3DS: Kid Icarus Uprising Review

Finally the return of Kid Icarus! After a 21 year hiatus from gaming (outside a guest appearance or two) Pit is back in his own adventure and this time it’s on the Nintendo 3DS. Medusa has returned and Goddess Paletuna has called upon our Angelic Hero Pit to save the world from her wrath.

Released March 23, 2012
Published by Nintendo
Developed by Nintendo
Rated E for Everyone
Reviewed by: Omni-Slash | Gamer’s Perspective

Finally the return of Kid Icarus!  After a 21 year hiatus from gaming (outside a guest appearance or two) Pit is back in his own adventure and this time it’s on the Nintendo 3DS.  Medusa has returned and Goddess Palutena has called upon our Angelic Hero Pit to save the world from her wrath.

While the story is pretty basic, (or is it?) the pace of the game is as frantic and fun as the incredible dialogue throughout the game. Kid Icarus Uprising shines in its ability to not take itself too seriously.  There are some genuine LOL moments that will make you want to see this adventure through to the end.  The voice acting is one of THE BEST that I have listened to in a game.  There is no overly dramatic and clichéd dialogue to be had. Instead this is a game that attempts to entertain and get you to smile and it succeeds on all levels.  Sound effects are fitting and never detract from the story at all. The soundtrack is rather spot on and the remixed version of the original Kid Icarus theme will have you humming it to yourself long after the system has been turned off.

Graphically his game is on par, if not better, than the best that the 3DS has shown so far.  Enemies and backgrounds are detailed animations are smooth and the mood and settings are perfect for the story.  Enemies are distinct and interesting in style and variety. You will see revamps of classic Kid Icarus enemies. Yup, you guessed it, prepare to be attacked by the Reapers if you let them see you.  Images are crisp and the 3D effects in the game are rather impressive. Playing with the 3D on especially during the flying portions of each “Chapter” is a lot of fun and really leaves you looking forward to what else Nintendo may do with the 3DS in the future.  Luckily Kid Icarus Uprising has the game play to match the all of the graphical goodness that is brought to the table.

There are two distinct styles of game play to be had in Kid Icarus Uprising.  Each stage or “Chapter” as it is referred to in the game starts with Pit flying through a barrage of enemies as you aim to take them down. This section is basically a “Rail Shooter” this is a style in which you control Pit in the directions of up, down and side to side but the path forward is predetermined.  Basically the only thing one has to worry about is avoiding enemy fire and blasting the heck out of Medusa’s forces. These sections are fast paced and frantic as you avoid lasers, energy blasts, fireballs and enemies crashing into you. Controls are tight, responsive and you never feel overwhelmed on the standard difficulty setting.

The second section of the Chapter takes place after Pit lands. At this point the stage becomes a blend of platforming and shooting depending on the weapon equipped. Controls are fairly straight forward in this section, though not ideal.  Walking and running is controlled by the thumb stick, the harder your press the faster you move, double tapping will result in a sprint or dodge.  Direction and aiming is controlled via your stylus on the touch screen.  Without the second thumb stick unfortunately this really is the best option to be had. For the most part it works well but there are times when the action becomes too fast and you can get your either stuck or in a position where your camera angle is not ideal, and by not ideal I mean horrible.  Overall the experience is very positive even with these control limitations.  I rarely got stuck, nor did it cost me a defeat.

During these platforming sections you make your way through the level, blasting and hacking enemies in your path. Depending on the weapon equipped that may mean literally blasting them from a distance with bow and orbs or beating them down with clubs or claws. All of these have positives and negatives that will be addressed, but do know that you only get to choose your weapon at the beginning of the stage so choose wisely. If you are not comfortable with a weapon make sure to equip abilities that will help you out.

