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Kid Icarus: Uprising (Nintendo 3DS) Review

Review for Kid Icarus: Uprising on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Pit has been absent for far too long, appearing in a now ancient NES and Game Boy duo of adventures, before making a guest appearance in Smash Bros. Nintendo and Masahiro Sakurai's team at Sora have now resurrected the character, so fondly remembered for his role in Captain N: The Game Master, on Nintendo 3DS in Kid Icarus: Uprising.

Nintendo has been gradually building up the hype for Kid Icarus: Uprising since the 3DS was first unveiled, but development issues led to it being pushed back again and again. After Cubed3’s numerous early hands-on previews it was regularly noted that only half of the game was in full working order. Thankfully, though, all the extra development time appears to have righted the majority, if not all, of the highlighted flaws.

Pit has been enlisted by the Goddess Palutena to help the people of the land be rid of the scourge that is Medusa and her band of nefarious villains. To aid Pit in this endeavour, Palutena bestows upon him various gifts, including the ability to fly. However, as this is only permitted for a five minute spell, it means that the action in Uprising is split between air-based shooting action and on-foot sections that employ the same basic core gameplay, except in a slightly modified format. It is this latter element that was severely lacking in preview editions, even feeling 'broken' at times. Now all is right with the world...well, 'almost.'

First things first, however, and the culmination of styles together make for a thrilling experience on the whole, and anyone that has played and loved both Treasure's fast and frenetic Sin and Punishment 2: Successor of the Skies (Star Successor in the US) will instantly feel at home. The on-rails sky action bears more than a passing resemblance to the Wii shmup that Cubed3 adoringly gave full marks to, with its intense pace and smooth reticule movement for targeting the constant bombardment of enemies and ensuing projectiles aimed directly at Pit, albeit with the stylus replacing the Wii Remote's IR pointing this time round.

Screenshot for Kid Icarus: Uprising on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

As for the ground based combat, it takes on a more free-roaming approach to allow for exploration of the areas visited, but it feels remarkably similar to Akaoni Studios' WiiWare smash, Zombie Panic in Wonderland, or even EnjoyUp's Little Red Riding Hood's Zombie BBQ on DS and DSiWare thanks to its preference for close quarters combat, mixed with a dash of long distance shooting and a whole host of destruction as wave after wave of monsters flood the screen.

High praise, no doubt you will agree, and it is clear how much care and attention has been imbued upon Kid Icarus: Uprising thanks to Sakurai-san taking onboard feedback received from a variety of sources during the development process. What helps to make Uprising even more of a joy to play is its brilliant humour, with the interplay between Goddess and willing assistant being of particular note. The actress playing Palutena, who some may recognise from her role as Lightning in Final Fantasy XIII, does a fantastic job of portraying the teasing, often sarcastic, Goddess, often winding Pit up just to invoke a humorous reaction. The general banter that plays out whilst gamers are busily blasting away in the hope of staying alive long enough to reach the end of stage boss encounter is absolutely hilarious at times, to the point where it may even prove distracting…but listening carefully is definitely worth a level retry at certain points as the rapport the characters have is superb. The script writing overall has a certain glow about it, and the comedic feel continues in the various comments made by main bosses (the three-headed Hewdraw is a particular stand out example in the early stages). It really does make Kid Icarus: Uprising a pleasure to play through, helping to smooth over the ground combat control flaws.

Screenshot for Kid Icarus: Uprising on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Whilst the air-bound sequences are near enough flawless, with the default setup of the Circle Pad for controlling Pit’s general movement as he flies along the on-rails flight path, with the on-screen reticule deftly swished around using the stylus and the left shoulder button attributed to shooting, working a treat, as soon as the hero lands, things take a turn for the worse. However, after plenty of time tweaking the design from the initial build Cubed3 tried what seems like eons ago, everything works well enough to help get through the main game without too much hassle. The main flight controls still apply for the main part, but there is a greater need for double-shunting the Circle Pad left or right to dodge incoming fire, as well as swiftly swiping the touch-screen to spin the camera around, which in the heat of battle is certainly no substitute for a dual analogue system. Adding the Circle Pad Pro into the mix does not actually change this either, as some may have hoped, with it merely being added as an option for left-handed players to be able to better get to grips with the standard control settings.

Although holding Kid Icarus: Uprising back from achieving the sheer perfection levels that Treasure’s Sin and Punishment sequel on Wii attained, players will find that they adapt to the moderately irksome setup sufficiently to prevent the entire adventure being completely marred. It also helps that the rest of the game is so packed with sheer sublime goodness that any qualms melt away immediately.

