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Kid Icarus: Uprising

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Kid Icarus: Uprising

Kid Icarus: Uprising

Image © Nintendo
Kid Icarus: Uprising can be credited with flinging the initial hype for the Nintendo 3DS sky-high. When the series' angelic hero, Pit, swooped onto the screen at Nintendo's E3 2010 press event and cried, "Sorry to keep you waiting," the Internet erupted, and for good reason. The original Kid Icarus hit the NES in 1986, and a follow-up for the Game Boy, titled Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters was released in 1991. Aside from an appearance as a fighter in 2008's Super Smash Bros Brawl for the Wii, poor Pit hasn't seen much action. But an invasion from Underworld monsters has put the 3DS in need of a winged hero, and little Pit--who is just as spry and eager as ever--has taken up his bow again.

Not to mention his blade, his staff, his cannon, his club, his tattoo that gives him gnarly force-flinging powers, etc, etc, etc.

When it was first unveiled, Kid Icarus: Uprising seemed like it was going to be the title to sell the Nintendo 3DS. Now that the Nintendo 3DS has had a year to mature and build up a healthy library, however, it's not realistic to say that Pit's latest outing is the single most important game on the system. Kid Icarus: Uprising is a lot of fun, and its presentation showcases some of Nintendo's best work, but the game undeniably has flaws that will frustrate some players.

Developer: Project Sora
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Shooter/Action
ESRB Rating: E10+
Compatible With: Nintendo 3DS

THE BASICS: Send Us An Angel

Kid Icarus: Uprising opens with the goddess of the Underworld, Medusa, initiating an attack on the mortal plane as well as Pit's home, Sky World. Pit sets out to retire Medusa and her Generals across several game levels, each of which is broken into two parts.

The first part of a stage involves flying down to the battlefield and rapidly shooting at airborne enemies. In these segments, the goddess of light, Palutena, grants Pit five minutes of flight (since Pit's stubby little wings aren't enough to keep him airborne, much to his chagrin) and guides him; Pit only needs to worry about dodging and returning enemy fire.

The second part of each stage is Pit's on-foot infiltration, where he hoofs along the landscape and continues his assault on Medua's forces. These segments usually climax with a boss fight, where you'll see some familiar beasties, including Twinbellows the two-headed dog and Hewdraw, the three-headed water dragon.

Pit can collect and buy several weapons to get the job done. Each weapon class--including blades, bows, clubs, and others--has its strengths and weaknesses, and can change gameplay in a few select circumstances. A club, for instance, can break down certain walls and doors that other weapons cannot, giving Pit exclusive access to alternate paths and cool treasures.

As the game's story progresses, you'll meet up with all manner of gods and monsters. Just don't reference Kid Icarus: Uprising in your Greek Mythology class: you'll surely earn an F, and your teacher will probably collar you for an after-class discussion about doing your homework.

THE GOOD

The voice acting is great -- Unlike many video games that are currently on the market, Kid Icarus: Uprising never stops the action to tell its story. Instead, Pit converses with Palutena and other characters while he's on the wing, and better still, the game's voice acting is top-notch. Since in-game voice acting is still often a hit-or-miss affair, it's nice to see that the actors put effort into their delivery and timing for Uprising.

Funny script and engaging story -- Of course, great voice acting is a waste if it's used on a script that's hollow and lame. Happily, the dialogue in Kid Icarus: Uprising is funny and well-written (but be prepared--the fourth wall gets pounded into dust!). Despite the game's light-hearted dialogue, the story is still interesting. You'll want to keep playing to discover what happens next.

Excellent presentation -- The graphics and sound in Kid Icarus: Uprising are wonderful. The action whips by furiously during the shooting stages, and an imaginative, fully-orchestrated soundtrack accompanies Pit through his whole adventure--except when a few blips from a retro chiptune occasionally sneaks its way in.

A good mix of shooting and adventure -- Kid Icarus: Uprising is built around a compelling mix of shooting and on-foot adventuring. The game calls on your sharpest reflexes, but it also challenges you to take note of your surroundings and discover hidden paths.

Lots of weapons to collect, fuse, and play with -- One of the coolest things about Kid Icarus: Uprising is that it encourages you to find and play with a huge variety of weapons. It's fun to hunt down these weapons; it's even more fun to fuse them and see what kind of neat stuff you wind up with. Every weapon has its strengths and its weaknesses, so it's up to you to tinker and discover what suits your style of play.

The difficulty is adjustable -- Whenever you begin a level, you're given the option to throw some of your hearts (your collectable currency) into the "Fiend's Cauldron." The more hearts you donate, the more intense the gameplay becomes. Alternatively, you can donate hearts to cool off the level's difficulty, if that's what you want to do. However, the rewards you reap for finishing a mission are proportional to the difficulty level that you select. If you turn up the heat on the Fiend's Cauldron, you can expect to earn some lovely goodies--provided you survive.

Fun multiplayer options -- Kid Icarus: Uprising has two multiplayer modes: there's a free-for-all, and a slightly more complex "Light vs Dark" game. Both are fun to play with your pals via a local connection or online, but remember that you'll have to activate Wi-Fi to play over the Internet.

It's just nice to see an old hero return -- Like Pit, Link, Mario, and Pikachu are from the old guard, but unlike Pit, they've all basked for years in the sunniest spots of game retail. It's good to see the little angel at work again, and hopefully he won't be a stranger.

THE BAD

The game demands platforming precision at times, but the controls aren't well-suited for the task -- Most of the on-foot action in Kid Icarus: Uprising doesn't require any fancy moves, but occasionally, you'll need to dodge things like moving walls and spike pits. This presents a problem, as Pit doesn't move with the ease of Mario. Keep in mind that the on-foot segments of the game control much more closely to titles like Super Smash Bros Brawl for the Wii. Otherwise, you're going to end up with a dead angel.

It can be a difficult game to control, period -- To play Kid Icarus: Uprising, you move with the circle pad, target enemies with the stylus, and hold down the L button to shoot. It's a very simple control scheme, but more than a few complaints have been raised about wrists made weary by holding the 3DS, stylus, and L button at the same time. Truthfully, your wrist will get tired, but the (non-literal) breaking point is very different from person to person.

Nintendo has included a plastic stand with every North American copy of the game. It might help you. It might not. Give it a try. If you're still suffering, there's a control option that substitutes the the Nintendo 3DS's buttons for the stylus. These options are nice, but truthfully, it would have been very nice if Nintendo had found a way to impliment full support of the Circle Pad Pro accessory. Currently, the Circle Pad Pro is only an option for southpaws who want to control Pit with their right hand and hold the stylus in their left.

CONCLUSION: Heaven Coming Down

Kid Icarus: Uprising is, for the most part, a well-built game. It looks great, it's wonderful to listen to, the weapons are fun to play with, and there are plenty of extras to keep you engaged for ages. Unfortunately, the awkward controls will undoubtedly bring some players down, especially as the game's on-foot action sequences drag on. Don't give up, though. With a little work, you'll hopefully find a way to play Kid Icarus: Uprising that's comfortable for you. Pit's new adventure is worth the effort.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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