Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: Kid Icarus Uprising (3DS game)

Pit Soars into a long awaited Return 

When Kid Icarus’s angelic boy wonder Pit returned to relevancy in Super Smash Bros Brawl, a new entry in the Nintendo cult classic series was widely predicted. Now that long anticipated sequel has finally arrived on the Nintendo 3DS and proves that long waits, even one two decades long, are well worth it. Though its roots lie in a NES era sidescroller, Kid Icarus Uprising offers a fresh Nintendo experience that stands on its own while still dishing out healthy doses of nostalgia to fans of the original. 

Kid Icarus Uprising’s greatest strength is its creative presentation. It easily rivals Resident Evil: Revelations as the best looking game on the 3DS, offering colorful flamboyant visuals. Its energetic art style is matched by an outlandish narrative. Dialogue and voice acting are both deliciously corny and the bulk of the game’s story is told through clever humor and colorful personalities. Of these, Pit rightfully stands out due to his goofy optimism and lovable idealism. Frequent breaks of the fourth-wall and recurring call backs to the game’s 8-bit origins round out the amusing storytelling. In an age where games are taking themselves more and more seriously, it’s refreshing to see one take an opposite approach.

Uprising’s gameplay comes in two different flavors. Each level in the game begins with Pit flying through the sky, blasting away at a shooting gallery of incoming enemies. Movement through the levels is automatic, allowing the player to focus solely on dodging and aiming. Following these concise thrilling flight sections, the fight is continued on foot. Using the default control scheme, Pit is moved with the circle pad, while aiming his weapon is handled with the touchpad. Pressing the L button handles both melee and ranged attacks, with the latter offering both rapid fire and charged shot options. Dodge attacks further diversify attack options and come in forwards, backwards, and sideways varieties. Camera control is handled by quickly sliding the stylus on the touchpad. Overall, the controls take some getting used to and can lead to hand cramps during long terms of play. While discomfort is a definite issue, it only slightly distracts from the game’s more impressive qualities.

Coming from the developers of Smash Bros, the amount of collectables in Uprising is predictably extensive. Not only does it possess figurines akin to the titular fighting game series but also a plethora of unlockable powers and weapons. Ranging from swords to staffs, the 9 different weapon categories offer a diverse range of options to dispatch baddies. Different weapons can be obtained from treasure chests scattered across the game’s levels or by buying them from an in-game store. There is also a system in which weapons can be fused together to form stronger ones. Players can further enlarge their arsenal by playing the game’s action-intense multiplayer. Multiplayer offers both a standard all for one deathmatch and the “Light vs. Dark” mode which tasks two teams with taking down the opposing side’s angel. Overall multiplayer is a fun and frantic experience dominated by items which turn matches into a smorgasbord of explosions.

3DS owners looking for challenging gameplay will be pleased with what Uprising offers. Difficulty is set before each single player mission, with higher difficulties accessed by betting more of the game’s Heart currency. Additional Hearts and superior weapons can be reaped on higher difficulty levels, though the risk of losing the waged Hearts balances out these potential rewards. Levels require intense concentration and reflexes on the higher settings, which makes even the first initial levels punishing ordeals. These challenges are completely optional however, and the game is expertly balanced to be open to both casual players and gaming masochists.

Kid Icarus Uprising is a clever and unique addition to the Nintendo 3DS library. While many will likely have gripes about the occasional discomfort caused by Uprising’s control layout, those who can look past the occasional sore fingers will enjoy abundant entertainment with this title. Few handheld games can claim to have so much content packed into them and fewer still are as charming as Kid Icarus Uprising.

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