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Kid Icarus: Uprising Review

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Developer: Project Sora Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: March 23, 2012 Available On: 3DS

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“The Fight is On!”

Kid Icarus: Uprising is the long-overdue

revival of a 25-year-old Nintendo franchise

starring the heroic angel Pit, the goddess

Palutena, and the evil Medusa. Aside from Pit

(who starred in Super Smash Bros. Brawl), those

names may not ring any bells – but in the glory

days of the NES, the angelic protagonist was

famous for dodging eggplant wizards and leading

the charge against the Underworld.

Though it has been over two decades since the

last installment, there was plenty of hype and

anticipation leading up to this release.

Fortunately, Masahiro Sakurai and his team at

Project Sora have dealt with that kind of

pressure before, and once again have responded

with something brilliant. Kid Icarus: Uprising

ultimately transforms the classic platforming

action of its predecssors into a hybrid of

exciting gameplay styles, going the extra mile

to offer what is arguably the deepest and most

content-heavy 3DS title to date.

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“Steaming the Sacred Buns”

From the moment you see the menu screen in

Kid Icarus: Uprising, it is obvious that the

game was lovingly crafted by the same team that

built Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The interface is

nearly identical, and many of the extra replay

value-extending features are also included in

the game. I’ll discuss more of these things in

detail later; first I would like to break down

each of the game modes offered in Uprising, and

explain some of the depth of the game before

providing my critical opinions:

1. Solo Mode

The bulk of the single-player in Kid Icarus:

Uprising is played in “Solo Mode”, which tells

the story of the game throughout 25 stages, each

serving as a chapter in this 10- to 12-hour

tale. The start of each stage begins with a

flying section that lasts around five minutes

(there’s a reason for the time limit that is

explained in the story). These parts feel a lot

like Starfox 64 3D, with enemies and obstacles

bombarding Pit as he flies through the sky.

Using the stylus to aim and the circle pad to

move, your goal is to shoot as many bad guys as

possible. There is actually an “auto-fire”

option that makes the aerial combat much

simpler, if not too easy.

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After a few minutes, Pit lands on the ground

of each level and begins fighting the Underworld

enemies on foot. At this point the game changes

completely, from the controls to the methods you

use to battle each foe. The on-foot areas of the

game are generally linear, sometimes throwing in

the occasional puzzle or platforming challenge

to keep things interesting. Overall, the game

starts to feel a lot like Ninja Gaiden or God of

War – nothing like the aerial segments, but

still a satisfying challenge nonetheless. You’re

forced to learn the various enemy patterns and

find their weak points – not to mention the wide

variety of weapons, from bows and blades to

claws and staves. There is a lot of depth and

strategy, far more than simply blasting away at

the on-screen enemies in the flying segments.

This split in the gameplay stlyes is important

to keep in mind, and I will touch on the subject

in more detail later in the review.

Each level concludes with a confrontation

against a boss character, testing your skill one

final time before the end-of-stage progress

screen rewards you with the hearts and spoils

for your efforts. The levels in Solo Mode can be

played with an adjustable “Intensity” setting

that ranges from 0.0-9.0. As you increase the

number, the quantity of enemies goes up along

with the speed of the game. On the other hand,

the rewards are also better – players snatch up

better weapons and powers, earn more hearts

(in-game currency), and find more power-up items

throughout each level if they actually test

themselves with the higher settings. You can

even find special areas in some levels that are

only accessible at certain difficulty levels;

each of these are generally loaded with goodies,

but also prove to be a tougher task than the

normal path. All things considered, the original

NES Kid Icarus was notoriously challenging and

unforgiving; playing Uprising on its higher

settings does a very good job of imitating the

brutal difficulty.

2. Together Mode

“Together Mode” is the nickname for the

multiplayer in Kid Icarus: Uprising, which is

actually loaded with a lot of options for those

who choose to invest in it. The game can be

played via WiFi or locally, with friends from

your 3DS Friend List or even just random players

from anywhere in the world. In addition to a 3-

versus-3 deathmatch mode, the star of the show

is the Light vs. Dark mode. In this game,

players on Light and Dark teams try to take each

other out and earn points until one combatant on

the each team turns into Pit or Dark Pit. From

there, that player is the “VIP”, and the winning

team is the one that protects him/her the


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In general, the multiplayer content in Kid

Icarus: Uprising is almost like another whole

game on its own. It plays mostly like the

ground-based combat portions of the Solo Mode

and doesn’t include any aerial action, but it

ultimately extends the replay value to a very

large degree. It is easy to connect with

friends, set up groups, and play games –

everything you want from the online multiplayer

experience is here, and it all works very well.

