Pit's made heaven a place on Earth.
It’s astonishing to think that the last time gamers got to enjoy the frolics of heaven’s angelic solider, Pit, it was on the crusty black and white screen of the original Game Boy in Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters. And that was over two decades ago. When you think of how far the industry has come in that time, it’s almost terrifying. Let’s not forget that since Kid Icarus’ debut on the NES – all the way back in 1986 – Nintendo has gone onto release four home consoles and four handhelds. That’s a hiatus spanning four console generations… And yet, with each console cycle, gamers were continually mystified that a Kid Icarus game was never forthcoming.
Luckily, fans were finally reunited with Pit as he returned as part of a typically all-star cast in Super Smash Bros Brawl in 2008. However, cruelly, even though Pit had reappeared for the first time in 19 years, fans had to wait patiently and pray to the heavens that one day, Pit would return in a fully-fledged Kid Icarus title. Mercifully, and graciously, the God’s at Nintendo have finally answered everyone’s prayers; and it happens to be Smash Bros creator, Masahiro Sakurai, who’s blessed the fans. Yes, the kid’s back, and he’s soared straight into the hands of every Nintendo 3DS owner. But is Kid Icarus Uprising deserving of a spot on cloud nine, or is this child still lost in time?
Pit Your Wits
Crashing Pit’s long-awaited homecoming is a familiar nemesis, the previously vanquished Medusa. The snake-haired wench has been reborn and naturally, she’s decided to destroy all of mankind to appease her anger (why do we always feel the brunt of other people’s feuds?!). Thankfully, our hero in white is ready to take flight for the first time, aided by the beautiful Goddess Palutena. Gifted with the power of flight, Pit soars through twisting caverns, flies high above the clouds and soars majestically across beautiful landscapes whilst all the while, taking the fight to the airborne underworld army. Embarrassingly however, everyone’s favourite winged-angel can only sustain five minutes of flight before his powers of aviation escape him. Yes, Pit is one of the only angels who cannot fly. Poor little cherub.
As the story begins to unravel, it becomes clear that Pit’s quest isn’t as simple as it first seemed. With Palutena by his side, Pit encounters a whole host of familiar faces and eccentric characters throughout the game’s excellent campaign. Cutscenes are in short supply, with the story progressing between Pit’s constant interaction with his Goddess companion and the hilarious individuals they meet along the way. The dialog is presented in a pleasing anime style on the bottom touch screen, but, because of Kid Icarus Uprising’s intense and frantic gameplay, don’t be surprised if you barely look down – it will be at your peril if you do! But don’t fret story fans because the superb and incredibly funny chitter-chatter of Pit, Palutena and the game’s bosses more than make up for the lack of frequent cutscenes.
If there was one thing that I wasn’t expecting when I played Kid Icarus Uprising, it was that it would become one of the funniest games I’ve ever played.
Now, if there was one thing that I wasn’t expecting when I played Kid Icarus Uprising, it was that it would become one of the funniest games I’ve ever played. The dialog is absolutely hilarious. Yes, it’s undeniably cheesy with a pun thrown in at every possible opportunity, but it’s the fact that it isn’t afraid to make fun of itself – and it does so, brilliantly. The back and forth exchanges between Pit and Palutena left me smirking like a total buffoon on far too many occasions. You’ll also find countless references and homages to the Pit’s 1986 debut with re-imagined baddies and plenty of comical reflections about the past game (yes, eggplant wizards return!). It’s wonderfully tailored to the hardcore gamer of yesteryear, invoking the comforting feeling of nostalgia whilst reminding us just how blessed gamers were back then. But the compliments don’t stop here.
Accompanying the excellent voice acting is a truly memorable score which is both magical and memorable in its delivery. Charming orchestral arrangements add to the enchantment and wonder of each stage, with actions scenes benefiting from the dynamic and adaptive soundtrack.
The Flight Of Icarus
When you first lay eyes on Kid Icarus Uprising, the 3DS almost becomes a kaleidoscope of colours and explosions. Character models are smooth and appealing, the stages are varied, and menus are clean and cutely animated. The animations are excellent and the game’s frame rate is rocksolid. In all honesty, the static screenshots do not do the game’s visuals justice.
