Review by PKStarwave
"The Pit of old has a few new moves to show you!"
Kid Icarus is an odd franchise. Loosely based on Greek mythology, the original Kid Icarus for the NES followed Pit, (an angel who is incapable of flying) that was tasked with defeating the various forces of evil. It was a fun side scrolling shooter with a surprising amount of depth for an NES game. Unfortunately, the original game wasn't received too well, mainly due to its brutal difficult and unforgiving nature. Despite this, there are many (myself included) who appreciated the quirky and unconventional gameplay and interesting universe, and have been pining for a proper sequel since then. It's been over 20 years since we last Pit embark an epic adventure, and for many of us, we had thought that the series had been officially discontinued. As luck would have it however, Mashiro Sakurai (creator of the Smash Bros series) would go on to completely revive the series. A trailer for Kid Icarus: Uprising was shown at E3 2010, which threw fans in a frenzy (old school Kid Icarus fans and newcomers alike) The wait for Kid Icarus: Uprising was on. After many teaser trailers and numerous delays, Kid Icarus Uprising has finally gotten into the hands of the gamers. Was it worth the wait? To put it bluntly:
Do you hear that? Do you hear the people's cheers? They're celebrating the return of Kid Icarus!
Kid Icarus: Uprising is a gorgeous game that doesn't skimp on the details. From the get go, you'll notice the vibrant menu and colorful menu. In terms of actual gameplay, the stages are downright stunning. Aerial battles steal the show when it comes to visuals, and are unquestionably incredible to look at. In comparison, Land battles don't look nearly as good in comparison and stages themselves aren't nearly as ambitious. However, that doesn't mean Land battles are bad. They're still a treat to look at, and you'll easily be overcome by some of the stages you will get to explore on foot. Sakurai and his team really did a great job at giving the old characters a new makeover, and new characters that are introduced look fantastic as well. I won't go into much detail, but there are many unexpected characters from Greek mythology that appear in this game. This game arguably makes the best use out of the system's 3D effect, by enhancing the already incredible visuals, and making the game that much more immersive.
Kid Icarus: Uprising has an incredible soundtrack, largely due to its all-star composer list. Most of the songs are a blend of rock and orchestra, mixed together in a way that is just too good to put in words alone. Sakurai has even taken the liberty of implementing a music gallery so you can listen to any of your favorite things at any time. The games sound effects are standard fare for a Sakurai game; the end result is that they're just right for this type of game. In terms of VA work, Kid Icarus: Uprising has some high quality voice acting. Favorites like Ali Hillis, and Troy Baker knock it out of the park with their top notch performance. Other lesser known voice actors like Cree Summers and Hynden Walsh are marvelous as well. Newcomer Anthony Del Rio does a stand up job at portraying all sides of Pit and is a welcomed replacement over Pit's old voice actor.
Surprisingly, Kid Icarus: Uprising has an intuitive and robust story, a huge departure from the original 2 Kid Icarus games. The games plot starts out rather simply; Medusa, the goddess of the Underworld has been revived, and is wreaking havoc across the land. Pit and Palutena are charged with stopping her and her forces of evil. What could have been a stock story is actually well thought and thought provoking; there are several story details in this game that legitimately surprised me. The single player story mode follows an episodic format (think of your favorite childhood cartoon) and you're not necessarily confined to fighting just Medusa. This ends up working fabulously, since you're not fighting the same foe over and over again, which means that each new chapter is not monotonous borefest, but a fresh and exciting experience. The game's dialogue from head to toe is filled with corny charm, and will regularly make you laugh out loud. Pit and Palutena constantly talk to each other in every stage, and even end up breaking the 4th wall a few times. You're not just limited to banter between Pit and Palutena however, other characters show up as well (including bosses!). Since there are no cutscenes, all of the dialogue takes place while you're playing. It's unique system that makes it so the game literally never a dull moment since the characters talk all of the time.
