09| Kid Icarus: Uprising

Released: March 23rd, 2012

Available On: Nintendo 3DS

It has been a running gag for sometime that during one Sony's major press conferences, a reboot of the Crash Bandicoot series will be announced. Sure technically there have been plenty of games featuring Crash Bandicoot in recent years, but they weren't really Crash Bandicoot games as they were developed by a different developer, published by a different publisher, and were...well kind of shitty. Similar to the situation the Terminator film series finds itself in, Crash Bandicoot was a well received video game series when it was controlled from the ground up by it's creator, in this case Naughty Dog. Once Naughty Dog moved on to bigger and better things, the license was sold and the franchise went to...well shit. Since then fans have been clamoring Sony to buy the license back and return the character to their former glory. Over the years Sony has given some teases to bringing the series back to the spotlight. Recent examples are things such as the glorified entrance during E3 2016 of Activision releasing a HD remaster of the first three games and a presenter wearing a Crash Bandicoot shirt during another Sony conference.

Why am I bringing up Crash Bandicoot? Because it is the closest current example I can think of when comparing to what Kid Icarus went through for years. Kid Icarus was originally one of the classic NES games. In case you live under a rock, pretty much every one of Nintendo's biggest standing franchises started on the NES. Zelda got its start in the on the NES and became a flagship franchise. Mario got its start on the NES and became a flagship franchise. Metroid got started on the NES and became a flagship franchise. All of these titles were very different from one another, complemented each other very well, and had multiple appearances on pretty much every Nintendo console. Zelda was an epic action-adventure game with a medieval setting. Mario was a pick up and play platformer with a cartoony setting. Metroid was atmospheric action-adventure platformer with a sci-fi setting. However, there was another game in the NES library that was pretty popular and complemented these games perfectly. Kid Icarus was an epic action platformer with a Norse fantasy setting. It completed the "main franchise" circle perfectly. Despite the game selling well, achieving critical acclaim, being "Nintendo unique", and having a cult fanbase, it only received a single sequel for decades. After the 1991 Game Boy game the series was never heard from again.

Over the years, fans begged for a sequel, but it never happened. Then during the 2000s, some teasing occurred. First was 2006's Tetris DS, which had an entire level dedicated to the Kid Icarus game. Then most notably was Pit's inclusion to the roster in 2008's Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Then in E3 2010, the impossible happened, a new Kid Icarus entry, was actually announced. Even more so, it was going to be developed for Nintendo's upcoming Nintendo 3DS. As one would imagine, fans were floored.

Two years later the title was released. The first Kid Icarus game in almost twenty years. So how did it turn out? Very good, actually no, it turned out fantastic! Kid Icarus: Uprising not only met expectations, but it set a new standard in not just resurrecting franchises, but handheld gaming in general.  Before I go into detail about the game, one has to understand just what kind of game the original Kid Icarus was. A vast majority of people think it's simple a vertical platformer, in which instead of going from left to right, one goes from down to up. This is absolutely correct...for the first two levels or so. From there on out the game changes. It becomes side-scrolling dungeon crawler, then a traditional left-to-right 2D platformer, then a shoot-em-up, then back to a vertical platformer, then back to a side-scrolling dungeon crawler, then back to a shoot-em-up, then the game ends. My point is that the game had A LOT of variety. While it was technically mainly an action platformer, it didn't really stick to one single genre. This is something that a modern entry of Kid Icarus had to get right. Kid Icarus: Uprising does just this. Half the game is pretty much one clearly defined genre. Though instead of this being the platforming genre, it is in fact the shooter genre. These segments are similar to titles such as Sin & Punishment in which the camera is behind the player as they move the reticule to shoot at enemies. It's your typical affair, but what makes it stand out is how fast and frantic it can be. The game as a matter of fact let's one control the "intensity" of each stage, so the higher intensity the player sets, the more enemies and chaos there will be on screen. This alone gives the game plenty of replay value.

Once the shooter portions are over, Pit (aka "Kid Icarus") takes to the ground. The game then becomes a common action game. With Pit running on the ground, exploring the area, while taking out baddies with his trusty swords and arrows. However, these parts don't just rest on their laurels, there is plenty of variety during these segments including controlling large robots, driving fast vehicles, and plenty of other things as well. The levels also change things up as some places are designed as labyrinth mazes or just straight forward action-platforming. Each stage has a boss battle at the end which is well worth your time. I'd dare to say that the game has some of the best boss battles I have ever played.

