Players: Single/Multi (6)
Extras: AR Cards
Australian Release Date: March 29th, 2012
Australian Rating: PG
Kid Icarus: Uprising follows Pit, the loyal champion angel of Lady Palutena, Goddess of light, as he battles his way to Medusa, Queen of the Underworld, who has been resurrected since the prequel took place 25 years ago. Well, at first you think it is to that end…
The story starts out fine. Medusa is somehow back and you need to defeat particular lieutenants to finally get to her. But by that point it is only Chapter 9 (out of 25). Then, the big boss is revealed. Each few chapters thereafter, however, seems to have a new big boss which you then try to reach. It can get rather annoying, as just as you think you are nearing the end of the game, a whole new arc opens up. Normally, that would excite me, but some of the directions this game went with its story just didn’t make sense, i.e. replicating aliens, years out of action being nothing but a ring, etc. Each arc leads into the next, and they give a reason, but not all of them make sense in a game set loosely in Greek Mythology. One aspect of it that I did like, however, was how secondary characters would come back into the story, which helps with cohesion. There are even a couple of chapters where you play as someone other than Pit, who often amusingly breaks the fourth wall.
Given the original game, Kid Icarus, came out 25 years ago, it is no surprise that the graphics are an improvement. The Pit in Uprising is more akin to the Pit in Super Smash Bros. Brawl than the original Kid Icarus, but in 3D (that includes movement, not just imagery). The graphics aren’t spectacular, but they are of the level that is to be expected from a newer 3DS game. So is the audio. Although, there are also many nostalgic old school Nintendo sound bites, which is a nice touch and ties in well to the previously mentioned breaking of the fourth wall that occurs every now and then.
The game itself is rather simple. It is a basher. You go through each stage, with usually a flying section, land section and boss battle, (with a checkpoint between each) and all you need to do is kill the hordes of enemies and collect items. There is an auto save after completing each chapter and a ‘How To’ tutorial mode that you can view at any point out of game.
At the beginning of each chapter you choose how many hearts to “invest” into it, increasing the difficulty level and thus rewards. It also opens doors that require you to be playing at certain levels, but if you die, you lose a portion of those invested hearts, forever, and your difficulty level lowers as a result. That works well. If you died because it was too hard, it is a little easier next time. I like that. The trick is finding the balance.
During each chapter, you play in the top screen (your view at least) and the bottom screen, while the touch pad is integral to aiming and moving the camera, houses the dialogue that goes on through the entire chapter. It’s not overly important, but I recommend playing with the sound on (and headphones too if you play it on the train like me) so that you aren’t reading the subtitles while also trying to aim at the bad guys, and then actually getting the crap beaten out of you. It can be a little distracting sometimes, trying to focus on what is being said and a particularly tricky foe at the same time, whether you are looking at the 2D still imagery and subtitles or not, and that is in part due to the very odd decision on controls.
I, like many others it seems, found the controls for this game painfully annoying. Literally. I often had cramps in my left hand as it did almost everything. It doesn’t work well using the stylus as a primary tool in a relatively fast paced real time action game, while still being required to use buttons. In short, my left hand was horribly overworked moving, using powers (both to be done using your thumb, so not at the same time), shooting/attacking, AND completely supporting the console, while my right hand only controlled the stylus. And let’s talk about the stylus controls: aiming with it works well, so I can’t complain about that. What is irritating is that you also need to use it to move the camera, flicking in the direction you want to look, which is not very precise. What is the point in having Circle Pad Pro capabilities if both Circle Pads do the same thing (i.e. moving)? It would’ve worked better if you could aim with the right Circle Pad, but apparently the Circle Pad Pro compatibility was to only accommodate left handed players (which have gotten by alright getting used to the same controls that right handed people have, trust me). You do have the option of changing your controls, which excited me when I first saw it, but it does little to help with the grievances I have outlined.
The last control I wish to discuss is the dash. It could just be me, but I never seemed to get it right, well, not all the time anyway. I found it rather hard to control actually. I would often dash off edges and fall to my death when I was just reacting quickly to an enemy attack but only wanted to sidestep, and I would often try to do it deliberately to run through tedious areas, but had to thrust the Circle Pad twice to get Pit to respond the way I wanted. I believe having to hold down the ‘R’ button to dash would make things much more definite and less touchy. Of course that would only work if you weren’t using the stylus, but I’d prefer to move my camera/view with my right thumb on the right Circle Pad anyway. As for aiming, it’s only a short movement from a Circle Pad to the touch screen. I think we would have survived. Even if we just aimed with the right Circle Pad like using the ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘X’ and ‘Y’ buttons. You don’t have these issues flying though, as you are on a track, explained as being guided by Palutena since you cannot fly yourself.
One area in which this game excels though, is in replay ability. There is so much to unlock in the game that it is worthwhile going back and finishing previous chapters for, including the fun and interesting weapon crafting (where you can fuse two weapons you have to make a whole new one). There is also a multiplayer section for up to 6 people where you battle it out against each other, in either Light Vs. Dark teams or Free-for-All mayhem. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any real people to play against, but I still managed to test it out against all computer players. It was fun. The best way I could explain it is a 3D movement version of Super Smash Bros. Brawl where the only character you get to pick is a soldier. The best thing about it is that you can still unlock items and gain hearts through playing this part of the game. Lastly, there is the Augmented Reality feature. It has no real in game functionality, but scanning the cards unlocks idols in your vault. You only get six so go online to see if your friends/strangers on the internet have posted pictures of their six.
Overall, I think it could’ve been a really good game if it wasn’t for the control system. They tried to be too innovative I think, and ended up with something obscure. Innovation doesn’t always represent progression, and some things, while it is always good to try to improve on them, can be tried and true. But that is always the risk with innovation, you may go the wrong direction, or just the wrong direction for your audience. I recommend it only if you feel you can handle the controls, so test it out first.There is so much right about this game, but there is something massively wrong.
Game Play 3
Ease of Play 7
Director Masahiro Sakurai defends the controls: