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Kid Icarus: Uprising Review

Kid Icarus: Uprising (3DS)

As the premiere title for the 3DS in 2012, Kid Icarus: Uprising has some big shoes to fill. Coming off of the release of two astonishing Mario titles, Kid Icarus is a fantastic return to the franchise, taking a whole new direction that pays off in the end.

Kid Icarus: Uprising is the brainchild of mastermind Masahiro Sakurai, head of Project Sora, who created Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Instead of returning to Pit’s platforming roots back in his NES days, Sakurai takes the franchise in a new way. The game is split into two formats, so you’re basically doing two different sections in each level: a flying portion and a ground portion. Each chapter starts with a brief flying section, and these play out like Sin and Punishment. You can’t control Pit directly, but you can control where he aims and his shooting. These are the more superior sections; albeit short, they’re full of fast-paced shooting and fun dialogue. When Pit’s power of flight runs out, however, Palutena drops him to the ground to embark on a land mission. These play out like a third-person action game. Pit is able to run anywhere and fire at will as he makes his way towards the boss of the chapter. These sections are much longer than the flying ones, and they aren’t as fun thanks to some clunky controls. Before each level you have the option to select your difficult, betting hearts (the game’s currency), for higher difficulties. Subsequent difficulties unlock hidden areas in each level, allowing you to get better weapons but at the cost of tougher enemies.

Pit's got a wide variety of weapons to utilize

Pit’s got a wide variety of weapons to utilize

The controls in Kid Icarus: Uprising are an odd choice. You hold the 3DS in one hand, use the L-button to shoot, move Pit with the Circle Pad, and aim using your stylus on the touch screen. Obviously, you’re doing too much at once, and it can become overwhelming. The real problem is the camera in the ground portions. A flick of the stylus rotates the camera around Pit, and flick it too hard and it’ll freak out. The camera’s not awful if you strafe the whole time, but if an enemy’s behind you, you’ll get hit a number of times before you’re able to orient yourself properly. For lefties, the Circle Pad Pro is an option, and the additional Circle Pad allows you to hold your 3DS and control Pit with ease. The game comes with a stand, which looks as equally as awkward as it sounds. You place the 3DS on the stand, and it eases the burden on your hand. It’s weird, and obviously not optimized for mobile gamers, but it’s not a big deal.

In addition to playing the fun chapters in Solo Mode, you’ve got a bunch of collectibles to collect. The gear in Kid Icarus: Uprising is handled phenomenally. You acquire items throughout Solo Mode and can use them in Solo or Together Mode (more on that in a moment). Each weapon is different, so you’ve got your bows, your clubs, everything’s here. What’s cool is that every weapon has different stats than the last one, so maybe one weapon petrifies an opponent, while an other gives Pit a speed boost. This adds a layer of replay value as you try to scout out the best weapon combination, and it’s a lot of fun. Also, you can fuse two weapons together to make even stronger ones, so making choices in what weapons to keep is all on you. Pit’s powers are handled in a Tetris-like array, and you can place as many powers in your arsenal as you can fit. Menus even look like those found in the Smash Bros. series, so it’s easy to see the similarities.

I’ve mentioned all this without even talking about how stunning the game looks in motion. While flying, the 3D effect is put to full use here, and enemies and lasers are almost too good to be true. The ground segments aren’t as visibly striking, but they’re still better than the majority of third-party efforts on 3DS. The soundtrack is brilliant, as well, and the Menu tune will be stuck in your heads I guarantee it. The voice acting is purposefully cheesy, with Pit and Palutena delivering banter like a comedy duo in the sky. Their talk is hilarious, and sometimes it even breaks the 4th wall.

Multiplayer mode pits light vs dark in a battle arena mode.

Multiplayer mode pits light vs dark in a battle arena mode.

After you’ve finished the Solo Campaign, you can head on over to Together Mode, using the newly named Nintendo Network. You and friends can battle it out together or using download play if they don’t have the game. Or you can go online and put your skills to the test here. There are two modes available online: Free for All and Light vs. Dark. Free for All is exactly like it sounds, it’s you against five other angels. The more interesting is Light vs. Dark where you are split into two teams and you battle it out, depleting the other team’s overall life bar. Once the bar is empty, the last person to die is resurrected as Light or Dark Pit, and it turns into a game of protecting your team’s angel while trying to defeat the other team’s. It’s a lot of fun, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a multiplayer mode like this ever before. What’s cool about online mode is that all the weapons you get in Solo Mode are usable, and vice-versa. StreetPass is also utilized in the form of gems. You can make a weapon set into a gem, and when you pass another player with the game, your weapon goes to their game, adding a collectible aspect.

