Last week, Nintendo held a very posh preview event in the great city of Toronto, where it showed off some upcoming and recently-released 3DS titles. I had the distinct pleasure of attending, with the opportunity to sit down and test out the company’s most talked-about upcoming 3DS game: Kid Icarus: Uprising. Looking back at the device and its inaugural announcement, it’s not hard to forget talk of Pit’s return after a 20 year hiatus was a definite highlight. Since that day, classic gaming geeks, shoot ‘em up lovers and video game lovers alike, have been eagerly anticipating their chance to fly through its depth-filled skies. Thankfully, that day just over a month away.
To be honest; even though this game looked beautiful from the beginning, I wasn’t sure if it’d be for me. Flight action and shoot ‘em up titles have never been my cup of tea, despite occasional efforts to get into more of them. Though, now that my gaming repertoire includes the completion of the game’s first three missions, it’s nice to be able to admit that I was wrong. Actually, terribly incorrect would be a better term to use. Kid Icarus: Uprising is not only a great looking game; it’s also a very interesting and entertaining experience.
Each of the three available levels had a similar structure, containing both aerial and land-based action. You see; Pit is granted the ability to fly by an ally, although it’s only for a brief amount of time (five minutes or so.) That gives him a chance to dash through the air while taking out ugly baddies and enormous bosses who shoot back with evil intentions. At these points in time, the game is a like a mixture between a third-person shooter and a Gladius style experience. You’re looking at the character’s back as he moves from right to left, dodging attacks and firing his own in reply. The latter effort is completed using the bottom touchscreen and your trusty stylus pen, which happens to create a cursory indicator on the top screen.
The conclusion of each level debuting flight spell coincided perfectly with the arrival of castles, which Pit would drop down into to resume his quest. Once that happens, the experience shifts into more of a third-person shooter and third-person action game mixture. You’re much more confined in certain areas, but great rooms and large outdoor areas are where a lot of the action takes place. Shooting enemies from a distance is still very easy, but getting up close will allow for a powerful sword slash attack or two. Even in small hallways, the action was still accessible and enjoyable, without any annoying hiccups. However, the flight action set pieces were definitely the star of the show.
When you first pick this game up and start to play it, a bit of hand cramping may ensue. Kid Icarus: Uprising plays in a manner which differs greatly from most other games on the market. This isn’t an experience where face buttons make up the majority of our action commands. In fact, it uses a combination of only two inputs to become a master at this game. Mentioned previously is the fact that you’re aiming using the touchscreen, which works well with seemingly 1:1 application. To fire, the left shoulder button must be used. At least, for right-handed gamers. Lefties will want to use the Circle Pad Pro for a much more customizable experience.
Holding the system up while working with that aforementioned control system can be a bit tricky to get used to, and it’s the main reason why cramping may begin shortly after starting. However, I was shown an interesting way to hold the device using my right pinky finger for support, and that worked quite well. The demo unit also had a lock on its back, which provided a solid base to sit down on the table; another way that I tried to play this with good results. If you buy the full game, it will come with a base, so there’s no need to worry about finding a book or something else to use. Taking advantage of the stand or a customizable weight distribution technique helps out quite a bit, in order to take away the cramping feeling. Once the player becomes used to those techniques, the game also becomes more accessible and less awkward. At least, that’s what I found.
On top of the campaign content, the demo included an egg launch minigame as well as a weapons shop. The former is pretty much what it sounds like, asking players to launch eggs into the sky with the hope that they will get more. It was mildly interesting, but the store was definitely a highlight. Its basis is structured around a hearts system, where players earn a specific amount of the red organs per each enemy kill. It’s all dependent on difficulty, as the game allows you to select your exact difficulty modifier before each level. For example, 2.0 is the average (or normal) setting. Going above that in small intervals will steadily increase your bet. Increasing your currency-based wager makes things more difficult, while providing the opportunity to earn more currency, with 5.0 being its incredibly difficult plateau. Conversely, picking anything below 2.0 will mean that you’re paying hearts to play, instead of earning them for stage completion.
In all honesty, the above-mentioned system is one of the best I’ve ever experienced inside of an interactive experience. It works very well and will allow gamers to finely tune their experience. The more hardcore shoot ‘em up fans will want to test their skills on the game’s hardest difficulty, while newcomers can select normal or below. This makes things more accessible, while rewarding seasoned pros who invest a lot of time into the title. Not surprisingly, having more hearts means that you can buy and equip new items, of which there are many. The list includes new bows and swords, as well as cannons. Selecting one will provide the option to test it out in a controlled digital environment before the purchase decision is made. As a result, you can create the experience which suits your play style best. Each new weapon equipped marks a noticeable gameplay change.
Now, you’ve probably been waiting to find out how the game looks in person. To be blunt: it’s phenomenal looking. I would go as far as to say that Kid Icarus: Uprising contends with Resident Evil Revelations for top spot on the Nintendo 3DS’ visual fidelity list. It’s colourful, detailed, fast-paced and very fluid. Adding onto that is some great 3D, which really adds depth to the experience. We all know that having as much depth as possible in this type of game is a major plus. Though, it’s important to also look at the bottom screen, where dialogue is shown. Forgetting about it can be quite easy.
Being that this demo was played in a rather loud and busy environment, it’s tough to really say much about the sound. What I heard sounded like it was well-designed. However, to be fair to those around me, I turned the sound down quite a bit. As a result, I don’t feel qualified to tell you much about that specific aspect of the cart.
If you’ve been eagerly awaiting Kid Icarus: Uprising, then you’re surely not going to be disappointed. The wait, which happens to only have a bit left in it, has definitely been worthwhile. Based on this provided trial, I feel confident that the title will be well-received by Nintendo historians and newcomers alike. Not only is it well-made and visceral, but the controlled action is also a blast to play, which makes it even more surprising that we’ve waited 20 years for this series’ return. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go circle March 23 on my calendar.