Pit soars to new heights
The modern day games industry is one that is constantly changing; an industry where any new character or console could be the next big thing and make its creator rich- take Angry Birds for example. One company that has always managed to defies chucking away their best loved franchises for what could be a fleeting money shot is Nintendo who have managed to keep characters alivefor a quarter of a century on some simply revolutionary consoles. But could Nintendo possibly revive a character that has not been seen in his own game for over twenty years? Well, here comes Pit to prove a point… Kid Icarus: Uprising has come along leaps and bounds with a far deeper story than seen in the original, although it may not seem that way at first. A playthrough of the first few levels will give you the impression that the story is rather unoriginal, as it only revolves around defeating a recently resurrected Medusa; but play on further and the story will expand tenfold, introducing many new characters such as Palutena who acts as Pit’s guide, Hades, lord of the underworld, Viridi the Goddess of nature, Pyrrhon the Sun God and (matching nicely with the Greek theme) the Arrum, a robot race that attack after a war between the aforementioned Hades and Viridi. But even after you put an to their mechanical mischief the story continues further, lasting up to twenty four, very long chapters. The story truly exceeds any expectation and Nintendo has really outdone themselves in this aspect. Another part of the story that cannot be ignored is the fantastic writing and voicing in every chapter of the story. The writing is a very essential part of how enjoyable the story is to play, with a lot of witty banter between Pit, Palutena and some of the major enemies such as Hades or Viridi. Not only that, but the game also contains many Nintendo references such as the original Donkey Kong and -of course- Metriod. But writing is only one side of the story and there is some excellent voice acting, with Pit being much less annoying than first expected! Gameplay has also changed drastically since Pit’s last outing; Kid Icarus has gone from a 2D side-scroller to a 3D, 3rd person shooter. Levels in the story revolve around two parts: air combat and ground combat. Both are not as different as you’d think, with the only difference being that air combat is an on-rails while ground combat is free roaming. don’t start thinking you’ll be given huge worlds to explore when you hit the ground, as these levels are rather linear, with there only being a few extra paths and rooms to uncover that reward you with a plethora of treasure. At the end of every level there is a boss fight and unfortunately many seem to be repeated later on in the game, something which can become tedious, especially on repeated playthroughs of levels. However the design of them and the enemies overall make levels as fresh as possible and when combined with varied level design makes levels enjoyable and interesting even after being played several times.
A game that has certainly been worth the twenty year wait.
Another feature which also encourages this is the fiends cauldron, which can be used to raise the “intensity” of a level. This is basically the difficulty level and higher intensity will result in their being more enemies in the level that do more damage. However, if you’re prepared to gamble away a batch of hearts from your wallet to increase the difficulty, you will receive more hearts and more powerful treasures. Dying in a level will result in the intensity being dropped and you will lose some of the treasures found and hearts put into the cauldron. This can also be used for the opposite effect and lower the difficulty if a level is too hard, which appeals both to hardcore and casual players. This is not the only thing that makes repeated play fun, and part of what makes Kid Icarus: Uprising so great is its variety of weapons. There are nine main weapon categories to choose from (blades, staffs, claws, bows, palms, clubs, cannons, orbitars and arms) and each weapon has entirely different play styles, with differences in power, range, melee other factors. There is a huge range of weapons in each of these categories and each new weapon comes with a new set of stats that differ from what you’ve had before. Another interesting feature is the ability to combine two weapons from any category in order to make a new, often more powerful weapon which allows you to access some of the higher powered weapons very quickly. You also have the ability to buy weapons from an in-game store, but often the best way to get weapons is to combine weapons you already have. Another highly collectable feature is the powers available in the game. These are again unlocked through the single player chapters and can grant a variety of things when used such as the use of a giant laser, unlimited sprint or even the ability to summon a black hole that sucks all nearby enemies together. They have limited use (stronger powers can only be used once or twice) and are organized on a small palette with more powerful powers taking up more space, which has you trying to balance the more potent powers with the smaller, weaker ones. The sheer number of these is impressive but the unlockables don’t stop there. There is a collection of the games fantastic musical score to unlock, a treasure hunt which rewards you with weapons, powers and hearts when you complete