How good is the 3D Effect? Kid Icarus Uprising looks incredible in 3D. Unprecedented depth actually aids gameplay and brings the stages and furious fire-fights to life. The graphics pop with vibrancy and colour, and the overall effect is extremely convincing. However, Uprising is a game which requires fast reflexes so, from time to time, you will find yourself losing the 3D sweet spot. That being said, this is one game that truly benefits from being played in 3D. Projectiles scream towards you, distances can be judged astutely and the game visually improves with the slider maxed out. VERDICT: Crank that slider up!
Obviously, the first thing fans will notice about Pit’s return is the complete change in style. Gone are the days of the side-scrolling/up-scrolling gameplay. Instead, Kid Icarus is broken down into essentially two gameplay mechanics. Each stage begins with Pit in flight, mimicking previous successful on-rail shoot’ em ups such as Starfox 64 3D and Sin & Punishment. And much like the aforementioned titles, the aerial sections of Kid Icarus are an absolute joy to play.
The left shoulder button is used to fire, the circle pad aids movement, and the touchscreen is used to aim using the stylus. You can hold down the left shoulder button for a stream of continuous fire or wait for a more powerful charge shot. Releasing the trigger is also key to dodging aerial attacks.
Admittedly, it would be more than a white lie to say that the control set-up feels remotely natural at first. To put it lightly, I really struggled to get to grips with the control scheme. That’s not to say that the controls don’t work brilliantly because they do. Soaring through the air and picking off your opponents with pin-point precision offered by the stylus is immensely satisfying, however, holding the device still whilst gripping it with just your left hand is an awkward and difficult task. So how do you solve awkwardness? With an attachment of course!
Even though the Nintendo 3DS has just reached its first birthday, a second attachment for the handheld has hit the market. And this time, it’s a plastic stand! That’s right folks, using this simple, yet beautifully designed plastic stand, players can suspend their Nintendo 3DS’ as if it were floating on air. This revolutionary piece of kit offers effortless control, freeing you from the hassle of clawing your hands around the device. In all seriousness, the stand is actually really useful and comes free with Kid Icarus Uprising. The stand allows you to perform the above gameplay position with a lot more ease, and can also be used for other things such as acting as a lovely add-on to showcase your 3DSor to enjoy other games. If you’ve snubbing the idea of sitting at a table to play, then laying on your front, say, on your bed, work’s equally well. Some will argue that the device’s portability is affected, but hey, it’s an admirable solution which Nintendo didn’t have to include.
When on land, the gameplay is almost turned completely on its head (and sadly the game becomes even more difficult to control from here on-in).
After your five-minutes of high flying antics are over, Pit is forced to land. When on land, the gameplay is almost turned completely on its head (and sadly the game becomes even more difficult to control from here on-in). When on the ground, Pit can move using the circle pad in three-dimensional space. Flicking the circle pad will make Pit dash, a key technique used for performing dodges and powerful attacks. The left shoulder button is still used to fire, with the stylus used to aim. However, the stylus must now also be used to control the camera. To do this, you’re required to flick the stylus across the screen as if you were spinning a globe. To stop the camera you must promptly tap on the screen. Now, as alluded to above, the learning curve here is substantial. For your first few land missions you’ll be convinced that game is just broken due to the infuriating camera and controls. But trust me, after a couple of hours (yes it will take that long) you’ll suddenly find yourself dashing, flicking, spinning and kicking a whole lot of monster butt with the grace of an angel.
The ground gameplay closely resembles that of Super Smash Bros subspace emissary mode, which is perhaps not too much of surprise considering the game’s creator. You must navigate pit through the stage as he picks up items, opens chest and defeats enemies along the way. You can shoot at your opponents from a distance or if Pit gets close enough to an enemy, he can perform melee attacks. The cross-hair changes to signify the target is in range allowing you to deliver a dose of physical punishment. The similarities with Super Smash Bros Brawl are obvious, and the gameplay is actually more enjoyable then SSBB’s single-player campaign.
