Review - Kid Icarus: Uprising
A new Kid Icarus game has been a long time coming. It was rumored to be on the Wii after main character Pit's inclusion in Super Smash Brothers Brawl. But the years came and went, and no Wii Icarus game to be found. Then, along with the reveal of their new Nintendo 3DS handheld, the curtain was pulled back on Kid Icarus: Uprising. Pit soared through the sky, and apologized for keeping people waiting.
Maybe they should've let us wait a tad longer.
Kid Icarus: Uprising is an action game that involve using a variety of weapons to blast at incoming enemies. Each stage typically starts with Pit activating his power of flight, which lasts no more than five minutes, as he flies through the air in an on-rails shooting section. Players can move Pit around the screen using the circle pad, attacking with the left shoulder button, and using the touch screen to aim. It is very reminiscent of Nintendo's other mostly-dormant series Sin & Punishment, using basic dodges, charge shots, and melee attacks if enemies get in too close.
It fits well with the 3DS control scheme. Arrows point out where enemies are to make it a little easier to aim, and circling Pit around the screen never feels intrusive between you and your target. Holding the button down let's you continuously fire, or pausing for a brief moment has you charge up for a more damaging burst attack. It brings in some strategy between attacks, as some charged blasts can take down more than one enemy at a time for a point bonus. Having your flight path controlled for you let's you concentrate on the enjoyable, if not a bit repetitious, shooting action.
Then you land on the ground. Each stage has a flight section followed by a ground section, where you now have full control over Pit. Here, the circle pad is used to move him around, the shoulder button is still attack, and the touch screen becomes both aiming the reticule and turning the camera. The movement is still adept, allowing Pit brief sprints or timed dashes to dodge around shots and enemies. The continous fire and charge shot attacks of the flight part retain themselves, although slightly altered to not be as spammable. Timing these shots with dashes gives different attacks, such as a three shot burst or even more damaging blast. Getting Pit up close allows you to combo melee attacks, giving you plenty of different attack options for targets. It gives more variety and tactics than the flight sections, so the longer, ground portions should be more enjoyable.
It's the touch screen controls that keeps that in check, though. The aiming of the reticule is just like the flying part, but turning Pit and the camera requires quick scratches on the screen. This often leads to the camera turning too slowly, turning too far, or turning in a slightly unintentional direction making you lose sight of your target. Tapping the screen during a turn will stop the camera instantly, but then your reticule is misplaced for shooting. It's all quite cumbersome, especially when you are in frantic battles trying to melee one monster, quick dodge around to another and then dash-blast a far off target. Considering the ground battles make up a majority of the single player campaign, it leads to a lot of frustration. This is only punctuated when you get into vehicles, where control is far more atrocious. The jet bike has minimal steering capability, and a bizarre ring thing will have you bouncing from wall to wall without any sense of command as you try to move forward. It's generally a linear path to get to the end, but you can find a few additional passages for treasures with new weapons or sealed doors that can only be opened with a certain difficulty.
Which is one of the more unique features Uprising sports. Much like the original NES game, Pit collects hearts to use as currency. At the beginning of each stage, you can "gamble" a portion of his heart total to increase or decrease the difficulty of the stage. The trade off is that the more hearts you put in, the more hearts you can get back when killing creatures, and certain doors require to have higher difficulties. Dying will lower the difficulty and cause you to lose some of those gambled hearts. And the game is difficult, with higher intensities being almost unfair, but not impossible.
The hearts can also be used to purchase new weapons for Pit. Between stages, you can see what is available in the shop, or take two weapons you already own and fuse them into something new. And there are a ton of weapons. There are eight different types, such as bows, swords, claws, energy palms, and staves. Each weapon you find will have randomized statistics, meaning each one will have different values for melee and ranged distance and damage, with special modifiers such as increased dodge, poison, or increased charge shot damage. Every weapon plays differently, so you can find one that fits your style. You can further customize yourself by using a power board, which has you placing different shapes onto a grid to get you extra powers. These powers are limited use abilities, giving you extra armor, a quick heal, or a devastating laser beam attack, to name a few.
Like with the hearts, Kid Icarus: Uprising uses quite a bit to pay homage to the NES classic. When showing an enemy on the top screen, the bottom screen will be used to remind you what it used to look like in the NES game, 8-bit graphics and all. This ends up being especially hilarious for some bosses. Familiar enemies return, including Medusa, the Eggplant Wizard, and the terrifying Reaper, which is accompanied by the original, untouched screeching melody that has haunted my dreams since my first encounter so many years ago. The music is gloriously beautiful, especially when listened to with headphones, and smartly uses the original "Underworld" melody in new ways.
