Kid Icarus Uprising - 3DS Review

This review is two things. For one - I am trying something slightly different with it and secondly? This review is... way overdue. I picked up Kid Icarus Uprising as an Amazon pre-order, which came with the 3D classic Kid Icarus download code. The game also came in a larger box than most 3DS titles because it included a stand. Many times I pick up a game and just do not get around to playing it for a while - which can lead to reviews that come along much later in the process.

That is not the case here however. Kid Icarus Uprising got played that night by my son, and the next day by me. In truth, it was probably the most played 3DS game for both of us in 2012, which was why it was among my game of the year candidates.

Swords and bows make up only some of the weapons you will see in Kid Icarus Uprising
For starters, I think a lot of credit should be given to the developers of Kid Icarus Uprising for doing something very different than what people expected. Metroid: Other M attempted to do this, and while I thoroughly enjoyed that game, a lot of people did not and felt that it was a misstep for the franchise that tried too hard to 'do something different'.

Whereas the original Kid Icarus was a 2D platformer, Uprising is more of a shooter and action title. The game breaks up into two very distinctive modes of play. One is airborne combat where you have some movement on the screen, but are otherwise on rails to a particular destination as you battle waves of bad guys and have to navigate around unfriendly fire.

You then eventually find a place to land, and take your battle on foot. Here there are some simple maze-like elements and some pretty basic platforming challenges along the way that culminate in a boss battle. The basic gameplay is a lot of fun, even if the controls could have been better. This was one of those titles that really brought up the two control stick argument for 3DS owners.

However, even if you own the circle pad peripheral, it does not give you two-stick control - simple a left-handed option. What you do is hold the 3DS with one hand, using your thumb to control the circle pad, while using your stylus as your aiming device. I recall reading some articles early on that this control scheme led to sore wrists from players, and that is the reason they added the stand to their packaging.

Neither my son or I had any sore wrists or need of the stand, which really only gets used if he is watching Netflix on his 3DS. That being said? The control scheme would have been smoother with two circle pads and was probably not the best design choice that could have been used for this particular game.

The presentation itself is excellent on several fronts. The voice acting was a bit cheesy, and intentionally so, with more than a little silly dialog. It did not particularly bother me, but I generally prefer my games serious than not. Luckily the music was excellent in this game - probably one of my favorite soundtracks along with games like Mass Effect 3 and Double Dragon: Neon last year. On top of that, the graphics were among the best I have seen to date on the 3DS, making excellent use of the screen's sense of depth when the 3D effect is turned on.

The game itself can become a bit repetitive in terms of the levels themselves - there are a lot of them and they are designed well, but you basically do the same two things throughout the game: You fly through half a level, then you fight on foot for half a level and kill a boss. Nothing wrong with this, but the formula never really changes up.

Luckily there are a ton of extras in this game. There are achievements, weapon creation, difficulty that can be changed and an online competitive mode. The weapon creation screen offers an exciting way to upgrade your character, and you collect hearts as you play the game and kill enemies. You can replay a level as many times as you like, and you can 'wager' hearts to change the difficulty - making it easier or harder. Easier obviously means you can progress through the story with fewer failures, but harder gives you more opportunities for hearts and better gear.

Right around this time last year, I was celebrating my 3DS and talking about it and my handful of games. At that time, Mario Kart 7 was probably my favorite on the handheld console but now I think it is safe to say Kid Icarus Uprising took that top slot over for both my son and myself, making it a very easy game to recommend.

9 out of 10
(I should come up with some sort of clever graphic for this eventually)


So... I didn't do the breakdown with my usual four categories (graphics would have been a 9, music would have been a 9, gameplay would have been an 8 and intangibles would have been a 10). I have done some 'short' reviews that lacked these technical points, but had a final score. Do you as readers like the four category breakdown or prefer just the long written summary with a score at the end?  I am somewhat indifferent myself, but figured - it's a new year, maybe try something new when reviewing.


* Updated:

I have added a video below that shows the weapon fusion system for those who hadn't seen this before. It's a nice feature in my opinion - it's not terribly deep, but it does give you a chance to further improve your arsenal and experiment with different weapon types to see which suits you best (I liked the ranged stuff like bows and cannons myself).



  1. That Random Game Blogger14 January, 2013 13:42

    I think separating it into categories makes it easier to read, though I'd try to highlight the scores

  2. I've actually been wondering about this game for a while; from what I've heard, the control scheme/stand/sore wrists combo very nearly ruined (or did ruin) the entire experience for some players. It's nice to hear that it's not a game-breaker, but the controls are a strange decision all the same,

    Well, whatever. I don't mind serious games or silly games, but I've seen a glut of serious games (and poor ones, at that) for a while now, so I'm eager for a flip-flop. If this game offers more lighthearted fare, maybe I should give it a closer look.

    To YouTube!

  3. I picked this game up as a gift for myself in December. I've heard so many good things about it but the controls issues worry me a bit. I guess it says something if the game includes a 3DS stand. I probably won't be playing this one on the go, but I'm still really looking forward to playing it, nonetheless.

  4. I've been on the fence about this game since its control scheme was revealed. Sounds like you'd recommend it despite the wonkiness of that aspect of the game? If so, I may have to pick it up sometime this year, as I really like the looks and sounds of it.

  5. "it does not give you two-stick control - simply a left-handed option"

    I always thought that was very odd when I heard it. Like, they put in an "alternative" control method with a $20 accessory, just for left-handed players, instead of making it a completely alternative control option as well?! It just seems like if they were programming an optional control method, and adding the Circle Pad to it, they could figure out another optional control method for it as well....

    "There are achievements, weapon creation..."

    I didn't realize it had a weapon creation aspect, that's interesting. Is it simply upgrading, or is the mechanic somehow fleshed out with finding random parts around levels that can be mashed together for different weapons? (I don't think I realized it came with a stand either, that's interesting.)

    "I should come up with some sort of clever graphic for this eventually"

    I hate graphics! Not like, hating them when they're used, but HATING trying to come up with stuff and editing them. I work on simple images, way TOO long (probably has to do with OCD and ADHD, it's why I have trouble uploading simple screenshots and feel the need to "alter" them slightly...working on it, working on it!). You have any clue what you would like them to be? Favorite game/series related maybe? Coffee cups with coffee in them...full cups, or half cups. Coffee beans? Whole beans, or half beans?! We can take those even further, and make the cup of coffee be a "percentage". 9 would equal a cup filled up 90% of the way. 5 would equal 50%, so on, and so forth....

    As for breaking it down, it doesn't bother me either way. I know many people like a "structure" of some sort, but as long as you get out what you wanted to say, I don't necessarily think it has to be split up.

    So, I guess I'm like you on it, kind of indifferent really, but I see why some like it. I know sometimes when I write a wall-o-text, I'll try to BOLDEN a line or two in sections, that way they may stick out for the skimmers.

  6. Thanks for the feedback. I know I personally like the broken up scores a bit more myself, but I have seen a lot of articles and people over the last 6 months generally deriding score-based reviews, so I figured I'd try something different and see what the responses were like and go from there. Appreciate the input!

  7. Maybe my son and I just have overly developed wrists from playing tons of video games? LOL - I know a lot of people complained about the pain of playing it this way, but neither of us had any problem with it. Maybe we just picked more comfortable positions? I did use the stand for a bit, just to see if it made a difference, and it definitely took tension off of my wrist, but it had me sort of hunched over the DS a bit differently than when I was just on my sofa with it in my hand, so that was my preferred method of play.

    There's a lot of Youtube video out there on the cutscenes and dialog. It's silly, light-hearted stuff most of the time with a bit of cheese in there, but I enjoyed it while I know some people felt like it was hard to take the game serious on the whole because of it.

    Thanks for dropping by to comment!

  8. That stand does do the job of stabilizing the unit and taking the pressure off of your left wrist as you play. There was another DS game in the past that had a similar issue - I want to say it was a Metroid one - where it bothered some people but not others and it had a similar control scheme.

    Without a doubt, the controls are what I have heard the most complaint about with this title. My son and I both played it for some long stretches - 1hr+ at times, and it didn't bother either of us. Now, my son does play with the 3D off most of the time on his 3DS (which gives me a grin, I dunno why), and that gives him a bit of latitude in terms of the angles he can view his screen when he plays, so maybe he was able to get it at a more comfortable position than most when they keep the 3D effect on?

    Thanks for dropping by!

  9. I really do. Worst-case scenario, you don't like to hold the 3DS while playing and you can use the stand, which saves on your wrist. If you're like my son and you don't play with the 3D effect on most of the time (though it would be a shame with this game as the 3D visuals are really good), you can hold it a bit more comfortably as well.

    This was my favorite 3DS game last year, and my son said it was probably his as well, and we both played some long 1hr + sessions and neither of us had cramped wrists like others reported. The stand is a nice alternate option though - but neither of us made much use of it.

    Thanks for dropping by!

  10. Agreed - seems like they had a missed opportunity with the secondary circle pad. Of course it would have taken more time and effort to code that control scheme in, but I think it would have helped because I have read a lot of comments/reviews were people were turned off by the only option presented.

    So how the weapon system works is you can take different weapons and put them together to create new weapons as a result. It's not as robust as some games since you're only putting a couple of things together - but I added an IGN video that talks about weapon fusion to the review. There is a pretty good variety of weapon types that actually feel and work quite differently from one another (like bows vs claws)

    No idea on the graphic yet - probably depends on if I stick to this method or my usual one. I have a handful more reviews written up the 'old way' and may try one or two more this way and just see what people think. My personal preference is the broken up method, but I'm certainly open to other ideas as well. :)

    As always - thanks for dropping by to comment bud!

  11. Thanks, Chalgyr. Well, I've added it to my wish list. Not sure when I'll buy it, though--maybe I'll spot a sale sometime soon?

    I tend to avoid playing 3DS games with the 3D effect turned on, but I'll at least give it a try in this case.

  12. Out of curiosity, why do you tend to keep the 3D turned down? Just to help your angle of viewing to be wider, or does the effect bother you after a while? I'm just curious as my son and wife both get slight headaches if they view the effect too long, but I can view it for hours without any notable side affects.

  13. I get migraines, Chalgyr, and for some dumb reason looking at the 3D effect for too long tends to bring about the symptoms that suggest one is coming on, if that makes sense. So, I pretty much avoid it unless I absolutely have to use it.

  14. Makes perfect sense - sounds like what my wife goes through with it too. Something about the way it taxes her eyes I guess - and probably yours as well. I thankfully don't have that issue, but I feel for those of you who do. Thanks again for the comments - I always find it interesting to see how people are using their systems - especially one like the 3DS that has features and options that might not be used (for example I've use the AR functionality once - the day I got it and not since).

  15. Oh, yes, I've barely used the AR functionality, too. And I think I played the face game (can't remember the actual name of it) once -- and for about five seconds. I love most of the 3DS' other features, though, so it doesn't bother me at all. I do with Nintendo would implement Miiverse into the handheld, though. Really think it would make things even MORE interesting...


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