|Dev: Project Sora|
|Release: March 23, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes|
by Sean Engemann
Before word of Mario's barrage, Link's reawakening, Fox's epic flight return, and the Animals Crossing our path, an old hero named Pit, better known as Kid Icarus, was the poster boy for Nintendo's newest handheld. In fact, Kid Icarus: Uprising's trailer was first shown way back during E3 2010, giving us a sweet flavor of what to expect on the 3DS. Originally slated as a launch title for the system, it's still sitting in the hands of developer Project Sora with no official release date listed. A few new features were unveiled at this year's expo in L.A., enough to keep fans both old and new patiently awaiting the good word on when they can finally take to the skies with our winged hero.
With all we've seen in the very first trailer and all the demos and videos since, we know what kind of gameplay to expect. From a third-person perspective, you'll guide Pit both in the skies and on land, battling all of Medusa's nefarious minions and eventually taking on the serpent-headed seductress herself. The aerial portions generally consist of on-rails action, using your ranged weaponry to take out oncoming threats. The frenzy doesn't diminish on land; you'll be constantly checking every angle to locate your next target. Some of these targets are gargantuan bosses of The Underworld, all of which are intimidating and sure to test your gaming reflexes and Pit's nimble acrobatics.
I was at first apprehensive about how the frenetic action would fare on my eyes, so as a test, I watched the trailer on my 3DS repeatedly for about fifteen minutes. Either my eyes have completely adjusted to the third dimension of gaming or Nintendo just knows how to tune it right, because I didn't once feel tempted to reach for the bottle of Tylenol. In fact, the on-rails levels will benefit from having the slider cranked up to full, as it gives a much better distance gauge between you and the enemies, a crucial strategy considering the quick pace of the game.
Added to your tactics are the various weapons you'll collect, with swords, claws, and Orbitars (big shoulder cannons) revealed so far, and many more expected. Each is designed for a different play style. For example, the claws are the quickest to attack and the Orbitars are great for ranged combat. Each weapon also carries a secondary, more powerful attack, which can be unleashed after being charged up. Along with additional supplements such as grenades and health, Kid Icarus: Uprising looks to be more than just a run-and-gun action title.
What I am concerned about, however, is the control scheme. Despite the recent (and probably outlandish) rumors about Nintendo redesigning the 3DS to add a second circle pad, we are more than likely stuck with a single stick for awhile. Thus, having a game like Kid Icarus: Uprising, where the player controls the camera, makes for an awkward experience. Essentially, the one circle pad will control Pit, while the touchscreen manipulates the camera, meaning you'll have to balance the system in one hand. My suggestion is that anyone fortunate enough to still have their thumb stylus from the old DS Phat will probably want to dust that off for this game. I know I'll be breaking mine out, especially to tip the scales during those three-versus-three multiplayer matches.
Yes, a thankful revelation at this year's E3: Kid Icarus: Uprising will have multiplayer. The matchups look pretty smooth; separated into two teams, "light" and "dark," you'll battle in an assortment of arena-style maps. You'll choose a weapon loadout at the beginning of the match, which also determines your area of strength: power, speed, range, etc. There are also different offensive, defensive, and recovery power-ups sprinkled across the map to give you an edge. Each team has a single life bar, which when depleted spawns an Angel Pit; defeat the Angel Pit to claim victory. Expect to find the same single-player tempo in multiplayer, especially since your foe will be sitting right across from you. So far, only local battles have been confirmed, but developers have claimed they are working on how to incorporate a seamless online feature.
Kid Icarus: Uprising is also taking advantage of another 3DS built-in feature, with characters from the game taking the form of AR cards. After being scanned in the system, they can duke it out on any surface of your house. It's always a nice little extra, but I'm waiting for Nintendo to take augmented reality to the next level, where the "carpet" action offers some in-game benefits. Nintendo should also be exploiting the other system features, such as the Play Coins for purchasable bonuses, and even QR codes to upload custom Miis. Frankly, third-party implementation of these types of extras has been historically underused.
It's been a long wait for this title, and despite an expected holiday 2011 release, Kid Icarus: Uprising may still not hit the shelves until 2012. With a number of big titles on my 3DS list already this season, I'll happily wait for Nintendo to apply another layer of glossy polish and deliver all the features we're hoping for (online multiplayer, ahem). Nintendo certainly has a bit of credibility riding on the success of Pit, mostly for series devotees of decades past, but also for fledgling fans and anyone else who might be anxious for a solid action experience from the Big N.
CCC Contributing Writer