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An Unforgettable Flight – Kid Icarus: Uprising

As long as Pit does not have a halo, no one will know he died.  Repeatedly.

And you will.  But it’s not nearly as hard as its predecessors.

“Sorry to keep you waiting!”

That’s my apology to you for posting this today instead of last Saturday or Wednesday, when I was supposed to.

It is also the apology of the boy angel Pit to fans of the Kid Icarus games for keeping them waiting a much longer time for the sequel, Kid Icarus:  Uprising.

Originally, after buying Tales of the Abyss, I had sworn off buying any more video games during the spring and summer.  After all, being a college student, I only have so much money available to spend freely.

However, I discovered that Masahiro Sakurai, the genius behind the Kirby and Super Smash Bros.games, is the game designer of this title and that Kid Icarus:  Uprising is the first Nintendo 3DS game to earn a perfect score in the gaming magazine Famitsu.  Knowing this, I decided that, since I’d most likely buy the game eventually, I might as well buy it at launch and experience it without running the risk of spoiling the plot for myself.

And man, was it worth it!

Stunning graphics, action-packed gameplay, and fantastic characters make Kid Icarus:  Uprising one of the best 3DS titles available right now.  I honestly can’t recommend it enough.

However, there are three things you should know before running out to buy it, for yourself or for a kid.

1. American TV Commercials = False Advertising

A big part of what defines the Kid Icarus games is the mood that persists throughout them.

The perpetual drama!

The sense that all hope is lost unless a brave hero can save the day!

The– Wait, what?

Where did that come from?

Seeing this commercial for the first time – right after finishing my first playthrough of the game, no less – my brain took a few seconds to process the fact that, yes, that was an advertisement for Kid Icarus:  Uprising, and yes, they did just try to play it up like it was a dramatic tale akin to something out of The Legend of Zelda series.

…What is it with adventure games being portrayed as serious business in America?

While I haven’t played the previous Kid Icarus games, any fan can tell you that one of the defining characteristics of this series is its sense of humor.  Kid Icarus:  Uprising follows this tradition and cranks it up to eleven.  The characters lampshade the story and gameplay at every turn, and the fourth wall is completely inexistent.  During the first boss battle of the game, fought against the gigantic two-headed dog Twinbellows, Pit even comments that he’ll rack up some Nintendogs points as you’re facing off against the monster!

The approach taken by the trailer gives anyone not familiar with the game the wrong idea. Kid Icarus:  Uprising isn’t a game depicting an epic tale, and it doesn’t need to be.  If anything, its lighthearted atmosphere causes what serious moments it does have to impact the players even more solely because they don’t see them coming.

If you want a 3DS game with a serious storyline, pick up Tales of the Abyss or The Legend of Zelda:  Ocarina of Time.  If you need a break from the melodrama, you can’t go wrong with Kid Icarus:  Uprising.

2.TMI, Story!

Now, saying that Kid Icarus:  Uprising is a game only consisting of gag after gag isn’t quite right either.  It does have a plot, one which I found to be quite engaging.

However, when playing the game for the first time, it does feel like the story throws a lot of out-of-the-blue twists and turns at you.  Since it came out in North America only about a week ago, I won’t disclose any serious spoilers.  Just allow me to say that if you think the final battle with Medusa is coming all too quickly, don’t worry; the game is far from being over.

While the seemingly random events can cause confusion, it’s important to keep in mind that the story of Kid Icarus:  Uprising is comprised of several small  arcs.  Although a new immediate threat appears in each arc, all the conflicts Pit faces lead up to the final confrontation with the game’s Big Bad.  Each part plays a role  that contributes to the flow of the storyline.  Also, regardless of the magnitude of extra information presented in each arc, the story does a good job of wrapping up most of the loose ends and keeps the player wondering what in the heck will happen next.

3.  Controls are a Pain (Figuratively and Literally)

Gamers who have already looked up reviews for Kid Icarus:  Uprising will know there is one thing that can deter players:  the controls.  However, for those who haven’t, such as parents wondering whether to buy this game for their kids, I will explain the issue and, for what it’s worth, throw in my two cents.

Two complaints have been made regarding the controls for Kid Icarus:  Uprising:  the steep learning curve in mastering the controls, and the actual physical discomfort caused by them.

The severity of the learning curve varies for each person, depending on how adaptable he or she is.  The main trouble players usually experience is controlling Pit’s movement.  In order to dash and dodge, one must “flick” the slide pad, which basically translates to “push the slide pad up, down, or to the side really quickly.”  I was able to get the hang of it after a few chapters, but I wouldn’t recommend this game for those who get frustrated easily.

Personally, I find the steep learning curve similar to that of the Nintendo DS title, The World Ends with You.  While the controls are very different in the two games, they are similar due to featuring controls that are hard to master right off the bat and coupled with fast-paced action.  Fortunately, just like in The World Ends with You, the level of difficulty is adjustable, allowing new players to keep the difficulty down a few notches until they are more familiar with the controls.  If you were able to adjust quickly to the gameplay of The World Ends with You, you probably won’t have much trouble getting the hang of Kid Icarus:  Uprising‘s controls.

If you are having too much difficulty with the slide pad, or if you are actually left-handed, you can locate the options menu to customize the controls.  If you feel like shelling out an extra $40, the game is also compatible with the Circle Pad Pro.

That aside, the issue with hand cramps flaring up after a couple of hours of gameplay is one that is brought up a lot, and for good reason.  Aside from using the slide pad, the only other default features of the 3DS used for controls are the L button and the touch screen.  This leads to the player holding the 3DS in a very awkward position, causing quite a bit of pain during extended play.  I experienced this myself playing it the first day, and needless to say, I quickly took to using the free 3DS stand provided with the game in order to give my hand a break.

My opinion on the hand cramp issue is this:  as long as you know your limits and take breaks when you need to, you’ll be fine.  Playing the game using the stand doesn’t hinder gameplay at all and is very convenient to use if you have a flat surface to place it on.  While some critics whine that the necessity of the stand completely defeats the purpose of having Kid Icarus:  Uprising on a portable system, I can’t help but speculate that they’d make similar criticisms if the Dance Dance Revolution games included something along the lines of leg massagers to aid extended play.  When it comes down to it, every video game can potentially cause physical discomfort, whether it be eye strain or hand cramps.  At least the creators of Kid Icarus:  Uprising took the initiative to do something about it.

*****

Author’s Notes:  Geez, I am so sorry this post took so long.  I wanted to take the time to make this review a good one, especially since I put a lot of time into the review of The Lorax (which, in hindsight, was pretty terrible when viewed as a book adaptation).  In my next gigantic posts, I plan to delve a little deeper into the story arcs of Kid Icarus:  Uprising, as well as take a closer look at the plot points of the Kingdom Hearts series.  …Well, mostly Kingdom Hearts II.Until then, I’ll keep up-to-date with much shorter blog updates so you won’t think I disappeared off the face of the earth.

Until next time!

Kid Icarus: Uprising © 2012 Nintendo and Sora Ltd.

Artwork created by Holly A. Wolfe

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2 comments on “An Unforgettable Flight – Kid Icarus: Uprising

  1. Wow, great review. The drawing is awesome too 🙂 Thanks!

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