Along with Mario Kart 7 and Resident Evil:


, Uprising proves that there is

plenty of fun to be had playing the 3DS online

with other players. Nintendo is finally “getting

it right” with online gameplay, and the depth

provided here – customized load outs, player

stats, a variety game modes – is indicitive of


3. Extra Content: SpotPass, AR Cards and


In addition to its Solo Mode and the variety

of game types in Together Mode, Kid Icarus:

Uprising boasts a deep amount of extra content.

First, it utilizes the 3DS’s SpotPass and

StreetPass functions to give players the ability

to create, share, and fuse “Weapon Gems” using

weapons from Solo Mode. Sometimes, when you turn

the game on, you will randomly have a new weapon

gem from a SpotPassed player – this is always a

treat that can even lead to some of the game’s

most interesting weapon fusions.

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Moving on, Uprising is one of the first games

to make use of the 3DS’s “Augmented Reality”

feature, and comes packaged with a handful of AR

Cards that can be used to play a special little

game based around the AR Camera. Nintendo will

apparently release more of these AR cards over

time, and while I’m not sure that it will be the

most successful venture, the idea of playing

with the AR Cards is pretty novel on its own. I

have always wanted to see 3DS games use this

feature to a greater extent, and it is nice to

see someone finally making that push.

Finally, Kid Icarus: Uprising offers some of

the most extensive bonus content yet on the 3DS.

In addition to all the weapon-purchasing and

weapon-fusing that can be done with the hearts

you earn throughout the game (or the SpotPassed

weapon gems you collect), you will gradually

unlock more weapons and goodies through the

“Treasure Hunts”. These in-game Achievements

reward you with everything from hearts and

weapons to tracks from the music gallery and

“idols”, which are a lot like Super Smash Bros.

Brawl’s “trophies”, and provide more detail on

virtually every character, weapon, stage, and

enemy in the game. Even the 3DS “Play Coins” are

integrated into the game; you can use one Play

Coin to purchase an egg for the “idol toss”,

which is a mini-game that randomly rewards you

with more idols.

“You’re Not Ready Yet!”

Up to this point in my review, I have done my

best to avoid critical opinions, sacrificing

subjectivity for the sake of breaking down the

huge amount of content loaded onto the Kid

Icarus: Uprising cartridge. Now it is time to

change all of that – not only would I like to

point out some of my criticisms, I feel that I

should also touch on some of the impressions I

have heard from fellow players, or counter-

points I have found in other reviews of the

game. That being said, I believe…

1. …the ground-based areas in each level

are great – perhaps even better than the flying


As I mentioned earlier, the gameplay splits

between flying and ground segments after about

five minutes of mindless (but exciting) aerial

combat. This seems to be the top criticism of

Kid Icarus: Uprising in many different reviews,

and I think it is completely obnoxious. Although

there is definitely a learning curve associated

with the ground combat, such as mastering the

stylus-based camera controls and the touchy

dodge/dash abilities with the circle pad, I had

almost no trouble playing the on-foot portions

of each level. After admittedly struggling with

the ground controls for a few minutes in the

very first level, I adjusted the camera

sensitivity settings and slowly got more

comfortable with the circle pad, and had

absolutely no issues for the remaining 24


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The ground portion of each stage is where the

depth of Kid Icarus: Uprising really begins to

shine. With all of the different weapon types,

the wide variety of enemies, and the focus on

weak points and attack patterns, there are so

many different ways to play and master the game.

If you enjoy long-range attacks, you can equip a

staff, bow, or blade and enjoy racking up the

kills from afar. If you like the up-close-and-

personal combat, claws and clubs are perfect for

wreaking havoc at short distances. The fact that

the game offers so much depth is great, but

actually providing a reason to dive in and

explore the content is even better. The flying

segments of Kid Icarus: Uprising are no doubt

fantastic – some are the most exciting parts of

the game – but the combat on foot is what made

me fall in love with the game, and I think the

critical response to this little learning curve

is pretty unfortunate.