Screenshot for Kid Icarus: Uprising on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

From the fact that each chapter can be replayed on different difficulty levels to open up new secrets, to the wealth of achievements to unlock throughout the adventure, and the whole host of weapon customisation, Kid Icarus: Uprising tries to offer players the most value for their money, and succeeds in every respect. Working through a level normally involves making the best use of whatever weapon is currently at your disposal -- with some able to fire continuously from afar or others being better in the melee field and requiring a special charge to unleash projectiles -- to plough down a torrent of weird and wonderful enemies thrown into your path. Palutena ensures that Pit takes the right route during flying sections, but on the ground players are given free rein to seek out hidden rooms, new paths, and track down all manner of extra items to help the cause (new weapons, special shields, powerful accessories, and so on). This open adventuring styles works really well once the controls have been adapted to, and the various situations faced are once again accompanied by some amazing voice work keeping gamers absorbed in the experience to the highest degree.

Outside of the main adventure, which in itself is meaty thanks to the range of difficulty levels available, all with incentives to actually try them out, there is the delightful multiplayer battle mode, which can be played either online or via a local wireless connection with Friend Code folk or complete strangers in a random match-up selection. Mayhem ensues unless the right weaponry has been chosen pre-battle, and flying into a group fight without prior experience with the controls can prove to be highly daunting, and normally short-lived, but once brushed up enough, launching attacks across the various arenas, either alone or in teams, can be great fun for those enamoured by Sakurai-san’s Smash Bros. games. Kid Icarus: Uprising is not the same game as its NES and Game Boy predecessors, but the end result proves that the changes made are definitely for the better, pressing enough retro buttons to appeal to old school fans, whilst showing how the extras are a result of a true labour of love by a developer with real passion for videogame making.

Screenshot for Kid Icarus: Uprising on Nintendo 3DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


Kid Icarus: Uprising excels in so many areas, from the amusing way the storyline is portrayed, to the non-stop, high octane battle action, with some amazing boss encounters along the way. Unfortunately, the ground based aspects still suffer slightly from an awkward control system that needs to be tweaked to get the most out of it. Whilst not a game breaker by any means, having to grow accustomed to a cumbersome set of controls is not ideal. Thankfully the rest of the game makes up for this issue.


Fast-paced, highly colourful, wonderfully detailed and brimming with character and variety throughout, Kid Icarus: Uprising is a technical beast that truly shows off the power of the 3DS hardware.


Bright and breezy music that lifts the spirits during the adventure, whilst being perfectly complemented by a thoroughly special set of sound effects, including some retro treats, as well as a brilliant set of voice acting that is wonderfully laced with humour that benefit from a great sound system.


With a difficulty level that gradually increases after each chapter, the challenge never becomes overbearing, yet there is the option to either tone things down or bump them up to suit the need of the player, with extra rewards thrown in as an incentive to try harder levels. Add in stacks of weapon customisation, achievements to unlock and great multiplayer battle modes and this is bursting with content.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

Kid Icarus: Uprising was always going to be a risky move from Nintendo, pegging it as one of the key Nintendo 3DS titles right from launch, but thankfully it was delayed long enough for Masahiro Sakurai and his team at Sora Ltd to spend sufficient time ironing out as many of the issues raised in early preview builds as possible. The end result is a thoroughly entertaining mix of air- and ground-based shooting that never slows down, throwing all manner of new challenges at the player, incentivising the whole process to ensure replay levels are as high as possible. The intense multiplayer options are merely the icing on an already very delicious cake.

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C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (13 Votes)

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Staff Member

Adam Riley said:
As for those asking about why the CPP wasn't used for an alternate control set-up, it was simply down to timescales. Sora Ltd only found out about the CPP very late in the day and wasn't able to re-jig things for dual-analogue control. Sad, but true.
I'm using the CPP to control Pit and touchscreen aiming. It's honestly good enough. Now that I'm getting used to the camera controls for Land Battles, I'm REALLY enjoying the game. Smilie

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I'm sticking to aiming with the stylus for now. Just had to play around with the sensitivity of the stylus aiming, to make it a bit less sluggish, and now I'm happy with how it controls. The battles on land are the only thing I'm still struggling a little bit with at the moment, but otherwise I'm breezing through it with difficulty set on 5 (which I found was the right balance for me).

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
Staff Member

So I'm finally owner of a copy of this game as well and it's simply amazing. I only had time to play the first 3 chapters today (freaking school...) but I can already safely say that this is my favourite 3DS game so far and will most likely stay my personal 3DS GOTY 2012.

The game is quite literally a blast to play. I actually like the land sections a lot and while I'm still getting used to the controls, I'm having no trouble with them at all. Dash attacking helps A LOT when on the ground, since you are just jumping all over the place which makes it very hard for enemies to sneak up on you from behind and they'll eventually appear in your line of sight if you keep performing them. Doing that takes away a lot of otherwise needed camera 'flicking' and just like Smash Attacks, they're really satisfying to perform as well, so it's basically a win-win for me.

