“I’ve been so looking forward to your arrival, Pitty Pat.”
- Game of the Year 2012
- The “Masahiro Sakurai” Award For Insane Breadth Of Content
- Best Series Revival That Thankfully Was A Shooter
Kid Icarus: Uprising is one of the best Saturday morning cartoons I’ve seen in years wrapped up in video game form.
It’s got a healthy 25 chapter first season of 15-20 minute missions. It follows your typical monster of the week cartoon structure, fighting excellent bosses at the end of each chapter/episode. It’s got mid season twists, tangential story arcs, and multi-part episodes that end on a cliffhanger. It’s even got your stereotypical “way too serious for a kid’s show” episode!
What’s best about the unique handling of the pacing and story structure is that it allows the story to just be fun without sinking too much into long exposition or melodrama. The characters are memorable, well written, and gracefully localized, which is especially impressive due to the game’s overall goofy tone. It’s not a hilarious game by any means, but the dialogue between characters has a nice comedic timing rarely seen in gaming and will keep a nice smile on your face throughout each level. Kid Icarus even manages to give you all the plot, laughs, and charming characterization while minimizing the amount of cutscenes to a fraction of most titles.
After watching the season finale and going back to see a few reruns, I can’t describe the experience as anything but delightful.
Kid Icarus: Uprising is the best game that Sakurai has ever created.
There is an attractive style in which the man creates his games, as they usually end with an impossible attention to detail and more content than necessary or even healthy. Yet, Uprising is the first game to take advantage of all of the crazy nonsense Sakurai loves to put in his games. Yes, there are a ton of trophies in Kid Icarus, but every other mechanic feeds back into the core gameplay somehow, whether it be street passing, the over 250 achievements in the game, the sheer variety in its gameplay inspirations (see below), the secrets and hidden paths scattered throughout every level, and, weirdly enough, a very enjoyable online multiplayer deathmatch mode. Even if it just means gathering more weapons and items, Uprising manages to channel all these weird aspects Sakurai likes to sprinkle his games with to contribute to the game in a (somewhat) meaningful way,
Kid Icarus: Uprising is a weird, yet delicious mix of Sin & Punishment, The World Ends With You, Gears of War, Diablo, and Persona 3.
TWEWY’s difficulty system was always a highlight for me, as dropping Neku’s level to improve the drop rate was a really clever idea. Uprising evolves the concept to become straight up genius. Not only are you using the 90 point difficulty scale to dictate how much money you make and what loot drops, but damage values, enemy population, enemy type, attack patterns, costs for an extra life, and even your path through the level are all altered by where you put that slider. It’s absolutely insane, but it somehow works and allows you to fine tune the difficulty to be perfectly in line with your skill level.
The flying mode, occupying the first half of each chapter, is just straight up Sin & Punishment: Star Successor. And that is AWESOME. Flying across the screen during these on rail sequences is natural to control, fast paced, and full of enemies, making for a completely chaotic experience that will leave you sweating bullets every time you transition to…
…The completely strange third person, over the shoulder shooter sections that make up the second half of each mission. Due to the touch screen this may sound clunky, but just as detailed options are available for tuning your controls as there are for the difficulty. After a few minutes of tinkering and a little practice to make sure, you’ll be mowing down enemies with your arsenal of weapons, vehicles, and ridiculous special abilities without problem.
Speaking of the weapons: have I explained yet that, besides having nine different weapon types that have a completely different playstyle, each weapon you find in the world has random stats associated with them? Because loot games are always fun, right? Usually that’s a groan worthy comment, but when you have an intricate fusing mechanic (ala Persona 3) for your weapons, it makes creating, customizing, and charging into battle with your ultimate weapon immensely satisfying.
It may toss a ton of mechanics into the mix, as expected from Sakurai, but, again, it somehow works. Kid Icarus is a better game for every single one of those mechanics and the combination of them all makes for an entirely unique experience.
Kid Icarus: Uprising is the best fucking game that came out in 2012 and ya’ll are gonna have to deal with it.