Finally, after 20 long years, Pit returns with a brand new adventure on the Nintendo 3DS! Kid Icarus: Uprising was first announced back at E3 2010 and despite rumors of a pending Wii game, Nintendo revealed that Uprising would soar on the Nintendo 3DS handheld. There has been a lot of hype surrounding this game, mainly because Pit hasn’t had an adventure in almost two decades. Now the smoke has cleared and the game has landed, but has Nintendo justified the hype for this game? Yes.
Uprising tells an interesting story starting with the return of Medusa and her Underworld army; however, as the game continues, the plot begins to reveal a much deeper than expected story. There are quite a few twists along the way, including the not so secret appearance of Dark Pit. Kid Icarus: Uprising tells this story mostly during the gameplay, in fact, if I were to take a guess, about 85% of the story unfolds this way. How?
Well, as you play, characters from the game talk over your gameplay with every line of dialogue provided in full by voice actors. Characters are represented by cool, non-animated, hand drawn art on the touch screen; this art changes to match the characters’ expressions as their lines are delivered. While the voice acting is great, the dialogue can be a bit cheesy at times (almost like a Saturday morning cartoon); however, it still remains entertaining. Uprising also breaks the fourth wall many times by referring to Pit’s previous adventures and acknowledging that Uprising is indeed a video game itself. It is a very light hearted tale with lots of depth and can be enjoyed by gamers of all ages.
Kid Icarus: Uprising doesn’t play like the older games; instead it plays out in chapters. Each chapter represents a new objective for Pit to complete. Chapters separating the story make it a great title for pick-up-and-play sessions; which is admirable on a handheld. Chapters are also split into various parts that consist of air and land battles; expect to spend anywhere from 10-20 minutes to complete each chapter.
Air battles will normally come first in each chapter and play very much like an on-rails shooter. I am a fan of shooters, so I enjoyed these sections. These sections can be challenging at times, but blasting away is extremely fun. Nintendo has also made it interesting by adding in a plethora of enemies that will have you changing up your strategies quite often. Surprisingly, these sections are also easy to control. Moving Pit is done by sliding the Circle Pad around, aiming is done with the stylus and shooting is accomplished with L. While this sounds uncomfortable, it really isn’t too bad and actually works quite well after getting in some practice. There is a learning curve, so you should expect that going into the game.
Land battles change up the gameplay and turn things into an action adventure type experience. Shooting will be a big part of land battles, but Pit will also engage in a lot of melee type combat during these sections. Land battles are mostly linear with the ultimate goal being to defeat the boss, but there are some hidden and branching paths as well. There are also hidden treasure chests sprinkled around that hold weapons, items, etc., which adds another nice touch of exploration. Vehicles, grind rails and switches are also thrown in from time to time to break up the constant barrage of combat; though to be honest, you will normally be on the move, so you can expect a fast pace.
Land battles may sound glorious, but they are trickier than the Air battles due to the awkward control scheme. I know I just finished praising it above, but it does indeed get a lot more difficult during this portion of the game. Again, Pit will be moved with the Circle Pad, aiming is done with the stylus and attacking with L. However, there are some added functions with additional inputs being used to accomplish new moves.
Pit can dash and dodge when sliding the Circle Pad twice in a given direction; this can become quite uncomfortable if you aren’t supporting the weight of the Nintendo 3DS correctly. There is also camera control added as well which is handled with the stylus. You can slide the stylus in any direction to change the view, but you must also be able to aim while doing this. Enemies can sneak up on you and do some serious damage if you don’t get the hang of this quickly.
Nintendo has included a plastic stand which is supposed to help, but I think it is absolute crap and does nothing to make things easier; in fact it became harder for me to move Pit and shoot at the same time. Luckily, there are a few control options which can eliminate the touch screen altogether, but you CAN get adjusted to the controls if you’re willing to learn them. To say there is a learning curve is an understatement. Here is a tip that helped me play through the game; find a nice spot to stretch out on your stomach and play with the surface supporting your arms. Doing this will give you a lot more support and will allow you to learn the controls much better.
