Finally, after over two decades of hiatus, Kid Icarus is back for a whole new adventure on the 3DS. Kid Icarus: Uprising serves as a revival to one of Nintendo’s long-lost franchises – and no, Pit’s appearance in Smash Bros. does not count. After an aching journey of numerous delays we finally have our Icarus, but is the wait worth it, or does Pit’s latest adventure fall from its own wings?
Kid Icarus: Uprising follows the story of Pit, a young angel in charge of Palutena’s army. His quest is to discover the origin of the underworld army’s sudden upbringing to the surface, flying over numerous areas and exploring a number of different locales to accomplish his task. In terms of presentation, Uprising hits it off the charts. The voice acting, though initially a bit annoying , grows on you though the numerous conversations the characters have with each other during the game. Surprisingly, the cheesy dialogue feels natural and unforced, an aspect that gives Uprising more personality than any Nintendo game to date.
The game itself is made up of around 10 hours of single-player campaign across numerous chapters, with each chapter split into two parts: a flight battle and a land battle. The flight battles are played much like most on-rails experiences, a la Sin & Punishment. These sections usually last around ten minutes, and are by far the best parts of the game. Here, players use the stylus to aim, the circle pad to move, and the L button to shoot. The controls are easy and simple to learn, and it feels surprisingly natural to play.
Unfortunately, with every good part comes a bad part, and that part is the second section of each chapter: the land battles. The problem with the land battles come with the camera controls. Again, the same controls apply: circle pad to move, stylus to aim. But in addition to that, the stylus acts as a sort of camera stick, utilizing flicks to move the camera around. I found the camera to be overly troublesome; oftentimes I would fall off a ledge because of a mispositioned camera, or I would die trying to find my way through a level only to get hit from behind by multiple enemies. Ultimately, I found that most of my land battle deaths can be blamed on the game.
Speaking of deaths, Kid Icarus: Uprising has a unique way of upping the difficulty for advanced players. At the start of each level, you bet hearts (the in-game currency) to increase the stage’s difficulty – the more hearts you bet, the more difficult the stage. But with great risks come both great failures and great rewards. Should you complete the level at your selected difficulty, you will be rewarded with a multitude of hearts and great weapons. But should you fail, you shall lose your hearts, and the stage’s difficulty shall fall down to a more suitable level. In other words, you get penalized for dying, which is a great idea if you desire to challenge your skills. The one downside to this is that the game is littered with enemies that deliver 1-hit KO’s, meaning that one misstep can lead to a permanent death… something that happens from time to time thanks to the game’s shoddy camera.
Though the main campaign is a bit on the short side, as with most Sakurai games, Uprising includes loads of extra content. From weapon fusing to idol collecting to specific challenges to even useless AR card battles (okay fine, the AR battles are actually kinda cool), there are mounds of extra content here. You’ll spend hours upon hours finding the perfect item combination, tweaking the controls to your liking, and reading through pages and pages of statistics and information. There are also in-game items and powers you can collect to aid you in the game, anything from health recoveries to explosive tornadoes. It’s a completionist’s dream (or nightmare, depending on which way you put it).
But the one extra mode that stands out from the rest is, obviously, the game’s multiplayer mode (or as the game calls it, “Together” mode). There’s nothing more fun that battling it out with your buddies or a bunch of random strangers to see who is the best fighter of them all. There are 2 modes in Together mode: Light vs. Dark and Free For All. Free For All is what you’d expect – every player has their own health bar, and it’s up to you to destroy as many opponents as you can. Light vs. Dark is a bit different in that each team of 3 has one collective life bar, as well as several extra rules. Both modes are very fun, though Free For All seems to be the most popular one of the two; you’ll be spending hours trying to find the best weapons and powers to use against your opponents. And if all these rules seem too complicated for you, don’t worry; the game is filled with tutorials that guide you through pretty much every little thing about the game.
Adding to the game’s ridiculously high production values are its stunning visuals (turn the 3D all the way up kids) and the fantastic soundtrack. As I said before, the game’s presentation is through the roof, and the amount of variety in the game keeps it from becoming dull. Each chapter is also not only unique in its dialogue, but also in the way you play, throwing in enough new things in each level to keep things fresh. It’s like the perfect storybook, if you will.
But presentation only goes so far. Yes, despite my love for the characters and the dialogue and the story and the presentation and pretty much everything else about the game, the ground battles are just too damn frustrating, making me, on numerous occasions, want to break the game in half and throw my 3DS out the window. That being said, I’m glad I purchased Kid Icarus: Uprising. The amount of content in this game is ridiculous, and the multiplayer is nothing but fun. Do yourself a favor and pick this game up, or at least give it a try before you do. Trust me, you won’t regret it.