Pit makes his return in glorious fashion on the 3DS!
The story revolves around the angel Pit, who is the captain of Skyworld's forces. He works for Palutena, the goddess of light. The two set out to defeat Palutena's nemesis, the queen of the underworld Medusa who is invading the world of humans. As soon as the game begins the story rushes at you. The game is voice-acted which is good since you can pay attention to what they're saying instead of reading text. Unfortunately it's tough to pay attention to what's going on since the game's fast pace often distracts you from listening to the characters. This makes it tough to soak in the story but it is a good story nonetheless, full of twists and surprises.
The game for the most part is a third-person shooter but it depends on your playstyle. The beginning of each mission starts you in an air battle which functions like an on-rails shooter. After a few minutes you start the land battle which is what the majority of the game is. It's mostly point A to point B from here on as you make your way to the boss. There are a few areas to explore but for the most part you're confined to a single path. Fortunately it never feels like exploring is a mandatory part of the game. There is a boss battle at the end of every stage which makes for a lot of bosses. The boss fights vary which gives the game welcome variety. There are multiple difficulty levels which are raised by betting your in-game currency. Higher difficulties yield better rewards. The multiplayer however is where it's at for me. Considering that this game was directed by Masahiro Sakurai, the creator of the Super Smash Bros. Series, you know things are going to get hectic. Just trying to keep up with all the action on-screen requires quick reflexes and smart moves. Multiplayer is not for the faint of heart and if you can't handle the fast-paced action of the single-player, you'll just get lost in the frenzied action of online play. There's a free-for-all mode and a team deathmatch mode like Super Smash Bros. FFA is self-explanatory but TDM requires a little bit of explanation. The mode is called Light vs Dark. Your team has a health bar and when you die your team loses health. Whoever is killed and drains the health to zero becomes the angel for their team. If the angel goes down, the match is over. It makes for crazy intense matches especially if both angels are out on the field. There's also 360 achievements to complete! Each achievement unlocks something new which compels you to complete each achievement. I have to stop somewhere since there is so much content packed into this game. If I tried to tell you everything I would be doing it for a while and I know no one likes to read all that much anymore. :P
As I explained earlier, the gameplay is fast-paced. The gameplay however brings out a flaw in the game: its controls. The game uses three things only: the Circle Pad (for those who don't know, the Circle Pad is the analog stick on the 3DS), the L button and the touchscreen. Circle Pad moves and L fires your weapon. The touchscreen is another story. The touchscreen is used for aiming. This works fine during air battles since you're on-rails. It's when your feet touch the ground is when the problem arises. Now the touchscreen also controls the camera. Flicking the stylus across the screen shifts the camera angle. Since you also aim with it, this becomes very cumbersome at first. After a few missions you get used to it but trying to teach someone who wants to try it is difficult. The game also comes with a stand which helps stabilize the 3DS so you can keep a clear 3D image, and keep your left hand from getting tired since you're basically holding the 3DS with one hand. There are other control schemes including the Circle Pad Pro for lefties but anything other than the default controls is awkward. Once you get used to the controls though, it quickly becomes second nature. The on-rails shooter portions is the most fun since you can simply enjoy the spectacle and this game looks great in 3D. It can be useful to keep it on during land battles but for the most part I just use it for air battles. The main story lasts around 12 hours but you are often encouraged to come back because of the rewards and achievements that are available. There are 9 different weapon types as well as multiple powers you can use. There are multiple types of each weapon which becomes addicting as you try and collect them all. From fast-firing blades, to hard-hitting clubs, to sniping staves this game has something for everyone. Powers are abilities that give you certain benefits like running faster or imbuing your weapon with a special attack. There is so much depth to the gameplay, I just scratched the surface.
While the textures aren't rendered properly, this is another example of art style trumping graphics. The game looks beautiful no matter how you put it. All the locales look and feel different; from lush green fields to the dark brooding Underworld itself. The special effects put into this game look spectacular. There are some frame-rate issues since there can be so much stuff happening on-screen at once. Voice acting is OK at best but I think it's the script which makes the characters sound bad. The script is relatively light-hearted which makes way for some bad lines and bad jokes. Some however are pretty funny and they make references to the past Kid Icarus and other Nintendo franchises like Metroid. Overall the game feels polished and well-done.
Kid Icarus is a total package and I'm astonished they managed to fit all this content onto a 3DS cartridge. There is just so much to do in the game. This truly feels like a console game on a handheld. Even some console games don't have the depth of content that this game has. The controls are the only thing that really pulls it down. It's a steep learning curve to master the controls but once you've figured it out, you're in for one of the best games I've played in recent memory. And I've played a lot of games recently. This is a must-own for 3DS owners and for those who like adrenaline rushes on the go. The 21 years was a long wait but it was worth it. Kid Icarus has become a franchise and I look forward to following Pit on his next adventure, wherever it may be.