Kid Icarus: Uprising first impressions

I sprung for Kid Icarus: Uprising, and had some time to try it out today. I’m probably only four or five stages in, but a lot of its strengths and weaknesses are already pretty readily apparent.

Nintendo did a fantastic job of resetting this series. Kid Icarus hasn’t really had an identity in years, so they got to start fresh. As a result, the game is genuinely funny, constantly breaking the fourth wall, and has likable characters. Even some of the bosses get great lines. People often criticize Nintendo for not creating new characters. Technically the characters here aren’t new, but they might as well be, and this showcases that they’ve still got that skill down.

The presentation has lots of polish, from the visual identity of the world to even little things like the UI in the menus. It’s all really well thought-out. I’ve only tinkered with a little bit of the variable challenge settings, but the idea of gambling some hearts for a tougher difficulty move is pretty brilliant. The ability to break down weapons, purchase new ones, and fuse two together isn’t the type of combat depth you’d expect from a Nintendo game. It really shines in a lot of ways. It does so many things right.

And it does one very important thing wrong.

The controls. They are not good. Now, they aren’t always outright bad. When you’re in the controlled flight segments, using the stylus to shoot feels more or less natural. (I say “more or less” because rather than holding the system, I rest it on my chest while I lay on my back. This sort of sacrifices the whole portable notion.) But the on-foot segments are extremely awkward using this control setup. Those segments are probably meant to be a minority in the game, but movement is so stilted and bizarre that those segments feel like they drag on and on.

What’s crazy about all this is that Nintendo clearly had a better option. The Circle Pad Pro is an underutilized device that could’ve greatly benefited this game. They even thought to make use of it — but it just gives left-handed people the same awkward control scheme as the rest of us. The game feels made for dual sticks, at least during the on-foot segments, and the decision not to use that is truly baffling.

I’m enjoying my time with the game, and I’m looking forward to more, but it’s a shame to see such great potential trip over such a mundane detail, especially since Nintendo is known for its incredibly precise controls. Oh well. It’s a blemish on an otherwise fantastic game — and like I said, the flying segments don’t really suffer this problem.

  • With all the attention going to the Hunger Games release this weekend, it made sense to do a quick impressions post of the iOS game. I had already downloaded and played it just for fun, so I was the one to write it.
  • My pet theory is that this mysterious Square game is some kind of iOS iteration of Crystal Chronicles. It all seems to fit to me, but I didn’t want to speculate too heavily in the news post.
  • I had sworn off the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer after I promoted my Engineer for the achievement. I didn’t have any useless gamer baubles to chase, so I figured I’d get through some other backlog games. But every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in.
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