certain objectives and much more to keep you wanting to play. But this is probably not what you will spend most of your time doing, instead you will find yourself battling in the games online mode. The online supports matches that contain six players with either friend’s online, local or just random people. There are two match types available, a simple free for all or a team death match. However this mode has a twist as each team has a health bar which, when depleted by players on that team dying, will turn the last person to die into an angel. This results in them having increased health and a very powerful weapon but the downside is that their death will mean a loss to that team. You are given the ability to create custom loadouts with the weapons and powers you have unlocked and can play on a surprisingly wide variety of maps. Online rewards players with hearts, weapons and powers but there is a lack of any kind of rating system which can detract from the replay value some people get from the online. However one inclusion into the online is a stroke of genius. While it may seem strange at first and while some may see it as defeating the point of playing against other people, Nintendo has put in AI bots into the online which come into play when there is not a full set of six people in the lobby. These bots seem to be named masterfully and it is almost impossible to tell who in the game is not a real person. These things combined with smaller details such as a training area that opens up to you when you have chosen your loadout or are waiting for a game to finish make the online a highly enjoyable experience, let down only by a lack of a rating system. One multiplayer experience that is not so effectively used though is Streetpass. Streetpass involves creating “weapon gems” which are just a gem version of one of the weapons in your arsenal. These gems are tradable when you Streetpass and when another gem is received you can either use hearts to add that weapon to your collection or to combine two gems to create a new weapon. Nintendo have given a slew of weapon gems out to keep the Streetpass alive, but there’s no need to give out any good weapon gems, apart from the fact you don’t actually lose the weapon. The idea is rather unique, but relies on the generosity of the person y
ou Streetpass with and there is already a plentiful amount of ways to stock up your arsenal. An issue associated with handheld games is graphics and Kid Icarus yet again proves that the 3DS can certainly handle quality graphics. There is no two ways about it, Kid Icarus is absolutely beautiful. The background is highly detailed and lush in colour, textures are well done, and character models are well designed having been brilliantly updated from the 8-bit characters of old; they are full of colour and are animated perfectly. The game manages enemy filled screens and wide shots well without any loss of frame-rate or graphical quality and keeps this up throughout every part of game. It is a truly beautiful game that would be almost impossible on the good old DS, and it’s hard to see the Wii improving the graphics; this is the best game to really show the power of the 3DS. Another major feature of the 3DS is 3D which, like the graphics, is the best way of showing the 3D off. Levels mainly involve looking far into the background, so the 3D is already set up in the perfect game. But the combination of the very expansive camera and the fact the game is a third person shooter further enhance the 3D, making this a good game to use 3D consistently and- unlike some other games- it is constantly in-focus and doesn’t ever become uncomfortable to use. It’s a shame after a near flawless review that the final point has to be a negative one; unfortunately controls are a large issue with Kid Icarus Uprising. The main stem of the problem is the fact the set control scheme involves using the touch screen and circle pad which not only hinders play in this style for left handed people, but also makes prolonged play a rather achy affair as you grip the console with only one hand. Nintendo have put in several other control options to compensate, with ability to play with the a,b,x,y buttons, circle pad pro options and Nintendo have even bundled a stand for the 3DS to make prolonged play more comforting. However the control scheme I myself preferred used the circle pad and a,b,x,y buttons which seemed the most comfortable and is perfect for anybody who doesn’t like the touch screen controls. There is a lot of deeper customization available with the ability to assign certain commands to certain buttons and sensitivity customization. But despite all this the controls are still not perfect and are a slight let down for such a well thought out game. It seems that Pit’s grand return is certainly that and there is no doubt that Kid Icarus Uprising is one the 3DS’ best titles and looks set to stay that way for a long time. Nintendo have put an unfathomable amount of detail into this game, from graphics to story to online. This game will no doubt last you an extraordinary length of time and while the online may not hold your interest the amount of collectables will. It is such a shame that Streetpass and controls let it down but these issues are easy to overlook and when you do you’re left with a game that has certainly been worth the twenty year wait.
The Bad: Lack of incentive in online; controls are iffy; Streetpass not used effectively.