Get ready to hate eggplant again

Many of us who grew up with the NES fell in love with the idea of a little angel who was trying to save the heavens from a nasty demon with snakes for hair. Then we played this game and proceeded to throw and smash many a controller due to what would become its legendary difficulty and would need to go to anger therapy for being turned into an eggplant over and over again.

But still, all this was part of the charm of the original Kid Icarus, and many of us wondered why we never received a true console sequel. Sure there was a Game Boy version in 1991 that was really just a dumbed down version of the original and we’d later be teased and taunted by Pit being a fighter in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. But now, finally, after so long, Pit is back to serve the goddess of light, Palutena, and save the world once again from Medusa. And Medusa has a few surprises in store for our dear Pit, including a dark doppelganger of our hero, the return of her lieutenants like Pandora, and yes, that damned Eggplant Wizard as well. At least now the eggplant thing is only temporary though (although I would’ve loved to have seen some 3D nurses).

But, although Eggplant Wizard may no longer be as infuriating as he once was (or his new cousin Tempura Wizard that can turn Pit into a shrimp), there is still some great difficulty to be had with the new Kid Icarus: Uprising. But if the normal experience should prove simple for some of you out there, you can make the game more difficult before hand by sacrificing found hearts to the “Fiend’s Cauldron” before each chapter and amp up the Intensity to a level 10 (the game starts at an Intensity level of 2). This can lead to finding bigger and better treasure in a level, but will also throw a lot more and stronger enemies at you and if you should die, you lose all the hearts you used to increase the difficulty in the first place.

Unfortunately, the “Fiend’s Cauldron” isn’t the only thing that makes the game difficult. Some of the game’s inherent difficulty also stems from the unusual control scheme. All of the action from the game stems from shooting with the L Button, moving with the circle pad, and using the stylus to aim and look. Each level is broken into two parts. The first is always an on-rails in the air style shooter where Palutena is guiding Pit’s wings and all you have to do is shoot enemies as they come on screen. This works fine with the odd controls.

The problems always arose during the second part of each level when Pit was on the ground and the game became more of a traditional third-person shooter. It was difficult to target enemies, move the camera around with the stylus, and really just figure out where you were going at any time or where you should be looking. I would have killed for some sort of Z-Targeting system like in The Legend of Zelda games (or a second joystick like every other shooter made in the past decade) just to help me keep my bearings with a lot of the foes, especially during the epic boss battles. And although the included stand does help alleviate some of the strain that comes from having to hold the 3DS so awkwardly whenever you play, it also limits you to where you can play as it only works best on a table or flat surface of some kind. Trust me, I tried it in my lap and a few other places, and tables are your best bet.

Despite this, you’ll probably be able to force your way through most of the game as long as you take it in short spurts of only a couple of chapters at a time. And because of the humorous writing and great story, you’ll definitely be compelled to finish the story mode. Not to mention, the ability to use nine different types of weapons with a bevy of options in each category really helps keep the game play from getting too boring as you get new weapons through a variety of different means.

But, here I am getting carried away with how awesome the story mode is, and I almost forgot that there is also a huge new multiplayer component to the game as well. First, you can use AR cards included with the game or Idols collected in game to duel various creatures from the game’s universe against each other with the 3DS cameras. There are also “Light vs. Dark” team-style and “Free-For-All” versus arena modes where you can battle up to six players with your own customized Pit depending on what weapons you find and use in the game.

The game is also pleasing to the eyes and ears as no two levels, in story mode or versus, look alike and take advantage of a bright and colorful design palette, and the voice acting, especially for Pit and Palutena in story mode, who fill in most of the gaps of the story with some witty mid-level banter, is simply top of the line. Add in some remixes of classic NES themes and a few new tunes as well and the audio/visual component of the game is superb all around.

When all is said and done, although the controls may be frustrating at times and take some getting used to, this is a very solid game. Great visuals, tremendous depth of game play modes, and a fully realized plot that is brilliantly executed on every level makes this probably a must have for every 3DS owner out there.

SUMMARY: A brilliantly written and executed new chapter in the long-abandoned, but never forgotten, Kid Icarus franchise that will appeal to new and old fans alike with its amazing depth and stunning visuals.

  • THE GOOD: Great action and writing throughout
  • THE BAD: Unusual control system can get uncomfortable after long periods of time
  • THE UGLY: How about a two-decade long wait for a true sequel

SCORE: 8.5

Kid Icarus: Uprising is a Nintendo 3DS exclusive.