3DS
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Game Info:

Kid Icarus: Uprising
Developed By: Project Sora
Published By: Nintendo
Released: March 23, 2012
ESRB Rating: E10+
Available On: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Third-person shooter
Number of Players: Singleplayer; Up to 6 Multiplayer
Price: $39.99 

“Sorry to keep you waiting!” is the first phrase you hear when you begin your adventure as the angelic hero, Pit. With the goddess of light by your side, Palutena grants Pit the ability to fly through Angel Land in order to defeat the recently resurrected Medusa and her legion of the Underworld Army. From start to finish, Kid Icarus: Uprising promises to provide a nonstop thrill ride combined with lighthearted humor and likeable characters. After nineteen years of waiting, I'm happy to say that Kid Icarus has come back strong, and has exceeded my expectations.

When you begin playing the Story mode, you will have trouble putting the game down. With a lengthy story to become engrossed in and all-around fun gameplay, you are guaranteed to have a lot of enjoyment and excitement while fending off the enemies of the Underworld. The gameplay is a complete overhaul from the first two Kid Icarus games that came out on the NES and Game Boy, since it is now a Third-person shooter instead of a side-scrolling platformer. You have a life bar that depletes every time you get hurt and the only way to fill it back up is by finding various foods that are scattered around each chapter or by basking in a hot spring. There are two separate battle phases that you will experience in every chapter. The first is the Air Battle, which is similar to an on-rails shooter, where you will be flying through the sky, destroying evil creatures that decide to cross your path. You are guaranteed to go through this phase in five minutes or less, which is pointed out in a humorous way by Palutena and becomes a running gag throughout the rest of the game. The second is the Land Battle, which is very similar to a third-person shooter except you use the touch screen to take aim against your opponents. When you tap the analog stick, you will dodge or roll in that direction. When you're far away from the enemy, you will shoot projectiles. When you are near an enemy, you will automatically melee attack. At the end of every chapter, you will come face to face with an intimidating boss.

Unfortunately, the Land Battle phase can be somewhat frustrating due to the implementation of the control system. Occasionally, you may dive off a cliff or have trouble moving around the reticule when using the touch-screen. Don't get me wrong though, the controls are quite fitting for a game like this. The problem is that you will need to find a comfortable position in order to play the game without suffering from hand cramps. To combat this, every copy of Kid Icarus: Uprising comes with a stand (more on this later). Unfortunately, I didn't receive a stand because I obtained a rented copy, so I had to make-do with household items. The position that I found to be most comfortable was by putting the 3DS on top of a VHS tape, and having the left side of the console stick out a little so I could rest my hand on top of the table. If that doesn't work for you, you also have the ability of changing the controls in the options menu. The most popular substitute is by configuring the ABXY buttons to act like a second d-pad. I attempted to play the game with this control setting, but ended up disliking it even more than the original touchscreen controls. It's also unfortunate that you can't use the Circle Pad Pro as a second analog stick. Hopefully, with the recent update that was released on the 3DS that allows games to be patched, we will see a new update that will provide better support for the Circle Pad Pro; until then, you'll have to make-do with what you have. If you're left-handed, you're in luck because the Circle Pad Pro can be used for a left handed control setting!

Highlights:

Strong Points: Excellent music; Engrossing story; Beautiful soundtrack
Weak Points: Controls are uncomfortable; Voice work is a little awkward and drowns out the beautiful music
Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence; Supernatural themes; Immature humor; Fantasy-based gods; Revealing clothing; Some males are practically nude

Kid Icarus: Uprising surprised me greatly with the amount of content that is given. There are hundreds of different weapons that you may collect. You find most of these weapons while playing through the Story mode and at the end of every Online battle. You may convert useless weapons to hearts (in-game currency) and spend your hearts on different weapons in the Shop. There are several hidden chests in every chapter and on occasion, some enemies will drop weapons as well. Each weapon is randomized to have different stats and a value level. There is an option to fuse two weapons together to raise the value and to merge the stats together to form one weapon. You will find gear (power-ups) that can be combined together in any way you choose, to help give you a unique advantage. Every piece of gear is shaped differently and are placed on a 6x6 grid. Stronger power-ups are shaped to take up more space, where as weaker power-ups are smaller and take up very little space. The concept is quite similar to the sticker system in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. If you're a bit overwhelmed with all of these options, you may test out your weapons and builds in the Practice mode. With an enemy dummy sitting in the middle of a floating platform, you are able to calculate how much damage you can inflict on the dummy. There is a damage meter that displays the DPS (damage per second) and the total damage your helpless dummy has taken.

An interesting surprise for me was the inclusion of vehicles in Kid Icarus: Uprising. On your adventure you will find the Exo Tank, Cherubot and Aether Ring. The Exo tank is built on being more of a speedy vehicle and doesn't allow you to aim while driving it. For strong weaponry, the Cherubot is great for destroying every enemy that crosses your path, but it lacks mobility. When you want strong defense and satisfying damage output, the Aether Ring is perfect for delivering chaos to your enemies and for blocking incoming projectiles with a force-field ability. Also, without spoiling anything, I'd like to mention that there is a chapter dedicated to riding a Chariot, and it's fantastic. You can't use it outside of that chapter, however. Even though it is fun riding the vehicles, controlling the camera causes much frustration when using the touch-screen. Fortunately, the ABXY control setting is perfect for controlling the camera, and has helped me substantially when it came to rough areas.

