The little boy with wings is all grown up.
It has taken the better part of two years for Kid Icarus: Uprising to finally appear in stores after first being announced. As a sequel to a game from 21 years ago that few will remember, many 3DS gamers may well be left wondering what all of the fuss is about. But once you actually play the game, you will be able to understand the hype.
In Kid Icarus: Uprising, which has it’s roots set firmly in Greek mythology, Medusa has been revived and plans on destroying the mortals, whilst at the same time seeking revenge on our hero Pit and Palutena, the goddess of light and the guardian of the human race. It is up to you, the player, to take on the role of Pit and stop Medusa, thus restoring peace and tranquility once again.
Kid Icarus: Uprising is broken up into two distinct sections within each chapter. The first is an on-rails flying shooter in which the player controls Pit’s movement with the circle pad to avoid incoming attacks or environmental hazards, whilst aiming requires using the stylus on the touchscreen and actually firing uses the L button. Left handed players will find themselves having to pick up the circlepad pro accessory for a more comfortable experience. To begin with, it all feels a bit fingers and thumbs, and a bit clumsy. It certainly takes some getting used to, and extended gaming sessions can cause some severe hand cramping.
The second section of the game takes place on foot and is more of your standard action adventure, albeit incredibly well done. Again, the same controls apply on foot and Pit is able to dash at any time by pushing the circle pad forward and holding it there to make Pit run, at least until Pit gets tired. Pit is able to dodge incoming attacks and projectiles with the circle pad, and automatic dodging is available by equipping a Dodge Token.
The game has a varying difficulty, depending on how good the player feels that they are. By paying with hearts, the player can adjust this difficulty at the Fiend’s Cauldron, making the game more challenging, but more rewarding with treasure. Through the on-foot levels, the player will come across the Intensity Gate which, if the difficulty level is set high enough, will treat the player to a nice mini-boss battle and even more treasure.
After being given the ability to fly, Pit takes to the blue skies before taking on the first on-foot area. Flying through the skies is an enjoyable way to start the game, having to fight off angry flying eyeballs, but you have less than five minutes in the air before Pit lands back on the ground. Pit’s world then becomes much narrower as he explores ancient towns, dark caves and atmospheric castles. At first sight, things may seem fairly straight forward, but with a bit of exploration Pit will be finding hidden areas, secret golden chests and eventually coming face to face with bosses that need to be defeated. The time spent on the ground is no doubt exciting, but the fiddly controls, which involve the player using the stylus not just for aiming but also for turning around with a quick swipe across the screen, have a tendency to result in some disorientation should the player try to move too quickly.
Exploration is of the utmost importance as defeated enemies may drop weapons or chests. The game offers nine different categories of weapons through the game: staffs, claws, arms, clubs, bows, blades, orbitars, Cannons, and Palms. Each weapon within each category has different characteristics and uses. The game changes quite substantially depending on which weapon the player is using and they will find a substantial amount of time spent swapping weapons and trying to find which best suits the gaming style, or which is the most effective in the given situation. There is even the chance to try out weapon fusion which combines two weapons into an entirely new one.
Weapons can be purchased from Palutena at any time, and players can trade weapon gems via StreetPass. Obviously, the more powerful and impressive weapons will need to be gathered by setting the intensity of the game higher at the Fiend’s Cauldron. But if things get too difficult, the intensity can be reduced again by dealing out a few more hearts.
The single player game is absolutely massive, but the game doesn’t stop there as it also offers an online multiplayer mode. There are two separate games within the multiplayer mode, Light Vs. Dark and free for all. Light Vs. Dark is where there are two teams of three players who try and defeat the opposite team in combat and the Free For All mode enables six players to battle it out against each other. Both of these modes can be played via local wireless or online and add to the longevity of an already huge game.
My main gripe with Kid Icarus: Uprising is the control system, which unfortunately made my hands feel very uncomfortable and is more of a balancing act than anything else. The retail game is packaged with a stand that allows the player to have the 3DS stationary whilst playing. Whilst the stand makes it easier, it is still not an ideal solution for a system dedicated to mobile play. It also makes it quite difficult to enjoy the games’ 3D effect which, when held correctly, is really quite impressive.
But if you can get past the awkward controls, the game is absolutely stunning to look at and excellent to play. However, the dialogue was incredibly cheesy and I felt that this impacted on my connection with the characters, as they all seemed so corny. But this is only a personal opinion.
Overall, the sheer scale of the game, the gorgeous visuals, the varied gameplay and the expansive range of weapons and skills give Kid Icarus: Uprising the feeling that it belongs on a much bigger console than the 3DS. It is quite impressive how much has been squeezed in. It is nice to see that some of the original Kid Icarus traits have remained, giving the game a classic feel with vastly improved gameplay and graphics. However, the awkward controls will likely be a game-breaker for some people, spoiling what could have been a perfect game.