The lights are on
When the 3DS was announced, Kid Icarus: Uprising was one of the first games Nintendo showed off on it's new system. The gameplay reminded me of Star Fox 64 and Sin and Punishment: Star Successor (both great Nintendo games), the graphics were above and beyond anything I had seen on a handheld, and it was going to be in 3D! I couldn't wait to get my hands on it, and it was one of the reasons I bought my 3DS. Now that I have had the chance to play it, I can confirm that Kid Icarus has not only met all of my expectations, but soared high above them. It is handheld gaming bliss, and one of the most perfect games I have ever played. Or at least it would be if not for one glaring issue: the controls. Despite this one major hiccup, Uprising is still one of the best games I've played this year, and a must have for all 3DS owners.
Kid Icarus is better than ever
Being the first Kid Icarus game 20 some years, Kid Icarus might as well be an all new franchise, and they took advantage of this when creating the story. At first, it continues the story of the NES original, with Medusa being resurrected, and leading the underworld armies against Skyworld and the Goddess Palutena. They even reference that she has been gone for 25 years (one of the game's MANY fourth wall breaks). Palutena tasks Pit with stopping her, and sends him out on missions to defeat her many generals. However, defeating Medusa is only the beginning, and soon the story will expand into a war between all of the gods, with Pit in the middle. The story is amazing, especially in the post-Medusa missions. Not only is the dialogue funny, but the story will get surprisingly complex and emotional at times. There are even moments where you will question if Pit and Palutena are really the good guys. I wasn't expecting a great story coming into this game, but now I wish there as more of it.
Uprising looks great, and is without a doubt a contender for the best looking 3DS game (it's only competition being Resident Evil: Revelations). Pit looks just as good, if not better than he did in Brawl, and all of the game's huge areas look great and are full of detail. I was constantly impressed by the game's visuals, and even in the most heated battles, I don't remember any slowdown or lag in the animations. The game's sound in also impressive. I'm not much of a music buff, but I enjoyed Uprising's music, which is very reminiscent of the Brawl soundtrack. What is truly impressive is the voice acting. Fans of Bastion's constant narration will find something to love in Uprising. As you play, Pit, Palutena, and the game's many other characters (who are mostly redesigned characters from the NES game) are in constant dialogue. All of the voice acting is wonderfully done, and the dialogue is consistently hilarious (At one point Pit comments on an area being so big that it had to load halfway through, much to the goddess's dismay, and she quickly tells him not to mention it again). If you are like me, you will find yourself returning to old levels just to listen to your favorite conversations again and again.
Dark Pit is just one of the new additions to the series
Gameplay is another one of the game's many strong points, but it also contains its major flaw. Gameplay is split into two sections: a flying, on rails shooter segment that plays much like Sin and Punishment, and an on ground, third person shooter section that plays somewhat like a more complex version of Earth Defense Force. Personally, I couldn't decide which section I liked more, though the on ground segments are much more complex, requiring a lot of dodging and perfect use of your charged shots. Regardless of which is better, both are plagued by the game's not so perfect control scheme. You move Pit with the circle pad, shoot with L, and do all of your aiming and camera control with the touch screen. This means the right side of the system is unsupported during play, making holding the system difficult. Also, having your hand crowded over the circle pad and L button will cause cramps very quickly, as will the constant use of the stylus. Many complained that the game should have Circle Pad Pro support, allowing for twin stick play. The complaint is valid, since the game is already CPP compatible (to help lefties), I'm not sure it would have helped much. The game's creators stated the game would not support CPP because the touch screen was much better for the game's fast paced aiming. From my experience, this is true. I don't think there is an easy fix for the game's control issues, and it suffers because of it. Personally, I got used to the controls after a few long sessions (with the help of the 3DS stand) and was able to play most of the game cramp free. However, I know many gamers were not so fortunate.
The way you play the game will change depending on which of the nine different weapon types you choose. Some focus on ranged attacks, some on melee, but most of them act in similar ways, with variations in firing speed and frequency. Collecting weapons is fun, adding an RPG element to the game. You can also fuse weapons to create better ones, but the system is somewhat flawed because it is never explained, and the results seem random at times. Powers will also have a big effect on your play during the on foot sections. Some add effects like poison to your weapon for a short time, and others might give you a temporary attack or defense buff. Powers must be fitted into a grid in your loadout. The grid is small, and the better powers take up more space.
The difficulty settings are where the game gains most of its replay value. Instead of having setting like easy and hard, before each level you are asked to pick a difficulty between 0 and 9, with decimal places. At 0, Pit is invincible, and you can clear the level with ease, but it will cost you hearts (the game's currency) to do so. At the highest difficulties, the levels will become fiendishly hard, but you will get better rewards for beating them, and a huge heart reward. There are also whole sections of levels that will be closed off if you don't reach them above a certain intensity. If you fail to beat the level on the difficulty you choose, you will lose hearts and automatically be revived, with the difficulty lowered. I found myself struggling to beat the later levels on difficulty 6, so there is definitely plenty to do for the hardcore crowd.
Behold the Fiend's Cauldron!
But that isn't all that will keep you coming back. Just like Super Smash Brothers Brawl, the game has hundreds of trophies (oops I mean idols) and 360 goals to complete (much like the large achievement grid from Brawl). These goals range from "Complete Stage X in XX minutes" to "Beat a stage using a Club". Completing these goals will reward you with a variety of prizes, such as idols, weapons, and powers. If you need even more to do, the game also has online multiplayer. There is a team deathmatch (called Light vs. Dark) as well as a free for all battle. These battles are the same as the on foot sections of the game's main story, and are actually a lot of fun. Finding a game was easy, and I never noticed any lag. You can also gain weapons, powers, and hearts while playing the online, so you are always making progress.
Kid Icarus: Uprising is a rare example of a game that just missed perfection. If not for its one major flaw, I would likely be giving it a perfect score. But control complaints aside, Kid Icarus is one of the best games on the 3DS, and a series I don't want to see return to obscurity. If you have a 3DS, you need this game.
No one has commented on this article.