Before you begin a chapter, you have the option of selecting the chapter's intensity (setting the difficulty). You can set this by feeding a cauldron with the hearts you have collected. With an intensity setting of 1-9, the more you feed the cauldron, the higher the intensity setting will be. The higher the intensity setting, the more hearts you will receive at the end of the chapter, and the value of the weapons that you find in chests will be higher. You can also earn hearts from every evil creature you destroy, from some treasure chests and even from playing multiplayer rounds (more on this later). Some chapters have doors that have a specific number on them. The only way to enter them is by having an equal or higher intensity level than the number shown. Usually these rooms provide you with a stronger weapon and a mini-boss to tackle down.

The soundtrack is excellent, which is expected from a Nintendo game. The flow of the music fits perfectly with the style of gameplay and brings life to the world. My expectations have been exceeded the moment I began playing the game. The sound effects are excellent as well, and feel like they fit properly with your surroundings and the weapons that are used. My only issue is with the voice acting. Although it's not horrid, it may be a little annoying and some may find it awkward. During gameplay, you will hear a conversation constantly, with images of the characters on the bottom screen acting along with their emotions. It's hard to enjoy the brilliant music when it's drowned out by dialogue. Even so, you can turn off the voices by going into the options menu, but you'll miss out on important dialogue.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 86%
Gameplay - 17/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls 3/5

Morality Score - 75%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 4.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 6/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 9/10

The visuals far surpass most of the games in the 3DS library. Although the textures are a bit blurry and Pit doesn't look his best, you will be stunned by the beauty of the world. Each place you visit has a specific style, which helps make the chapter unforgettable. The world is vast and beautiful, and I ended up stopping a few times just to check out the scenery. The 3D effects are splendid and don't cause me to feel any dizziness or headaches. However, due to the controls, I would turn the 3D off because I noticed that I move a lot during gameplay and it ruins the effect.

Aside from the single player campaign, there is a ton of content that will make you want to keep playing this game. There is Idol Toss, where you can toss some eggs to give you a random idol - eggs are given to you depending on the amount of enemies you have killed in a chapter. You can spend your Play Coins on an extra egg. The idols are only there to collect; they're very similar to the trophies that you can get in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. There is an online mode, called Together mode, where you can face friends or enemies. There are two different game modes for playing with people nearby or worldwide: Free-for-all, in traditional deathmatch format, and a new team mode, called Light vs Dark. Here, each team shares a single life bar that is depleted every time a team member is destroyed. And if a destroyed teammate was using a more powerful weapon, a greater amount of life is depleted. Once the life bar is gone, one teammate becomes an angel, either Pit or Dark Pit. The round is over when the team's angel is defeated. Your weapons and gear from the Story mode carry over to the online and you can receive weapons, gear and more hearts depending on how many players you've fragged. You will most likely spend a lot of time going back to the Solo mode to play through certain chapters in order to get stronger weapons. Every day, you will receive weapon gems through Spotpass. You will need to spend your hearts to unlock the weapon, however. Finally, there is an achievement system in place, called Treasure Hunts, where every time you complete an achievement, it will fill up a piece of a puzzle and you will usually receive gifts, such as idols (trophies), a level's soundtrack or weapons. There are numerous Treasure Hunts full of achievements that you can unlock by playing the game. 

The story can only be defined as semi-serious, since the developers decided to make the game more lighthearted and funny. You will constantly see the characters breaking the fourth wall by making remarks that this is just a video game. There are some references to other Nintendo games through mention and easter eggs. A lot of enemies look like the enemies you would see in other Nintendo games. Some may be turned off by this, but I personally enjoyed it. 

Although Kid Icarus is based on Greek mythology, the world itself is entirely new and is designed to be different. I, personally, feel uncomfortable playing a game that features several different gods and idols. If it were my choice, I'd avoid letting a child play this game until he understands that it's all fantasy. However, I'd understand if someone older would be interested. There is magic use in the game but I didn't notice any occult imagery. Although, it was questionable as to why you need to sacrifice hearts to Palutena in the options menu. I eventually learned that the sacrifice helps increase the value of weapons dropped in the Solo mode, but it does feel like it's a form of worship. I also feel the same with when it comes to sacrificing hearts to a cauldron, due to it looking like some sort of ritual. My suggestion is to keep an eye out and pray before playing a game like this. Some of the jokes that you will hear are very immature; for instance, one the goddesses says something along the lines of a hot spring being full of urine instead of water. Many of the females wear clothing that is tight and revealing, likewise with the males; except some of the men decide to be practically nude. This may be a slight spoiler, but as you progress through the game, you will unlock a slightly revealing image of Medusa that displays the underside of her breast.

I was unable to try the game's stand and use of AR Cards (due to this being a rental), so the following is from a review editor who was able to use them:

Kid Icarus's AR mode is a novel distraction, but, unfortunately, nothing more. Collecting the cards is entertaining (currently hard to find), but the experience is nowhere as entertaining as the 3DS AR Games software. The most exciting part is when two cards are placed towards each other and a short battle takes place. However, once the battle ends, that's it. You are given no incentive to do this again. The freely-included small foldable stand does make playing Kid Icarus a little easier by taking the weight of the handheld out of your hands. The stand is also handy for other 3DS apps like Netflix. It works with the 3DS Circle Pad Pro and has a space for the headphone jack. A nice addition, overall.

All in all, Kid Icarus: Uprising is exciting, beautiful and an overall fun game that deserves the Nintendo Seal of Approval. The adventure is full of unpredictability and non-stop action. There will be some major turn of events that might cause your jaw to drop. The truth is, the only thing that sets the game back are the controls. Also, I do feel uncomfortable playing a game with this setting and lore, so I probably won't be too eager to purchase this game in the future. I suggest avoiding this title if anything I have written about the game feels like it might be offensive to you. If not, Kid Icarus: Uprising is an excellent game that deserves to be part of your 3DS collection.

 
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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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