The Fiend's Cauldron is another stroke of genius. It follows the simple, yet rarely used principle of "The greater the challenge, the greater the reward." and you're in direct control of it. I absolutely loved a similar system used in The World Ends With You, where you are able to purposely lower your own level in order to gain multipliers for the drop rate of items in addition to 4 difficulty settings with different item drop tables. It was the only game I've played that had such a brilliant system, up until now. It's not just the rewards either, the added intensity really does make the gameplay a lot more intense and turns it into quite an exhilarating experience. Definitely one of my favourite aspects of the whole game.

I'm playing the game with my new 2.1 sound system plugged into my 3DS and it sounds amazing. Voice acting and especially the dialogue are brilliant. It's been quite a while since I've genuinely laughed from some lines and jokes in a game. Absolutely love it. More games need to start taking themselves less seriously nowadays.

The amount of content is downright ridiculous and just what you'd expect from Sakurai and his team. There's just so much to do and the weapon system is really fun and addictive. This game is definitely going to last me a long, long time.

So yeah, after so much praise it's probably apparent that I really like this game..a lot. Smilie However, that just even makes me sadder to know that I won't have much time to dive into it until the end of the week. Smilie

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Really pleased to hear you're enjoying it! I had it hooked up to a Cabasse system, with two satellite speakers and a mighty sub woofer - sounded AMAZING Smilie (Now I've got the gorgeous Mitsuda-san soundtrack from Inazuma Eleven 2 pounding through it! Smilie )

Do you have any questions for Sakurai-san and the team? I'm putting together a list to send over in the next day or so...please let me know by the end of the day on Friday if you have any Qs. Same goes for all readers Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I don't expect to get an answer, but I'll throw the question out anyway:

"Would you consider bringing a HD version to the Wii U, perhaps via it's eShop?"

I want a comfy controller and there's rumours that Okamiden is coming to the Wii U eShop in HD. Plus news hit this morning that Kid Icarus originally started as a PC and Wii game, which is pretty interesting.

( Edited 30.03.2012 09:24 by Marzy )

Willy Wonka (guest) 30.03.2012 19:20#31

Willy Wonka (guest) said:
Sadly, I'm not interested in this.

The controls look and sound awkward, from what I've gathered.

Actually, scrap that. I tried it myself yesterday and it's not bad! It does take some getting used to, but I'm reconsidering buying this now.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Actually, scrap that. I tried it myself yesterday and it's not bad! It does take some getting used to, but I'm reconsidering buying this now.

That's really good to hear! Do you mean just the Land Battle sections, or both air and land?

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Since we're still Friday, then yes I might have a question for them, still:

"After working on the Kid Icarus franchise, do you have plans to include more playable Kid Icarus characters in the next Smash Bros?"

"Can we expect the Kid Icarus franchise to see new releases more frequently from now on, now that it's been resurrected in a proper fashion?"

"Is there any other old Nintendo franchise from those days which hasn't had any releases since then, that you would be interested in reviving?"

Hope it's not too late to submit those Smilie.

( Edited 30.03.2012 23:06 by RudyC3 )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Marzy said:
I don't expect to get an answer, but I'll throw the question out anyway:

"Would you consider bringing a HD version to the Wii U, perhaps via it's eShop?"

I want a comfy controller and there's rumours that Okamiden is coming to the Wii U eShop in HD. Plus news hit this morning that Kid Icarus originally started as a PC and Wii game, which is pretty interesting.

How could it be a PC game?

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

The team didn't have 3DS development kits at the time, so started creating it using PCs and Wiis.

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
Follow me on: Twitter | YouTube | Backloggery
The Real Willy Wonka (guest) 31.03.2012 14:05#36

Adam Riley said:
Actually, scrap that. I tried it myself yesterday and it's not bad! It does take some getting used to, but I'm reconsidering buying this now.

That's really good to hear! Do you mean just the Land Battle sections, or both air and land?

What the... I didn't post that! Smilie
Seems like someone is also posting comments under my name.

Jman (guest) 03.04.2012 14:47#37

Personally I think dual analog simply wouldn't work so well with this game. It'd be akin to playing a fast paced lightgun game with a dual analog controller, which, if anyone has every tried, knows how much it sucks.

I think the controls are fine and the game is excellent. between this and RE Revelations (picked it up a few days before KI), I'm extremely impressed with the 3DS hardware, and didn't realize how powerful it really is.
The flying portions alone have me scratching my head as to why Starfox 64 3D wasn't given a little more visual flair, because it's clear the system can handle it.
Best of all, in this day and age of shoddy value and dlc, the game is packed with content.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

All I think of, in terms of Star Fox, is that it was finished really early on in the 3DS life cycle, but was delayed to spread out initial releases and keep the catalogue filled in slow months.

I'd love to see Treasure do Sin and Punishment 3 on 3DS after seeing what Sakurai and his team achieved...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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