Game: Kid Icarus: Uprising
Developer: Project Sora
Available on: Nintendo 3DS Only
It may be stating the obvious to say this, but it has been ages since the last Kid Icarus game, 1991 in fact. People have been begging Nintendo for years for a new game in the series, which is a huge testament to just how loved Pit – the series protagonist – is, because despite there only being two games before Uprising, people wanted more. Thankfully, Nintendo abated and at E3 2010 Kid Icarus: Uprising was revealed. I got a chance to have some hands on with Uprising last year, and was left excited for the final release. Does Uprising live up to expectations? The answer is yes, and then some.
STORY: Once again, our hero Pit has to take on the evil Medusa, whose only wish is to destroy all of mankind. Poor old Pit though, he can’t fly! It’s a good job he has Palutena around, as she grants him the power of flight, which explains why each mission is on-rails, with the player controlling movements, aiming and shooting. It’s a simple enough tale really, with immersion breaking aspects such as the characters talking about in-game mechanics at times, directly referring to the controls, and how you play. It doesn’t matter too much though, as it’s all just a bit of fun. Despite the dark idea of Medusa destroying humanity, the story is presented with such colourful and charming characters that you’ll forgive almost anything after a few moments of hearing Pit talk to Palutena.
GRAPHICS: Uprising is simply gorgeous. Rivalling titles such as Super Mario 3D Land and Resident Evil: Revelations, it has that unmistakeable Nintendo look about it. Colourful, vibrant and beautiful, with – something which is becoming a theme for current Nintendo published 3DS games – amazing 3D effects which allow you to play the entirety of the game in full 3D. Aside from Nintendo, nobody really makes games that look like this, you’ll immediately fall in love with how it looks. There is even plenty of attention to detail here, despite the early enemies looking fairly basic, the moment you hit the first boss you’ll be floored by how great it all looks.
SOUND: Uprising is fully voiced, with all major characters having their own unique, slightly cheery view on things. The bad guys are suitably over the top, but this just adds to the fun and the overall experience. There’s a decent soundtrack on offer too, with fast-paced beats propelling you forward constantly during gameplay and celestial orchestral music for the menus. Sometimes the voiceover and music mix is slightly off, and with you concentrating on the shoot ‘em up action on-screen, this means you might miss things by taking your eyes off the action to read the subtitles; a minor fault.
GAMEPLAY: At its core, Kid Icarus: Uprising is modern take on the shoot ‘em up genre. Comparable to the Contra series, there are a few ways you’ll be playing the game. First of all, flight. These sections are completely on-rails, with you merely moving Pit around the screen to dodge bullets with the analogue stick. The left trigger fires your equipped weapon and the touch screen is your aiming reticule. These sections are gaming bliss, for the most part, you just hold the trigger down to fire your weapon, or wait a moment for a charge shot. It’s simple, but exquisite.
After a short while in the air, you’ll usually end up landing and assaulting a boss via ground combat. This changes things up a little bit, as the rails are removed and you can move about more freely. These areas are still pretty linear, but you can now swipe across the screen to move the camera, so you can head in any direction. Melee combat also comes into play on the ground, but again it is simple, get close to an enemy and the shooting stops and the melee starts.
Uprising never stops to show you a loading screen, or bore you with dialogue either, it is all action, all of the time. A refreshing change from the modern gaming oeuvre, the entire experience revolves around the player, and only the player. The only real negative that needs to be raised is just how uncomfortable the controls make the 3DS to hold. There’s no nice way to dress it up, but long periods of play will leave your hands in agony. That may be the price to pay for a brand new style of game on the 3DS, but it’s a damn fine job Nintendo have seen fit to bundle Uprising with a 3DS Stand, which alleviates almost all of the discomfort from playing. You can also use the right stick on the Circle Pad Pro if you have it, which also adds a left handed option. However, gamers who are used to using the left stick for movement will find it difficult to adjust to moving with the right stick.
On top of all of that, there is a reasonably varied amount of additions to spice up the combat. Every enemy you kill gains you hearts, which is the currency of Uprising. You can use this to unlock weapons from the “Arms Altar” – the shop – or you can just equip weapons you find along the way. Each weapon varies in its uses, some are rapid fire but have weak damage, whereas others are slow to fire but cause big damage, it’s all about customising your personal experience and playing the game exactly how you want to. You can even synthesise two owned weapons into a brand new weapon. There is an enormous amount of weapons to collect and you can test every single one of them before equipping them for battle.
At this point you’d be forgiven for thinking that was everything on offer, but goodness, there’s yet more! Idol Toss is a simple mini-game that allows you to put eggs into a bowl and throw them into the air to get new items. You can use play coins to buy eggs, and the more eggs you launch, the more likely you’ll get a new idol. Treasure hunt is has a large grid of puzzle pieces which are a form of achievements for Uprising. Every time you unlock a new puzzle piece it’ll be because you’ve performed a certain feat within the game, be it because you’ve “Acquired an Arm” or just for destroying 100 enemies and clearing a chapter.
All of this is just from the solo section of Uprising, StreetPass allows you to collect weapon gems from any random passer-by, so you can even get new weapons while you aren’t playing. There is also a vault where you can take a look at the idols you’ve collected, as well as listen to the music from the game, and plenty more too.
MULTIPLAYER: Even though there is plenty to do in solo mode, “Together” allows for players to take to the internet and take on one another in two teams of three players. With each death, your overall team life gauge will decrease until there is none left, where you’ll take on the light or dark angel, depending on which team is winning or losing. In this mode you’ll be rewarded with yet more weapons and items you can take back into your single player experience.
Effort has been made to make this a balanced experience too, because although you can take any weapon you have collected into the “Light Vs. Dark” multiplayer mode, if you have a superior weapon, when you die, the life gauge of your team is depleted by a far greater amount than if you have a more basic weapon. It’s a superb addition to a game already bursting at the seems with content.
LONGEVITY: Thanks to a slider simply called “intensity”, you can change the difficulty for each level as you play it. From the simple 1.0 way up to the high 9s, you can make Uprising as easy or difficult as you like, lending huge replayability to the overall experience. Couple this with the incredible weapon variation and the multiplayer and you’ve a tremendous amount of bang for your buck. In terms of single player experience, the game will take you a surprisingly long time to finish, with some twists and turns that actually make the game even longer.
VERDICT: Kid Icarus: Uprising isn’t so much of a return to form as a complete reinvention. There is nothing else like this on the Nintendo 3DS and you’d be hard pressed to find better value for money. If you are a 3DS owner then you owe it to yourself to pick up Uprising, it is a joyful, fun experience from start to finish with a ridiculous amount of content. Make sure you give the 3DS stand a try though, it’s pretty important to enjoying Kid Icarus: Uprising for extended periods of time.