one of my fondest e3 memories thus far is 2010’s announcement of a new kid icarus game, after a 25 year hiatus. although i got kid icarus: uprising as soon as it released, i only just now finished it. although there’s much about the game that i appreciate, the main reason it took so long is because i found the gameplay to be terribly repetitive. the shooting stages and the land battles all felt the same to me despite the varied locales (although the latter are much more interesting), but i played at fairly normal difficulties overall so that i could get through the story and this may very well be a game that i enjoy more when i revisit it.
one of the main things i most appreciate about the game is that its director, sakurai (of super smash bros. fame, as surely everyone knows by now), consciously positioned the series in a new and unique space compared to the other nintendo franchises. completely avoiding the minimal-dialogue setup of the mario, zelda, and metroid series, sakurai created a world that elevates the hints of humor found in the original titles (the eggplant wizard being the most visible indication) and makes them the core foundation. although the constant stream of chatter between characters is a bit distracting and verges on wearying, its humor is generally entertaining and definitely helps relieve the monotony. the expansion of the universe is similar in scope to the rethinking of the donkey kong series that came with donkey kong country and the leap forward that super mario bros. 3 and the legend of zelda: link to the past brought to their series, although the introduction of conflicting gods didn’t particularly grab me. also, while i respect the decision to move the series into an entirely new genre, the 3rd-person shooter niche was already covered by the sin and punishment games and the superb customization aspects of the custom robo games made uprising feel somewhat redundant.
another thing i appreciated about the game more than loved is the sheer number of features it contains. a few of those features are taken from the smash bros. games (in particular, fitting powers into a grid and collecting trophies), but sakurai’s mantra is clearly that “more is more” rather than “less is more”. there are a huge number of weapons and powers, a ton of bosses, a handful of items and relatively useless vehicles, along with collectible physical AR cards with their pre-determined battles. the multi-player aspect feels fully fledged (albeit incredibly chaotic), although i didn’t get into it much since the single-player campaign is so long. the controls weren’t much more awkward than metroid prime: hunters, but the included 3DS stand is welcome, esp. for playing with the 3D turned on.
from the number of references to other games i ended up including in this write-up it seems that the game combines many different elements together. while it’s not enough to create a game that i felt was truly refreshing and new (aside from the comic banter) it’s an admirable addition to a long-neglected series. while the game never really got off the ground and really soared for me, i’m still hopeful that a follow-up will come sooner than later to perhaps move the series past this entry and towards something truly great.
grounded kid icarus: uprising links:
– the official site has screenshots and wallpapers
– info on switching to the 1st-person view, a feature buried in the options menus
– the game had a ton of official videos released covering the many aspects of the game (all of which are viewable in the 3DS’s eshop). the video on the multiplayer features a play-by-play commentary that really makes sense of the chaos.
– nintendo-gamer.net has some tips on the multiplayer game, including 4 recommended weapon/powers combinations