Published on July 7th, 2012 | by Duke0910
Review: Kid Icarus: Uprising
Developer: Project Sora
Release Date: March 23, 2012
25 years; it’s been almost that long since the original Kid Icarus was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Back then, you were just Pit, armed with a bow and arrow, on a quest to save the divinity that is Lady Palutena, from the queen of the underworld, Medusa. There was another game released on the Game Boy 5 years later, but I unfortunately never knew of its existence till recently. Fast forward to 2008, Pit and Lady Palutena return in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, with many wondering if this was a sign that the kid angel would make a return soon. Finally, fans are treated to some surprising news in 2010, that the series would return on the 3DS. It may have taken 2 more years after this, but Nintendo finally releases Kid Icarus: Uprising for the Nintendo 3DS. I’ll go right ahead and say this, it’s a fantastic game that was worth the wait we had to go through in order to get it. Now I could just stop right here, but, that wouldn’t be much of a review, would it? I mean, just cause the game is great, doesn’t make it a perfect game. What do I mean by that? Read on to find out.
As I said earlier (and Medusa herself states in the beginning of the game), it’s been 25 years since the events of the original Kid Icarus. Medusa has been resurrected, and wants revenge for her defeat many years ago. She releases her underworld army to create chaos on Earth and in Skyworld. With the help of Lady Palutena, Pit will fight off many enemies, meet new allies, and work his way to defeat Medusa. Sounds simple right? Almost like a throwback to the classics. However, if that’s all you expect from this story, prepare to say “Oh snap!” multiple times (Incoming spoilers alert). After defeating Medusa, Hades, the real threat of the game, appears. Honestly, who can really say they saw this coming when so much emphasis was put on Medusa? Even after defeating her, the credits start to roll only to be torn apart by Hades himself. It’s here where the game’s personality really develops; combined with it’s comedic story telling and plot twists. Sure, the jokes are pretty cheesy at times, but this is without a doubt one of the best stories for a Nintendo game.
The game’s story is divided into chapter’s, with each chapter representing a level. Before a chapter starts, you’ll be asked to bet hearts, which you can get by defeating enemies, converting weapons, or clearing other chapters. The rewards you yield will become greater with more hearts wagered, but at the same time the difficulty is increased. You can also bet no hearts at all, but keep in mind the treasure you find will be of little to no value. Not only that, but when you lose all your health, some of the hearts you bet disappear, and your difficulty level will drop by one. This is definitely a game where you’ll be gambling often; betting higher in order to find rarer items, or save your hearts to buy stuff at the shop? There’s no wrong way for a person to handle their hearts, but at the same time there’s always a right way for them to use them, if you get what I mean.
In most cases, the chapter begins with an on-rails flying and shooting game. Your job is to move pit around on his predetermined path, dodging enemy fire and obstacles, and shooting everything in sight. Due to Pit needing the gift of flight from Lady Palutena, which only lasts for 5 minutes, the duration of these sections are pretty short. They can also be quite hectic, and seems to take inspiration from Nintendo’s Sin & Punishment series. There are times when the screen is just full of hazards and projectiles, so it’s best to keep moving around the screen to dodge as much as you can. After these brief and fun flying sections, you take the fight to the ground and continue your way on foot. You can either shoot your way though, or use close range melee attacks to defend yourself from enemies. You’ll run through many detailed and beautiful areas, such as the Underworld, an alien space ship, and even the belly of a main character. There are a few things you can interact with, such as jump pads, grind rails, and vehicles. Some of these can be ignored, but trust me, it’s a lot more fun jumping around all over the place like an idiot. If you really want to look in awe at this game, try turning on the 3D effect on every now and then. Kid Icarus: Uprising has the perfect balance, to where you can see and feel depth of the objects, and it actually looks as if things are coming out of the screen. In each level you’ll find an intensity gate, which will only open if you’re playing a chapter on a certain difficulty level. Behind these gates yields some of the rarer treasures of the game, so if you want to find better weapons and skills you better crank up the intensity. At the end of these sections you’ll have some type of boss battle, with no 2 fights being the same. There are plenty of foes to fight at the end, with characters you wouldn’t expect to even fight, which helps keep the levels from getting stale. After a certain point in the game, you unlock a boss-rush mode, which is, basically a boss-rush. There will be items to heal you after every boss, but you have a limited number of uses, so you’ll need to be on your A-game if you want to make it through, even on the easiest difficulty. Originally introduced in Kirby Air Ride, then brought back in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, you’re given a checklist with many tasks for you to complete. These tasks range from completing a chapter under a certain time limit, to defeating an enemy with a certain type of weapon. This gives the game hours upon hours of replay value, which is impressive considering there’s already a ton of stuff to do in Kid Icarus: Uprising.
