Kid Icarus: Uprising

8 Overall Score

Lots of replay value | Fun reboot of a classic | Excellent multiplayer

Controls are awkward with a steep learning curve

Written by on April 13, 2012 in [, , , , , , ]

According to Greek mythology, Icarus was the child of the brilliant craftsman Daedalus. One day, Daedalus brought his son a pair of wings crafted of wax and feathers, so that he could take flight so that he could escape the Labyrinth of Crete and get a new lease on life. Overcome with the gift of flight, Icarus accidentally flew too close to the sun, resulting in his wings melting and causing him to crash into the sea below.

Then there’s the story of Kid Icarus: Uprising, the brainchild of the brilliant game publisher Nintendo. One day, Nintendo brought its brainchild a portable gaming system crafted of dual screens and 3D capabilities, so that it could take flight and escape the Labyrinth of Obscurity and get a new lease on life. Overcome with a wealth of features, Kid Icarus: Uprising accidentally tried to accomplish too much, resulting in convoluted controls and causing the game to crash just short of its potential.

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 25 years since Pit first flew onto the scene in the original Kid Icarus game on the NES. Though it’s been over two and a half decades, Pit and his friends haven’t aged a bit. In Uprising, Medusa and her Underworld minions have returned to wreak havoc on the human world. As expected, the goddess Palutina calls Pit back to action to save the day. While that premise alone would usually be enough to carry the game, Uprising’s plots packs in a surprising number of twists and turns to keep things interesting right up until the end. As interesting as the plot is, though, nothing compares to the witty, oftentimes tongue-in-cheek banter that goes on between the different characters during gameplay.

For Pit’s latest adventure, he’s ditched the 2D platformer gameplay of the old days. Instead, the first half of each stage plays out in rail shooting aerial gameplay before Pit’s has to hit the ground running in “shoot everything that moves” third person combat. One of the nice things about Kid Icarus: Uprising is that it’s only as difficult as you make it. Before charging into battle, players can adjust the stage’s difficulty level by paying hearts (the in-game currency) to increase the difficulty, resulting in bigger loot payoffs. Getting defeated in the stage costs the player some of their wagered hearts and automatically slides the difficultly level down incrementally. It’s a nifty little feature to ensure replay value, appealing to gamers’ competitive natures as well as their desire to loot high quality goodies.

Kid Icarus: Uprising looks and sounds great … there’s just one problem: the controls. The default controls have the player moving around with the circle pad (or face buttons if you’re a lefty), shooting with the shoulder button, and aiming with the stylus. During the aerial portions of the game, this works well enough. However, the minute Pit’s feet hit the ground, everything goes to hell in a handbasket. The combination of moving, dodging, shooting, and spinning around to face fights in all directions is a little more than the controls have effectively handled comfortably. Now, I’m not going to say that this makes Uprising impossible to play. In fact, if you’re willing to tough it out through the painfully steep learning curve, you’ll eventually be able to hold your own against nearly everything the Underworld tosses your way. It’s just a matter of whether or not you’ve got the patience to stick with it.

For those times when you don’t feel like playing alone, Kid Icarus: Uprising supports 2-6 players in two flavors of multiplayer: Light vs. Dark and Free-for-All. Free-For-All is your standard Deathmatch style brouhaha. In Light vs. Dark, players are split into two teams, each with its own life bar. Once a team’s life bar is whittled away, the last player defeated becomes his team’s “angel” (Pit or Dark Pit). The rest of the team has to now defend its angel while still trying to beat down the other team. The first team to defeat the other’s angel wins. It’s a fun and different take on the usual Team Deathmatch formula. Best of all, no matter which mode you play or how well you do, you’ll still earn hearts and random loot drops for use in Solo and Together (multiplayer) modes.

Kid Icarus: Uprising is, by and large, a solid shot at revitalizing a classic Nintendo property. The game is entertaining, packed full of action, and crammed with so many features it’s bursting at the seams. However, much like the Icarus of myth, if you don’t take the time to actually learn how to fly right, you’re going to crash and burn.


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Author: David Chapman View all posts by

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