Kid Icarus: Uprising Review
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On 04/02/2012 at 12:00 PM by Patrick Kijek
Booty, booty, booty rocking everywhere.
Even though it loses a half a star for its clunky controls, nobody remotely interested in a good story or an addicting on-rail shooter should miss this title, with plenty of treasure to boot.
Kid Icarus: Uprising fills a couple of holes in Nintendo’s arsenal of video game genres. Not only has the series been re-imagined as an on-rails shooter, but Uprising is also a third-person shooter/slasher. These hybridized genres bring a unique mix of untapped video game potential to a Nintendo console. In spite of its steep learning curve and lefty control issues, Kid Icarus: Uprising is an early reason to buy a Nintendo 3DS.
By and large, the most entertaining aspect of the game is the scale on which Kid Icarus: Uprising tells its story. At first it appears to be retelling that of the first title in the series: Pit journeys to defeat the evil Medusa and save mankind. However, half-way through this story, Uprising elevates, putting a superb spin on Greek mythology thanks to developer, Project Sora.
Kid Icarus: Uprising’s twists and turns allow each level to feel urgent in new ways. From quests to regain sacred weapons and expel chaotic demons from goddesses, to puzzles testing players’ ability to navigate Pit’s perspective through a mirror’s reflection, Project Sora mixes up level objectives, plot objectives and players’ perspectives as often as one would desired. Each twist provides players with a sense of wonder while they evolve their ability to play with the Uprising’s controls.
Unfortunately, Kid Icarus: Uprising has a steep learning curve with regard to its control system. Default controls force one’s index finger to control the firing while their thumb directs Pit’s movement. The player’s other hand needs to aim and move the camera with the stylus as well. For this reason, Nintendo chose to ship Uprising with a stand for the 3DS system. It sits the system in a comfortable position to play for long periods of time, which wouldn’t be the case without it
For players with a circle pad (righties), the main problem will be learning how to multitask. Righties and lefties who have been fortunate enough to find a Circle Pad Pro will find these controls manageable after a few hours, nevertheless, lefties who cannot locate a Gamestop with a Circle Pad Pro will find most of their deaths occurring from the lack of sensitivity in using the system’s XYAB buttons to control Pit. Running off ledges is a common occurrence with these controls, making it tough to succeed on the higher difficulties.
The obtrusive positioning of Pit’s power-ups on the 3DS’ touch screen also leaves something to be desired, namely a new layout on the touch screen. It could’ve been simple to expand the area of power-ups on the touch screen to a whole row, rather than force the player to scroll through a tiny area in the bottom-left corner at the same time as a battle. Why Project Sora would not lay out power-ups in an easily accessible way for quick uses in hectic battles remain one of the most mysterious questions to Kid Icarus’ mythology.
Over the course of the eight to ten hour single player quest that consists of twenty-five chapters, this power-up positioning is one of the few shortcomings to its varied design and well-constructed levels. Each of the possible combinations of power-ups have the same level of variety and polish as the diversity between the many enemies and levels through which an enemy’s persona is able to vibrate. Though the layout is a shame, the level variety from the underworld to space-pirate ships and positioning of obstacles within both single player and multiplayer more than make up for the control’s obstructions.
Happily, everything else about the game soars, including the once-maligned multiplayer battles. Playing with a total of six people, both Free-for-all (Deathmatch) and Light vs. Dark (Team Deathmatch) charm the players with hectic battles and constant rewards. It pays to play these modes because great items are dropped at the end of every battle. Sometimes you will randomly win a lottery resulting in weapons that can be slightly better than anything you already have. In addition, these weapons can be fused with other weapons or gems to make them even more powerful or augment their abilities. Even if you don’t get lucky, every victory and assist against another player will earn you hearts for use to purchase better weapons and play levels on higher difficulty.
The topic of hearts brings us to an important innovation in Kid Icarus: Uprising, its wager system. Before every launch into battle, players are presented with a thermometer where they can use the stylus to change their difficulty level from 0-9. Yet players must be wary of their difficulty choice, because they must wager more hearts as they increase its difficulty. Since death will also take a lot of the hearts that you have collected away, players must choose their difficulty wisely or lose all of the hearts that they have wagered. This system of risk and reward keeps every level and replay interesting.
When you succeed, the payoff for risking your heart and playing your best comes in the form of achievements, trophies, idols, music, and portraits. The many different rewards given to you outside of the game can add to the replay value, depending on what drives you in a video game. Each of these rewards seems to cater to different drives, so one of them should surely suit your fancy. For instance, over 300 achievements unlock pieces to portraits in three different treasure hunts. On the other side, 3D idols are unlocked with successful idol tosses and captures using an idol transformation power on an enemy during a level. Those who enjoyed filling their 3DS pokédex app, idols will be a real treat to ‘collect them all’.
Regardless of the achievements that a player finds, everyone should find enough worth in the Kid Icarus: Uprising’s videos and cutscenes. Relentless sarcasm and self-deprecating humor peppered throughout battles between heaven and hell and everywhere else lighten the mood just enough to laugh at the plot’s absurdity. Having an angel who cannot fly gain the power of flight for five minutes at a time surely has its share of punch lines, and everyone from the Palutena (the goddess of light) to Hades (lord of the underworld) are willing to take shots at Pit. Taking the humor to another level rarely seen in Nintendo software, many of the characters also break down the wall between the game and real life when they joke about the story’s inadequacies. Nevertheless, this humble personality only adds to Uprising’s quality with a rare commentary on stereotypical heroes and clichés throughout action/adventure games.
Lamenting Pit’s inability to fly for more than five minutes, this is the only place where the game lands on its feet. As stated above, the controls can be a problem, but they only manifest while Pit battles on land. However, Kid Icarus’ depth and story should not be spoiled for any gamer. They should all play through it first hand to hear the story of an ironic angel, and hopefully, save humanity in the process.