Although, it would be great if you could actually hear the music in most cases. In an effort to drive forward the story, Pit and his guiding goddess Palutena, along with nearly every boss character, is given a voice and converse with one another. The issue is that they just never shut up. The story is definitely light-hearted, with a lot of self-references and fourth wall breaking, but the constant spatter of cheesy jokes from Pit and the others becomes grating and overpowering.
At least it doesn't interrupt how pretty the game is. Every stage, either flight or ground, has a fantastic sense of scale as you traverse through it. Environments have quite a bit of variety, if not a bit cliched, but running across a dragon's back is awe-inspiring. Characters are highly detailed, even if they're not the highest polygon count around. Most bosses are absolutely massive and impressive.This is another game where playing with the 3D on truly adds depth. Seeing energy blasts and lasers zoom past Pit and towards you is a neat little thing, and can help give you a better judgement of distance between you and your enemies.
The multiplayer of Kid Icarus: Uprising, which can be played online or off, doesn't fare as well as the single player. For one, it's ground battles only, and all previously mentioned control problems persist in it, along with frequent lag. There are two modes: a six player free-for-all, or a three-on-three variation on team deathmatch. The free-for-all is about what you would expect, but the team mode is a bit more interesting. Each player is randomly assigned to either the light or dark side as a generic angel soldier. Each team has a health bar at the bottom. As players respawn and are killed, the health bar depletes until one player on that side becomes Pit. Once the opposing team defeats Pit, they win. What makes it more unique is the ability to use any weapon you have collected in single player in multiplayer. Using a stronger weapon does give you an advantage, but the higher the value of the weapon, the more health bar is depleted when you are defeated. It becomes a delicate balance, choosing between strength and not being a liability to your team. It's a nice distraction, but I found myself wanting to play the single player more than multiplayer.
Which, if you're looking for a single player experience, Uprising will last you a surprisingly long time. The story mode has more levels than you would expect, passing well beyond the eight hour mark, to the point where it drags on and plot twists are too abundant. Unlocking weapons has a great allure along with creating new ones. An "Idol Toss" minigame let's you unlock idols, which are models of in-game assets, much like Smash Bros.' trophies. There are also multiple challenge boards, which are essentially achievements. Completing these will get you bonus hearts, unique weapons, or new idols. Getting all of them unlocked is quite a feat, and die-hard completionists will be astounded at how much they have to do.
There is also an alternate reality card game using the 3DS' camera. It's lame, pointless, and not worth your time.
Kid Icarus: Uprising may be the most meaty 3DS package available. The single player is lengthy but repetitious, with a staggering amount of unlocks for weapons, idols, and challenges. Being able to play on higher difficulties is extremely challenging and rewarding to get behind those sealed doors. The multiplayer is decent and has its own weapon rewards to keep you coming back. The flying and shooting gameplay is enjoyable, but the running and shooting gameplay is flawed. It makes for a mixed package. If you can adjust yourself and tolerate the ground portions, it's a pretty sizeable, good 3DS game.
Be ready for hand cramps.
|Jared Knabenbauer is the ScrewAttack.com Reviews Editor, Hard News host, and a host of our weekly video podcast, "SideScrollers". He has also produced several notable ScrewAttack shows, including Reboot or Retro, Nametags, and Control Issues. He specializes in RPGs, and has a great fondness for Dungeons & Dragons. A comedian at heart, he is one serious gamer.|
nice review, and good advice to be ready for hand cramps
This game deserves a 10. Or a 9 at least.This games makes having a 3DS awesome. It was the first game to use almost every aspect of the 3DS and they did it perfectly. This is one of my favorite games ever and I barely played the original.
it doesn't have to be EXACTLY like the nes games but why do you think everyone hated starfox adventures? (at least based on the impression i got when craig made fun of it in a top ten). i love retro games, but i'm not an extremist...i'm gonna write a review of this game lol. don't know when, but it will happen.....someday, just as i told stuff4fun
to an extent i do hate change, yes; it depends. my problem with uprising is that essentially you're not playing "kid icarus" what your really playing is "sin and punishment". metroid went over an entire console, and possibly one of the best consoles ever, the n64 and had no games for it. when it came back on the gamecube, changes were made, obviously, one being the fact that its in first person and maybe the overall game was a little more linear but essentially, all the gameplay aspects that defined metroid as "metroid" were still there. platforming, exploration, finding missles/energy tanks, finding items/weapons/upgrades, etc. kid icarus on the nes had such a unique blend of other influences like mario, zelda, and metroid. instead however, we essentially got a 3d shooter (sin and punishment) when there was only ONE level in the nes classic that was like a 2d shooter. i could go on but i think i'll write a review on this; i contemplated it for a while and i think you're comment was the straw that broke the camels back so thanks for the push. i can't guarantee when i will but it will happen someday....