The controls; oh wow, the controls. The way they work can either make or break an individual’s decision on whether or not they enjoy this game. The standard control scheme has you controlling Pit’s movements with the circle pad; slightly tapping it to walk, or pushing it to run. When in the air, these movements also apply; basically controlling how quickly he moves while flying. You’re also able to dash by quickly flicking the circle pad. This can come in handy for performing dash attacks, as well as dodging attacks from enemies. You perform either a long range or melee attack by pressing the L trigger, based on how close you are to an enemy or interactive item. Depending on the weapon you have equipped, you can either hold down the button for continuous fire, or perform a charged shot. The touch screen is used to move the camera, select a power or item to use, and aim your reticle for your shots. In air battles, you have two uses of a special attack, which depends completely on the weapon you currently have equipped. Once used, they will take some time to charge, so it’s best to use them sparingly and when things get too hectic for you to handle. Now, this control scheme isn’t bad, but it can be uncomfortable for some, hence why the game comes packaged with a 3DS stand. I, personally don’t find this uncomfortable, but I really don’t like having to use the stylus most of the time. When playing this game, I use the R trigger to move both the camera and reticle, and scroll through my equipped powers with the D-pad. Now, this may sound like an odd way of playing the game, but it works for me. There may be other ways to play the game as well, so it’s just a matter of preference and experimenting to find what’s comfortable for you.
While you’re not busy fighting underworld underlings, you’ll probably be spending a lot of your time crafting weapons. You make more weapons through a process called “weapon-fusion”, which basically combines two of your weapons into one. The system is much deeper than just combining two pieces of weaponry though. Each weapon can have up to six different unique traits, such as increasing your walking speed or even lowering your health. These traits can be carried over into weapons you forge, giving you almost endless possibilities as to what you can make. If making your weapons just isn’t your thing though, you can buy them from the shop, or obtain weapon gems through street and spotpass. Keep in mind though, that the more powerful weapons are extremely pricey, and that the variety in the shop changes often. You’ll also need to throw out some hearts if you want to use the weapon gems you obtain from others. Seems kinda odd having to use more of my hearts to pay for something I already have in order to use it. Really, who does that?…
After you get the hang of things and obtain a decent weapon you’re comfortable with, why not try a few rounds online? Kid Icarus: Uprising features an online mode where you can battle your friends, or others across the globe in two unique modes. In free-for-all, it’s just you and your weapon against everyone else. The goal of this is to score the most points by defeating other players as many times as you can in a certain time limit. In Light Vs. Dark mode, 6 players are divided into two teams. Each share one health bar, and decreases whenever a member is defeated. Once a team’s life gauge drops to zero, the last member to be defeated becomes an angel (Pit for Light Team and Dark Pit for Dark Team), and the gauge is replenished. However, not only do falling members decrease the gauge, but any damage that the angel takes will also cause the teams health to go down. Once a team’s angel is defeated, the battle is over and the opposing team wins. The online modes run smoothly; letting you set up matches with your friends, customizing your own battle sets with weapons and skills, and minimal hiccups when playing others. Definitely one of the better uses of Nintendo Network.
Honestly, this is a series that I never imagined would come back. It really lacked personality back when it was first introduced, and it seemed to just fade away as time went by. It’s astonishing what Team Sora has done, bringing new life to an almost forgotten franchise. It may have an odd control scheme, but if you can get past that, you’ll definitely find some enjoyment to be had. Whether it be crafting weapons, completing all three checklists, finding secrets spread throughout the chapters, or just having a good time competing with others, Kid Icarus: Uprising is fantastic way to bring the angelic hero back, and it’ll be interesting to see how titles in the future turn out.
+ Great sense of humor
+ Limitless weapon customization
+ Great online play
– Awkward control scheme
Final score: 4.25 out of 5