Kid Icarus: Uprising: Review
Posted April 3, 2012 by Adam Wind (225)
Nintendo has left the Kid Icarus name lie dormant for two decades. After years of rumors about a revival of the series, Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai has brought Kid Icarus back to life on the Nintendo 3DS. Pit once again takes up his bow to fight Medusa’s Underworld army once again leading to a great, yet flawed revitalization of the Kid Icarus name.
In the Solo mode, you guide Pit in his quest to fight the Underworld army and save the world. The story is separated into chapters that, once completed, players can dive back into at any time. The first few chapters are short and sweet, yet they serve as a great way to nudge players into the control schemes. Each stage is separated into a flying section and a ground section. Flying sections play out as on-rails shooters. The game guides Pit along a mostly set path leaving the player to focus on dodging enemy attacks and returning fire. Each flying section lasts no more than five minutes, or Pit’s wings would burn up. Sadly, the flying sections can be very repetitive. They don’t deviate much from flying around in a circle and firing at whatever is in front of you. The majority of your time will be spent on the ground-based sections. In these sections, you take total control of Pit’s movements. Both sections have tons of action constantly happening. There is never a shortage of enemies to battle or incoming attacks to dodge. The background even showcases some impressive battles in a few chapters adding to the scale of what Pit is fighting for and against.
The intensity level you have set makes a difference in the amount of action as well. Uprising takes a unique approach to difficulty levels. Instead of having a set Easy, Normal, Hard, etc. you slide an intensity meter in the Fiend’s Cauldron before each chapter begins. The higher you go, the more enemies you encounter and the more aggressive they are. Increasing the intensity forces you to bet with the hearts you have collected. Hearts are the game’s currency, which you use to buy weapons, gems, and bet on the Cauldron. The more you bet, the better your rewards for completion. However, if you fall in battle, you loose some of what you bet and some of what you gained during your run of the chapter so bet your hearts wisely. The game knocks off a full point of intensity with each death. There are also doors scattered about that can only be opened if you are playing on a certain intensity or above.
It is a good thing those first few chapters provide good practice because the controls take some time to get fully accustomed to. Flying controls are fairly simple with just moving Pit around to dodge with the Circle Pad, aiming with the touch screen, and firing with the L button. On the ground, the layout remains the same, but the intensity on the Circle Pad increases. With having total control of Pit, you are responsible for his exact placement against the enemy at all times. Constantly dodging, strafing, aiming, and firing doesn’t seem like it would be taxing on the muscles, but it can take a lot of you. Extended play sessions wear down your hand muscles. Holding the 3DS to support Uprising’s controls is not very confortable. It was very uncomfortable to play more than three chapters at a time. The included stand does help with reducing that fatigue, but I found myself to be less accurate or effective in battle while using it. The Circle Pad Pro is compatible with Kid Icarus, yet it doesn’t do much to add to control options. Instead of controlling Pit with the left Circle Pad, you control him with the second Circle Pad provided by the Pro. It is a great way to make those who are left handed more confortable while playing, but more could have been done to allow more customization. Aiming the reticle and controlling the camera may not have been as accurate with the Pro, but it certainly would have been more confortable over long play sessions. The option should have at least been there.
Most control issues pop up while on the ground. Swiping around the touch screen to move the camera can be cumbersome. Sometimes, the camera either rotated way too far or not far enough. Hitting the sweet spot for desired view wasn’t always easy to obtain. Dodging also had its moments of inaccuracy. Occasionally, a quick swipe of the Circle Pad with a close enemy attack didn’t cause Pit to dodge as you would assume. Instead, Pit would take a quick step forward and stop or just outright stay motionless allowing the incoming attack to strike without resistance. These issues were not consistent enough to make you turn the game off, but will leave you scratching your head from time to time. Controls aren’t all doom and gloom though. Aiming with the touch screen is very accurate, you can customize button layout and aiming sensitivity, and the Circle Pad mostly does a good job of allowing the player to control Pit.
Chapters start off being very short and to the point leaving something to be desired early on. Thankfully, as the game progresses, the length of each chapter increases as well. Still, most chapters can be completed within fifteen minutes. It doesn’t help that exploration is fairly limited. Once on the ground, green arrows guide you to where you need to go. You can turn these off, but the correct path is obvious a majority of the time. There is an occasional hidden path or hard to reach treasure chest, but deviating from your path doesn’t reward you as often as it should. The shorter length does have its advantage though. With Uprising being on the 3DS, shorter chapters fit the quick pick-up-and-play mentality of portable gaming. You may also want to tackle chapters over and over to attempt to get higher scores, overcome higher intensities, unlock new weapons, and complete achievements.
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