Hmm. That’s pretty lean for an entry, so I’ll explain something else: the name Kid Fenris.
The short answer? It’s a play on Kid Icarus, the old Nintendo game. For those unfamiliar, Kid Icarus is a staple of the early NES library, an action-adventure game that stars a plucky, heroic version of Icarus. In Greek myth Icarus flew too near the sun and became an avatar of overconfidence, and Nintendo just made him a little archer who saved a goddess from the clutches of Medusa. He also appeared in the Captain N cartoon, but we can't hold that against him.
The strange thing is that I didn’t even like Kid Icarus during the NES days. I only played it at demo stations, and I was frustrated at how barren the levels seemed, how easy it was to fall off the screen, and how Icarus collected hearts for money instead of health. That went against everything Star Tropics and The Legend of Zelda taught us! I’ve since come to appreciate it (though I still prefer its structural cousin Metroid), and I really enjoyed Kid Icarus: Uprising on the 3DS. I even like playing Pit and Palutena in Super Smash Bros.
Back in 1991, there wasn’t much Kid Icarus. We had an NES game and a Game Boy sequel, and that made many young Nintendo cultists wonder about a Kid Icarus title on the Super NES. I imagined something more ambitious. If Nintendo could make Kid Icarus out of bowdlerized Greek myths, why not make a similar game out of another legend? And at the time, I liked no legend better than the Fenris-wolf from Norse canon.
There’s no real link between Icarus and Fenris, aside from both of them being doomed. Fenris (or Fenrir, as he’s commonly known) started off as a wolf-pup spawn of Loki, and the Aesir gods adopted him and fed him until Fenris got out of control. The gods decided to bind him with a magical dwarf-made fetter called Gleipnir, but the wolf wouldn’t let them try anything unless the god Tyr stuck a hand in his mouth as a sign of trust. The Norse gods were jerks as usual, so the incident left Tyr minus a hand and Fenris enchained until the end of the world. During Ragnarok, the wolf devours Odin and is in turn ripped asunder by Vidar. Kind of a raw deal for a puppy that no one wanted to take care of once he stopped being cute.
I thought it’d be great if Nintendo were to make a Kid Icarus follow-up about a monster of Norse myth, no matter how unmarketable it might be. That’s as far as I got. I never drew up any plans for Kid Fenris, and I don’t think I even worked out if he should be a human in wolf clothes, an actual kid wolf, or some sort of were-hero.
I remembered Kid Fenris years later, when Mortal Kombat II was for a few months the sacred text of a video-game generation. For one of the game’s goofy Friendship moves, the thunder god Raiden summoned a smaller version of himself named Kidd Thunder. Or maybe that's his nephew. Mortal Kombat changes its mind a lot.
Before long, I liked Darkstalkers more than Mortal Kombat. Poor Darkstalkers was never as popular, but I knew what it needed to catch on big time. I knew that Jon Talbain, Darkstalkers’ resident werewolf, should have his own junior sidekick called Kid Fenris. I might’ve even written that up as a “What If...” bon mot and sent it to Electronic Gaming Monthly. If I sent it, they never printed any such witticism. Thank goodness.
Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Well, I liked the name when I was a kid, and it was the first thing that came to mind when I devised an online handle as a teenager. In testament to my vast creative development over the years, Kid Fenris remained the best thing I had at hand when I set up my website back around 2003. Yes, every other name I conjured was either worse or taken.
At this point, I refuse to abandon Kid Fenris. It sounds like it came from a vintage 1912 boxing ad or some Dragon Age fan fiction, yet it shall stay. I’m attached.
And if Nintendo ever makes a Kid Fenris game, I'll have a domain to sell them.