Game Review: 'Kid Icarus Uprising' From Nintendo

PHOTO: Scene from the new Nintendo 3DS game, Kid Icarus
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It's been 20 years since the last installment of Nintendo's "Kid Icarus," yet the neglected series has lived on in the hearts and minds of gamers. The original Kid Icarus games for NES and Game Boy pitted players as the angelic Pit, in a top-scrolling adventure that played like "Super Mario Brothers" with wings and a bow.

Today a new game comes at last -- "Kid Icarus Uprising" is being released for Nintendo's portable 3DS system. With so much having changed over two decades, what form of gameplay will Kid Icarus take?

"Uprising" is no platformer, that much is sure. But while it doesn't take its gameplay from Mario, it does borrow heavily from other tried-and-true series, creating its own mashed-up blend of Nintendo goodness. You'll like the new Kid Icarus if you like these games:

'Star Fox'

Take the best of "Star Fox 64's" fast-paced on-rails shooting and you get "Uprising's" most fun levels. Pit takes to the skies with rapid-fire weapons, then takes to space to try his laser guided projectiles on more "alien" enemies.

Why does a game that's rooted in Greek mythology send its hero to battle in distant galaxies? I'm not sure but I'm not complaining, anytime I can get fresh Star-Fox-style dogfights from Nintendo, I'll take it.

The similarities go on. Characters banter on your lower screen as you detonate bombs and dodge obstacles, all signature elements of Star Fox gameplay. The shoot-em-up levels are long, plentiful and replayable, but they only account for about a third of the game.

'The Legend of Zelda'

The original "Kid Icarus" had "Zelda" elements like dungeons and hot springs, and these return in "Uprising," very much looking as they do in "Ocarina of Time." Bulbous-headed enemies will remind players of Zelda foes, but the range of bad guy shapes and sizes are vast in design, quite often original to Kid Icarus.

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Exploring castles and dungeons in "Uprising" are a very "Zelda" affair. Levels offer treasure chests and keys as you blast your way through enemies and puzzles.

The big difference here is speed. "Kid Icarus" will literally let you sprint through each dungeon using an array of vehicles, grind rails and good old fashioned running. Navigating quickly using the 3DS stylus can be a bit annoying, there are some camera issues when battling baddies from all angles, but the action never slows down and the fast pace is appreciated once you get used to the game's non-stop flying shooter levels.

Players will notice other thematic similarities; there's no jump button for "Kid Icarus'" Pit, as is usually the same for "Zelda's" Link, while the weapon modifications of Uprising are similar to the ship part combinations of "Phantom Hourglass."

'God of War'

With its loose Greek themes, "Kid Icarus" plays like "Kid of War" as you burn through a pantheon of gods and goddesses. Yet even though there are a lot slayings, Nintendo still somehow managed to keep the story light and fun. Commendable.


Not the game as much as the cartoon television show. As you square off against powerful bad guys, they'll boast and taunt you with witty dialogue and lightning quick retorts. The characters are cocky, ruthless and weird, a very hyperactive blend of kid-friendly anime style, the type you'd see in any episode of Pokémon.

'Super Smash Bros.'

The touch of Masahiro Sakurai, the designer behind "Super Smash Bros.," is seen everywhere in "Uprising." Backgrounds and platforms constantly shift as they do in "Smash Bros." stages, with beautiful ever-changing uses of light and color. Sakurai brings multiplayer battles to the fray as well, offering frantic online battles with scoring systems reminiscent of the Smash Bros. series.

'Kid Icarus'

Of course, the game is not entirely a sum of other game's parts. "Kid Icarus Uprising" borrows deeply from itself, sticking to its lore and treating the 8-bit events of the '80s as canon. The sound effects, enemies and characters are all there, the only thing I missed was exploring dungeons with the power of flight.

"Kid Icarus Uprising" feels every bit as if it belongs with Nintendo's best franchises, even if it feels like an amalgamation of some of those best series.