Sunday, October 19, 2014

Game Review: Kid Icarus Uprising

3rd Person shooter/On rails shooter; 3DS; Nintendo/Sora; 2012
You know, I really need to plan my weekends better. A third of it is spent sleeping, a further third is spent playing video games, and the last third is spent wishing I had a longer weekend. Anyway, here is a game I had hoped to beat before Smash Bros came out, but just turned out to be much longer than I anticipated. Anyway, here is my review of Kid Icarus Uprising.

That's a big lady.
25 years after Pit defeated the goddess of darkness Medusa, Medusa suddenly returns, and she brought her entire army to invade the human and sky realms. The Goddess of Light, Palutena sends her Captain out to face Medusa's uprising and save both humanity and the gods once again. But why is Medusa back from the dead? What is her goal? And why did it take 25 years before Pit can have another game!? Find out in Kid Icarus Uprising!

Much like many of Nintendo's franchises, the story is just fluff for the action to take place, and Kid Icarus follows suit, EXCEPT there is quite a large plot involving multiple armies, several new characters, and shifting allegiances, all told during the action with dialogue between each of the characters (mostly Pit and Palutena). What's different about Kid Icarus is that everything is taken with so much humor and self awareness that eventually there is no fourth wall left for them to break. Every enemy returning from the old game is introduced with a shot of their original NES sprite, characters talk about their "Brain Ages," the strange conventions of video game logic, or how Komaytos look an awful lot like some parasitic lifeform from the planet SR388. While the game hardly takes itself seriously, everything is done with such great humor and charm that it is impossible not to love the banter between Pit, Palutena, and even the game's villains. As I said, like most Nintendo franchises the story is almost irrelevant, but it is the most engaging irrelevant story they have ever made.

Because every game needs grinding.
The original Kid Icarus was an experiment in combining various different gameplay styles into one, namely side scrolling (and vertical scrolling) stages with dungeon exploration. Uprising continues this trend by splitting each stage into two segments, dubbed Air Battles and Land Battles. In Air Battles Pit flies on a rail guided by Palutena (because despite being an Angel, Pit can't fly on his own) where you shoot enemies that fly in front of you. It may sound a lot like Star Fox, but it is actually far more similar to Sin & Punishment as your move and aim are independent of one another and you have a melee attack if the enemy is close enough. Under the default controls you move around with the Circle pad and aim your target reticule with the touch screen, and when you are ready to fire you use the L button. It is a simple control scheme, but one that cramps your hands very quickly. In land battles the controls are similar, but aiming and camera control are BOTH handled by the touch screen, and with the circle pad you have a normal walk if you gently push in that direction, and you have a dash if you quickly push the circle pad (think the Smash input in Smash Bros.). L is still to shoot, but now you have different types of attacks depending on whether your standing still, dashing, or have a charge shot (You charge by not shooting for a period of time). Between the games many MANY stages, you can spend Hearts (which is once again a currency) to buy weapons or you can take two weapons and fuse them together for an even more powerful weapon, and there are a LOT of weapons, and each one can have different stats and effects based on random luck when you get it, or careful fusion planning. You can also reassign powers on a Tetris like grid so that you can use them during land battles. There is actually quite a LOT you can do in this game including collect Idols (think Trophies from Smash Bros.) clear challenges (also Smash Bros.) or fight with others online. Uprising is also the first game to use the intensity gauge, where you wager hearts to increase or decrease the difficulty of each stage (starting at 2.0 as "Normal" going down to 1.0 for "Easy" and all the way up to 9.0 for "You are insane!"). The higher the intensity, the harder add more numerous the enemies but also the greater the loot and more areas you have access to.

To the Left, NO TO THE LEFT!
Unfortunately, this game is not flawless, in fact it has one MAJOR flaw that is so fundamental to the game that it's hard to ignore or even suggest a better alternative: The control scheme, namely the aiming with the touch screen. Now in air battles the scheme not only works but is rather intuitive and seamless (especially if you played Liberation Maiden before this) and those are the funniest parts of the game. HOWEVER, the moment we go to the land battles everything goes to the underworld FAST. The biggest problem is the camera, not only is it almost always right next to Pit at all times, giving you a very limited view of the battlefield and of your immediate surroundings (which makes navigating hazards an even bigger pain), but it also requires you to turn the camera by swiping the touch screen with your stylus in the desired direction. This becomes a huge pain because there is no good way for "controlling" this camera movement, as you will either over shoot your intended target more often than not, or have to swipe multiple times in order to properly turn, and in all that time you are having to fend off enemies and try to hit them. Player movement is also problematic as Pit's walking speed is painfully slow, while his dashing speed more often than not launches him into hazards, this is even more troubling with the scheme that moving the Circle Pad quickly will initiate a dash, meaning that there are multiple times where you dash when you don't want to, and you again launch yourself into a hazard. Now the control scheme can be switched around, like for left handed users to move "movement" to the ABXY buttons, but that is still not a good solution as it limits your 3D movement down to just 8 directions, but the core problem remains there: The touch screen is not a good method of camera controls in this set up.

In the end is Kid Icarus Uprising fun: Yes. The Air Battles are fantastic and are what this control scheme works beat at. BUT the land battles, while they can be fun dodging around enemy shots and blasting away with your weapons, are WAY too problematic and lead to a lot of moments of unnecessary frustrations. It isn't a good sign for your game if the player has to fight the camera more than they have to fight the enemies. But as I said, the game is still loads of fun, partly because of it's arcade like style, and partly because the game is just so charming that it's hard not to love. But that is still a HUGE problem controlling the camera. Kid Icarus Uprising is recommended.

Until next time.

-Crescent, GODDAMMIT!

No comments:

Post a Comment