Kid Icarus: Uprising
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2012-05-22 Nintendo 3DS Action/RPG E10 (Everyone 10+) Nintendo

Even though this comes a bit late and my original 3DS game request to Nintendo was fulfilled by my husband, I asked instead if it was still possible to give Kid Icarus a try. Lucky for me, I received my loaner and spent the past two weeks getting acquainted with it.

Kid Icarus: Uprising tells the story of Pit, an angel without flying abilities aided by the Goddess Palutena. The game revolves around Greek mythology (one of my favorite topics), where Pit fights to save mankind from the grip of the Underworld and the evil Medusa. But if you know Greek mythology like I do, or even if you just know it from God of War, we know that Medusa isn't the ruler of the Underworld, so the story doesn't end there...

Before beginning each stage, you bet "hearts" by placing whatever amount you prefer into the Fiend's Cauldron. The more you wage, the higher the difficulty of the stage and the more rewards you get at the end. If you happen to die, then some hearts will be spilled and the difficulty will decrease by one.

The gameplay is separated into flight sequences and ground combat, with some boss fights at the end. Since Pit is lacking in the flying department, Palutena will give him a hand, or rather, wings, so he can fly during a limited amount of time. The flight sequences are basically a third-person on-rails arcade shooter, where you control Pit's movement and the retina's movement, while attempting to shoot anything that moves. Easier said than done, and this is how I figured out why the game comes bundled with the plastic stand... because there is no way in hell I could play this without having the 3DS resting on something (usually my legs)! The analog controls Pit's movement on the screen, while the stylus controls the aiming, and holding the left trigger will constantly shoot. It's awkward, and after a while, it made my fingers, hands and wrists hurt.

While on the ground, the controls remain the same but work even worse, since now the touch screen also controls the camera and the analog is also used for quick dodging motions. This turns into some messy gameplay and plenty of sticky situations due to wrong movements. It's not easy to shoot, aim, turn and rush out of the way of whatever is attacking you. Add to this some platforms and gaps, and the fact that Pit doesn't always respond as you would like, and you might find yourself wanting to throw the system across the room in an anger fit. The horrid controls apply to boss fights as well, making them more challenging than they actually are.

If you remember my old ramblings about having to use two analogs and my clumsy moments getting used to that, well... now I i wish the 3DS had two of them! The control system is definitely the Achilles heel of Kid Icarus, seriously hindering story progression and constantly testing your patience and perseverance.

There are a few slight changes you can adjust for the controls, but none that alter it enough to make it more comfortable or intuitive. In fact, every option presented made it all even worse (and I thought that was impossible). The stand did provide some relief from the straining while attempting to hold the system (so forget playing laying down like I usually do), but at the cost of losing the 3D effect. As you place the system on the stand, you will notice that everything is out of focus and you will have to either adjust the position of the 3DS, adjust yourself (lower or higher chair) or just simply turn off the 3D effects, which is what I ended up doing. Having to use the stand also goes against the portable factor.

On the positive side, the story and characters provide a light-hearted distraction from the atrocities of the controls. The game makes fun of itself with witty remarks, the dialogs are witty, there are several Nintendo references and plenty of distorted Greek mythology icons, and even the silly banter and cheesy lines are bound to make you smile.

There are some interesting features accompanying the story though. Completing stages sometimes reveals something new in the Treasure Hunt grid, depending on the conditions you have met, such as destroying a certain number of enemies on a given stage. Finding eggs in a stage or purchasing them with Play Coins a (currency earned by walking around with the 3DS in sleep mode) will let you play Idol Toss, where you place an egg in the tray and throw it, revealing an idol. Fusing weapons will allow you to customize and improve Pit's fighting abilities by creating new weapons using existing ones. There is another extra that involves the AR Idol Cards included with the game (others sold separately), but I thought it would be more interesting than scanning them and watch them come to life, or placing two facing each other and watch them fight. I figured they might have unlocked playable characters or bonus weapons... or something.

Aside from the single-player story mode there are two multiplayer modes, Team Deathmatch and Free For All for up to six players, available via local or online play. You can earn weapons from participating in multiplayer matches.

While all the added features make the bundle much more enjoyable, and the game is definitely packed with content, there is still one thing missing that would really make a difference here: another analog stick!

Check out more videos of Kid Icarus: Uprising here: