-Kris “Kaz” Sturm
Having been the first game I’ve purchased for the 3DS since the Ocarina of Time remake, I figured it’d be best if I saw what the big deal was about Kid Icarus: Uprising. Much to my surprise, I have to say the commentary I’ve seen online for it has not been misplaced. Pit makes a stellar return in this latest adventure of his in this 25th anniversary (where have I heard THAT one before?) of his original adventure and his fight against the forces of Medusa and her unholy army.
For those who are new to the Kid Icarus series (Kid Icarus was followed up by a relatively unknown and definitely unpraised Game Boy release titled Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters), Uprising helps refresh players’ memories or fill them in on events past through allusions made to the NES title, classic sprite images and all. In fact, speaking of alluding to the original NES release, as soon as the payer pops the cartridge into the 3DS, the little jingle that plays gives off the feel of the original 8-bit gameplay before we’re immersed into a completely different aspect of handheld gaming.
As the game is a 3DS only release, the option to turn the 3D visual effects have full use in the game and while it doesn’t do -too- much as I had made mention to in my Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time remake review, it surprisingly sharpened up gaming to the point that it felt like a smoother gameplay experience. In addition to smoothing out gameplay, new copies of Uprising also came with a 3DS stand which I honestly thought was the stupidest thing I had ever seen… until I started playing. Cursed with left-handedness, the stand helped me keep a stable gaming platform up and made it possible for me to actually play for a good deal of time so once again, I have to thank Nintendo for their innovation. In addition to this innovative effort, the game also includes a pack of limited edition cards, guaranteeing at least Pit, Palutena and Medusa as idols that can be scanned using the 3D camera and even used to fight each other in a fun little battle sequence for nothing other than watching from a distance a couple characters fighting.
When it comes down to breaking down the actual gameplay, as stated before, I found the whole concept quite innovative, incorporating aspects of both a third person shooter (utilizing the touch pad to control movement while the touch pad is used for aiming) and as an immersive adventure styled game once Pit finds his way to the second half of the level, entirely based on running through maps (where the touch pad now focuses on being both an aiming tool and as a means to move the camera around). In fact, the actual game guide which comes with the game is nothing more than a fold out that explains all of the controls. Only three things are actually used; the touch pad, the analog stick and the left button (or if the player has access to the dual analog attachment, lefties like myself can swap the controls). That’s it.
While gameplay is simple, the follows through the traditional hero’s journey dynamic while also occasionally breaking the fourth wall where Pit, under the guidance of the Goddess of Light Palutena, learns to grow as an angel and as a warrior in hopes to take down the evil forces of Medusa and the Underworld Army, in hopes that one day he will be able to fly on his own without fear of his wings burning off of his body. Going through the course of the story, we’re reintroduced to a stock of characters that have reemerged from Pit’s past including Twinbellows, Hewdraw (NES sprites and sounds included) and Pandora, and introducing other (albeit minor) characters including Magnus -an otherworldly powerful human and general d-bag-, Dark Lord Gaol as a new antagonist and the focus of Magnus’ hostility and Dark Pit (aka Pittoo) who was created as a manifestation from the Mirror of Truth (his origins actually starting as a colour swap in Super Smash Bros: Brawl) and aptly enough, both of them have quite the mouth on them.
Multiplayer was another innovative segment added along to the overall design of the game and can be noted as one of the better successes to come from the game’s development. The game designs its multiplayer element to include both a free for all and a team based combat system which has failed to disappoint. Somewhat akin to fighting Dark Pit during the game’s story mode, multiplayer pits (haha) various people against each other in online combat as they bring together the best of their own weaponry to battle and fight to the death, trying to see which team, or which person will come out on top at the end of the match. In ‘Light vs Dark’ combat mode, teams fight against each other to see who can take out as many enemy combatants as they can, and upon doing so effectively summon the opponent’s angel; a much stronger foe than what the team provides and upon their defeat, that team is crowned victor. In the free-for-all setting, each combatant must try to find their own ways to come out on top in the competition to see just which person should be hailed as the grand champion.
It’s an altogether simple concept to help establish supremacy amongst gamers… unfortunately, the one setback that this does provide is that those with lesser graded weaponry are at a severe disadvantage in comparison to those better armed, as the amount of damage each arm can deal, their firing speeds, the effects they carry; every factor imaginable comes into play in establishing dominance. If there is one balancing factor that can come into play, it would have to be that after entering a round and upon exiting, the player is given a stock of weapons that they can keep and most likely use to bring themselves one step higher against their competition. And even if something happens to not be as great as desired, the player is at full liberty to convert any item they receive into a small sum of hearts, whereupon they can craft or purchase their own weaponry.
Ah yes, before I forget, that last line reminded me that from the beginning of the game, the player can buy or craft their own weapons in exchange for the hearts they pick up in their adventures. I’ll be blunt, buying weapons in the game requires an exorbitant amount of hearts in sums unattainable without the aid of grinding through missions and progressively ramping up the difficulty to earn more and more hearts, as well as unlock secret areas that can only be accessed by playing at a certain difficulty.
Crafting on the other hand is an entirely different animal; in the sense that the player can take typically any two weapons they have and create an entirely different weapon in their place. These new weapons are displayed with having higher stats of a generally wide variety from weapon speed or power or even the addition of effect such as poison to wreak further havoc on the army of Hades. Sounds simple enough and with the right items, a player can craft the ideal weapon that best suits their gameplay… at the cost of a lesser, but still exorbitant amount of hearts. Bear in mind though, that with a majority of the item combinations available to the player, the cost is still outweighed by the fact that the player can get a considerably better weapon in its place.
Overall, I have to say that for the 3DS, Kid Icarus: Uprising stands above and beyond what I initially expected and has set itself up as possibly one of the better investments I’ve made on a new console and I was able to wring out several enjoyable hours out of it. Other than the fact that I wasn’t particularly wowed by the voice acting, it was still quite the great game; even if I felt discriminated by it for being left-handed (haha). It’s a solid game and I’d say definitely worth the investment.
Reviewed by: Kris “Kaz” Sturm
Reviewer Rating: 4.5/5