Review: Kid Icarus Uprising (3DS)
I haven’t done a full-fledged review of a game in a long while, so I thought I would start off by doing a game that I can most certainly make one about: Kid Icarus Uprising.
(Spoilers about the story lie within; beware.)
The story takes place 25 years after the original game. Because the characters are all Gods and Goddesses and Angels and stuff, they are immortal and thus the time-skip is done for purely comedic reasons. Medusa is back, and you have to go through a bunch of episodic missions to defeat her commanders, and then her. But after chapter 9, the story takes a dramatic turn when Hades, God of the Underworld, is revealed to be the mastermind behind her resurrection and is trying to destroy all life on Earth (for kicks). Another villain, Viridi, the Goddess of Nature, is soon introduced, though she quickly becomes friendly. After chapter 9, the story seems to take place in Story Arcs of 3 or four chapters that can be grouped together. I think the structure works pretty well, though some of the gaps in between them are very odd (chapter 17, The Ring of Chaos, being the main offender of a really weird gap following the major, seemingly game-ending victory against the Aurum in chapter 16). The plot is not the best, but it wasn’t designed for the story; it was designed for the gameplay and the writing.
And the writing is genius. At first, it seemed a little corny, but it grew on me by Chapter 5. The banter between Pit, Palutena, Viridi, Hades, and sometimes the boss of the level is very well-written. I do not know how different it is from the Japanese version, but I definitely have to applaud the NOA Translators for their work on this game. They make clever Nintendo and pop culture references, discuss Tropes, and explain things about the story or gameplay mechanics, and it works well. It is usually never very distracting (unless you have the volume off of course), and breaks up the monotony as you travel from room to room during land battles.
Some people really seem to hate the voice acting; while I initially loathed Pit’s voice, it quickly grew on me, and his annoying voice actually works because of his silly dialogue. And most all of the voices in this game are great. Princess Bubblegum/Starfire VA Hyden Walch does the best job, I think, with her role as Viridi (Viridi in general is just a great character). Thanatos’s VA does his best Ziro the Hutt impression and just rolls with it, making an otherwise pretty boring level a lot more interesting. Magnus is in fact NOT Dan Brown, but the guy who does Hulk’s voice in all the Marvel cartoons, and Baird from Gears of War. I could go on, but it would be redundant. The voice acting is not bad at all.
Now onto the actual gameplay. The air battles work basically like any other horizontal shooter (ex. Sin and Punishment or Star Fox), and are very fluid. The variation in enemies, unlike in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, actually amplifies the gameplay, as you seriously never know what you will face next. There are so many enemies in this game that Sakurai could make DLC for this game for years with new chapters, and the game would never seem redundant. This is in no way a hyperbole.
The Land Battles are different; it’s a third person shooter. That’s… basically it. The enemy variety is just as great, and it is still very fun, but you know how third person shooters work. People (namely Game Informer) have cried that the land battles have pathetic controls… but I simply don’t see it. There’s not really a problem with it, not one that I can see. I don’t remember anyone complaining this much about Metroid Prime Hunters or any other shooter on the DS, and they have essentially the same controls.
The level design, as I have already said, is great already because of the sheer volume of enemies, but the designs themselves are not to be scoffed at either. The air battles are always fresh, so I don’t have to go into detail about that. But the land battles sometimes have a serious risk of becoming boring; this is almost never the case (some of the earlier missions do get pretty boring, but this is because it is showing you the ropes, so to speak). This game does quite a nice job of switching things up at the right times, like with special areas, vehicle sections, or weird puzzles.
Now onto my favorite part of the game; the customization. Like in Brawl’s Subspace Emissary, you can equip powers that you unlock and use them during land battles (and in multiplayer, more on that later), and unlike the stickers, this system actually works and has a noticable effect on the gameplay (It seems like I am bashing Brawl, but I will remind you that it is one of the few recipients of a perfect 100 score from me.). Also… weapons. So many weapons. This game somehow almost reaches Borderlands-lite in loot level. You can obtain so many weapons during the game, buy more weapons, and then spend hours in the weapon fusion menu, where you try and combine two weapons to make a new one, hopefully ending up with good stats and good bonus effects. It almost becomes a game on its own, trying to find the perfect weapons that are just right for you. I am not sure how many actual weapons there are in the game, but there are 9 different types, and each one has its own merits; no weapon type seems overpowered or underbalanced. This makes for a metagame that reaches Melee levels………
Making for the perfect segue into the multiplayer. The multiplayer only has two modes; Light vs. Dark, where 2 teams of 3 fight, or Free-for-All, where up to 6 people duke it out. Despite the limitation, it is still amazing; everything from the solo game can be imported straight into the multiplayer, from all of your powers (there are exceptions, but only for Idol Transformation and stuff) to every single weapon. And I have only ever experienced a few instances of lag. Nintendo is really improving its online game since Brawl’s servers bombed (were they ever fixed? I don’t even know). I haven’t paid attention to the maps enough to judge them, but I haven’t notice any “bad” ones yet.
Along with the multiplayer, replayablity is never an issue. This is a Sakurai game. I am basically stating that the sky is blue here. The “Checklist” achievement-system that has been in Sakurai’s games since Kirby Air Ride remains in place, except this time, there are triple the amount, and you can unlock so much. Gamers looking for a challenge need look no further. Some of these are utterly ridiculous.
Finally, the “main” topic, graphics. I will put it out there now- this is one of the most beautiful games I have ever played. Seriously. With the 3D on, the scenery is simply gorgeous. In fact, if you are playing the game 2D, you are doing it wrong, and need to change your wicked ways. The character models are very detailed, and it seems as though there was more attention put into the graphical design of this game than some AAA console titles. How this would look on the Wii U is simply beyond me. Actually, maybe it is for the best that it remains on the 3DS. Otherwise, Nintendo could like… accidentally summon some Eldritch Abominations or something when they release it.
Also, the music is fully orchestrated, and is pretty much amazing. Nintendo has been outdoing themselves lately with so many beautiful compositions. I just wish they could carry that over to the Mario series…
+Silly story coupled with great writing and voice acting
+So much customizability
+So many unlockables
-Not enough multiplayer modes
-The beginning not as strong as the rest of the game
The major complaints of this game are the bad controls and bad voice acting, neither of which are really true. The game really just takes a little time to grow on you. Once you can get to the truly fun levels of the game (aka past chapter 9), it really shines. Sakurai is unmatched in game design, and this title is hopefully only a taste of what he has in store for us in Smash 4.
I will rate this game out of 100. In the past I used a convuluted method where it was out of, like, 43 or something. That is arbitrary and dumb.
It gets a 98/100. The flaws keeping it from 100 are so minor that they don’t even really matter. This game may end up being Game of the Year for me, if Mass Effect 3 doesn’t take it (what am I saying, Pikmin 3 will definitely get it, this is just for second place I guess), and I will most certainly be playing this game years from now.