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Critical Reception: Nintendo's Kid Icarus: Uprising

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Nintendo's 3DS action title Kid Icarus: Uprising, described as a "pretty game turned into an essential one by way of its surrounding infrastructure."
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Nintendo's 3DS action title Kid Icarus: Uprising, which reviewers describe as "a strong, pretty game turned into an essential one by way of its surrounding infrastructure." Uprising currently earns a score of 84 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. Eurogamer's Simon Parkin scores Kid Icarus: Uprising at 9 out of 10. "Teasing a character out of 21 years of retirement offers a rare opportunity for the video game designer," he notes. "Masahiro Sakurai has been able to approach this, the third game in the Kid Icarus series, with none of the baggage of expectations that most of Nintendo's icons labour under." "With Kid Icarus: Uprising we see a designer straining to broaden the definition of a Nintendo game," Parkin continues. "This is a lithe, sharp, focused game that rewards skill, punishes stupidity and prizes high scores in a way that none of the publisher's output has dared to for the past five years. "Kid Icarus is a contender's game - and, just maybe, a sign that the publisher has flown a little too close to the mainstream sun in recent times, and is ready to tumble back into more complex waters." Parkin finds Uprising's control scheme to be demanding. "At its core Kid Icarus: Uprising is an on-rails shooter in the vein of Panzer Dragoon, Rez or Sin and Punishment," he explains. "Movement is handled with the analogue slider and aiming with the stylus on the touch-screen. You fire your equipped weapon with a squeeze of the L-bumper, making holding the 3DS somewhat awkward as you simultaneously grasp, balance and thumb-tweak with your left hand." "But Sakurai's brilliance has always been found in the systems that surround his core game mechanics - and it's here that Kid Icarus: Uprising turns from a good game into a great one," Parkin writes. "Certain levels contain Intensity Gates, locked doors that will only open if the difficulty is above a certain threshold. Behind these doors lurk powerful enemies and rare weapons. This network of systems heightens the replay value of the game to an unprecedented level." "Kid Icarus: Uprising is a strong, pretty game turned into an essential one by way of its surrounding infrastructure," Parkin praises. "Its weave of systems hauls you back in to replay stages time after time; the sense of progress and acquisition is a powerful, irresistible loop. Most significantly, it reveals a Nintendo we haven't seen for some time, eager to innovate in ways that will excite its hardcore fans, focusing on competition, struggle and mastery. Reaching for the sky." Ray Carsillo at EGM rates Uprising at 8.5 out of 10. "Many of us who grew up with the NES fell in love with the idea of a little angel who was trying to save the heavens from a nasty demon with snakes for hair," he begins. "But, although Eggplant Wizard may no longer be as infuriating as he once was (or his new cousin Tempura Wizard that can turn Pit into a shrimp), there is still some great difficulty to be had with the new Kid Icarus: Uprising." Carsillo finds that the game's difficulty structure is flexible. "If the normal experience should prove simple for some of you out there, you can make the game more difficult before hand by sacrificing found hearts to the 'Fiend's Cauldron' before each chapter and amp up the Intensity," he explains. "This can lead to finding bigger and better treasure in a level, but will also throw a lot more and stronger enemies at you and if you should die, you lose all the hearts you used to increase the difficulty in the first place." "Some of the game's inherent difficulty also stems from the unusual control scheme," he continues. "All of the action from the game stems from shooting with the L Button, moving with the circle pad, and using the stylus to aim and look. Each level is broken into two parts. The first is always an on-rails in the air style shooter where Palutena is guiding Pit's wings and all you have to do is shoot enemies as they come on screen. This works fine with the odd controls." However: "The problems always arose during the second part of each level when Pit was on the ground and the game became more of a traditional third-person shooter. It was difficult to target enemies, move the camera around with the stylus, and really just figure out where you were going at any time or where you should be looking. I would have killed for some sort of Z-Targeting system." "When all is said and done, although the controls may be frustrating at times and take some getting used to, this is a very solid game," Carsillo admits. "Great visuals, tremendous depth of game play modes, and a fully realized plot that is brilliantly executed on every level makes this probably a must have for every 3DS owner out there." Game Informer's Jeff Cork gives Kid Icarus: Uprising a score of 7 out of 10. "With Kid Icarus: Uprising, we finally get to see how [Pit] stacks up against contemporary offerings," he notes. "The result? Pit flaps his wings to stay aloft as best he can, but he's facing bigger issues than Medusa." "I almost begged off this review entirely at first, thanks to the physical discomfort the game's stylus-heavy control scheme provided," Cork recalls. "The act of pressing the bumper button repeatedly while darting through groups of enemies with the circle pad, and wielding the stylus to both target enemies and shift the camera is a painful exercise that skirts becoming an outright OSHA violation. Don't think that Uprising's Circle Pad Pro support will save the day, either – it only provides relief for lefties. Controls aside, the game itself is otherwise solid. "The horrible controls get in the way of what's actually a really good game," Cork assures. "I'm a collector at heart, and I got a kick out of merging the weapons. Pit also earns new abilities, such as minor health recharges and homing-shot improvements, which are arranged in a Tetris-like box, challenging players to think a bit as they maximize their loadouts." "Multiplayer supports up to six players, either locally or online in team-based or free-for-all matches," Cork adds. "You can enter matches with gear that you've acquired in the campaign, but don't assume that means you'll be unstoppable. The higher the value of your gear, the more points your opponents will earn for taking you out. Multiplayer is a fun way to get together with friends, but the emphasis on melee encounters (which require mashing the attack button) means you'll see a lot of wrist-rubbing between rounds." "Kid Icarus: Uprising is a series of good ideas that ultimately suffer from its poor controls," Cork concludes. "There's a lot to do in the game, and more importantly, I felt compelled to do all of it. As the credits rolled I looked back fondly at the experience, as my hand throbbed along with the music. I'm looking forward to doing more with Pit in the future, just not like this."

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