiration from Hiroji Kiyotake who created Samus and the Duck Hunt Dog. Osawa also combined the run-and-gun style of Metroid with his own interest in Greek mythology and the level-up RPG system. Dark humor can be seen throughout the game as well from the “I’m finished!” death screen to the ending where Pit is transformed into a Specknose if the player did poorly throughout the game.
The game also contains some rather odd and interesting details such as the Eggplant Wizard and the use of credit cards you can use to buy items from the Black Marketeer. The inclusion of some of these elements comes from rather odd reasoning’s. The Eggplant Wizard’s inspiration came from Osawa’s love for eggplants and the eggplant masks in Wrecking Crew, but he only drew it in celebration of receiving his summer bonus. Specknose was oddly inspired by the large-nosed Hirokazu Tanaka who composed the game’s score.
And now you know the tale of just how Kid Icarus came to be. I’ve played through it before and let me say, it’s a great game and I definitely appreciate his efforts. And now, every time I play Kid Icarus, I’ll be thinking of you Mr. Osawa, just not in that kind of way.
Source: NintendoWorldReport (Yes, this article is like 5 days old)