Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Year of Australian release: 2012
Kid Icarus is a franchise that had a cult fanbase back in the NES days. There were a few games throughout the 8-bit era and then … nothing. That is, until March 2012 when the 3DS finally saw Angel Pit’s return in his own game. Before that, we were treated to cameos in the Super Smash Bros series. This was the first time in over a decade that he starred in a game that centered around him.
His return was generally treated with praise and appreciation, mostly due to the characterisation of the major and minor characters. During gameplay, you were treated to constant chatter between the main character Pit, his goddess mistress Palutena, dark goddess Medusa, and all sorts of characters, good, bad and neutral. This was among the constant bullet dodging, enemy-bashing and weaving you had to endure and perform during stages. Each level starts with a flight session where you are on rails and trying to avoid chaos and cause some of your own. The ground sections acted like typical action/adventure games where you travelled on foot and tried to reach the end where you would more often than not fight a boss.
This all sounds typical, doesn’t it? Well, the graphics are bright, the voice acting is top notch and the music is appropriate. However, everything falls down because of the gameplay. There are two levels to that criticism: the stark contrast in game styles being too different from the original NES classic, and the atrocious control scheme. Retail versions of the game will provide you with a 3DS stand to ‘assist’ you in playing the game. More often than not you will toss it in the bin because it’s nigh useless. Instead, you will be cramping your hands trying to control movement with one and aim and shoot (or hit with clubs) with the other. The control scheme can ruin the experience for many, even if the player loves the characterisation and banter during the stages.
If you are the forgiving type and can tolerate all of that (in half-hour stints at most), you can still appreciate what the game has to offer. The graphics are bright and the character profiles are always expressive and appropriate for their dialogue. You may laugh when you read someone’s witty or startled line and see their corresponding character picture at the same time. The enemies are always easy to distinguish so it’s just a matter of finding what directions the enemy bullets are coming from. All the levels are well detailed with branching sections where you can battle mini-bosses and earn points and extra weapons or skills.
In terms of the sound, the best material comes from the music and the voice acting. When you enter the menu screen, you are treated to soothing music that belies the intensity of the gameplay that is about to come. The action scenes are brim with pulsing tunes and suspenseful tones. The sound effects of the various weapons don’t quite ‘hit’ the right note but they don’t disgrace the tools at your disposal either.
What will matter is the excellent voice acting. Antony Del Rio is great as the impressionable, devoted, easily teased main character Pit. Ali Hillis does a great job as the serene, mischievous light goddess Palutena. Other characters are voiced with varying degrees of snarkiness, pride, bravado and cunning. It is a treat to listen to them all and you won’t get tired of them, even if you are constantly replaying the same stage because the difficulty can become insane, even on the lower difficulties.
Kid Icarus Uprising definitely has its faults, the control scheme at the very top of that list. If you can’t forgive that then you will be letting go of this game. However, if you can get past that then you will have an experience that will tide you over for a long time. The customisation possible and the character within the story are more than enough reason to at least give it a go.
Kid Icarus Uprising final evaluation.
Overall: 7/10 – Very flawed but there is still more good than bad.