This doesn’t just make the game more compelling - how far can you push the intensity before you get your sorry behind handed to you on a plate? - it also encourages replay. To get the best guns you’ll need a lot of hearts, so why not go back to an earlier, easier mission and see if you can push it up a couple of notches now that you have more skill. If you want to earn the big bucks, it’s the only way.
Yet there might be another way. Weapons can not only be found and bought, but also combined, and by making different fusions it’s possible to create new weapons with different characteristics in terms of range, melee or ranged effectiveness and damage. In short, for a game that looks very simple, Kid Icarus: Uprising has a surprising amount of depth.
Not only that, but it’s undeniably spectacular. Kid Icarus isn’t just one of the best-looking games on the 3DS, matching Super Mario 3D Land and Resident Evil: Revelations for its scenery, its detail and lighting and effects, it’s also one of the few games to make you realise why Nintendo thought 3D was ever worth it. As you soar across majestic landscapes, over ancient cities and into the underworld’s depths, the sensation of speed and the impression of scale is hugely impressive. It can be hard work on the eyes, while holding the 3DS in position is a challenge, but when it’s working this is the 3DS’s strongest showcase yet.
Unfortunately, it’s still not quite in the same league as Mario’s 3DS debut. Nor is it as emphatically successful a reworking of a Nintendo classic as, say, the Metroid Prime trilogy. Kid Icarus: Uprising nearly has it all, with great creature design, a fantastic and vast range of weaponry and missions that deserve a second play through, but there’s something a bit uninspired about many of the levels - particularly once Pit is on foot - and after a while the game’s repetitive structure begins to grate.
It’s not that there aren’t some brilliant and inventive moments, but there’s also a lot of wandering from one chamber or arena to another, bashing whatever you find there. Ingenious monster design helps keep things varied, with foes that require a mix of melee and ranged attacks, but at times you’re left wishing that Kid Icarus had taken another approach; one less dependent on combat with a little more space to explore.
And while you do acclimatise to the controls, they never become 100% intuitive or entirely satisfactory, not just because they make holding the 3DS so damn uncomfortable, but because they sometimes leave you ill-equipped to handle the action. Pay attention in the early tutorials, because if you haven’t mastered the dash moves by the midway point of the game, you simply won’t survive on any but the lowest levels of Intensity.
To balance this, Kid Icarus: Uprising still has its thrills, its weapons and its spectacle, not to mention a host of features that we haven’t had the space to cover. It’s a very charming and surprisingly funny game, regularly breaking the fourth wall with silly gags and gaming in-jokes, while the snappy repartee between Pit, Palutena and the game’s various oddball villains would be enough to recommend it to some gamers on its own. It’s also a game that’s not afraid to pull the rug out from under you from time to time. The game even manages to pack in multiplayer, with an enjoyable team-shooter option and a rather chaotic all-against-all deatmatch. If you end up loving it, then there’s plenty here to keep you occupied for some time.
Impressive 3D spectacle and some very clever game mechanics make Kid Icarus: Uprising a far more exciting 3DS shooter than it first appears. Uncomfortable controls and repetitive level design ensure that its not quite up there with Nintendo’s best, but the more you put into Kid Icarus’s return, the more you’ll come to love it.