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Kid Icarus: Uprising Preview

Josh_Laddin By:
GENRE Action Adventure 
DEVELOPER Project Sora 
E10+ Contains Comic Mischief, Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes

What do these ratings mean?

Ok, he’s in his 20’s now—Pit’s the oldest “kid” I’ve ever seen.

If you’re a Kid Icarus fan, you ought to get down on your knees and thank whatever deity you favor (here at GR we’re partial to Cthulhu) for Masahiro Sakurai. The famed developer not only revived Pit for Super Smash Bros. Brawl, perhaps fatefully reviving interest in the series once again in the process, but he’s also at the helm of Project Sora, the new development house that’s working on bringing us the first Kid Icarus game in 20 years.

To put that in another perspective, that’s even a longer wait between games than it took George Lucas to come out with the Star Wars prequels after wrapping up Return of the Jedi. I can only hope that the new game is easier for fans to swallow.

From what we’ve seen so far, though, this pill’s going to go down easy. You can go ahead and leave behind any expectations for Kid Icarus: Uprising to be anything like its predecessors; Gaming’s come a long way, and Kid Icarus has changed a lot in 20 years. The new entry is action-packed and plays a lot like Star Fox.

You’re given a choice of weapon at the start of a level, and there’s quite a selection from which to choose. We saw nine, from Pit’s blade to his trusty bow to strange orbs that serve as satellites revolving around Pit. All of them have the same basic functionality—quick button taps for straight shots, as well as a homing shot if you hold down the trigger—but each excels in different areas. The bow has more powerful shots but is weak in melee, the blade is the inverse, and the others fall somewhere in between or outside. The aforementioned satellites were hard to pin down, but I think their strength is in the homing attack.

Single-player levels are split up into air and ground missions. In the air segment you fly on-rails like in most Star Fox levels. The ground sections are not on-rails, but still have a fairly linear path for you to traverse, at least from what I’ve seen. The controls remain the same, essentially, except on the ground you can do a quick flick on the touchscreen to dash and your long-range attacks morph into melee strikes when you get close to an enemy.

Interestingly, you can’t “die”, in the traditional sense—at least not in the demo we played. Instead, we were given a time limit in which we had to finish the mission; when Pit’s health bar ran out, he respawned quickly, but 15 seconds were knocked off the remaining time. In the harder levels it definitely made for a tense, frantic affair trying to beat the clock.

We also got a taste of local multiplayer, which supported two teams of three going head-to-head in a cool spin on a team deathmatch mode. After the teams of light and dark angels pick weapons from the same list available in single-player, it’s on to the arena where each team has a limited number of lives that are tracked by a meter on the bottom of the screen. You respawn after being killed, as long as your team still has lives in reserve.

But here’s the twist: The person who is brought back with the team’s last remaining life comes back as Pit (or Dark Pit), who is far more powerful than your regular angel. It’s kind of like having to kill a boss before your team can claim victory, which can get pretty awesome. Our evenly matched teams came down to both a Pit and Dark Pit (controlled by me, incidentally), with their teammates frantically trying to take down the other team’s hero before theirs bit the dust. I emerged from that battle barely victorious, if you’re wondering, just a sliver of health separating me from my opponent.

With both an exciting single- and multiplayer mode packed in, Pit’s got a brand new, flashy set of wings. We can expect to see Uprising released this holiday season, after which Masahiro Sakurai can go back to working on the next Smash Bros. And who knows what resurrected franchises may come out of that?

If you’re reading this, Sakurai-san, I humbly request a new Ice Climbers game.
More GR previews for this game:
GDC 2012 Preview posted on 03/09/12.

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