3DS Hands-On: Kid Icarus: Uprising

At Nintendo’s 3DS Conference here in New York, no one game in the demo room received more sparkle and pizzazz to distract you from another. Lined up, and in various small, circular stands were 3DSes. Everywhere. Same plain text sign above each wave of games. For me, Kid Icarus: Uprising was easily the star of the show. The 3DS has very significant graphical advances from the previous DS iterations. Of all the games present (and there were many gorgeous games), Kid Icarus has the most colorful, creative, and inviting visuals and art design. And thanks to the most comfortable, balanced thumbstick I’ve ever seen in the world of mobile gaming, quality shooter elements are now possible on the DS.

The playable demo offered two different stages. Level 1 which was labeled as easier and level 4 which was made for once you feel a bit more advanced and homey with the controls, which, I will add, are very easy to jump into. The first level starts off with Pit mid-flight, so you first learn the shooter controls. It’s pretty much on rails: the thumbstick on your left moves Pit, the stylus is used to aim your crosshairs and the left bumper will shoot. It might sound a little wild on pen and paper, but it works – for most people.

As a left-handed gamer for the history of my life, not every game was kind to my one-sided abilities. It kind of was relived a bit in Kid Icarus, holding the stylus with my right hand was something I could adjust to, but my left hand doing both the thumbstick and the bumper at the same time started to make the edge of the DS jam into my hand. It started to hurt. But there’s really no other way around it – there’s no other setup that could have been a better control scheme no matter how you look at it unless the 3DS had dual analog sticks, and then you wouldn’t even need the stylus.

Once you get accustomed to the flight controls, you start blowing through enemies. Place your cursor on them for an extra half second and you unleash a more focused attack from whichever ranged weapon you chose when the demo began (Orb, Claw, or Blades). Soon, you’ll find Pit kissing the ground to learn about the land controls. The camera can be moved by sliding the stylus – not ideal, but you can easily center the camera behind Pit, which is mostly how I handled that. Distant attacks will still yield your now-familiar attacks from the skies, but getting up close to your targets will allow you to bring the pain with your melee skills. You can also double tap the thumbstick to dash, like you would in many action/adventure games.

The soul put into the art and visuals shine very strongly in this title. Palutena, the Goddess of Light, is the one who has given you the ability to fly, and taught me the ropes in this first level of the demo, and had some dialogue going on during the demo. I didnt get much of the story just from this demo, mostly because it was noisy in the room I was playing, but the overarching goal is to take down Medusa and her swarms of hellions.

The game really felt the most polished, the most attractive, the most exciting experience that I had available to me thus far of the double fistful of games I’ve been able to get hands-on with thus far. It’s been forever since we’ve seen a Kid Icarus game, and ever since Brawl came out we’ve been wanting some one-on-one time with the brawlin’ angel. Now that it’s possible for shooters to succeed on a Nintendo platform, Kid Icarus has proved to me that it will not disappoint.