After 25 years, the Kid Icarus series is back and better than ever
The story starts out pretty simple. We follow Pit, with the assistance from the goddess of light (Palutena), as he fights the resurrected Medusa and her Underworld army, who seeks vengeance on Pit and all of mankind. The story is about this simple for the first 9 chapters, then things get really complicated after that, including the reveal of the REAL villain in the game. Although it may seem like there's too much going on at once at one point in the game, the story is entertaining with twists and surprises at every turn. What's even better is the witty and delightfully cheesy dialog accompanying the story. The only problem is that it can be hard to pay attention to some of the writing during the stages as you'll be too busy fighting off the Underworld forces. Either way, the story is great for a Nintendo game and the corny writing and jokes only add to the charm.
For the 3DS, the graphics are superb but the art style is even better. Nintendo keeps it true to the style of the old games, even by bringing back old enemy designs. Of course Pit and crew needed an update but they look better now than they ever did. Fans will appreciate the musical score throughout the game, especially the remixes from the NES classic. The 3D is a nice addition too, but I've seen better use of it on the 3DS and it doesn't really add to the experience.
The gameplay is the true highlight of the game. It borrows elements from other genres and creates not one, but two unique gameplay styles. Every chapter starts out with a flight stage. With Palutena's help, Pit can fly through an on the rails shooter portion, which is very much like Star Fox, while shooting down all enemies in his way and dodging their fire. You use the stylus to aim the cursor, the circle pad moves and the left trigger fires. These portions usually last about 5 minutes into the stage but it's a great way to get you into the game with every chapter. These flying stages are fast paced and intense, and is arguably the better of the two styles.
After you complete the flying portion, your feet touch the ground and then you engage in the ground stage. The first thing you'll probably notice is that the controls can be a little difficult to get used to. Much like the air battles, the same buttons are used here too; the circle pad moves, the L button fires and the stylus is used to aim. It is true that the control style may be difficult at first but you can get used to them in no time, the the game REALLY become fun and addictive. Most of the time you might be shooting when fighting from further away, like a shooter, but running towards the enemy will cause you to melee like a beat em up. This is surprisingly a good mix, taking two elements and making something new. There are other moves to help you like dodging enemy fire or sprinting, which is all done when you flick the circle pad. Altogether, once you get used to the controls, this style is just as fast paced as the air battles and almost instantly becomes a blast to play.
To make things even better, there is a large variety of weapons at your disposal. Weapons are split into 9 categories; swords, clubs, arms, claws, palms, bows, staffs, orbiters and canons. Each weapons has its own stats and advantages over the others (as well as disadvantages, such as the claws being fast but having a limited attack range) so there is something for everyone; whether you'd rather have a better firing weapon or melee. You find most weapons during chapters, but you can also redeem hearts (earned by killing enemies) or even fuse two weapons together. Fusing weapons is probably your best bet to getting a better weapon, and you can do it as many times as you like. The amount of weapons to choose from is amazing, and fusing weapons together is enough reason to try and collect every weapon you can.
Another way to earn hearts is by playing on a certain "intensity level", which is essentially this game's version of a difficulty level. You choose a number on a 1-9 scale, 9.0 being the hardest. Choosing a number will also determine how many hearts you're willing to bet. Obviously you bet more hearts when you choose a higher intensity but choosing 2.0 (which I assume is normal) will not risk any hearts and choosing anything easier will cost you hearts. This intensity level works well but I'm a little mixed on dying. When you die, not only do you lose some of the hearts you bet, but your intensity level decreases; making the game easier when you come back. I'm fine with losing hearts but lowering the difficulty when you die, although it may seem nice, can get quite annoying. What if I'm trying to beat every level on 9.0? I want to keep trying.
Even Uprising's multiplayer manages to be superb. Whether you're playing with your friends locally or others online, there are only 2 game types to choose for up to 6 players; there's your free for all (eliminate the other players) or there's Light vs Dark in which 2 teams of 3 fight the other and depletes the other team's health meter before they do the same to you. The game plays like it does in single player and you can even bring your weapons and powers into multiplayer with you, but the better the weapon you use, the more health you lose for your team when you die. When a team's meter depletes completely, that team's angel comes into play who is stronger than the other characters on the field. The match ends when a team's angel is defeated. The multplayer is amazing, balanced and rewarding. The Wifi works well as far as I'm concerned, not much lag anyway, and it'll keep you busy when the main story is done.
In the end, Kid Icarus Uprising could truly be declared as the Metroid Prime of the series. Once you get over the control scheme, the game will instantly drag you in and you won't want to put it down. The story is good, the writing is funny, the gameplay is fast paced and intense in both single and multiplayer and there is a large amount of content to be found in just $40. Old fans of the original Kid Icarus games and newcomers will find it hard not to love this epic return. I hope to see more from this series in the future.