Monday, 25 June 2012

Review: Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)

As of this writing, Kid Icarus: Uprising was released months ago. Whatever else I write about it should be taken in that light; it has been the portable game I keep coming back to even at this late date. That accounts for the tardiness of this review. Once a review is complete, there's usually no reason (and no time) for me to return to a game unless the multiplayer pulls me in or there's some significant new content available for it.

That's what I've been using to excuse myself from writing the review. "I'm still playing it!" I tell myself. "I can't possibly be ready to write the review."

Well, today is the day for the review, otherwise it might never get done.

Kid Icarus: Uprising is a good game, period. Portable, on 3DS, those classifications are irrelevant. It's a good game and worth your time to check out because it's fun to play, has an interesting crafting system, and it's as easy or as hard as you want it to be. Plus, it doesn't just play to the age bracket that remembers the Nintendo Entertainment System original released in the mid 1980's, even if there's plenty of homage paid to that game and 1991's Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters (on the original GameBoy). Uprising is a new game that takes a few pieces from its legacy, like the Egg Plant Wizard but won't confuse any new players.

The game is broken into two clear sections: on foot and in the air.

Since protagonist Pitt can't fly on his own, he has his flight paths controlled by Goddess of Light, Palutena. While the path is outside the control of the player, Pit is controlled with the circle pad and the aiming is handled with the stylus, which reminded me of Star Wars: Rebel Assault. It works well. So well that I have a hard time believing reports from other critics that the controls somehow turn their hands into claw-like appendages, even when the packed-in stand is used.

The stand itself holds the 3DS in a position that helps gameplay no doubt -- I found my aim to be improved -- but it's not necessary. At least, for me.

Combat on the ground has the feeling of a good action game in the same vein as God of War. (No, I'm not directly comparing the two.) There's much more control over Pitt's actions during these sections and I continue to find the combat very satisfying, especially after taking some time to mess around with the crafting system and really understand the items involved because having the right equipment can make all the difference.

Maybe the most underrated feature is the ability to gamble at the start of each level. Hearts that Pitt has collected can be dropped into the pot before each level starts. Dump a ton of hearts in and the difficulty level spikes but the loot that is dropped is more valuable. If that proves too difficult, the player can simply reduce the number of hearts going into the pot with the understanding the items and weapons found during the level won't be anything special. I really wish more games did this. Gamble a little so the reward for success is that much greater -- just like life!

Something else like life is that there's a lot of dialogue! Pitt and Palutena talk, a lot. There's rarely any time that they're silent so it's fortunate that it's relatively funny banter. It could have easily been shunted down the, "Let me just have subtitles on!" line, but to Nintendo's credit they did something here that really helps mesh the whole experience together.

No doubt in my mind, 3DS owners should have Kid Icarus: Uprising in their library of games, especially if action games are a favorite.

- Aaron Simmer

The Good:
- 3D effects look great
- Great homages to the previous Kid Icarus titles
- Gambling and crafting for bigger rewards
- Banter between Pitt and Palutena
- The single-player keeps me coming back more than the multiplayer

The Bad:
- Sometimes the on-foot action can be completely overwhelming, especially when enemies flank Pitt
- I really do appreciate the dialogue but it's almost non-stop!

Score: 9.0 / 10