Last year at E3 Nintendo announced Kid Icarus Uprising and positioned it as a key title in the 3DS’s software arsenal. A year has passed and although the game has yet to release, my hands on with the game reassures that Project Sora is doing their utmost to live up to the promise of that dramatic reveal. The E3 demo I played was divided into three parts: single player, multi-player, and a demonstration of the game’s AR features. These three parts come together nicely to ensure Pitt’s latest outing does not suffer from a lack of variety.
My time with the single player portion took place both in the sky and on land. The level started with Pitt soaring across the sky. First, I chose a weapon from seven options. In addition to the bow I picked there was a claw, a cannon, a blade and other weapons. While flying the game essentially plays on-rails. You move across the screen in any direction using the circle pad but forward movement happens automatically. The touch screen and stylus control the aiming of your weapon, which appears as a green reticule on the top 3D screen. The L button fires your weapon. You can either press it slowly for a single but more powerful shot or hold it down for less damaging rapid fire.
Multiple enemies attack you onscreen at once. These one-eyed creatures hurled their own attacks at Pitt or charged straight for him. The combat felt fast paced and exhilarating as you needed to dodge attacks constantly by flicking the circle pad to dash left or right. Pitt traveled swiftly across the sky and the game looked great as he did so. On the touch screen, 2D versions of Pitt and the goddess Palutena conversed with full voice acting. Not only did they discuss story details but she gave gameplay hints as well. Medusa appeared as a giant in the distant sky at one point and though you could not harm her the onslaught of other foes continued.
After a few minutes of flight, Palutena informed Pitt that a nearby town was under attack and needed his assistance. From there the game transitions to land based gameplay. On the ground, the player has full control 360˚ of Pitt’s movements. The transition felt a tad jarring at first but I was able to adjust after a few minutes. The combat is similar to fighting in the air except you can strafe and do a sharp 90 degree turn by sliding the stylus across the touch screen fast. Enemies on the ground were a bit more cunning, requiring you to strafe around them to find an opening to attack. At one point, I came across a chest that revealed an item after I shot it open. After clearing all the enemies, I ran into a coliseum for a boss fight.
The boss was a two-headed dog, called Twinbellows that spat fireballs and snapped its jaws towards Pitt. It was particularly vicious and challenging but by dodging his attack with well-placed dashes, I finally landed enough shots forcing Twinbellows to fall in defeat.
After that sampling of the single player, I moved on to a 3-on-3 team death match in multiplayer. The contest was between a Light and Dark teams with me being on the latter. The battle took place on land in a mountain-based level. You had the same choice of seven weapons as in the single player but this time I decided on the heavy power cannon. The controls were the same as the single player as we took on our opponents up close and from a distance. Players have their own health bar as well as a bar for the entire team that depletes every time a team member falls. After depleting our opposing team’s bar to nothing a white angel (Pitt) spawned as one of their members. After that, my team could only inflict damage and win the game by tracking down the angel and defeating him. After that sacrilegious deed was done, the game ended just before the 5 minute time limit and my Dark team was victorious.
Finally, I got a quick sampling of the game’s augmented reality features. A Nintendo representative showed me three AR cards featuring Pit, Palutena, and Magnetus. By holding the 3DS camera over the cards brings digital recreations of the characters to life. They animate well. If you orient two characters towards each other and press the A button the character will fight right in front of you until one defeats the other.
Kid Icarus Uprising looked great on the 3D screen, with a great sense of depth, and varied environments. I left my time with Kid Icarus excited for its release sometime later this year. It is set to take full advantage all the 3DS’s unique features and reboot the classic franchise in style.