Now let me address the white elephant in the room. The controls. The 3DS, at least at the time, lacked a second analog stick. This meant that if you wanted to move character and aim at the same time, or move the camera freely around, you had to use the touch screen. So during the shooting stages the player had to move Pit with the analog stick while aim with the stylus on the touch screen, while shooting with the shoulder buttons. It takes time to adjust to it, but after a while one gets used it to it. Most of the biggest complaints are during the on ground segments. On the ground  the player runs around with the analog stick, attacks with the shoulder buttons, uses items with the face buttons, and moves the camera or aims the arrows with the stylus on the touch screen. As one can imagine, this is pretty difficult to initially do and takes some practice. Especially due to how fast paced the game is. After a while however, most players get the hang of it. Keyword is "most". Like Skyward Sword before it, Kid Icarus used a very unique control scheme which divided players into two groups: those who think it just takes getting used to and it enhances the game, and those who think it is broken, unneeded, and ruins the game. Personally, I am in the former category. Sure it takes time to learn and get used to the controls, but once one does it is very rewarding. That being said, I can understand the complaints. After playing the game for a while, it does get uncomfortable. I imagine those with more sensitive wrists will find it to be unpleasant. Nintendo realized this and sold the physical version of the game with a stand to aid players, especially those who happen to be left handed.

Despite the amazing gameplay the game goes all out on presentation. Make no mistake, this isn't a "handheld" title. The game's production matches that of a big budget console game. There is top notch voice acting, top notch cutscenes, a deep story, gorgeous graphics and effects, "epic" music, and tons of modes that I can't even talk about. One could legitimately argue that it was Nintendo most ambitious game to date when it was released. I mean to me the only game that went so far at the time was Skyward Sword, besides that I have trouble thinking of anything else that compares. And it just isn't all flash. The story is very engaging and characters are absolutely lovable. The world of Kid Icarus: Uprising is one you want to see again and again.

The title also sports an online mutliplayer mode. This mode involves a deathmatch or team deathmatch mode on one of many choices of maps, as each player controls their own Pit as they try to defeat their competitors by shooting arrows, attacking them with melee weapons, and using various items. It sounds like something that was very rushed and quickly put together, but it is actually surprisingly well throughout and pretty deep. Sure, it's no Splatoon, but it's not quite as far from that mark as one would assume. What's really shocking is how active it was last time I played the game. I recall entering the online servers three years and a half years after the game was released and I never had a problem finding a match. Apparently the multiplayer had or has some serious legs. I wouldn't be surprised if there were still players on the servers.

What really makes this game stick out is the replayability. From controlling the difficulty of every level, to the online multiplayer, to countless unlockable, to animated mini-episodes, and a many other things I forgot, this game is packed with content with a lot to love. It's funny because it technically doesn't need any of that stuff. The game in by itself is replayable enough as it is because it's a very enjoyable experience that one wants to go back to. But despite that, Nintendo didn't leave it at that, they went all out on this title. There is so much I have yet to talk about the game, but I feel like it's best to end here or else I'll just ramble on and on. The best summarization I can give about this game is this: buy it, play it, love it.

Posted by Punk Rebel Ecks Wed, 25 Jan 2017 07:05:07 (comments: 8)
Wed, 25 Jan 2017 09:47:15

Well...this is one I certainly didn't see coming. I was thinking Seaman or something.

Wed, 25 Jan 2017 12:31:41
I loved Uprising, but yeah the shooting segment, amazing as they were, were absolutely murder of my hands. In an alternative universe where the Wii U sold 100 million units, I like to think it was ported and was able to take advantage of the control scheme for a better experience.
Wed, 25 Jan 2017 18:59:32

For me it was the controls that pretty much ruined it for me. So sad. Sad

Wed, 25 Jan 2017 19:12:57
Controls are the only reason I didn't buy it. Sad
Thu, 26 Jan 2017 02:08:24
robio said:
I loved Uprising, but yeah the shooting segment, amazing as they were, were absolutely murder of my hands. In an alternative universe where the Wii U sold 100 million units, I like to think it was ported and was able to take advantage of the control scheme for a better experience.

It takes 100 million units for Nintendo to port Kid Icarus? Pfft...scumbags.

Thu, 26 Jan 2017 02:27:43
edgecrusher said:

It takes 100 million units for Nintendo to port Kid Icarus? Pfft...scumbags.

Well, probably only 90.
Thu, 26 Jan 2017 15:30:07
Yeah I avoided due to control complaints. Would love a Switch version.
Sun, 29 Jan 2017 02:50:07
My hand hurt playing this game. It was good though.
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