Abilities can be found throughout the game and can be set up in between chapters. To set up an ability it has to be attached to the ability grid. Each ability has a shape attributed to it and it’s up to you to fit them into the grid Tetris style, without wasting any space. Depending on how valuable the ability is it tends to take up a lot more space and/or has an odd shape to it so it really hampers how many abilities you can have equipped at one time.  Abilities can be offensive or defensive spells, restorative spells, jumping/gliding boosts and status enhancements or effects.  Abilities can easily be accessed by tapping on a sliding menu on the touch screen at any time in the heat of battle. Abilities are only used during platforming sections of the game.

So now that the basics of the game has been expressed, let’s get right into what makes this game utterly spectacular, depth and replay value.  First off there is a lot in the story mode, I’m not going to spoil anything but just be content in knowing that without  replaying the story at all there is more than enough meat to this game to warrant a purchase at full price.  That being said, what kid Icarus Uprising really excels at is that you will not only play each chapter once, but you will play them each over and over again trying to get new weapons or hearts in order to buy new weapons.  “How so?” you may ask.  Even if you are not one for wanting to replay a stage or game you have beaten you will find yourself suckered in by the wagering system the Kid Icarus Uprising has set up.

By wagering hearts you can raise the levels of each individual chapter.  By increasing the difficulty level of a chapter you increase the amount and quality of treasure that can be obtained on each stage. There is a price to be had though for your chance at fortune and glory, enemies will become more numerous, more powerful and faster. Death means that you will not only lose the hearts you have wagered but the level in which you entered will be dropped by one. So even if you continue the stage,  you will not have the option to complete the level at the difficulty you started out with and as such the amount of treasure and quality of that treasure will decrease for the rest of the stage.  Oh wait…did I forget to mention that all the treasure is randomly generated?  Well they are, so there is no guarantee what weapons or items you will get.  The result of this is? …Finding yourself sidetracked for hours at a time in an attempt at getting a more powerful weapon in order to slay Medusa’s army.  When I say hours, I mean hours as there are a ton of weapons to be found throughout this game and practically an infinite amount of status enhancement combinations to go with them.

Weapons come in 9 varieties; Blades, Bows, Palms, Arms, Staffs, Cannons, Orbs, Claws and Clubs.  Each weapon has their own specific strengths and weakness, attack power vs. weight vs. speed vs. range vs. melee. Plus each individual weapon has a rating attached to it to show that particular weapon’s range and melee ability. For example you may have 2 Ogre Clubs but one may have a 3 star rating for melee while the other has a 5 star rating.  Added to this is the fact that each weapon has 5 slots in which a random status increase or decrease may be attributed to it. For examples are Melee +2, Defense -3 or so on. In theory there are pretty much an infinite amount of weapon possibilities.  It also needs to be said that you can fuse weapons together and create new weapons at any time. It is addicting as you try to find the perfect balance of strength, speed and extra attributes that corresponds with the way you fight.

Finding a weapon that fits your playing style is a necessity if you are to have a chance at success in Uprising’s multiplayer.  Up to six players are supported at any one time either via local or online options.  Multiplayer games consist of; All for One Death Matches or Team Death Matches. There are some interesting caveats to the Team Death matches, including the fact that the more powerful weapon that is used the more it takes your team’s health bar down when you die, but overall the gameplay is pretty straight forward, standard and just plain fun.  Overall Uprising’s multiplayer is really a fast paced experience that’s only ever really marred by slowdowns when the black hole abilities are used… but unfortunately a lot of people use them.

With so many options, abilities, collectable items, stages, difficulty settings, weapons and a solid multiplayer experience, Kid Icarus Uprising is one of the best and most refreshing games that Nintendo has released in quite a while.  With very minor problems such as the much over exaggerated discomfort while playing, which I have yet to experience even with my large hands, and slowdown during multiplayer, there is so much goodness packed in to make them barely even noticeable. If you have a 3DS this is a must own. If you don’t own one this is a game that should make you go out and get one.  My only hope is that Nintendo realizes the potential they have with this series and explores it some more because Pit deserves more chances in the spotlight…and I would love to see a Pit make the jump back to Nintendo’s home console. Buy it now!

Final Score for Kids:
Final Score for Adults: