Kid Icarus: Uprising was among the most anticipated 3DS titles when the system launched last year. Despite the series' 21-year hiatus, fans were still keen to revisit the world of this ferociously difficult NES and Game Boy franchise.
In this altogether prettier and friendlier episode, cherubic hero Pit is summoned by the goddess Palutena to fight off waves of Underworld armies following the return of the serpent-haired Medusa.
This being Greek mythology, there are guest appearances from old foes, Greek gods, and evil doppelgangers. The banter between Uprising's cast provides an entertaining commentary filled with goofy in-jokes.
Chapters are 30-minute chunks of action split into two distinct parts. Each level opens with Pit leaping skyward to do battle with the underworld forces in rail shooter fashion before landing on solid ground five minutes later to proceed on foot.
The aerial sections offer some of the most impressive draw distances and 3D available on the 3DS's stereoscopic display, with glistening oceans, twinkling stars, and epic battlefields that stretch for miles the more you adjust the 3D slider upward.
The ground segments, meanwhile, are drawn-out hack-and-slash affairs, as you move through waves of underworld fodder toward the boss awaiting your arrival. It's here you'll get down to the nitty gritty of the combat system.The spice of life
Developer Project Sora, which is led by Super Smash Bros. veteran Masahiro Sakurai, has stuffed its debut title with options.
Kid Icarus: Uprising's combination of playing styles comes at the expense of its control interface. Whether you choose to aim with the touchscreen, slap on a Circle Pad Pro, or create your own bespoke setup, there's a learning curve to establishing and mastering the controls.
Finding the right fighting style entails experimenting with Pit's varied arsenal. From close-quarters favourites like blades, claws, and clubs to distance-favouring equipment like bows, palm magics, and orbitars, each weapon acts as a class with its own unique abilities to bring into Pit's story and to online challenges.
Weapons you gather on your travels (including StreetPass and SpotPass) can be sold or fused with your existing artillery to create new ones, and the number of abilities you arm Pit with is dependent on how skilled you are at stacking tetrominos.
It's easy to overlook the level of depth Kid Icarus: Uprising's combat has to offer, but examining your equipment becomes an essential practice if you're looking to take on the game’s steeper challenges.Another feather to my bow
The game's wealth of options is matched by the wealth of extras crammed into the cartridge.
Dip into the vault and you'll find hundreds of idols to collect, portraits to complete, a treasure chest charting your in-game achievements, and a music gallery to enjoy the game's soundtrack.
Topping off this hefty package is Light vs Dark, a frantic three-on-three battle arena with local and online opponents.
The aim is to work in a team to whittle down the opposing team's health bar whilst foraging for power-ups, protecting each other's angels, and seeking out the ultimate three-piece weapon.
It's no Smash Bros., but those looking to get involved should invest some time in the Free-For-All modes before tackling the team dynamic.Headfirst for Halos
Even after 21 years, some things never change. Pit still snacks on junk food, fears wizards who threaten to turn him into an eggplant, and bathes in steaming yellow hot springs in-between dishing out pain to the underworld’s colourful minions of questionable design.
Kid Icarus: Uprising doesn't dispense with the quirky charms of its past.
But the series surfaces from a lengthy slumber refreshed, invigorated, and as good as you fans could hope.