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E3 Impressions: Kid Icarus Uprising

2:37 PM, Jul 6, 2011   |    comments
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I've always been very amused with the cult following of Kid Icarus; the game was released in 1987, overshadowed by the similar-engine Metroid, and hasn't been seen since a 1991 follow-up on the Game Boy. I've played the game myself, and while it wasn't bad I could never really get into it. The cries for the angel Pit's return, however, have been constant and ever-growing, and now the series is back with Kid Icarus: Uprising on the 3DS. The game plays nothing like the original game, which made me a bit nervous; after trying it out for myself, however, I'm completely sold on the new gameplay angle.

At the beginning of the timed demo, I was offered a choice between seven different weapons, and was told each one played differently from the other; I ended up going with the basic bow/blades, which are the most balanced weapon. I then went into the first part of the stage, the flying portion. If you've ever played Sin and Punishment: Star Successor, the flight is very similar to that; you move around on the screen in midair, aiming and firing at distant enemies to take them out before they hit you. You move Pit with the circle pad, aim with the touch screen, and fire with the shoulder button, in a configuration that I hope doesn't wear out my wrist when I play it for a long time.

As you defeat enemies, more time is added to your current total, which is constantly counting down. As in the old legend of Icarus, Pit's wings will burn up if he flies for too long; he starts off with five minutes, but the more enemies you defeat, the longer you can play. This definitely adds a level of challenge to the game, as you can't lollygag for very long or else you'll end up dead.

After a certain period of time, you'll land, and the free-roaming portion of the stage begins. You're still timed here, but now you can control where you go and how fast you get there; if you tap the circle pad in a direction, you'll dash that way, ready to slice up whatever enemy gets in your way. There will be plenty of enemies available to get in your way, to be sure; the ground-based sections are filled with baddies, giving you a chance to take them out really fast if you're good enough, gaining and saving time.

This portion of the game is pretty exhilarating, running up to enemies to slice them, or taking them out from a distance with your blaster (assuming you chose the weapon I did, I don't know how the other ones play). The game has a high intensity level to it, and you really have to keep moving, which is great. The game is definitely difficult, too; for several minutes at the end of the demo, I was just barely straddling the line between success and failure, and I ultimately ran out of time during the enormous end boss of the level. The controls are very nicely refined, though, and very responsive, so you can move quickly around the level without having to wrestle with the 3DS.

The game's presentation is pretty top-notch, as well. The 3D effect works very nicely in the ground-based levels, as the areas are just the right size to make the best use of the depth of field the 3DS offers; they help eliminate a few jagged edges, as well, so the game looks quite smooth as you're playing it. Most of the game sinks into the screen, but occasionally you have things like lasers popping out at you, which works so long as they don't head past the edge of the screen, which is quite weird.

The music is pretty high-energy, as well, but you won't be listening to it much, as the main characters, Pit and Palutena, had dialogue through practically the entire demo. The voice actors sounded a little younger than I would have expected, especially for a goddess, but the constant back-and-forth banter was a lot of fun to listen to, and helped keep the game engaging and entertaining. The script is somewhat irreverent, and the lines are delivered with energy, and I found myself laughing once or twice as I played.

Kid Icarus: Uprising has an awful lot of high points, with very little to detract from the high-speed, energetic gameplay, and I ended up giving this game by Best of E3 award out of everything I played. This game is slated for a holiday 2011 release, and frankly, it can't come soon enough for me.

- Jim Avery for


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