I begin playing Kid Icarus: Uprising and the very first line of dialogue has Pit saying: “Sorry to keep you waiting.”, as he dives into the first level. Pit’s statement is acknowledging the fact that the previous Kid Icarus game in the series was released over twenty years ago, as of 2012, on the Game Boy in 1991. I’m pleased by the reality that this game would have been worth the long wait for someone growing up in the early nineties.
Uprising is the direct sequel to Kid Icarus, a classic NES game from 1987, set 25 years in the future. This is a reflection of the real-world time that has passed between the releases of both games. The plot sees our protagonist, Pit, given the task of battling the armies of the Underworld and vanquishing Medusa, who has been mysteriously resurrected.
In order to succeed in his mission, Pit is assisted by the goddess of light, Palutena. In spite of primarily serving as a means by which the game can deliver explanations and exposition, Palutena is never very dull. The dialogue between her and Pit is quite amusing. The angel is earnest, optimistic and occasionally foolish, and his character contrasts well with Palutena who is intelligent, nice but also sarcastic. I actually felt Pit is enjoyable when he was interacting with all the other characters as well. The voice acting is crisp and clear, and the script is very well-written; All the characters are self-aware, and they even make references to the original 80’s Kid Icarus, as well as more contemporary Nintendo games. For instance, Pit casually mentions multiple times throughout the first level how items and enemies no longer look pixelated.
However, I probably missed many of the mid-game visual references on the bottom screen (such as when Palutena brings up what 8-bit characters looked like.) because all of the gameplay takes place on the top screen, and I needed to focus on all the action going on. In addition to all the humorous dialogue the game has to offer, the overall story is genuinely good, holding a number of surprising twists and turns. I’d hate to spoil anything, so I’ll leave further details for people who have not yet played this game to discover.
The game’s main campaign is divided into chapters, and each chapter has two distinct gameplay types. The first part is an on-rails shooter that takes place high in the sky. Players must focus on hitting enemies while moving about to dodge the wide array of attacks the many different enemies can unleash. The gameplay here is analogous to how Galaga would play if it took place in three-dimensional space. However, Pit can only fly for five minutes before his wings begin burning up, just like the wings of Icarus from Greek mythology.
Before he falls to the ground in a fiery inferno, Palutena places him safely on the ground. This is when the terrestrial gameplay begins. The controls on the ground are slightly different.
Unfortunately, there are some slight camera issues at certain junctions due to the control scheme. When doing combat on small platforms or in small areas, it can become cumbersome to have to aim and fire at enemies and still have to look around simultaneously as both the reticle and the camera must be controlled by virtually the same means; this renders the control scheme unnecessarily difficult at times.
Although there are camera issues, Kid Icarus: Uprising is still a very good game. It offers lots of value beyond the single-player campaign. This includes fairly robust multiplayer options both via local wireless and online (online runs smoothly by the way.) for instance.
It also takes advantage of many of the Nintendo 3DS’ features like the stereoscopic 3D visuals on the top screen, AR Card games, and even trading weapons with other players via StreetPass. In terms of the amount of content, I think that this game is comparable to Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Nintendo Wii, and that’s saying a whole lot. In more ways than one, Kid Icarus: Uprising is a great example of the videogame medium.
Written By: BeNjamyn Upshaw-Ruffner