A new Kid Icarus game has been a long time coming. The very first title was released on the NES back in 1987 and saw the protagonist, Pit, take on the evil Medusa in an effort to save the Goddess Palutena and restore peace to Angel Land. After a sequel on the Game Boy, which was released in the early 90s, the Kid Icarus franchise seemed to disappear entirely, save for the occasional re-release of the original game.
Well, now it’s back and heading to the 3DS in the form of Kid Icarus: Uprising.
In terms of plot, it seems that Medusa is up to her old tricks, as she has roused the army of darkness to cause trouble throughout the land. It’s up to Pit, guided by Palutena, to take on the army, find the three sacred treasures, and give Medusa a good old fashioned ass-kicking. All is not as it seems though; is there someone behind the scenes pulling all the strings, who perhaps is even more powerful than Medusa?
I absolutely loved the aerial combat sections. They are fast paced, well designed, and provide plenty of challenge. Unfortunately Pit has a rather annoying restriction in that if he stays airborne for more than five minutes his wings will burn up, so these levels never last long enough. It’s at this point where Pit heads to the ground and the game becomes a free-roaming beat’em up. Unfortunately it also becomes a lot more cumbersome.
I’ll be honest, there’s a good chance you’ll initially hate the ground combat controls. Make no mistake; you will get used to them, but even after several hours playing through the game I still can’t say I like them. Pit can be moved around using the Circle Pad, although instead of walking or running he sort of skips. I don’t know why he skips, exactly, but I wish he wouldn’t as it’s slow and ungainly.
Firing is the same as during aerial combat, by holding the left shoulder button and sliding the stylus across the touch screen, and if Pit gets close enough to an enemy the target reticule changes, indicating a melee attack can be done. This is all fine; however it’s the camera control that is my biggest problem. You have to manually move the camera by swiping left/right on the touchscreen, and when just walking normally the system works.
During an intense fight though it can be very frustrating, as you have to move, fire, dodge, and control the camera all at the same time, with it all being crammed into only a couple of input methods (the Circle Pad and touch screen).
Learn to live with these niggles and you’re in for a real treat, as Kid Icarus: Uprising can put on one hell of a show. First up is the Fiend’s Cauldron, which is a system that allows you to customise the difficulty by adjusting the intensity level of each chapter from 0.0 – 9.0. To change the scale you have to make an offering of a set number of hearts. If you die during that chapter the hearts you put forward are lost, however if you are successful you’ll be rewarded with powerful weapons. This risk/reward strategy is a clever idea, although I’ll warn you now that the higher levels won’t be conquered easily.
Speaking of weapons, the game has loads! You start off with a fairly standard projectile firing sword, but soon start collecting all manner of devices; from staffs, to claws, to massive clubs. If that wasn’t enough, you can fuse together collected weapons to create something even more powerful with added status effects such as ‘poison’. It’s possible to spend an unhealthy amount of time just going through all the possible combinations to see what you fancy.[drop]Although I was a bit down on the ground combat earlier, it does have a number of good points when you get used to the controls. The bosses, for example, are a varied bunch that each provides a unique challenge. There are also a number of vehicles that crop up during certain levels, adding something different to the mix. My favourite is the mech that shoots rapid bolts of death at the enemy (cue evil laugh).
The game also looks absolutely stunning in places. It’s hard to see from the screenshots, but I think it’s the best looking 3DS game, with the aerial sections being of particular note and making good use of the 3D effect. The sound is a mixed bag though, with a lovely score let down by some annoying voice acting. Yes, in places the dialogue is humorous, but overall Pit comes across as more annoying than heroic.
Once the story mode is finished, there’s an online multiplayer mode to sink your teeth into. The free-for-all match is exactly that; up to six players facing off against each other with the winner being the last one standing. Light vs. Dark mode sees two teams of three fight against one another. The goal is to wipe out the opposing team’s health meter, and when this happens the last defeated team member turns into an angel. The team who defeats the opposing team’s angel wins.
Now I’ll probably get shouted at for saying this, but the multiplayer reminds me of Quake in as much as that it’s pretty simplistic, fast paced and requires you to chuck large projectiles at the enemy. Not a bad effort at all, with no lag encountered.
- Looks stunning, with a strong musical score
- The Fiend’s Cauldron is a great idea
- Large variety of weapons
- Impressive bosses
- Good multiplayer modes
- The ground combat controls take a fair bit of getting used to
- Some annoying voice acting
When Kid Icarus: Uprising is good, it’s really good, with Pit swooping over clashing armies before taking on screen-filling bosses. It’s a shame that the ground combat controls don’t really click at first, and may put people off. Persevere, though, and you’ll find an extremely rewarding title with a wealth of content.