Review By Marlon Esmeralda
It's been over 20 years since the last Kid Icarus game, and while it may not be as prolific a franchise as Nintendo's others, it does have its fair share of fans. Demands for another Kid Icarus title have been out there, and there's no doubt that Pit's appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl gave the Kid Icarus franchise more exposure and delighted many fans. Now we fast forward a bit more and a new Kid Icarus title has finally appeared as Kid Icarus: Uprising for the Nintendo 3DS gets released.
Developed by Project Sora, led by Masahiro Sakurai(creator of Kirby, Smash Bros.), Kid Icarus: Uprising isn't exactly a traditional Kid Icarus game. Gameplay for KI: Uprising is similar to a on-rail shooter, sort of like the Sin & Punishment and Star Fox series. Levels in the game consist of flight and land portions. In flight, you'll be guiding Pit around and shooting baddies. Movement is done with the circle pad, and aiming is done with the stylus. So it has a bit of a keyboard and mouse feel to it. When on land, controls don't change up too much, but you're no longer traveling the level 'on-rails.' You're now able to move around the levels in a full 3D environment. Circle pad still moves Pit, and the stylus still aims. However, you'll also use the stylus for camera movement. Controls are presented in-game well enough to give you a good idea on how the game is played, and short videos can be found to give you a refresher on the controls.
There's definitely a bit of a learning curve with the controls and it will take a bit of getting use to. Luckily, a stand is included with the game for your 3DS. It's a simple piece of equipment that just holds up your 3DS, allowing less strain on your hands. The stand certainly helped in getting a good grasp of the controls, but the game is completely playable without it. It also helps that there are a bit of options present in terms of control. You can take out the use of a stylus completely and have the face buttons be used for aim control. So you can have full-on button play if preferred, but I feel that you lose a lot if you give up the instant precision that the touch screen holds.
One extra hardship I had to endure was being left handed. Controls are customizable and can be laid out for a left handed player. However, using the buttons does not implement the same control and feel as a circle pad. So I've stuck with the default controls and held the stylus in my right hand. It does take some getting use to, but after going through a few levels, I have no trouble with the controls. The Circle Pad Pro can be used for this game so that left handers can have a circle pad to use, if that is prefered. Unfortunately, the Cicle Pad Pro can't be used for dual joystick play.
The layout of the game is spread out through a single player story and multiplayer. In single player you'll traverse through numerous chapters that will have you killing many bad guys in the sky and land. Levels don't drag out too long, but will still take a good chuck of time to play through. But a decent enough length for you to complete a level if playing within a small break of time while on the go. So its an ideal portable game. Completing the story will take several hours to complete, depending on your skill level, but leaving lots of room for replayability.
Much of the replayability for single player comes in the form of the game's varied difficulties. You won't see an easy, medium, or hard type setting here. Instead, you get an intensity meter before starting each level. The higher the intensity, the more difficult the level will become. Enemies will hit harder and come in larger numbers. However, higher intensities also provide the opportunity for bigger rewards, offering you more hearts and better treasures. Hearts are the currency for the game and can be used to buy weapons.
Finding weapons is another key mechanic for KI: Uprising, as there are many different weapon types to discover. Each weapon type is unique in how they perform. To provide more depth to these weapons are various stat boosts that are tied to weapons. These stats are a bit random, but also play a key part in weapon fusion. With weapon fusion, you can fuse two weapons to make stronger(or possibly weaker) weapons based on the types involved and what stats get carried over. Aside from weapons, there is also an ability system that will provide Pit with some helpful skills. Things like recovering health or launching a strong attack. So there's plenty of incentive to play at higher intensities in order to snag that strong weapon or ability.
Finding strong weapons or abilities will also help you out in the multiplayer, as those things carry over from the single player. Multiplayer is played out in land battles, with players equipping themselves with whatever weapons and abilities they have in their arsenal. Available game modes are Light vs. Dark and Free For All. In Light vs. Dark, you'll face off against another team in 3v3 play. Each death for a team will lower their respective bar. The last player whose death causes the bar to deplete will then spawn as Pit. Pit has a bit more life and will come equipped with a random weapon. The rules then change a bit, as the game will end when a team's Pit gets destroyed. Free For All is as it sounds. The multiplayer is fast paced and I found it to be quite addicting. It's simple enough and rounds are short. Joining a game is quick and easy, and with the short rounds there's not too long of a wait time if you join a game in progress. Playing multiplayer can also net you some weapons and abilities.
Thanks to the intensity levels and multiplayer, there's lots of stuff to experience in this game. And they both provide you with rewards that will benefit you in other modes. There's also the simple achievement system, where completing certain objectives will reward you with some extras or even a weapon. Special AR Cards will also work with the game, and are used in a simple manner, but they help offer rewards of their own. The amount of content in this game is amazing and it's satisfying to always get rewarded for just about doing anything in the game.
Kid Icarus: Uprising also has the luxury of being a great looking game. The levels feel expansive and bring you to many gorgeous sceneries, and look pretty good in 3D. Frame rate holds up very well too, even when flying through levels at high speed. Though, frame rate can get a bit bumpy in multiplayer, as things can get chaotic really quick. There is also a lot of nicely done voice work added to give the game personality and charm. Throughout levels you'll encounter many conversations between Pit and Palutena, along with some special guests. Conversations just add on to the enjoyment for fans as they'll reference past Kid Icarus games, and maybe even other games. Things do get a bit out there and conversations tend to ramble a bit long, but I never grew tired of it. And I can't forget to mention the fantastic music. This is a very well presented title.
It's been a long wait, but I'd say it was worth it. Kid Icarus: Uprising gives this long forgotten franchise some new life, while staying true to what was already there. It may not exactly be the same game, but the concept fits in well with the Kid Icarus universe. What you'll find here is a unique handheld experience, but one that does have its share of flaws. Controls will feel odd at first and can be uncomfortable, but the game only gets better once you grab hold of them. Kid Icarus: Uprising is simply an amazing 3DS title full of action, charm, and so much fun.