2. …the in-game chatter between the cast

of characters is a brilliant way to unravel the

surprisingly intriguing plot.

Another big topic when discussing Kid Icarus:

Uprising seems to be the back-and-forth

bantering between the cast of characters in the

Solo Mode. Pit, Palutena, Medusa, and plenty of

other god-like characters and wacky figures come

into play throughout the game – there are

actually quite a few names to remember, and

plenty of events that happen over the course of

the adventure. I will try to avoid spoiling any

and all of those special tidbits for you in my

review, but let me say this: I think this form

of plot exposition is absolutely genius, and not

only works well in Uprising, but should be

explored more often in other games.

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Rather than breaking up the action frequently

to hassle the player with cut-scenes, Kid

Icarus: Uprising channels most of its details to

the player in real-time. Although some critics

have called this “distracting”, I think it works

wonders for bringing out the personality of each

role, not to mention it keeps the time you spend

“watching” rather than “playing” to a minimum.

It is the opposite of Heavy Rain or Metal Gear

Solid 4; the developers of this game seem to

have been very intent on keeping you focused on

the action, rather than draining your 3DS

battery life with CG scenes that can’t be

skipped. All these things considered, the cut-

scenes that do pop up throughout Solo Mode are

done very well, using the 3D effect of the

handheld to its full potential.

Ultimately, the story in Kid Icarus: Uprising

ended up being one of my favorite parts – I was

attached to the cast, engrossed in the universe,

and excited about the franchise like never

before. I think a lot of this has to do with the

charming, light-hearted wit and sense of humor,

not to mention the plethora of references to the

Kid Icarus franchise and plenty of other classic

Nintendo titles (Mario, Metroid, Donkey Kong).

3. …the multiplayer is another huge step

forward for Nintendo and the 3DS.

Mario Kart 7 might have been the first big

step for online multiplayer on the 3DS, but Kid

Icarus: Uprising is possibly the biggest

achievement to date for any online Nintendo

title. I already mentioned that the Together

Mode and its various game types are a major part

of the package, but just thinking further about

the depth and amount of content, I feel like

Uprising makes a pretty bold statement about how

the Kid Icarus franchsie can evolve and continue

to innovate.

Remember, the online multiplayer is based

around the ground combat – and all of those

variables from Solo Mode come into play, from

the dodge mechanics and various weapon types to

the special powers equipped in each player’s

customized load-outs. The way you play really

determines your role in each match, and players

can begin to form strategies based on their

abilities. Having the option to play against CPU

opponents really helps you learn the maps and

familiarize with the fundamentals. Finally, I

feel like I would be committing some kind of

crime if I didn’t mention the mini-Practice Mode

that pops up between each multiplayer match.

Rather than waiting for a loading screen,

Uprising allows you to blast away at a training

target, which keeps you sharp and “in the mode”

during those intensive, extended playing


“Floor Ice Cream Gives You Health!”

Kid Icarus: Uprising is, without a doubt, the

most “fun” that you can currently buy for $40

(or even $60). I would go further, even putting

it among the ranks of a “system-seller”; a game

that should firmly convince anyone on the fence

of buying a Nintendo 3DS to finally do so

without any hesitation.

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Although it is by no means a new franchise,

Uprising feels fresh and endlessly intriguing

from start to finish. The Kid Icarus franchise

has been so long forgotten that it almost feels

new again on the 3DS. For years, I wondered when

Nintendo could finally step up to the plate with

another name alongside its ranks of “Mario”,

“Metroid”, “Zelda”…With this installment, I

think “Kid Icarus” serves as the perfect choice.

The brand has been injected with depth and life

that it never had before, from the intangibles

(charming cast of characters, compelling

storyline, creative art style) to the most

fundamental mechanics (balance between

flying/ground combat, variety of

weapons/abilities, plethora of enemy types).

Ultimately, Pit’s universe is begging to be

explored, and by all means, Uprising serves as

the very best launching point for Kid Icarus to

take flight once again. I would really like to

see the series expand – thinking of both the

short-term (more AR cards? DLC for online

multiplayer?) and the long-term (sequel on 3DS?

WiiU?). Regardless, I am completely satisfied

with Pit’s return to form on the 3DS, and highly

encourage you to play it immediately.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 10
Final: 9.7 out of 10
Written by Cliff Bakehorn Write a User Review