Nintendo proves to the world that when you want to do something right, you take your time.
Pitt has a very positive outlook on life. He's an angel but unfortunately, he's an angel that can't fly on his own. You would think that would keep a winged herald down, but not Pitt. No, Pitt focuses on the duty at hand, and that's to combat the forces of the Underworld led by Medusa who has reared her ugly snake-haired head again. The Goddess Palutena helps Pitt accomplish this heroic task by supplying him with equipment to fight as well as power his wings just long enough to get him where he needs to go. When Pitt finally confronts and defeats Medusa, will that restore peace to the world? Or is there something more...
Kid Icarus: Uprising's story is quite the roller coaster. It starts out fast, flings you around turns and hurls you through corkscrews and just when you think the train is coming to a coast, it violently jumps the track. You're going to see a number of familiar faces, that is if your memory of the original game is that good, and you're going to be treated to some excellent writing. The dialogue is brimming with whit and humor and the delivery of every line is a perfect balance of corniness and sarcasm. The exchanges several of the characters have with one another make the game very entertaining, but the only problem is the story plays out right atop the action, so you'll be missing a few plot points because you're so focused on not dying.
Uprising is broken up into 25 chapters, and each one of them starts out with a short on-rails shooting section as a result of Lady Paluntena's Power of Flight only lasting for five minutes. You have to hold the 3DS in a way that allows you to comfortably move the aiming reticule with the stylus, move Pitt around with the circle pad and fire by pressing the L shoulder button. The game comes with an included stand, but if you're a 3DS XL owner, you're going to find the system a bit uncomfortable to hold after a while. Once you get a firm grip on how you want to hold the 3DS, the shooting controls prove to be quite responsive. Pitt can dodge practically anything thrown his way, and the reticule moves so smoothly that veterans will have no problems destroying every target. Again, though, 3DS XL owners will experience a bit more difficulty as their stylus will now have more surface area to cover.
At the end of the opening shooting segments, Lady Palutena sets Pitt down on the ground, and this is where the gameplay becomes a bit clunky. In order to maneuver the camera around, you need to flick the stylus in the corresponding direction, and sometimes it just doesn't happen quick enough when an enemy enters your blindside. Also, dashes require an extra flick from the circle pad and they either might be undersensitive causing you to get hit, or oversensitive making you dash off a platform when all you wanted was to change directions. The game is still very playable, but it just requires a bit more discipline in comparison to other games.
The one thing you'll notice about Uprising is that over the course of the game, Pitt becomes very well equipped. There are a number of weapons broken down into types such as bows, cannons, claws and staffs, and each type behaves differently with advantages and disadvantages to ranged and melee attacks. Weapons within a type also contain different stat bonuses such as increasing melee defense, raising maximum health and giving shots a lasting burn effect.
Then there's the Power system. Pitt will gain just about as many powers throughout the game as he does weapons. In order to assign powers, they must be placed in a grid, and each power has a different size and shape. They also come in different levels and the higher the level, the larger or more abstract the size of the piece will be. This makes the game's customization a puzzle-like quality. Plus, the power ups have limited uses so you really have to put some thought into what you assign Pitt before you head out to the next level.
Most games use the simple three stage difficulty system of Easy, Medium and Hard, but Kid Icarus: Uprising uses what's called Intensity to govern the game's difficulty. The Intensity scale ranges from 0 to 9 and it usually starts out at 2 and works its way higher with each level you successfully pass without dying. You can bet hearts to increase or decrease the Intensity level, and you can net more rewards the higher the scale goes. There will also be rooms in some of the chapters that will only unlock if your Intensity level meets their requirement. The only downside to Intensity is it decreases each time you die, not allowing you to retry at your current level which makes the game feel like it's patronizing you.
The game's visuals are spectacular. The star of the show is the level design during the on-rails shooting segments. You'll be taken over gaping canyons, spun through violent maelstroms, plunged into the planet's molten belly, and guided through a fleet of enemy spaceships. The polygon counts on the characters are noticeably low when the camera moves up close, but overall the game just looks beautiful with a vast assortment of colors. The special effects are also fantastic with brilliant light streams and particle effects, and the game's frame rate is silky smooth. Once again, 3DS XL owners may find themselves disadvantaged, because it is harder to keep the bulkier system steady, so the 3DS's sweet spot is harder to maintain causing interruption of the 3D effect.
Every beautiful game deserves equally beautiful audio and that's exactly what Kid Icarus: Uprising has. The music is just terrific, very well composed and drives the tone of each chapter perfectly. In fact, Nintendo should have given the game special treatment and released it with an official soundtrack CD. The special effects are loud and pack a punch, most noticeably when Pitt delivers that final strike to a boss. The best part of the audio is undoubtedly the voice acting, as it's absolutely superb. Each voice actor delivers their lines expertly with great timing and pitch, and there isn't a single cast member that outshines the other. Really, it's just fantastic.
If you've been waiting all your life for a Kid Icarus sequel or merely for a reason to buy a 3DS, Kid Icarus: Uprising will not disappoint. Its only real drawback is a bit of on-foot awkwardness, but that is forgivable considering the game is monumentally entertaining. The story is great and loaded with humor, the shooting is very exciting, and the game is just bursting with content and customizable options. The Intensity system also will draw in the extremely hardcore players to see if they really can beat every chapter with a scale of 9. Kid Icarus: Uprising definitely soars.