Kid Icarus: Uprising Review (3DS)

Kid Icarus: Uprising is here after a more than 20 year wait. Masahiro Sakurai, the brain behind Smash Bros., Kirby and The Adventures of Lolo is trying his hand at reviving the long dormant franchise. Since the announcement of the game more than two years ago fans have been wondering exactly how Pit would make his triumphant return. The game was announced early on as a launch title for the Nintendo 3DS, but delays pushed it back to the one year anniversary of the system’s launch. Time will tell if the wait was worth it, but regardless, Pit is sorry that he’s kept you waiting and it’s time to take the fight to Medusa and her minions.

What You Need To Know

Kid Icarus: Uprising is the first game in the franchise since the release of Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters for the Game Boy back in 1991. Medusa is back after more than 25 years of banishment and she’s not happy. Pit and Palutena (the Goddess of Light) must unite and stop her. You’ll guide Pit through 25 chapters of gameplay broken up between two sections; five minutes of flight that play similar to games like Sin & Punishment or Panzer Dragoon, and ground based battles which combine melee and ranged attacks. Once you’ve finished with the game’s eight to ten hour campaign you have the option of going online in fast paced multiplayer action.

Masterpiece Of Story Telling

Everything about this game is gorgeous to look at. The character models show off cloth and hair that flows in the wind, moves around in realistic ways and looks as if you could reach out and touch it. This is enhanced by the 3D visuals which really give everything a good sense of depth and weight. The character movements flow well, especially with the ominous motions of the enemies. Early in the game you’re flying through canyons filled with places that jut out and you get a great sense of exactly where they are so you can avoid them. As Pit is flying close to the ground, everything blurs to help create a sense of speed. Enemies off in the distance begin as small specks on the screen and slowly grow larger as you get close to them. Where Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D cut corners to display characters in the distance, Uprising shows that the system really is capable of rendering characters with a deep draw distance. There’s just so much going on it’s almost hard to take in everything you see.

This game, more than any other, shows how much Nintendo can pull of a wonderfully voiced game. The voice actors deliver dialogue with natural tones and believable reactions. The banter between Palutena and Pit is almost like a brother and sister. Magnus has a gruffness to his voice that makes it hard to decide if you like him or not while Medusa’s voice is sinfully seductive. Later in the game, Pit and Viridi (the Goddess of Nature) have this playfulness between them that borders on flirtiness. There is dialogue for nearly the entire ten hour campaign and it flows well between funny, cheesiness and seriousness. You’ll find plenty of great lines that will stick with you. If you were one of the people down on the voice acting of Metroid: Other M (which I was not) this will give you hope that Nintendo could successfully voice a game like Zelda.

The story will offer plenty of twists and turns. It’s a fun take on the Greek mythology of Icarus. You’ll get friendship, betrayal, enemies uniting against a common foe and plenty of fun. It never takes itself too seriously and oftentimes busts down the fourth wall with references to the other games in the series, boss fights, save points and more. While those moments are frequent, they never really take you out of the experience given how Nintendo has promoted the game and its tone.

Adjustable Difficulty

Nintendo has talked numerous times about the difficulty level in their games. They want to create games that are challenging for the core audience but also accessible by their expanded audience. Kid Icarus: Uprising introduces a new item called the Fiend’s Cauldron. Before each level you have the ability to wager in game hearts (your currency) in order to increase the difficulty level from the default 2.0 rating. The difficulty goes from 0.0, a virtual cakewalk, all the way up to 9.0 and can be adjusted in increments of a tenth of a point. By wagering more hearts and upping the difficulty level you earn more hearts in the game and get access to more powerful weapons. If you should die while playing through a level, you’ll automatically be lowered to a slightly lower rating, lose some of the hearts you wagered and lose access to those more powerful weapons. Given the wide difficulty range, all players should easily find a setting that works for them.


Uprising continues Nintendo’s foray into the world of online play with the two multiplayer modes; Free-for-all and Light Vs. Dark. Free-for-all is as expected; a battle royal against several players with different weapons and powers. However, the multiplayer really shines with Light vs. Dark; a three on three match which sets two teams against each other. Each have a shared life bar and when a player dies, part of the team bar is depleted. Once the team bar is exhausted, one player becomes the team’s angel (Pit or Dark Pit). The angel is far more powerful than the other team members but once the angel dies the match is lost. It’s a great combination between team deathmatch and a VIP mode where teams really need to cooperate. There’s also a bit of a risk/reward system in the multiplayer based on the weapons you choose. More powerful weapons will obviously give you an edge over the other players, but the more powerful your weapon the more of your team health is depleted when you die.

Control Mileage…

The in-air sections of the game are brilliant to control. The precision you get from the stylus means Pit is always aiming exactly where you want him to. I think having dual analog aiming would have actually hindered this section due to the speed and the amount of stuff happening on the screen. The ground controls are where people are going to have the most problem. In addition to aiming with the touch screen you also control the camera by swiping left or right and then tapping the screen to stop the camera’s momentum. Traditional shooter controls would have benefited players greatly in this area of the game. There is a little bit of an adjustment period to get used to the controls. It’s more of a problem early on in the game when you’re traveling down long, thin hallways, but once things open up into the bigger areas it becomes less of a problem. I will admit I did have some issues early on, but after the first couple of chapters I got used to the control scheme. Once I learned the limitations of the system, it became almost second nature and I was flicking the stylus to swing Pit around with ease.

…May Vary

In the default setting you use the Circle Pad to move, the L button to attack and the stylus to control your aiming reticule. This means you’re holding the system with one hand and after a while it can become uncomfortable. To alleviate some of the stress Nintendo has included a plastic stand to help you hold the system. Even still it’s going to take some experimenting to find the most comfortable way to play the game. There is the option to control aiming with the face buttons, but you lose some of the precision in doing so. Left handed players can attached the Circle Pad Pro for a mirrored setup. I found the most comfortable way to play the game for me was to set a pillow on my lap and place the system and stand on the pillow.

Vehicles Are Unwieldy

Every so often one of the gods aiding you will give you access to an assortment of vehicles. These vehicles come packed with plenty of firepower and give Pit some much needed armor capabilities. Sadly, I found those segments to be less enjoyable than they could have been. The vehicles are very unwieldy to control. Using the touch screen to move them proves to be very frustrating and you spend a lot of time turning too far and having to readjust. I found out I could control them directly with the Circle Pad but it didn’t help the overall lack of control. The weaponry they pack and the change in play style was welcomed, but because I couldn’t control them I ended up getting out of them as quickly as I could.


Kid Icarus: Uprising is a welcome return to a long dormant franchise. Sakurai and the team at Project Sora poured so much content into this game that it will take months to uncover it all. The weapon crafting system alone will take weeks to unlock all the weapons. The AR cards add a nice bonus feature you’ll look at a few times but not use much else. There are 360 achievements that unlock beautiful artwork and the multiplayer is fast paced and frantic, but tons of fun. This could prove to be one of Nintendo’s most popular online games and potential DLC could give players reasons to return. If you’re on the fence because of the controls you needn’t worry. There are plenty of options for customization. The story is funny and keeps pulling you along for the full eight to ten hours. This game came out almost a year later than originally planned, but the wait was well worth it. 3DS owners should not hesitate to buy this game and it might be the perfect reason to buy a system if you haven’t already.

Final Score: 

Review copy of the game purchased at GameStop.
Played through the entire single player campaign and dozens of online matches.
Total Play Time: 19 hours

3 replies »

  1. You (and a lot of people) have convinced me that I need to quit being a Grinch about Uprising and play it.

    I think the setting, the irreverent humor and gobs of reasons to replay it outweigh my contention with the control scheme. And I have a feeling that if Nintendo returns to the Kid Icarus well, a multitude of control options will be on the top of the list of fixes.

    The nice thought there isn’t about “fixing” anything, it’s that there will likely be a second one. 🙂

    • The best thing about this game is that its a wonderful reboot of a long dormant franchise. It really does a lot to bring Kid Icarus to a modern generation and makes it a game that people should actually enjoy playing. The first game, while good, was incredibly difficult to play. This game is just about as accessible as you can possibly get and you certainly cant complain about the difficulty level. [=^)

      I really do hope this ends up being a huge seller for Nintendo because it shows that this franchise can be done right. The story is really good. The voice acting is fantastic (there are some big name voice actors in the cast like Nika Futterman, Ali Hillis, Troy Baker). The low point would be the controls, but they certainly didnt hamper my enjoyment of the game. I got used to them very quickly and they were almost second nature by the end. One of the achievements that Ive uncovered, but havent unlocked is for playing the game for 50 hours and Ill easily get that before all is said and done.

      I really, really hope we dont have to wait 20 years for another sequel.

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