Since 1991, the Kid Icarus protaganist, Pit, has been reduced to small bit parts in games such as Super Smash Bros Brawl. It is strange to think that Nintendo would revive such an unknown character and series, as most gamers today will never have played the GameBoy gem, Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters.
But with only two games in his back catalogue (the mystery that surrounds the Kid Icarus titles), means that Nintendo has a freedom to make a game without much fan expectation pushing them like other well-known titles. Since its announcement at last years E3, Kid Icarus has been looking a strong contender for the 3DS line-up, but with continual delays and the 3DS receiving a price cut, it isn't hard pressed to think Kid Icarus is being released at the wrong time.
A promising return
At GamesCom, I was able to get hands-on with three Kid Icarus levels. My experience was one of enjoyment and intrigue, but it was not without doubts. My first thought was how similar Kid Icarus felt to another upcoming 3DS title, Starfox 64. The air-fights and battles with enemies are on-rails within Kid Icarus, very similar to those found in Starfox. Pit has the ability to use a variety of different weapons that, at least in the demo, were able to be chosen from at the start of a level. Weapons ranged from his main weapon (the blade) to his cannons but, with each choice of weapon, Pit is able to fire projectiles at enemies too. Depending on whether the weapon is close-range or long, Pit can attack unfortunate enemies that get close enough to feel his heavenly wrath with brute moves.
The use of different weapons seems to allow for re-playability, with one of the main gameplay elements being a score-attack system shown at the end of the level. So, with some time spent using the different weapons available, I am sure that some weapons will provide higher-scores. The main thing I enjoyed whilst playing was how fast-paced each level was while in the air. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for when Pit was on the ground, with the control system meaning that the difference in enjoyment between the two sections is more than one would hope for.
The controls are somewhat different to most titles of the same style. Although we have seen some strange use of the control system available and used with the 3DS/DS. It felt comfortable at times and then awkward at others. You control the direction of Pit with either the d-pad of thumbstick, while using the stylus and bottom touch-screen to aim Pit's crosshair. This balance between controlling Pit's movement on-screen and aiming on the touch screen isn't easy- many will find it difficult to do both aim and dodge at the same time. While more forgiving in the air, Pit is a bit less obedient on the ground. Turning Pit requires a quick flick of the stylus, but it isn't as simple as that as the bottom screen can be sticky and unresponsive. In fast-paced situations, it can be awkward while moving, turning and aiming. Not exactly the easiest of controls. But one can look at this control scheme in a more positive light, as the controls make it a more-than-average challenge.
One of the most noticeable features in Kid Icarus: Uprising is the creativity within each level, especially in the air levels ,where mountains and castles can be seen in the distance. While flying, lighting crashes down and beautiful flashes of colour create a dense atmosphere to accompany the defeat of waves of enemies. Then, when grounded, the dungeons and castles Pit lands in are both creative and challenging.
The high production value can be felt, with typical Nintendo tenderness and care shown throughout each level. Great voice acting, nice cinematic sequences and great 3D effects all make good use of the 3DS hardware.
All's well that ends well
The 3DS is looking to have a rejuvenating holiday, with so many promising 3DS titles being released. Kid Icarus: Uprising is definitely one that should be on everyone's list. With beautiful visuals and impressive sky battles, Kid Icarus: Uprising is certainly fun, but the controls are sure to put off potential players. However, the challenge will be one that many will find an exciting prospect. After a 19 year absence, reviving Pit's adventures is looking to have been a good decision by Nintendo and, on the 3DS, he seems to have found his rightful home.