Kid Icarus: Uprising is another fantastic entry in the 3DS’s library. A fantastic solo mode and multiplayer mode make up for the sometimes shoddy controls. The system’s got steam now, and it’d be stupid to wait any longer to purchase it.

Pros:

  • Excellent Mix of Flying and Ground Action
  • Weapons and Collectibles
  • Great Graphics and Music
  • Fun Online Mode

Cons:

  • Weak Controls

Overall: 8.5/10.0

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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Game Reviews

 

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Mario Kart 7 Review

Mario Karts have always been a staple on every new Nintendo platform. Way back in the SNES days, Super Mario Kart revolutionized the kart racing genre, and each installment to date has added something new to the series. The gimmick this time: gliders and propellers, allowing you to fly in the air or swim in the sea. But do these additions bring enough to the formula?

Since it’s a racing game, there’s no evident plot. You simply race through the Grand Prix, unlocking new characters as you make your way through each engine class. You race as the recognized residents of the Mushroom Kingdom, so you’ve got Mario, Peach, Yoshi, the gang’s all here. Some characters were cut from Mario Kart Wii, like Waluigi and Dry Bones, and the character roster has dropped significantly in number. I liked this because MKWii had an insane number of Baby characters, none of which are present here. There’s less choices, but more recognized faces. Some odd additions made it in like Honey Queen and Wiggler, but I doubt they’ll stick around for successive installments. One thing that let me down with the characters was that there aren’t any weight classes anymore, so no “light, medium, or heavy”, which kind of downgrades the strategy in character selection. The tracks this time around are excellent, some of the best of the series. Like past games, there are 16 new courses, and 16 old ones which have been edited to feature the new additions. These courses, new and old, are stellar, with plenty of shortcuts and opportunities to shave off time, greatly extending the replay value.

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You can now take to the air, with gliders that deploy upon hitting ramps.

Everyone knows the Mario Kart formula, and it hasn’t changed here. There have been many new additions to the series, like I said above. Karts are now customizable (to an extent), allowing you to choose the kart’s chassis, wheels, and its glider for air segments. You unlock new parts by collecting coins along each track, something we haven’t seen since the SNES title. These unlockables change the stats of your kart. For example, putting monster truck tires on your kart makes your kart handle better off-road, so there’s a new layer of strategy as you prepare your kart prior to each race. I wish the customization was taken further, however, allowing you to change the color, or even design your own new karts, akin to ModNation Racers. The air and water segments are the best parts of the game. When your kart goes over blue boost pads, a glider automatically deploys, and you can control your kart in the air. There’s a lot of strategy here, in adjusting pitch and yaw, also in skipping parts of the course through flight. Whereas past games focused a lot on luck, MK7 is focused more towards skill, even if blue shells still hit you seconds before the finish line. The underwater portions, though not as plentiful, are still fun, but they don’t change the game too much other than provide cool new visual cues. There are new power-ups as well, and these are among the best. The Fire Flower allows you to barrage your enemies with unlimited fireballs until it runs out, while the Tanooki Tail can be used to swat at other racers or deflect incoming shells. Lucky 7 is a brand new idea, giving you 7 items at your disposal, turning you into a tool of destruction.

Other than racing in Grand Prix or VS, Time Trials also return, and these are still a blast, made even better by the kart customization. You can save best records as ghosts and send them to other racers, and you can even race 7 other ghost records at a time. Balloon Battles and Coin Runners are back, in full form, as well. Multiplayer can be found in the form of local, where you and 7 friends can team up locally and race or battle, and online, where you can hop onto the Nintendo Network and race against friends or strangers. Online is easily the best, and is probably the best online play I’ve ever seen in a Nintendo game. You can race against 7 other players in worldwide racers, but the real fun comes with Communities.

Mario Kart 7 lets you join online racing communities, allowing you further customization in how you race.

Mario Kart 7 lets you join online racing communities, allowing you further customization in how you race.

Communities allow you to create groups that have special rules. For example, you can have a race with only shells, or only bananas, allowing you to customize what items appear in each race or battle. These are very fun, but I wish that, instead of turning some items on, you could turn specific items off (cough cough BLUE SHELL), but this is a small complaint for what is the best online mode since Mario Kart Wii.

Mario Kart 7 is the best installment of the series since Mario Kart: Double Dash. It adds plenty of new ideas to the series, without sacrificing old favorites. It’s the best reason to own a 3DS, and I’ll be playing this one for years to come.

Overall: 9.5/10

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2012 in Game Reviews

 

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