If you’re a long-standing fan and have adventured with Pit before, then you’re going to find him a lot less pixelated than you remember. If you’re new to the Kid Icarus series, Kid Icarus: Uprising follows a plucky angel named Pit who is a servant to the Goddess of Light, Lady Palutena. The game opens up with a nemesis from the earlier Kid Icarus games, Medusa, the Goddess of Darkness, stirring up the underworld troops for battle yet again. It’s up to Pit, as Lady Palutena’s most trusted soldier, to protect humanity and defeat Medusa, but the plot quickly thickens as a lot of other gods and goddesses decide to throw their hats … er … laurel crowns into the ring.
Kid Icarus: Uprising has a history with several other games in its series and it does a good job of catering to fans who’ve been with the series for awhile and welcoming new players. When Pit encounters a monster or a boss he’s met in a previous game, an old picture of that character flashes on the screen and there’s some dialogue discussing the last time you faced them. For long term fans this brings in a bit of nostalgia for those old pixilated forms, while at the same time being able to appreciate how far the series has come. For newcomers, the nostalgia does a lot to fill in the blanks and catch you up on what’s going on without making you feel like you’re missing out on an inside joke. But it does give a shout out to other classic Nintendo games, like when Pit asks why one of the monsters looks suspiciously like a metroid the goddess promptly replies with a “shhh!”
Speaking of pixels, Kid Icarus: Uprising looks great in both 3D and 2D. The 3D and the flight scenes work really well together, giving the flying a real sense of movement. But there is a lot of movement and the fights are generally fast-paced, so your desire to keep the 3D on will really depend on how easily your eyes strain. The 2D works very well, and while it lacks that extra bit of magic that 3D brings to the game, 2D breaks won’t take away from the experience.
The gameplay is pretty straight-forward. Lady Palutena controls Pit’s ability to fly and only graces Pit with a limited flight time. If he goes over the set flight time then, like Icarus from mythology, his wings burst into flames and he falls out of the sky. This never really makes into the gameplay though, and while it is discussed and featured in cutscenes, you never actually have to beat the clock to get to your destination. The limited flight time mostly serves to setup the formula of the levels. Each level opens with Pit flying to his destination, shooting down enemies in the process, then landing once he’s reached the extent of his flight. Once he’s made it to the landing zone, a ground battle ensues until you reach the end of the level and defeat its boss. It’s not terrible and the levels are fun, but almost every level follows this formula and eventually the constant pattern of fly, land, boss fight starts to take on a tired rinse-and-repeat feel.
Keep your eyes peeled while you’re going through the levels because there are treasure chests and other goodies scattered throughout like new weapons, items, food, or relaxing hot springs. The weapons you find get much better as you go along and you can equip, practice with, or merge your weapons between levels. And while you can easily find your fighting niche and stick with your favorite weapon, the variety that you’re offered makes you want to experiment with the new ones you find. The items you find can only be used in the level you found them, usually have a short shelf-life, and have a variety of effects depending on which you find, but there are going to be plenty of times where the items will protect you or give your fire power a little extra umph. The food and the hot springs heal Pit with the food giving a moderate health boost while the hot springs return him to full health. Lady Palutena and the other characters that take a seat in Pit’s peanut gallery even crack jokes about him eating things off the ground or his feminine appreciation of the spa-like hot springs, but when you’re down to nil health you’ll feel about as relieved to find them as Pit does.
In battle, you earn hearts for every enemy you defeat and you can use the hearts in a couple of ways. Firstly, you can use them to fiddle with the difficulty of the levels. The normal difficulty setting lets you move on without either spending or betting hearts, but you can spend hearts if you want to take the difficulty down a notch or you can bet hearts if you’re feeling lucky and want to take on a level on a higher difficulty. This really helps you out in mastering the game, because you can practice on a lower setting, get your bearings, then charge back into the level on a higher difficulty once you know what you’re going to be dealing with. But no matter how you play, Kid Icarus: Uprising offers a ridiculous amount of difficulty settings so you can either challenge yourself or just comfortably play through the game. There are also Intensity Gates within certain levels, which only open if you’re on a certain difficulty setting or higher. These doors contain even stronger monsters for you to face within the level if you’re looking for a little extra challenge. Secondly, you can use your hearts to purchase new weapons that you might not find in the levels or, you can scrap some of your old and unused weapons in exchange hearts.
Kid Icarus Uprising offers a multiplayer mode where you can either play Light Versus Dark or Free-for-All. In the multiplayer Light Versus Dark, two teams of three face off. If a team member is taken down, then a third of the party’s health is lost. Once all of a party’s members are gone the remaining team has to face off with the losing team’s angel before winning the battle. And the Free-for-All is, well, a free-for-all where you go up against all of the five other players at once. The multiplayer is enjoyable, gives you practice, and lets you gain weapons you can actually use in the singleplayer game, but it’ll probably be something you check out after you’ve finished with the singleplayer.
Bottom Line: Kid Icarus: Uprising is a fun game with endearingly cheesy dialogue and characters, but the setup of the levels can get a little monotonous.
Recommendation: If you’re looking for a new 3DS gameKid Icarus: Uprising is definitely worth a try.[rating=4]