Kid Icarus: Uprising
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Adventure/3rd Person Shooter
Return to the twisted Greek myths of one of Nintendo’s longest missed franchises, Kid Icarus!
About the Game
Kid Icarus: Uprising is an action/adventure shooter featuring the return of Pit after over 20 years on Nintendo’s shelf. The game includes over 20 massive stages to complete in single player, a deep weapon customization feature, and two great multiplayer modes. The game also features Nintendo’s AR cards (over 400 of which are currently available to be collected, including the 6 that come with the game) which can be used to have 3D battles on your desktop, and also for collection purposes.
The single player campaign is the real meat of the game. Over the 20+ stages you’ll be flying in a rail shooter for about a quarter to half of the stage (some stages have more, some have less), followed up by on foot exploration of the vast levels. Each level can be played on different difficulty settings, ranging from 0 (Effortless) to 9 (Nothing Harder!), with your rewards increasing for each level of difficulty you go up. However, there’s a penalty to be had to increase the difficulty, in the form of paying with Hearts (the in game currency). As you increase the difficulty, you sacrifice more & more hearts…and if you get killed, you lose a portion of the hearts you sacrificed, and get dropped one difficulty level. The risk is worth it though, since enemies will drop more hearts and you’ll find better weapons as you increase your difficulty. There’s also doors scattered through the levels that can only be opened if you’re at the difficulty level printed on them (including a couple of lv. 9 doors which are brutally hard to access). Those doors often hold chests with the best weapons and skills in the game.
Speaking of weapons, once you’ve collected a few you can enter the Arms Altar in single player mode to initiate weapon fusion. This will take a pair of your weapons and combine them into a single new weapon, which will often be much better than you had to begin with. However, as with everything in the game there’s a risk to be taken…if you find a weapon you particularly like, you need to be very careful about fusing it. You also need to pay close attention to the attributes on each weapon you’re fusing, since the better attributes (things like speed boosts, status ailments, health boosts, and combat modifiers) can often end up being lost on the new weapon. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve made a better weapon than you had, only to realize your Speed +4 just got deleted in favor of a slight combo boost.
Within the weapons, there are different categories as well. Your basic weapon is a Blade, which is basically like the old Final Fantasy Gunsword. You can also find Bows, Claws (my personal favorite), Staffs (the game’s sniper rifle analog), Palms (sort of a lethal ranged tattoo which makes Pit do massive damage with bare hands), Clubs, Cannons (useful in tight spaces, since the shots will bounce around corners…think grenade launchers), Orbitars (little flying drones that fire multiple shots for ranged attacks), and Arms (big melee boosters that also sometimes have very good ranged attacks). Unfortunately, you’re only allowed one weapon to be equipped at a time (too bad, since Orbitars almost seem like they should be able to be equipped along with another weapon type since they’re floating free from Pit), so your choices in that regard are vital.
Outside of single player mode, there’s the multiplayer, known as Together. This mode has two options…Far Away and Nearby. Far Away uses the 3DS wifi connection to play with people around the world (and also allows you to join friends on your friend list for brawls), while Nearby only allows you to play against people in the same room as you. Either way you go, once you’re in you have two options. Free For All is the classic deathmatch mode, pitting up to 6 players into a massive melee. Dark vs. Light splits the players into a 3v3 match, with each team of 3 working as either dark or light players. This mode has two health bars showing…one for yourself, and one for your team. As each player on your team gets killed, the team bar goes down by a percentage depending on how powerful a weapon that player was using, and the player who’s death ends the health bar is then transformed into either Pit or Dark Pit (with a random weapon equipped). Once that happens, things degenerate rapidly since the defeat of one of the Pits ends the match instantly.
The Together mode can also be used when you’re unable to connect online, by using the Nearby mode. You can set up to 5 AI players as opponents, and you can also adjust the difficulty on the same range as the Solo mode. Personally, I use that strategy to practice together combat by setting the AI to 9 (which is actually a bit harder than playing against your average human players) and the numbers to 6, then going into Free For All. When you can win against AI of that caliber on a consistent basis, you’ll find that the online matches become much more fun.
Other features in the game include a pair of collection boards which give boosts as you clear them (there are a massive number of items to clear off of the boards, which slowly reveal images related to the board). The boosts range from weapons to Idols, powers, and other assorted boosts. Speaking of the Idols, these are 3D representations of weapons, enemies, and characters from the game. They can be earned during levels, as level rewards, as rewards in multiplayer matches, and from the AR cards. You can also gain them from the Idol Toss feature in Solo mode, which lets you use the play coins you gain from walking with the 3DS in sleep mode. Finally, the game utilizes Streetpass, which allows you to swap weapons that have been encased in gems with other players. You also will get one per day from Palutena, although cracking the gem open to get the weapon inside can be brutally expensive in Hearts (I have one set of Tiger Claws in a gem that will cost me nearly 100k to open).
Sound – Graphics
The audio in the game is quite great. Most of the different weapons and enemies have easily identified sounds (which comes in handy in hectic multiplayer matches). There’s also some blatantly hilarious commentary during the Solo stages as Pit chats with Palutena, not to mention every major boss in the game. They even start making comments as you get farther into the game which breaks the 4th wall and jokes about the game itself, or has comments about other Nintendo products (including a really hilarious Nintendogs + Cats reference during a mid game boss fight). The enemies are nicely varied, and the stages are often quite jaw dropping, especially during the rail shooter sections. There are a few issues here & there with screen tears and jaggies, but most of that smoothes out when 3D is turned on full. Speaking of the 3D, I found myself turning it off most of the time, since its deep enough it was giving me minor motion sickness, so if you’re susceptible to that you should consider playing in 2D mode, or with minor 3D. Also, the 3D gets blurry occasionally when things get really hectic.
Ah, here’s the elephant in the room. The control system has been variously cheered and panned, and is the most polarizing thing about this title. Control is accomplished by holding the system in your left hand, guiding Pit with the analog nub, shooting with the L shoulder button, and aiming with the stylus. This can get a touch uncomfortable in long sessions, and many people have panned the game for not allowing the use of the Circle Pad Pro accessory for a twin stick experience. Personally, I think that the control scheme is quite brilliant, and although it does take a bit to get used to. Nintendo also supplies all new copies of the game with a little plastic stand that you can use to place the system on a desktop for ease of use, but I found it unusable with my Nyko Power Grip, and others who use the Nyko Power Pak+ have also found it unusable.
Enjoyment Level – Fun Factor
I’m really enjoying Kid Icarus: Uprising and I have a feeling that I’ll be playing it years into the future. There’s a massive amount of things to do, not least of which is to try and clear every single stage on difficulty 9 (which will be a major undertaking, since as of now I can’t clear the FIRST stage on lv. 9). Add in the deep multiplayer, Streetpass weapon trading, collecting the AI cards, and of course weapon collection and customization and you’ve got a game with massive replay value.
This is easily one of the most polarizing games for the 3DS, thanks to the control scheme. But with the deep multiplayer and weapon customization, it’s also a game with massive replay value. Add in the massive collections, huge skill variation that’s available for every level, AR card collecting, level exploration, and need to replay levels many times over in search of those hard to get items & doors, and you’ve got what should be a major contender for handheld Game of the Year.