Kid Icarus: Uprising doesn't pull any punches when it comes down to its gameplay. At its core Kid Icarus: Uprising is an action based shooting game, that revolves around 3 gameplay segments: Air battles, Land battles, and Boss battles. Air battles are on the rail shooters (similar to Star Fox games) that have Pit flying through various locations, and shooting enemies, while Land battles are free roam action based shooters that have Pit running around on a 3 dimensional plane(similar to Sin and Punishment games). To control Pit during air battles, use the circle pad to control his movement and press the L button to shoot. Pit can also perform an aerial dodge roll by quickly flicking the circle pad from right to left or vice versa. The controls for land battles are identical to air battles, but with a few more additions. You can change the game's camera by swiping the touch screen with the stylus towards your desired direction. Pit is capable of using special abilities (like healing or a speed boost) and can dodge attacks by flicking the circle pad in any direction shortly before he is hit by an attack. These controls can take a while to get used to, and they're frustrating when Pit is surrounded by enemies, but given some time and practice you'll quickly get a feel for them. The game comes with a highly customizable control scheme, so make sure you tweak it to suit your needs.
Pit is capable of wielding an assortment of weapons (9 different types each housing dozens of different weapons) for each of these modes. The weapon you choose before entering a stage is a important factor to consider. For example, one weapon might have excellent ranged attacks and might be your best option during air battles, but it might also have really poor melee attacks and is ultimately underwhelming during land battles. These are decisions you will be making constantly throughout the game, especially at higher difficulties. The game uses a unique difficulty system, the fiend cauldron. The fiend cauldron determines various factors (enemy strength, their AI and even what attacks certain bosses will use.) In order to increase the "intensity" (difficult level), players will have to bid with hearts. Increasing the intensity level is a good way to challenge yourself, but there is another a reason for doing so. The higher the intensity level, the more hearts you receive in battle and items you find from treasure chests (like weapons and abilities) are always of a higher quality in comparison to items obtained on lower intensity levels. Furthermore, most stages have an intensity gate, a locked door that can only be opened if the players corresponding intensity level is equal or higher than the number on the gate. It's a fun system that always challenges you to do better, kind of your own personal coach. Dying at any point during a stage will force you to restart at the last checkpoint and automatically drop your intensity level.
On top of having an awesome solo mode, there are also several different other gameplay modes you can experience. Kid Icarus: Uprising has a robust multiplayer mode that offers 2 modes of play; Light vs Dark and Free for all. Light vs Dark is a unique team based multiplayer mode that pits 3 players in 2 separate teams against each other. Both teams have a life bar and the goal of both teams is to deplete the opposite teams life bar. This is done by killing opposing team member, but there's more to it than that. The higher your weapons value is, the more your teams life gauge will drop when you die. This introduces a high-risk/high-reward type element into multiplayer. Stronger weapons come with the risk of hurting your team in the long run, but some of the more powerful weapons can be absolute game changers, so it's entirely up to the discretion of the player. It's a really fun mode, that's actually balanced to boot, and it's something play over Solo mode. Free for all is exactly as the name suggests. 6 players duke it out in a no holds bar battle royale. There is no penalty for using high powered weapons in this mode, and the matches are lot more hectic and less orderly as a result, but they're fun nonetheless. Weapons and abilities obtained from solo mode can be used in multiplayer and the opposite is true as well. Idol toss is a game mode that has you tossing eggs into the air to potentially earn idols (Kid Icarus' equivalent of trophies from Smash Bros.). It's really similar to the slot machine minigame from Super Smash Bros Melee, since there is a % based chance you will get a certain trophy (which goes down as you gain more idols). There's also vault that contains an Idol viewer, a music gallery and treasure hunt, a system that is not unlike the achievement system/trophy system for Xbox 360 and PS3 respectively. Honestly, this game is second to none when it comes to gameplay, there's always "something" you can do.
The end result is a game that ends up being rife with content, so much so that it arguably rivals many of the next gen titles in terms of depth and quality. Kid Icarus is a fantastic game that fully exemplifies what should be done when it comes to designing a game. It doesn't cut corners, and is chock full of content. This is THE definitive 3DS game, and you'll be hard pressed to finding anything that on the market that comes close matching this game. This game appeals to a wide variety of video game players, be it casual players who are looking for a good time or hard core players who wants a game that challenges them and pushes them to their limit. I'm really not exaggerating when I say this game has everything, and it would be a crime to deprive yourself of such a game.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/30/12, Updated 04/13/12
Game Release: Kid Icarus: Uprising (US, 03/23/12)
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