Kid Icarus: Uprising (Nintendo 3DS) - Review by Andrew
Anyone who recalls 2010's E3 will remember the audience's applause was Kid Icarus appeared on the large screens during Nintendo's 3DS press conference. You could be forgiven for assuming that this first party mascot would make an appearance on the handheld sometime during the launch window given the amount of focus the publisher gave to the footage. Sadly, that was not to be and after a year of waiting, Kid Icarus is finally with us. The reasons for the delay is anyone's guess but it's here now with a rather nifty console stand and AR cards to boot.
While almost all of the preview footage has shown off the Ariel Combat sections there's also a ground based third person element to this title too. We'll begin though with what is unquestionably the games highlight and taking to the air whilst blasting a collection of weird and wonderful creatures out of the skies has never been so much fun not to mention heart poundingly exciting. While this is an 'on the rails' affair it never really feels like it with Pit free to roam around the screen taking down enemies whilst avoiding their attempts to destroy him.
After this you'll be forced into a ground battle, which is much trickier but does at least allow you to explore the areas at your own pace. This is littered with bonus items and collectables with the occasional area inaccessible requiring the correct key or object to unlock it. The level design here is very impressive and you'll never feel like the developers have simply recycled the assets from each level in order to save time. The various enemies are worth a mention too as they're no only huge (compared to the humble Pit) but also far more intelligent than your average AI foe refusing to simply wait around until you destroy them.
Even once you exhausted the main Story Mode there's still a great deal left to enjoy in Uprising. You can share your weapons via StreetPass, and completed in-game objectives are rewarded with bonus panels, which unlock an impressive Kid Icarus picture. You can even exchange play coins to access 3D models of the game characters. This is even before you get to the impressive Multiplayer element of the package, which is both online and local. This allows up to six players to indulge in Free-for-all or Light vs. Dark. The Free-for-all is pretty self-explanatory with each player battling it out for their own survival. Light vs. Dark is a three-on-three team-based affair with each player sharing a collective health bar. Once depleted the final player will become either Light of Dark who must then be protected by the rest of the team. While this sounds compacted it's actually very entertaining and the ability to bring in any weapon, you have acquired from the Story Mode, can really have an effect on the balance of power.
Uprising calls on all the 3DS's various controls and while the Air Combat work perfectly well the same cannot be said of the ground based sections. This requires you to use the circle pad to move with the touch-screen required to not only to aim but also to control the camera. This is tricky during the earlier levels rising to completely frustrating as the game progresses. The simple solution here would have been to employ the newly released Circle Pad Pro although the games developer has recently revealed that this was never a viable option.
Uprising represents yet another in the growing library of 3DS titles, which perfectly demonstrates just how powerful this little handheld system is with the visuals pushed to their full limits, even in 3D. Just about everything here from the characters to the various environments looks incredible with the only problem being that you'll be travelling so fast it's difficult to actually appreciate it all. Sadly, there are some issues with the framerate in the Mutiplayer but this could be a side effect of the developer's ambitions with the screen occasionally becoming very crowded indeed.
The soundtrack here is absolutely superb and the developers have clearly been inspired by the original NES outing. It's not just the wonderfully composed music though and Uprising features some of the best voice acting we've ever experienced in a game, which is both humorous and expertly delivered. In fact it's so good you could easily lift these assets and attach them to a full-blown movie. We really can't praise this element of the game enough and in an industry that often overlooks the audio elements, Uprising has certainly set the bar high for the next first party title.
As this is a combat based game, you'll need the stylus to hand at all times and aiming with the touch screen seems much more intuitive than attempting the same with the face buttons. As we've mentioned earlier, this all works perfectly with the air combat sections but you're going to have to spend some time on the ground before you really become comfortable with the rather odd control combination.
Uprising comes in a large box with a collection of useful extras to enhance you gaming experience. The first of these is a 3DS stand, which does make playing the game for prolonged periods a great deal more comfortable although you can still enjoy the game without it. More interesting though are the AR cards and while there's a handful in the box, magazines and high street stores have been giving away bonus cards for some months now. These allow you to view different characters from the game in a virtual environment simply by placing a card on a flat surface and pointing your console at them. This works wonderfully and we'd really like to see this kind of thing used in a lot more games. Oh, and did we mention just how amazing the 3D looks?
It's rare that a game actually delivers on the initial excitement but Kid Icarus: Uprising is a game absolutely every 3DS gamer must own dispute its drawbacks. Focusing on the positive though, this is an incredible achievement and unquestionably one of the best looking and sounding games to grace the handheld. It's fast paced and addictive with a suitable amount of variety and a lots of replay value. The problems stem mostly from the games ambitions with framerate issues during the Multiplayer bouts and other occasions when then there's just too much going on to fit into the 3DS's tiny screen. What will really frustrate you though is the control system and, even though we now know why it's been done like that, it really doesn't help to quell the annoyance you'll experience when playing the game. Fortunately there's still a huge amount of other things to celebrate here making Uprising yet another addition to a growing quality gaming library for the new handheld.
Pro: Looks and Sounds Amazing, Loads of Replay Value, Great Airborne Combat.
Con: The Control System.
Final score: 8.3