"Prepare to meet the light!" ~ Pit
I picked up my reserved copy of today's new 3DS title and took it for a test drive once I got home from work today. Honestly, I wasn't expecting Pit's latest adventure to be classic or completely lame. Quite frankly I got what I anticipated from this game.
Kid Icarus Uprising begins with Medusa, the archenemy from the original Kid Icarus of the NES days, having come back to wreak havoc on the world once again. Palutena makes her return as well and guides Pit through various levels to defeat the forces of the underworld. She allows Pit to fly for the first part of each stage (for some reason this can only go on for five minutes or Pit's wings will burn up.) This air battle is much akin to Star Fox as Pit can maneuver around the visible field and fire his weapon at any point on the screen. Once the aerial fighting is cleared, you move to ground level for a more dungeon crawler gameplay. After that you fight a boss. It's pretty straightforward actually. Additionally many enemies come back from the old games. Reapers, in particular, are more annoying than ever. Not to mention their old theme plays until you kill them, and they last for -- what seems like -- ever.
The game can be fairly challenging. Once you reach the third or fourth level, you may find yourself hurting for life unless you learned to dodge efficiently. For those who really like a challenge or can't handle the complexity of the game, you can raise or lower the difficulty before each round. It costs you hearts to do anything but standard, but higher difficulties tend to yield better rewards. The controls start out being pretty awkward if you're not used to using the stylus as your targeting and moving mechanism. The ground movement is particularly clumsy as you must flick the stylus to start turning and press it down to stop. I got the hang of it though, and as I stated before you can make the game easier if needed until you make the adjustment.
The gameplay is enhanced by a weapons system. There are many types of weapons in the game that Pit can use, each with their distinct advantages and disadvantages. Some weapons can also boost stats such as defense and run speed. Pit can wield your typical bows, blades, and clubs or more exotic implements of wars such as orbitars. What seems out of place here are the cannons and staffs, like the Flintlock Staff, that probably shouldn't be in a game considering the setting. And what's with the Angel Bow? It shoots hearts at enemies. Hearts! Anyway, these weapons can be combined to forge new weapons. Stats get combined as well in certain ways, although I haven't figured out the pattern yet.
The dialogue and voice acting in this game tend to be somewhat cheesy. Pit and Palutena talk through most of the game. Their conversations are accompanied by anime-style pictures on the bottom screen. If you stop to look at them though, you will miss the action on the top screen and end up taking damage. Some of their speeches are out of place as they attempt to be funny with fourth wall breaks ("Dark lord? Isn't that cliche?") and out of era references ("I was trying to get my driver's license.") Most of the humor missed the mark for me, but it is worth a chuckle or two. Maybe even a guffaw. The story starts out lacking as well. For the first five chapters, you seem to be playing a mish-mash of random missions against Medusa's forces. There's not really much plot development during this time. The future chapters do seem promising although the oft dragged out light vs dark conflict comes into play.
The graphics are quite eye-popping though. It looks good for a 3DS title, and you can tell a lot of work was put into the game's display. The anime-style characters are a nice touch too if you happen to get the chance to look at them. The 3D really enhances this game, especially once you reach Pandora's Labyrinth of Deceit. Being able to judge the depth of your foes can be very helpful at times.
One last thing: Sakurai and his gang have left their footprint on this game as various concepts from their previous series are used in this game. A trophy system a la Super Smash Bros. is utilized with Play coins and rewards from each level granting idols. Unlockables are achieved with a system similar to Kirby's Air Ride and Super Smash Bros. Brawl with a grid of challenges that must be completed to obtain various upgrades, hearts, and idols.
Overall I give this game a 7/10 so far. Maybe 6.5. It hasn't quite won me over yet, but I am enjoying it. I haven't gotten into multiplayer as of this writing either so maybe that will make the experience better.
Now I only hope Team Sora has started on that new Smash Bros. game...
ArgentStew, the Gaming Sage