Kid Icarus: Uprising has a lot of content, so much that it will take well over 20 hours to see. One thing in particular that adds a lot of replay value is the Fiend’s Cauldron. The Fiend’s Cauldron allows you to bet hearts to increase the difficulty of each chapter, otherwise known as the intensity level. Doing so will reward you with not only a more challenging game, but will also reward you with more hearts and stronger weapons. Increasing the intensity level also opens up special gates that will offer an alternate route, or an additional area to explore in each chapter. I’ve mentioned weapons quite a few times already in this review and that’s because they are a big part of the gameplay.
There are nine different weapon classes in Kid Icarus: Uprising, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Among those nine classes include the following: Blades, Staves, Claws, Palms, Arms, Canons, Bows, Clubs and Orbs. Within those groups are a ton of different weapons, you will need to play the game multiple times to see each weapon. Weapons can also be fused, which opens up another big pot of content.
Each weapon that you find will have a different rating for Ranged and Melee combat, plus a variety of different stats. Having a better Ranged rating will increase the strength of the ranged attacks with the same being true for Melee combat. Stats that may be on your weapon could include a +1 to Speed, +3 to Melee Defense, +1 to Health, etc. Allowing you to craft a weapon to your liking is awesome, though you don’t get to choose your stats, you do get to see what will carry over when fusing weapons. I haven’t seen any identical weapon yet (besides ones with absolutely no stats), so the possibilities become endless.
Multiplayer in Kid Icarus: Uprising can be played either online or locally with friends. In fact, of my 20 hours of time with Uprising, about 10 of those have been online. Battles are similar to the Land battle sections from the main story and are separated into two different games; Free-For-All and Light vs. Dark.
Free-for-all pits you against up to 5 other people in a battle to become number one. The objective is to get as many points as possible with points being obtained by defeating enemies and just doing well overall. Light vs. Dark is similar, except the rules are different; there are two teams of three each sharing a health bar. Your shared health bar depletes based on your weapon’s value; the higher the value, the more health that depletes when you are defeated. The person who happens to use up all of their teams health will become the angel and now the focus shifts to defeating said angel. You will become either Pit or Dark Pit dependant on the team.
One last gameplay mechanic I’d like to mention is the powers grid. You can find a variety of powers in the main game (Mega Laser and Health Recovery come to mind), as well as win them online. Powers can be equipped and come in different shapes and sizes that must fit together nicely on a small grid.
I am going to transition into the graphics portion of the review, but I will briefly mention the AR Cards. They are a neat little distraction in addition to the main game. It is fun to watch characters from the game come to life in front of your eyes. They will do battle, each complete with their own set of stats, with one coming out the victor. There are a ton of these to collect with 6 random ones being included with the game. On to the visuals!
Graphically, Kid Icarus: Uprising is absolutely gorgeous. While not as glorious as say Resident Evil: Revelations, they are still great. There are wonderfully crafted 3D models, amazing landscapes, tons of colors and just a lot of character overall. I’ve noticed that some of the textures are a little muddy when you examine them up close. 3D effects are also fantastic here with no dropped frames or slowdown of any kind. I’ve always found that flying in 3DS games lend themselves the best to the 3D effect and that can be seen here as well. There is a lot of depth added and the game looks just as great with the 3D activated, but it just doesn’t add enough for me to play with it turned on all the time.
Another shining aspect of Kid Icarus: Uprising is its glorious soundtrack. It is one of the best soundtracks ever to be produced by Nintendo. There is a lovely mix of exciting upbeat themes, amazingly remixed themes, music taken straight from the NES game, and just flat out phenomenal boss themes. Quality is not an issue either as everything sounds crystal clear with no evidence of poor compression. Everything here comes together to make Kid Icarus: Uprising the best sounding game on any handheld, in my opinion.
Overall, this is easily the best Nintendo 3DS game of 2012 so far. You will find lots of fun in the solo game and a ton of fun in the game’s multiplayer. There is also an abundance of content that will keep you coming back for a long time. Kid Icarus: Uprising is one of the most complete games I’ve played in a long time and has a welcome place in my collection. Nintendo fans should definitely check out this one!