|Well, well, well... it's good to be back.|
Well, I don't have a review ready for this game yet- still chipping it down little by little, but I've played enough of it to start talking about it!
So, this is the title that Nintendo teased us with upon releasing the 3DS. The first line Pit shouted at us from that big old E3 screen was a triumphant "Sorry to keep you waiting!", and with that, the excitement began. We haven't seen Pit since Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which is interesting enough because it's probably the reason a lot of people are going to get this game, and it kind of heralded the return of Pit in general. Pit and Palutena were redesigned for Brawl, which is how they're seen in Kid Icarus: Uprising, alongside a WHOLE TON OF OTHER NEW CHARACTERS.
Kid Icarus is a little StarFoxy in its design, also inspired by the Sin and Punishment series. Half of the game is played in the sky, facing off against the troops of the Underworld and more, and the other half (though it seems like more) is land battles, running around on foot and tearing up bosses and more. The air battles are on rails, with some branching paths and many enemies and obstacles that stand in Pit's way. Air battles really show of the lovely graphics of the game, with countless breathtaking moments and special effects- there's not one episode I've played thusfar that hasn't had a great set piece in it. Ground battles are a little bit more strategic, with special, equippable abilities being utilized and more open environs. It's hard to say which is more fun- the wowing air battles or the fast-paced ground battles.
Controls have a lot to do with that. You see, Kid Icarus makes use of the 3DS in literally every way you could imagine- the 3D really does make the game pop, but you've also got AR cards, Touch Screen Controls, Online, Streetpass, Spotpass, the whole shebang. But the touchscreen controls are the main feature I'm talking about. Aiming and camera control on the ground are done using the stylus, so you have to flick the stylus you spin the camera around- which, to a beginner, might seem a little daunting. The controls are a bit... well, slippery, but they're definitely able to be mastered. You may think the camera spins wildly out of control at first, but putting your stylus on the touchscreen again stops the camera from turning. If you don't grasp that concept, you'll probably feel a little disoriented at first. Many people have complained of pains while playing the game because of how you have to hold the system in order to use each button, but I've found that my lefty Circle Pad Pro makes playing very easy, and resting the corner of the system in the nook of your stylus hand takes a lot of the so-called "stress" off of your hands. I have yet to experience any pain from playing, though that might be because the Circle Pad Pro is just so damn comfortable. Still, I only came upon a natural playing stance after owning the game for a day, so take that as you will. However, the game won't force you to adapt to these controls too rigidly- there's a ton of alternate control options for you to use, and it does have a very reasonable difficultly curve. Each episode (which contains one air battle, one ground battle, and usually one or two boss battles) starts with a difficulty scale which you can turn up or down however you want. If you're looking for a leisurely stroll through the story, you can certainly play on level one, but special areas unlock the higher you turn your difficulty- and the more hearts you bet (which raises your difficulty), the more you'll get in reward if you successfully complete the level. Plus, the number of enemies is the only thing that really increases as you turn the difficulty higher, so it really depends on how hectic you want things to get- or how confident you are in your abilities. If you need to take some time learning the controls, playing the first couple levels on a low difficulty so you won't get too overwhelmed is a great way to ease yourself into the new, smart control scheme. Also, if you ever played either of the Zelda titles for DS, you'll probably have a much easier time picking this game up.
The more enemies to destroy, the more hearts you can potentially receive, which can be used to buy strong weapons at the shop. If you're feeling low on hearts, you can go back and play a level on a higher difficulty or take the battle online, which is either a Team or Free-for-all match either with friends or anyone- the higher you rank in the battle, the more hearts you get- and there are occasionally bonus prizes you can receive. The amount of weapons obtainable is staggering- featuring blades, staves, claws, bows, palms, clubs, cannons, orbitars, and arms- all of which you can combine to create new ones and get a mixture of active abilities from the two. The layering of range and melee power, plus active abilities, as well as special, selectable abilities means that no two loadouts will be the same, and you can play based on whatever weapon style you prefer.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Sakurai game without the treasure hunt and trophy portions, in which a checklist/mural will unlock music tracks, weapons, and more as you complete certain goals for each episode. Trophies appear as idols, which can be obtained in-game or as part of a cute idol toss, not unlike the slot machine from Super Smash Bros. Melee. The game is literally bursting at the seams with content, with a wonderfully deep single-player campaign as well as a healthy online community (which connects with the NINTENDO NETWORK, by golly!) and hundreds of collectables. I just can't put it down.
Making our roundabout way back to the single-player campaign, the entire story is fully-voiced over, so if you keep your ears open, you get to hear a lot of really great dialogue between Pit, Palutena, and a slew of old and new faces. Let me just say this- there's a difference between campy dialogue that serves no purpose (as in, most of the Sonic games in which characters mindlessly banter with one another), and campy dialogue that's smart and fun, which is what this game has. From quips about the economy and fuel prices to references to other franchises, this game sports a wildly entertaining story and absolutely fantastic voice acting. Some characters you'll never see coming, others you'll wish would stay longer- and when you start to factor in the several armies you'll have to deal with (such as SPACE PIRATES, Alien Invaders, Underworld lackeys, and much more), you'll want to keep playing just to see how nuts things are going to get.
I mean... wow. I guess I've already written half of a review right here, but I'm only halfway done with the game, myself, so it would be unfair to say these are my final opinions. However, Kid Icarus is just such a lovely, quality piece of work that, if you stick with, you won't be disappointed in. The wait was well-worth it, Pit, because I'm having a blast. You might see more on this game in a few days!