Review by surferguy7
"A revival that flies sky high, but doesn't quite reach the heavens."
The Kid Icarus franchise has been dormant for a long time. After more than a decade of silence from the series, Pit reappeared once again as a fighter in Super Smash Brothers Brawl for the Nintendo Wii. His popularity only soared from his induction into the roster. People wanted to know more about this angel, they wanted to see him in another game, and after years of rumors, speculation, and hype, Kid Icarus: Uprising appears for the Nintendo 3DS thanks to the creator of Smash Bros himself, Masahiro Sakurai.
Now that leaves one question; does Uprising have the ability to revive this old franchise with dignity and grace?
After 35+ hours of gameplay, I'm feel obligated to answer that question with an emphatic "Yes."
25 years ago, the Goddess Medusa wreaked havoc upon the Earth with her Underworld army, and now she's back again for more destruction and revenge. Now, it's up to Pit with the help of his Goddess superior, Palutena, to once again defeat Medusa and send her packing for eternity.
Uprising manages to present an interesting story through surprisingly witty, charming, and humorous dialogue portrayed through excellent voice acting. No, the story isn't Oscar-worthy and you may find yourself cringing at some of the cheesy lines, but all of the characters are so full of life that it's almost impossible to hate any of the characters, even the antagonists. Pit and Palutena are a great duo and their constant chatter throughout the game keeps you entertained. You'll get your fair share of references to other Nintendo franchises, 4th wall jokes, and hilarious skits. The genius of the script is that it isn't afraid to poke fun at itself, even during the most tense and serious moments. Uprising knows that it can be cliche and it uses this knowledge to its advantage.
Overall, the story is good, but the characters and script are the main draw towards the narrative of this game.
The music is incredible, to say the least. Uprising boasts a list of top-tier composers ranging from Motoi Sakuraba (Tales, Star Ocean, etc.) to Yasunori Mitsuda. (Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, etc.) The majority of the tracks are quite memorable and you'll find yourself whistling compositions such as the Main Theme, Menu Theme, Magnus' Theme, etc. etc. etc. during your daily life. The soundtrack even throws in some good ol' 8-bit nostalgia for fans of the NES game and the sound effects are appropriately fitting to their actions. The game is fully voiced, and the voice acting, while silly for some characters, is very well done. The actors do a great job of breathing life into these characters and they compliment the dialogue perfectly.
The sound design is also incredible. Music during the flying sections play out like a movie where the compositions swell during tense moments and become happier and more majestic once you've exited the battlefield. Ground section tunes fit their areas nicely and boss tracks are exciting, tense, and fitting for their battles. In the end, the soundtrack is great and you'll be enjoying it throughout the game.
Beautiful. Stunning. Breathtaking.
These are the words that come to mind when I think about the visuals for this game. Environments, especially during flight segments, are absolutely amazing. The lighting effects perfectly compliment the colorful grassy plains and reflect off the shining water below. Moonlight shines through dark purple canyons and magma flows through scorching volcanoes. That said, the scale and geometry becomes less elaborate as you fight through the ground stages of the game, but the character models, enemy design, effects, and areas still bloom with creativity and thoughtful design.
Uprising is fast-paced, complex, and most importantly fun. The game is split into many chapters, each of which has an Air Segment, a Ground Segment, and finally a Boss Segment. Air battles let you soak in the visuals of the game while catching up on the story and shooting through baddies. Ground stages let you fight through waves of enemies and explore at your own pace. Lastly, boss stages are where you fight a boss. (No rly?) You're able to change the difficulty of the levels by offering up hearts (Basically currency for this game) to the Intensity Pot. The difficulty ranges from 0.0 intensity to 9.0 intensity so people looking for a challenge can definitely have their wishes granted.
During air stages, Pit is given the Power of Flight and Palutena controls Pit's pathway, so essentially, the flight segments are on-rails and reminiscent of games such as Star Fox 64. They're fun, quick, easy to controls, and exciting to play through.
Ground stages are linear, but there are multiple areas in some levels that are like mazes so you're free to explore. You can also equip powers to Pit so that you can use them against the many enemies you come across. Each chapter has a unique feature to it whether it be fighting through waves of enemies, climbing a tower, or fighting through a labyrinth of tricks and illusions. The game manages to keep things interesting so you don't feel as if everything has gotten too repetitive.
Boss battles are varied, interesting, but go down quickly on lower difficulties. There are plenty of unique boss fights to each chapter and you'll find yourself looking forward to each boss battle.
Now, the main concern people have when coming into this game is the controls, and I'd be lying if I said they aren't flawed, but believe me, stick with the game and the controls will become second nature in a few chapters. Plus, you're able to customize the controls to your liking through the options menu so that the learning curve is less intense for players who dislike using the touch screen.
As for the weapons, there are nine classes of weapons to choose from ranging from quick and nimble Claws to heavy and powerful Clubs, each weapon has its own special statistics so that every weapon is unique to the player. With a wide variety of weapons, you're sure to find one that fits your play style.
Aside from the main story, there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of collectibles for you to obsess over. From achievements and idols to weapons and music, there are tons of extras to keep you entertained long after you've completed the main quest.
Overall, the combat is incredibly deep and satisfying, but the controls hamper your enjoyment during the first few chapters, but that doesn't keep you from enjoying the wealth of levels, battles, and extras there are to encounter.
Uprising also has an online mode for competitive gamers. Here you can test your skill against other players around the world and either destroy other players, or be destroyed by other players. With each weapon, play style, and power set-up being unique, you'll need to constantly calculate your opponents abilities and skills so that you can overcome them. Believe me, a well timed dodge + charge shot is incredibly satisfying when you're in close quarters with your enemy.
There are two modes for you to test your skills in. The first is Light vs Dark where it's basically a team match where you need to diminish the opposing team's Health Bar until their Pit/Dark Pit appears. Once the other team's Pit/Dark Pit is on the battlefield, it's your goal to kill the opposing Pit before the other team does so to yours. The second mode is Free-For-All where, as the name implies, you just attack each other until you see who racks up the most points in the end. Both of these modes are fun, but I found myself wishing for just a few more simply because the combat is incredibly fun.
When you play with friends you can edit your matches to include certain items/stages/time limits so you're given a bigger freedom with that. However, to play with a friend, you both have to go to the "With Friends" option and you can't join each other when you're playing randomly across the globe.
The multiplayer is fun, but there are a few missed opportunities that keep it from being great.
Pros: Stunning visuals, great gameplay, incredible soundtrack, humorous script.
Cons: The controls take time to learn, some missed opportunities for the multiplayer.
In the end, Uprising is a fitting title for this game. Kid Icarus has risen from the dead and come back with an incredibly entertaining game, but a few flaws in the controls and multiplayer keep the game from being a masterpiece. That said, these flaws look like nitpicking because the core gameplay is just so damn good.
Kid Icarus: Uprising is rightfully labeled as a must have for all 3DS owners and can even be considered a system seller for people who love funny characters, fast and entertaining gameplay, great music, incredible visuals, and buckets of extras.
Pit's newest adventure has been quite a journey, and let's hope we don't have to wait 25 years for the next one.
Welcome home Pit, welcome home.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/05/12, Updated 04/06/12
Game Release: Kid Icarus: Uprising (US, 03/23/12)
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