David Klein On April 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Nintendo has been known for creating many franchises though one franchise in particular has been left out in the cold for many years, that being Kid Icarus. The last time we saw the series’ main hero Pit in action was in the often forgotten but still classic original Gameboy title Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters released back in 1991. Otherwise speaking Pit’s only other appearances have been in Super Smash Brothers Brawl and the Virtual Console version of the NES game. Now fast forward to 2012 where the franchise has been dusted off and finally Pit is set on a new adventure of his very own. Will Kid Icarus: Uprising be the super charge Pit needs to reboot this long overlooked franchise or will this one time experiment be a failure?

Kid Icarus can be looked at as two separate games merged into one as each level is divided into two distinct sections. The first half of the level being a rail shooter that reminiscent of Rez HD and Star Fox where you can move Pit from one side of the screen to the other and shoot but having no actual control of where you are heading inside the level. The story reason given for this is that the goddess Palutena is giving the flightless angel Pit the ability to fly, however she controls the flight and it only lasts for five minutes at a time before he’s grounded again. After you lose the ability to fly you’re brought down to the ground and start the 3rd person beat-em-up portion of the game where Pit can do melee attacks and distance shooting of his bow, being his weapon of choice while flying in the first half. The combat is simple enough dodge all the weapon fire against you while killing the enemies in your way. The game doesn’t really need to be any more complicated than this to be fun and it’s a rather fun game play system.

The beat ‘em up aspect feels a little sloppier than the actual flying portions of the levels for a couple reasons. The first most blatant problem is the clumsy camera made necessary by the touch screen. The touch screen is used both for aiming and camera control where you move your stylus around the screen to aim and you must do exaggerated swipes if you want to move the camera around. This makes it needlessly hard to control the camera and as of a result also makes aiming a bit harder given you might not be aiming the camera in the same direction as what you want to shoot. In other words it feels even more cumbersome than using a touch screen smartphone with virtual joysticks.

Another point of contention is the ergonomics of holding the 3DS in one hand while using your second hand to use the stylus to point and shoot. The game does include a stand to try to alleviate the stress of holding it but this is hardly a practical solution for a portable system where you’re not exactly going to have a good spot to place the system on the go especially while standing on the bus for instance. With the stand I can play forever but without the stand it does start to feel heavy after about a half hour of play where you eventually get to the point you put it down and have to play it some more later. This is yet another reason for why the 3DS should have had a second analog by default that is more evident by the creation of the Circle Pad Pro. Unfortunately Nintendo didn’t go the extra mile and the only Circle Pad Pro functionality the game supports is using the right analog as a makeshift lefties control scheme which makes it all well and good so lefties can enjoy the same pain as us righties do when playing. Otherwise camera controls aside the beat-em up portion is solid enough though I do wish there was some more room for some makeshift combos and the inclusion of some juggling between using the bow and attacking with melee attacks would have made a solid add-on. After each mission you’re given hearts that you’ve collected throughout the level by killing enemies and making a wager on how well you’ll do before the level that you can use to buy weapon and items to upgrade you arsenal. The switch between the shoot ‘em up and the beat ‘em up is good way to shake up the gameplay where you’re not doing any one thing for too long, though I just wish the 3DS allowed for more better controls.

Unlike most other Nintendo games, Kid Icarus: Uprising is quite heavy on the voice-overs and featuring a heavy storyline. It’s quite a polar opposite to a game like Zelda where you can go an entire game without hearing more than a grunt from Link instead not going more than few seconds without hearing Pit say something. Pit is a constant voice making jokes while talking to Palutena and moving along the plot with his constant chatting making observations and injecting personality to the battles. This Saturday morning cartoon style of story telling is sure to please kids and the bad jokes entertained me enough to keep me interested in the plot. This quite in ambitious game on the part of Nintendo being the opposite of other games like Super Mario 3D Land or Nintendogs which feature little to no plot.

Another feature that contrasts the norm of Nintendo is the inclusion of an online deathmatch mode letting teams of light and dark face off against each other. There’s a life bar for each team where once it’s drained the last player on the team will be turned into Pit or Dark Pit which must be killed before the match ends. You can also just play a plain drawn out deathmatch where it’s everyone out for themselves. Though as always you’re held back by the same horrible friend code system that Nintendo has been pushing since the start of the Wii which is one of the reasons why multiplayer on any Nintendo system is never a great experience. The maximum amount of player per match is ten, while not an anemic amount however is one that can easily be surpassed by multiplayer games on iOS or Android. The actual multiplayer battling is quite fun, especially when you’re on the go and have access to some Wi-Fi. It’s not far off from a console experience besides scale and Nintendo Network limitations. There is also some local multiplayer for playing local which makes you able to bypass the friend’s code system entirely. While playing you can earn new weapons that affect the damage you can deal out, how you attack and the specs for your character. Gripes aside, the multiplayer is an fun addition for some quick on the go multiplayer, through not quite an substitute for a console game.

A cute side diversion within the game is something that Nintendo is hoping to rake in the cash with. Every copy of Kid Icarus comes with 6 randomly inserted Kid Icarus Augmented Reality cards. This starter pack is enough to get a taste of the AR capacities found within the game where you can see AR versions of characters seen within the actual game. In addition each card you scan in gives you the equivalent of in-game currency for you to make purchases for weapons and items. You can have your cards battle each other and then find out which character would win in a fair battle. If you want more cards you’ll have to go looking for tie in products and special promotions to earn them. When it’s all said and done, the cards don’t really do too much and the appeals runs thin very quickly. Add to the fact that the low-resolution 3DS cameras even has trouble even scanning in the cards unless you’ve got the perfect lighting situation makes for less than an appealing proposition here.

The graphics bar that’s set in Kid Icarus: Uprising are some of the best that have been seen on the 3DS so far. The textures look as sharp as a 800×240 screen can display being both crisp and detailed. A nice touch made is showing some attention to detail for when the game refers to villains from the past it’ll show the NES equivalent with 8-bit graphics on the screen for the sake of nostalgia which i appreciated. The voice acting is quite superb though my tolerance for childish jokes is probably higher than most people so your mileage may vary. The music got the epic feel that you want when you’re stopping a great evil that is swooping the world causing destruction and death between the humans on the lower plains so a thumbs in my book. The orchestral music is well done and it’d probably be worth picking up the game’s soundtrack in the North American Club Nintendo if ever makes it across the ocean as right now it’s only in the Japanese version of the service.

Overall Kid Icarus: Uprising is a good game that’s being held back by the weakness present on the platform it was created on. The developers were able to make good use of the system graphical capabilities but the weaknesses presented by the lack of the dual analog nubs makes the controls feel clumsy even when compared to touch screen equivalent smartphone games. Where on a Vita holding both the system at both ends and using the dual nobs would have been a fine system of control, without it the 3DS weighs down your arm way too quickly makes it a drag sometimes to play. This a shame as this game is well crafted and oozes of quality, the system unfortunately can’t keep up with it’s needs.


The shortcomings of the controls make a otherwise well crafted game play for the mistakes made when the system was first conceived.


This is a shinning beacon for other 3DS games should strive to match, making good use of the system capabilities early in the system’s cycle.


Well done voice-overs and music make it a joy to play and listen to the game.


Kid Icarus is definitely one of the best games on the 3DS, it’s a shame the 3DS wasn’t up for the task of making it truly great.

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