Friday, 11 May 2012

Kid Icarus: Uprising

There has always been something deeply mesmarising surrounding almost all of Nintendo’s iconic characters. Pit (the lead protagonist of Kid Icarus) in particular has been sitting in the development pipeline for quite some time now but retro fans and 3DS owners don’t have to wait any longer. Kid Icarus: Uprising is not only a tribute to Nintendo’s rich and wonderful heritage, but also a testament that a 21-year-old franchise can be reinvigorated into a deep, immersive and satisfying experience. Nintendo 3DS owners will be absolutely delighted with what is another fantastic addition to their catalogue of games.

Uprising once again brings about Nintendo’s iconic angel Pit to the forefront of a heated rail-shooter and platforming hybrid. The story sees Pit tackle a barrage of dark and brooding enemies lead by Medusa as he attempts to save the day. Nintendo have such a wonderful way to mix their charming story telling with an essence of Greek mythology, making for an engaging and interesting tale. Before we even discuss the gameplay it’s immediately worth noting the quality in voice acting and story telling – each character is likable and your adventure moves along at a decent pace with plenty of comical moments surrounding the more serious fictional tone of the tale. This in classical Nintendo fashion is of course supplemented by a beautiful score, which pays homage to the classic Kid Icarus while also introducing some wonderful new pieces. Finally, it seems that with every new 3DS game out, the graphics keep getting better and better. Uprising is a truly vibrant game that is elevated by the handheld’s 3D capabilities. Right from the offset you will be blown away by the stunning visuals and gorgeous pallet of colours that helps this story come to life.

Those of you who aren’t familiar with Pit will not know that he is in fact a flightless angel. This forces the Goddess of light Palutena to offer her powers that give Pit the ability to fly for a short period of time. This serves as a clever game mechanic and makes the opening segments of each chapter an on-rails shooter. These sections are fast-paced and very entertaining, with you having the ability to move Pit quickly and efficiently across the screen as he avoids enemy attacks and hurdles himself towards a whole host of enemies including giant ships and hordes of monsters. A balanced and at times challenging difficulty curve in these sections make them feel like an in depth element of the game, as opposed to simple filler content. Pit can only do so much flying however and when you land at first, some unfortunate control issues will take you back.

Even upon landing Uprising is at its core a score-accumulating shooter. When you hit the ground the game takes on platforming elements where you control Pit in melee encounters or distance shooting. Unfortunately the control mechanics don’t work quite as well in these sections as they did when Pit was in the air – the 360-degree aiming makes using the stylus difficult and the packed in plastic stand to position the 3DS correctly for the game is awkward and inconvenient, especially for left-handed gamers. Furthermore, if you have Nintendo’s other 3DS peripheral that adds another analogue stick, this doesn’t fit on the stand either. Ultimately the need to use the stylus as a target system although absolutely essential in this type of game, has unfortunately resulted in a very uncomfortable situation for a considerable amount of gamers. You do have the option to customize the controls like using the face-buttons to control the reticle so once you finally find a control method that suits your preferences; you can continue enjoying this wonderful game. You will be happy to hear that it’s far from impossible to get to grips with Uprising’s controls and this really is nothing more than a small stumbling block in what is otherwise, a well crafted game.

Uprising’s platforming sections provide variety in level design, enemies and combat. You’ll face enemies each with their own attack styles and weaknesses while still engaging in a similar affair to the on-rail sections. The balance between the on-rail and platforming is a sheer delight with them complimenting each other so smoothly. It is in these latter sections to that Uprising’s class and weapon systems really shine. You have the opportunity to choose from a host of weapons, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, for example some weapons are slower but pack a more deadly ranged punch, while others are better for close-encounters. These customizable loudouts are further enhanced by Uprising’s weapon fusion system that allows players the opportunity to combine weapons together to create new and more powerful tools of destruction. You can purchase new weapons using Uprising’s currency in the form of hearts, or even acquire certain gems through Street Pass, whichever way you choose to go about it, there’s plenty of variety here to try out. These options extend even further with Pit’s support abilities. A Tetris-like mini-game allows you to equip a variety of different ‘perks’ to help Pit through each level. The above elements all help to increase Uprising’s replay value while at the same time provide the depth that this game constantly shows off.

There’s absolutely no doubt that Uprising’s terrific story mode is the highlight of this package, but there is a versus multiplayer available to play either locally or online. These free-for-all and team based game modes allow players to take their customized weapons into battle in these fairly entertaining brawls. There’s not much here that can keep your attention for long periods of time but it is relatively fun with friends and gloating about your rare weapons is also rather enjoyable.

Ultimately Kid Icarus: Uprising is a very good game. The unfortunate dip due to the controls when you attempt your first platforming section is frustrating, but this really is the only bump in the road for this terrific handheld game. Obviously the importance of controls is vital but if you can get to grips with how the gameplay then Kid Icarus: Uprising provides a very satisfying and enjoyable story that is coupled with varied, engaging and fast-paced action. This really is a top quality Nintendo 3DS title that truly does Kid Icarus justice – it really was worth waiting 21 years for this sequel.

8.0 | Gameplay |
Kid Icarus: Uprising provides a thrilling on-rails experience with more complex and in-depth platforming sections. While the former is a whole load of fun, the latter is unfortunately marred early on with frustrating control issues. However, once you get to grips with the button layout, Kid Icarus: Uprising is a very smooth, well-paced and wholly entertaining experience.

9.0 | Presentation |
Kid Icarus: Uprising is a beautiful Nintendo 3DS game that is complimented by the 3D visuals. In typical Nintendo fashion the game is vibrant and full of life. A terrific story intertwines a great set of voice actors and the package is rounded off by a beautiful score that pays tribute to the classic Kid Icarus while moving the series into this generation of gaming.

7.0 | Replay Value |
The heart currency system can be used to either reduce the difficulty level or gambled to increase it. This unique way of allowing players to choose their own level of challenge provides significant replay value and also tension as you avoid losing out on all the hearts you put down. Aside from that the multiplayer is quite entertaining and available both locally and online – while not very substantial, there’s definitely plenty of reason to get online and battle against other players. 

8.0 | Final Thoughts |
I rarely review handheld games but when I do they always show me why handheld gaming is such a popular market. Kid Icarus: Uprising is just a beautifully filled out package, one that you wouldn’t have any problem at all playing on your home screen, let alone on the Nintendo 3DS system. From beautiful visuals, incredible story telling and fun gameplay, Kid Icarus: Uprising really has it all and it’s simply another top title that needs to be in your 3DS catalogue. If you’re still reserved about Nintendo’s 3D machine but are curious how Kid Icarus has evolved after 21 years, then now’s a fantastic opportunity to get yourself a 3DS.

Igor Kharin.
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