Kid Icarus: Uprising Review (3DS)

Kid Icarus: Uprising is an action adventure/on-rails shooter game developed by Masahiro Sakurai’s development team Project Sora for the Nintendo 3DS.

Story: 4/5

To say that KI:U’s story is fast-paced is a gross understatement. Right off the bat, the game hurls you directly into the action. Much of the story is presented through in-game dialogue between the main character Pit and the goddess Lady Palutena. The banter between them and other characters in the story are nothing short of ridiculous. The very likeable characters break the fourth wall consistently, with some of them incessantly babbling puns every now and again. It’s extremely cheesy, to say the least, but the writing is more or less self-aware, making the humorously written dialogue very “tongue-in-cheek” in nature. The story is not for everyone, but as long as you don’t take it very seriously and just have fun rolling with it, it’s a story in which you will be able to immerse yourself with very few problems.

 

Gameplay: 4/5

KI:U’s gameplay is where it’s both its highest and lowest point depending on how you are able to cope with it. The gameplay is ultimately not unlike Metroid Prime: Hunters (though far more linear), requiring you to hold the 3DS and move Pit with one hand while controlling your aiming reticle with either the inputs on the other end of the 3DS (which I would not recommend) or with the stylus. This can lead to considerable cramping pain in the hand holding the 3DS. This is where the bundled stand comes in; as pointless as the stand is, it works perfectly, relieving you of any and all pain when playing. Sadly this requires you to be sitting at a table or a desk, so it is not entirely convenient. Worse yet, the Circle Pad Pro was never properly implemented. Left handed owners of the Circle Pad Pro will be the only ones who benefit from it. The controls and the time it takes to get used to them are largely the only real fundamental flaw of the game, and a small one at that.

 

Each level begins with a five minute flying level that plays something akin to Sin and Punishment and is then followed by somewhat lengthier on-foot sequence. The latter portions are a mix of third person shooting and beat-em-up mechanics. Like the story, the pacing in the gameplay is break-neck in speed. Thankfully, it amounts to little more to “move, shoot and move + shoot at the same time.” On top of this, you can set an intensity level before starting a level; the higher the intensity, the more enemies will appear and the more damage Pit will take, but the rewards will increase as well. Be wary; when on higher intensities, the challenge in this game can be nothing short of brutal, particularly early on when you are less experienced and have lower level gear.

Speaking of which, if there’s one strength in KI:U, it’s most certainly its replayability. Every single time you play the game, you earn some kind of reward. In other situations, you will find them hidden or lying around in some stages. You can apply these power ups and weapons to your arsenal and prep yourself for later levels and intensities. Each type of weapon feels unique and some are even customizable with various power ups and perks. You can even Fuse some of these weapons to make even better ones. Throw six player online multiplayer into the mix and you have yourself a game that takes a very long time to get tired of.

 

Graphics: 4/5

As I mentioned in my review of Xenoblade Chronicles, Kid Icarus: Uprising’s graphics will not seem very impressive for a handheld as powerful as the 3DS at first. Some of the models are fairly low in polygons, and the frame rate is not necessarily as high as a game like Mario Kart 7. However, the game is capable of rendering a ton of action at once. One scene in particular, features Pit fighting many enemies while dodging dozens of oncoming enemy fire. Another scene features Pit flying over a war zone where you see tons of models charging toward one another. The worlds themselves are massive and make for some incredible visual eye candy, particularly while playing in 3D. That said, there are some nice looking particle effects. The camera work during the short and few cutscenes are also quite cinematic. Almost everything works well visually. The fact that this game can render so much and never lose its frame rate while playing the game twice over in 3D is pretty astounding to say the least.

 

Sound: 5/5

Here comes along another Nintendo game where I could not find a single flaw with the soundtrack. The music is brilliant, to say the least. It’s very orchestral during most of the levels, while a track here or there (such as Dark Pit’s theme) incorporate a flamenco guitar type sound. It’s very well composed and overall fits the game and its story quite well. Sound effects are full and believable. Guns and other weapons make the type of noises you would expect them to with impacts making loud, forceful noises. Finally, the voice acting is actually quite good. Some would say that it is terrible due to the cheesy nature of the dialogue, but for what the game presents in the story and script, the actors actually do a very good job with the characters and the universe they are in. The game simply sounds excellent.

 

Overall Score: 17/20 = 8.5 out of 10

Kid Icarus: Uprising is a very good killer app for the 3DS. Far from perfection, Sakurai’s first attempt at 3D action gameplay is a solid one. While it will take some people time to get used to, and some aspects of the game may not please everyone, it certainly holds a strong position next to other big 3DS titles like Super Mario 3D Land, Resident Evil Revelations and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. Check this game out and you may just like what you find.

PROS:

+Incredibe replay value

+Massive world

+Fantastic soundtrack and voice acting

+Effective online multiplayer

+Very well presented and designed

CONS:

-Awkward controls that take getting used to

-Low polygon models

-Tone of story is not for everyone