If the default control set-up isn’t suitable, there are plenty of options to tinker the schemes to your liking, but in all honesty, the default scheme feels the most natural. Give it time and like the games of old, you will be rewarded. And speaking of games of old…
It should be noted that I am of the right-handed persuasion. For lefties, the controls are flipped with the face buttons controlling Pit’s movements. The circle pad pro can be attached to provide the use of a circle pad for lefties. Sadly, Kid Icarus Uprising is a little bit leftist.
The Kid’s Got Heart
Once you’ve got to grips with the controls, the next thing you’ll be struggling against is the hoards of oncoming enemies. Each enemy is ruthless in their determination, and many require certain game plans to defeat. They come thick and fast, and if you’re planning on staying alive for long, you’ll need to balance attack with defence. You’ll also need to determine the game’s intensity – Kid Icarus Uprising’s ingenious difficulty/gambling reward system.
Whenever you defeat an enemy you’ll receive some hearts. Hearts act as the game’s currency allowing you to purchase better weapons. However, if you’re to truly accumulate a healthy dose of hearts, you’ll have raise the game’s intensity. Before a mission, you can bet your hard earned hearts to increase the game’s overall difficulty and in turn, the possibility of receiving greater rewards and the ability to pass through intensity gates (if you match the required level). If you’re “finished” during a mission, you’ll lose some of your gambled hearts forever and the intensity will drop; you can forget about attempting the game on higher difficulty if you’re not a highly skilled, well-equipped player. What you’re left with is an addictive balancing act, rewarding the brave and punishing the foolish. Rest assured that if you’re looking for a challenge, then Kid Icarus Uprising is ready to transport you back to the crushing difficulties of the late 80s.
There’s an insane amount of collectables, unlockables and secrets to reveal in Kid Icarus Uprising. From the plethora of weapons, each unique in their statistics, to the idols and treasure hunt objectives. If you’re a completionist then you’ve found your perfect game.
The Treasure Hunt involves satisfying in-game objectives to reveal a 120 piece portrait of Palutena and Pit. The objectives vary in difficulty from the easy to the extremely difficult and act almost like an achievement system. The Arms Altar let’s you buy a variety of weapons and fuse existing weapons to create new ones. The opportunities to produce a new weapon with different statistics is almost endless. The Idol Toss let’s you launch eggs into the air to obtain idols – 3D figurines akin to the trophies in Super Smash Bros. But be careful, as if you drop an egg it will crack and be gone forever (I’m still bitter about it). There’s also an Offering mode where you can offer up hearts to the goddess. There’s no reward for doing so, apart from the fact she moves closer to screen.
Pit can also collect and use in-game powers. And again, there are plenty of unique and different powers available. However, you can only equip so many powers. But, it’s up to you how many you can fit in. You see, as another clever homage to Nintendo’s illustrious pass, each power is represented as a Tetris block. You have to position the blocks in the most space-efficient way to try and equip as many powers as possible. Awesome.
Of course, the highlighted modes above merely scratch the surface. There’s music to unlock, a power portrait to complete, the ability to exchange weapons in StreetPass, a SpotPass mode, the ability to view and battle AR Card idols and wireless and online multiplayer. It’s almost an exhausting amount of content. But hey, we have been waiting for almost an eternity right?!
Light vs. Dark
Kid Icarus Uprising includes a satisfying multiplayer component, using the land based battle gameplay in a competitive environment. The two modes available are Light vs. Dark (3 vs 3) or free-for-all. You can play locally or online worth friends or with anyone. There’s rewards for victory and competing which can be carried over into the single player campaign. It’s intense, fast and lag-free fun.
They say that patience is a virtue. That good things comes to those who wait. Kid Icarus Uprising is a testament to both those proverbs. Fans have had to wait far too long for Pit’s return, but heaven knows it’s been worth it. Kid Icarus Uprising manages to reinvent the franchise for a modern audience whilst staying true to its past glories. You won’t just be playing this game for a couple of hours; you could be playing this for months, if not years. Yes the controls are very difficult to master at first, but once you have, it’s impossible not to end up in love with this game. Remember patience is a virtue. Let’s pray to Palutena that we won’t have to wait as long for the next Kid Icarus game… We mean it, Nintendo!