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Kid Icarus: Uprising

Developer: Nintendo | Publisher: Nintendo
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 03/23/12 | Genre: Action

The 3DS seems to be jinxed by the same games drought that has affected other Nintendo hardware in the past. So it is without a doubt that Kid Icarus: Uprising is a key title for the future of Nintendo’s 3DS platform.  Speaking of platforms, should we beware of a game that includes a small stand to play it?

That’s right, Kid Icarus Uprising comes prepackaged with its very own platform to hold the 3DS.  While Kid Icarus contains without a doubt the best graphics on the system to date, this game has some of the most awkward controls I’ve seen in a First Party Nintendo release.  Three hands are required to maintain the 3D illusion in the game while attempting to control the action on-screen.  This is where that handy stand comes in--as some kind of last minute addition to maintain the 3D effect. While the stand is sturdy and well built, one has to wonder why Nintendo thought it would be a better idea to produce thousands of these stands instead of providing Kid Icarus with better controls. Again, this is a beautiful game that marks the return of the beloved Kid Icarus franchise (Editor’s Note: Do you hear the fanboys screaming in delight?).  It effectively utilizes the 3D effect of the portable throughout the game and the game is much better for that.  You won't be let down by the 3D in Kid Icarus.  

So beautiful 3D in the game along with beautiful graphics? So how bad are the controls? You will either love this game or hate it and all because of the bloody controls! This really “Pits” players against each other which isn’t something Nintendo should be doing with the 3DS at this time.  Nintendo recently posted a $461.2 million in losses for fiscal 2011.  Fracturing their fan-base on a highly anticipated game isn't the way Nintendo can win back sales.

I did, however, find the singleplayer story engaging. It has an epic animated film storyline feel to it and the voice acting is well done.  The plot is even downright funny at times.  I’ve never really played a videogame like Kid Icarus that was so aware of being a video game.  Pit and other characters make many references to gaming pop culture that really is enjoyable and celebrates its early NES roots.
Yet it always comes back to the fact that failing to include one of the most obvious control schemes is a very poor choice, and in hindsight hurts the game overall in reaching a large audience. In the vain of Metroid Hunters, for DS, the controls are quite similar.

No matter if your flying through the sky blasting enemies, or brawling on the ground, you move Pit with the slider pad.  You attack with the left shoulder button on the 3DS. Players move long range fire and attacking reticule via the lower touch screen.  In the air, the camera is controlled by typical ‘on rails’ similar to Starfox.   But when you're on the ground, you change where the camera is pointing by swiping the stylus left or right.  And that's really all you're limited to.  Yes you can use the 3D’s slider pad pro accessory, but its use is strictly limited so that left handed players have a chance to play in the opposite way.  Some customization is included in Kid Icarus Uprising’s menus. You can change sensitivity on the touch screen or use the ABXY buttons to control the way to aim--but these only seem like minor attempts to resolve the controlling issues.  I found the game physically hurts to play at times.  I felt the most wrist pain when trying to complete the online mode of frantic death matches.  All I can say is, it just feels overwhelmingly cramped.  To enjoy the game in 3D you need to be hunched-over on a table so that you can use the included stand. Unfortunately, you're stuck using controls that practically cover the entire system.  

The story mode and amount of item customization is great fun. But to be any good benefit from them, you need to master the controls.  This is a defect that I fear will keep many players from buying or sticking with Kid Icarus: Uprising. Uprising contains many challenges and an always changing difficulty settings that adds a layer of the game that's designed to keep you playing.  It’s a collectors dream game really with all its unlockables.  But this is a game that would have found a better home on the Wii.  The nunchuk and wiimote pointer controls seems perfectly made just for this kind of game. It’s a shame it ended up where it is on the 3DS.  I understand why Nintendo felt under pressure to release a big game to the 3DS; but some big epic games are meant to be played in the comfort of your living room, not on the bus.

For players that can master the controls, there really is a sizable “Triple A Quality” game here.  But like I said, you either love or hate the game based squarely on if you can adapt to the controls.  For me, I really want to love this game, but Nintendo’s strange design decisions hamstring this awesome revival of a beloved character (Editor’s Note: And the fanboys boo.).  After all these years, Nintendo remains to be their own worst enemy. Pit deserves the benefit of the doubt after twenty years being on the shelf, but it all comes down to that initial ability to play the game.  You will know in an hour of gameplay if you can tune into the controls or not.  For this reason, I have to review Kid Icarus Uprising as a ‘TRY IT’ before you buy it. If only they fixed the controls before releasing it...

By Dominick Fleres - 04/26/12
ESRB Details: Rated for Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes. This is an action game in which players assume the role of Pit, a winged warrior tasked with saving the world. As players run, jump, and fly through colorful levels, they use swords and energy bursts to defeat fantasy creatures (e.g., one-eyed blobs, giant snakes, mythical creatures). Players can engage in ranged and melee-style combat, sometimes using crosshair targets to shoot down enemies. Combat includes brief explosions, cries of pain, and slashing sounds. During the course of the game, one female character wears a tight outfit that accentuates her cleavage/buttocks. Some scenes also reference suggestive material (e.g., “[Y]ou better not be thinking of anything . . . naughty” and “Someone's overcompensating.”/“Feeling a little inadequate, Virindi?”). The dialogue contains brief references to bathroom humor: “[This environment is] actually pretty cute. Especially when you compare it to his . . . bowels” and “Well, there's more than one way to get rid of a bad chicken nugget. Maybe I should just expel you [from my body] the old-fashioned way.”
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Screenshots for Kid Icarus: Uprising

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