... sooo, what you're implying is that you hate change? It's been over a decade since the last Kid Icarus came out. You'd expect them to do something new with it.
Jared made great points about the multiplayer, but personally I still play it.
You aren't the only one
I gave it a 9.5. The music and the graphics are amazing, and most of the problems stated can be adjusted in the settings, like the controls and the voice acting. I purposely lowered the volume of the voices, so that I could hear the music way more, while still being able to listen the voices. Playing with 6 players for multiplayer remains choppy though.
I totally give this game a 9/10. I am a lefty, and they allowed the option to switch from the circle pad to the abxy keys! That is nice. Also, it is not required to use the touch screen. There is a control option (that I find MUCH easier to use) where you can use the other side (abxy for righties and circle pad for lefties) to control the camera/reticle. The main flaw is that later on, the stages become quite unforgiving, especially at higher intensities. I remember there was one stage I was playing where I kept falling in the lava because I was just trying to dodge enemies. I did a quick dodge and it put me into the lava. Again. And again. And again. Otherwise, the game is amazing, and a definite recommendation to anyone with a 3DS. I would say to get this over Super Mario 3D Land
after you figure out how to control the game properly the game is a definite 9, id even throw a 10 at it myself. totally amazing game.
i disagree, this deserves a 9.
I thought this game was going to be meh after this review then I played it. this game is one of the best ive ever played. Jared totally missed the mark on his score for this game.
I think this game is only for some people. I've heard a lot of complaints of people who don't like controllers. I got used to them pretty fast and have had not a single problem with them. I'm so used to them that I can easily say that there my favorite shooter controls ever! If this game would've been for WiiU I still would've prefferd to play it with the giant touchscreen. [I'd have more problems since it's too big, but my point is, Kid Icarus: Uprising's style is touch screen]
Sorry, but I don't agree with this review. I guess i can understand some of your points, but most i Disagree with, though Screwattack probably has the best review that says the game is OK.
I didn't have trouble with the control of the camera on land at all. It seems some websites have complained about this, but I don't understand why they don't like the land controls. I got it right away, so I don't know if its just me, but other fans seem to have no trouble. I guess I could see some people not wanting the characters to talk at some points, but I honestly found it kind of funny. At one point in the game, one character who acts a bit like a child at some points taunts you by saying "You're gonna fall! You're Gonna Fall!" when you are in a vehicle and you have to make a jump. I had no trouble listening to the music though, and it was great. Not sure why some people had trouble listening to it, and there is an option to turn the dialouge off. I agree, AR cards were pointless, but they were not made for the older gamers. Some levels do make it seem like its dragging on, mostly near the beginning of the middle, and the end of the middle. I had no hand cramps, and i played most of the chapters in one sitting.
i have to say this game is just great if anyone on here doesnt have it get it now. Theres so much to do and its really challenging. I must of played well over 20 online matches and never expierenced lag so dont let that turn u off. And also wat he says about the dialogue. When ur playing the game and focusing on the action u dont even here wat pit and palentena are talking about. And the controls are seriously perfect once u get used to them.
Times like these make me more steadfast in my reasoning that Pokémon and Legend of Zelda do help the brain. Games with no voice acting are still enjoyable, btw. Is it really too much to read?
Ok, thanks for the tip. I'll try it sometime.
Well, the best way I can describe it is that the both the left and the right side of the handheld is crammed into my palms while I've got my elbows leaning on my knees or my bed or something. Makes it way more comfortable. Hard to explain but I hope I got my point across! Oh, and I almost never have 3D on so I can pretty much look at the screen from any angle, making it even more comfortable.
Agreed! I was really hoping for a video review as well!
I found it the other way around Jared, I couldn't hear the talking and story due to the music being to loud. Which I'm sure both could be adjusted in the settings.
EDIT: Ewww, reading comments make me sick!