Unseen64 investigate Factor 5’s abandoned Kid Icarus prototype
Unseen64‘s Liam Robertson has unearthed the history behind Factor 5’s unsuccessful pitch to revive the Kid Icarus series, revealing an attempt to create a far darker Overworld.
After taking to the skies in the respected Star Wars: Rogue Squadron trilogy, Factor 5 span away from developing solely on Nintendo’s systems to explore opportunities with Microsoft and Sony. But, even after the underwhelming PlayStation 3 launch title Lair, Nintendo contracted the studio to work on reviving their long dormant Kid Icarus series on Wii – reflecting Pit’s appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Aside from Nintendo’s own goal that it be the first 3D game in the series built for the Wii, Factor 5 were allowed creative freedom over the project. Several months of deliberation followed, but the studio’s management steered the direction down a path that not everyone was in agreement to take.
This paid close attention to the source material written for Kid Icarus on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), but saw Pit’s tale take a “more mature route.” It was an adventure with a far darker tone, placing players in the role of an older, battle hardened Pit that was at odds with the character design seen in Brawl at the time.
Gameplay would see Pit freely take flight to shoot down enemies with his bow and arrow, drawing on Factor 5’s expertise gained from developing the Rogue Squadron series. The project began under the codename “Icarus,” but Nintendo stepped in to provide a character model that closely replicated Pit as he appeared in Brawl. Factor 5’s management decided against including it in their playable prototype, which would prove to be a choice they would eventually regret.
One draft narrative saw players start as Kid Pit in Skyworld, from which he is banished by Lady Palutena after being accused of crimes against the heavenly kingdom. Years spent defending the overworld would see the character mature and his wings strengthen, with penned concept art trying to depict Pit’s fall from grace with blackened wings, tattoos and demonic infections.
Factor 5 produced a playable prototype with two of their character designs, built with their in-house engine that promised 60 frames-per-second with room for plenty of on-screen objects. After spending a year on the project, their Icarus prototype was presented to Nintendo but was declined by the company’s executives.
Former Factor 5 animator Joe Spataro summarises: “With Icarus, I feel like we were missing the point. Nintendo sent us the model of Kid Icarus, very much like the one that appears in Smash Bros, but we didn’t use it. We made our own version and it was more mature, maybe even a little dark… It felt more like Devil May Cry. I knew Nintendo would never go for the adult version of Pit… in fact, I’d wager they took it as an insult that we didn’t use their version.”
That resulted in late president Satoru Iwata turning to Masahiro Sakurai, who would form Project Sora to develop legendary Nintendo 3DS exclusive Kid Icarus: Uprising.