The Kid is back after over 20 years. And he delivers with a frantic and content-packed game. The wait was worth it.
"Sorry to keep you waiting," Pit says as he jumps into the first stage of his comeback. And what a comeback it is. The 3rd installment in the Kid Icarus, and first in over 20 years, does not disappoint. It delivers frantic action, robust multiplayer, over 100 weapons to collect and fuse in 9 different classes, an AR card battle mode, and many more unlockables and goodies.
The thing that sets Pit apart from most(not all) other Nintendo characters and mascots is the fact that he has a personality and a voice. Mario, Kirby, and Donkey Kong all have their own charms, there is no doubt. But each is a virtual manifestation of you, the player.
Pit has his own unique personality, and this is developed throughout the game through his constant banter with Palutena. Jokes are often cracked about things such as the economy, and there is even a hilarious Nintendogs reference. This banter is always enjoyable and interesting, never bordering on the annoying quabbles that Navi exchanged with Link. Throughout the chatter Palutena will often reference the past games in the series, such as showing pictures of the way enemies used to look. This light-hearted tone is refreshing, and lends itself well to the overall feel of the game.
The design of the enemies also contributes at times to the light-hearted feel. Enemy designs are ingenious, and even hilarious at times. One enemy is modeled after the eyes-moustache-nose disguise that you might find at a gag joke store.
But bringing down the enemies is the real fun. And there are myriad weapons at your disposal for this task. From the classic bows and blades to the bizarre orbitars. And they certainly had fun designing them. There is a staff modeled after a flintlock gun and a club modeled after the tower of babel. And they are just as fun to use as they are to look at.
In the "story mode"(that's not what its called but that's its function) there are 25 stages to play through. Each stage starts out with an on-rails flying segment and then transitions to the ground for a ground segment and it all gets wrapped up with a boss battle.
In the on-rails shooting parts you aim using the touch screen, move with the circle pad, and shoot with the L button. And this actually works extremely well. The air segments are my favorite. Ducking and weaving to avoid enemy fire is lots of fun, and these segments lend themselves well to my ranged weapon style. They are also simple in their ambition and execute well.
But the Big N's insistence on keeping this flightless angel grounded is where the issues start to occur. In the ground parts you also have to use the touch screen to control the camera. This is troublesome to say the least, and it is tough to spin and get a good look at your enemies. The boss battles also occur on the ground, meaning 2/3 of each stage is hampered by these controls.
But overall the controls can't keep this game down and just take some getting used to. Playing in shorts bursts minimizes the discomfort. And playing with the pack-in stand also helps.
As for the gameplay, it is frantic. Changing weapons to a club or claws can make the game feel like a 3rd person action game at times, and a straight up shooter with a bow or staff. Gameplay can become repetitive for some, but I never felt that way.
But the "story mode" is only a fraction of the fun in this game. The other major part is the multiplayer. Setting up a game is quick and easy, unlike some other Nintendo online experiences(ahem, *Pokemon*). There are both free-for-all and light vs. dark team-based games. The team-based game is a 3 on 3 affair, requiring teamwork to win. In the team-based game you will be forced to work with the inevitable 8-year-old. And in free-for-all you get to bash the brainless and bratty 8-year-olds, as well as all the other competitors. Good ol' every man for himself slugfest.
The action in mutiplayer is much more frantic, making the poor controls even more noticable and restricting. And if you're going to play multiplayer, you should probably adjust your play style away from ranged combat. Multiplayer just seems to favor melee attacks because if you're close enough to shoot someone, then they're close enough to reach out and club you to death.
But the creator of Super Smash Bros. Brawl wouldn't have been content to stop there, he needed more content. There is a fun but sadly simple AR battle system. It doesn't have much depth, but is a neat use of the 3DS technology. There is a trophy-like system with character and weapon "idols". And also an achievement system, which reveals a picture as you achieve things and provides you with in-game currency and weapons.
The amount of content in the game is remarkable, and Uprising really does feel like a console game shrunk down onto a handheld.
But the most impressive thing about all the extra features is that it takes what is essentially a stage-clear shooting game and turns it into the only 3DS game you may need to buy this year, provided you have Wi-Fi access.
The music in this game is top-notch and there is a music gallery in the game. The music is overall extremely beautiful and well done, setting the mood for each stage.
Addictive gameplay, amazing music, and also outstanding visuals. It's the whole shebang! The graphics for Uprising are not the best on the system, but they are impressive. And the bright and vibrant colors make it quite a looker.
In short, Kid Icarus: Uprising is a can't miss experience for anyone interested at all. I was highly skeptical at first, and found a game that will easily become my most-played 3DS game to date.
Hopefully Nintendo gives this flightless angel some wings and lets him soar for years to come.