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Kid Icarus: Uprising hands-on

At the Nintendo World 2011 event in Japan this week, Nintendo gave the public – and many members of the press – the opportunity to play many 3DS titles for the first time. One of the games we were most eager to get our hands on was Kid Icarus: Uprising, the first new title in the series since 1991’s Of Myths and Monsters on Game Boy. While our time playing the game was limited, we came away extremely impressed with how things are shaping up.

As we waited our turn with the demo version, monitors above the booth showcased goddess Paltena and hero Pit talking about the series’ history and the new gameplay elements seen in this title. Unlike the original game, which is a more traditional platformer with exploration elements, Uprising is a pure 3D action title that makes great use of the handheld’s depth-display capabilities. Action sequences are divided into flight and on-foot segments, each filled with beautiful environments and drooling nasties begging for the business end of an arrow.

When we got our turn to play, we were immediately thrust into one of the game’s high-speed sky-shooting levels. In this mode, we controlled Pit with the DS’s analog slider, while the L button fired shots aimed with the stylus on the bottom screen. The controls were very easy to grasp and worked extremely well, allowing us to accurately target foes while deftly avoiding obstacles. These sequences also showcased the benefits of the platform’s 3D depth-display technology, allowing us to accurately gauge the distance between us and enemies. As with all 3DS games, the actual 3D display is optional and can be adjusted, but having it on in Kid Icarus will clearly be a major boon.

After the flight sequence, we got a taste of the on-foot action. The aiming scheme was roughly the same, with the touchscreen now used to control camera rotation, and the analog slider controlled Pit in a more traditional third-person action fashion, as he went up against a variety of bulbous-looking monsters. In addition to rapid-fire arrows, Pit can also perform ultra-damaging melee strikes while on foot – which came in handy against the fearsome-looking Cerberus boss that reared its ugly heads as the demo drew to a close. At the end of the fight, Medusa loomed far off in the background ominously, as if to challenge us to our next battle.

Even from our brief time with it, it’s clear that Kid Icarus: Uprising will be one of the 3DS’s first must-have titles. The action is fast, fun, and easy to control, the 3D adds to the game’s playability, and the visual atmosphere is wonderful.

One thing that worried us just a little, however, was the chattiness of the characters: Medusa, Pit, and Paltena were constantly exchanging dialogue throughout the demo. While some of the conversation obviously felt like a tongue-in-cheek placeholder (Paltena commented that it’d been “about 25 years” since she last saw Medusa), it seems likely that the final game will also have a lot of voice-over work – which may or may not turn out to be a good thing. But even if the characters never shut up, it’s clear that we’ve got a potential new classic on our hands.

Jan 11, 2011