I never played the original Kid Icarus, but Kid Icarus Uprising — a 20-years-later re-imagining of the franchise releasing next month — seems solid so far…with one slight problem.
DS or 3DS titles featuring touch-screen-based controls never appealed to me (I hate Kirby Mass Attack's control scheme). After spending some time with Uprising at a recent Nintendo press event in Toronto, I decided Kid Icarus Uprising controls rather smoothly. That doesn’t, however, mean the controls themselves aren’t somewhat annoying.
Uprising adopts a similar control scheme to Metroid Prime Hunters for the Nintendo DS (another touchscreen-based shooter). Unfortunately, I quickly realized that holding the 3DS and using the stylus to aim your character’s reticule doesn’t feel natural.
It’s strange to wrap your hand around the joystick and still hold the 3DS at an angle that allows you to constantly maintain contact with the touch screen. Alternative control schemes allow you to use the recently released Circle Pad Pro attachment, but this wasn’t available at the event I attended.
This probably explains why the game comes with a visually amusing stand that holds the 3DS in place so you can play Uprising much more easily…unless you're sitting on a crowded bus or anywhere lacking in tables. The camera also seemed wonky at times due to the relatively awkward control scheme. It can be quite difficult to pinpoint exactly which direction you want main character Pit to face.
Graphically, Kid Icarus Uprising rivals Resident Evil: Revelations as the 3DS’ best looking game. It’s colorful, vibrant, flashy, and eye catching. Visuals like these make it hard to believe this game lives on a handheld console. Uprising’s gameplay combines an on-rails shooter (a la Star Fox) with a third-person shooter and somehow manages to mix the two genres seamlessly.
It also caters to the gamblers in the audience, allowing you to bet hearts (the game’s currency) by altering the difficulty. Complete a level on Hard, and you’re rewarded with more hearts. Fail, and you lose the hearts you’ve bet. This heightens the stakes for every level you play, particularly since the number of on-screen assailants can quickly become overwhelming. It takes a while to get used to the breakneck pace.
You'll also find yourself forced to alternate between melee or ranged attacks to take down enemies, and different weapons prove more effective on some than others. This gives Kid Icarus Uprising more depth than the average third-person shooter, as do a number of RPG-like elements. Multiplayer (local and online) and augmented-reality cards will factor into the final release as well.
Now if only they can make those controls less awkward.
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