June 14, 2011

Kid Icarus: Uprising - E3 2011 Demo Impressions

Kid Icarus: Uprising was the surprise announcement from Nintendo at last years E3 Expo. And over the past year the game has been playable in different forms. It is clear that they have really been polishing up the game over the past few months. At E3 this year I got a chance to go hands-on with the latest playable build of the game.

Since I had never had the chance to play Kid Icarus: Uprising before this year's E3, I selected the first stage of the demo which was labeled as being ‘easy’. The demo then asks me to select a weapon, there are several choices but I went with the ‘Orbitars’.

The game starts with Pit taking flight, and quickly, enemies start appearing on the top screen. By using the stylus on the bottom screen, a targeting reticle will appear on the top screen, and anything inside of that reticule will be attacked when pressing the left shoulder button. In other words, moving the stylus on the touch screen controls Pit's aim on the top screen. The shoulder button can be pressed to do the standard attack with each press of the button releasing an individual laser. The L button can be held down for a rapid fire attack as well, but the attack will be weaker. And finally, if you haven’t used an attack for a few seconds you can press the trigger once to release a ‘charged’ attack.

I noticed myself forgetting to even move Pit, and focused primarily on aiming and firing.  While that works initially, eventually enemies start appearing that automatically target Pit. So I had to take back control of Pit and maneuver him around while still attacking enemies. I quickly discovered that the game requires your full attention, as you have to be able to do several things at the same time. By the time I started to get comfortable with flying, I was forced to the ground where a new battle was taking place.

The controls are similar to the aerial play but now the game is off rails and I was moving in 3D space with Pit. The bottom screen now serves as the camera adjuster in addition to its role of providing precision targeting. You can also dash around by flicking the circle pad in the direction you are traveling; this came in handy for dodging fast moving attacks. The demo ends with a boss fight with Cerberus, who was disappointingly a bit of a pushover. I was able to easily avoid his attacks and continue to barrage him with attacks from my orbitars.

The game features some great music, the composer is still a mystery but it is known to be somebody who worked on the Super Smash Brothers Brawl soundtrack. The game also features some terrific voice acting, if a bit cheesy and light-hearted. It reminded me of StarFox 64 in how the characters have conversations with each other as you play through the game.

Overall I was very impressed with the demo, while the controls will be something that will take some time to grow accustomed to, they provide a level of precision and control that has been unseen on a handheld game to date. Project Sora is going all out to make sure this game is as polished as possible and a worthy revival to a long dormant franchise. Look for Pit flying to a store near you Holiday 2011.


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