Kid Icarus Uprising Retrospective

Take a look back at Pit's second and, as of now, final outing in this retrospective of Kid Icarus Uprising for the Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo has a large library of beloved games and characters, many of which have been forgotten in favor of more outings for Mario, Link, and Pikachu. Few are more forgotten than the flightless angel Pit.

Kid Icarus Uprising Retrospective

The Nintendo 3DS E-Shop may be dead, but don’t throw out your handheld just yet. The seemingly final evolution of the DS line was host to a large variety of games, and perhaps the hidden gem in the console’s crown is Kid Icarus Uprising. Nintendo rarely ventured into the world of third-person shooters before Splatoon, with this being an exception. Speaking of which, how have we gotten three Splatoon games but no Uprising sequel?

Nintendo loves to forget beloved IPs like Valve loves stopping series at 2. However, I’m here to make sure this outstanding action game lives on. The game is over 10 years old, and still looks and plays better than some games Nintendo puts out today. Featuring unique gameplay, standout characters, and loads of content; it’s everything one wants in a new experience. Lend me a moment of your time to tell you just how good Kid Icarus Uprising still is, and maybe just convince you to play it yourself.  

Kid Icarus Uprising Trailer - E3 2010

Story – Of Myths & Monsters

Kid Icarus Uprising follows Pit (yes, that guy from Super Smash Bros.), an angel who can’t fly. He’s the captain of the guard serving the Goddess of Light, Palutena (yes, that girl from Super Smash Bros.). The two of them work together to take on Medusa and the forces of The Underworld. And by “work together,” I mean Palutena points Pit toward a target and Pit starts blasting. 

The game is split into chapters, with each one usually focusing on a different enemy, more often than not based on mythology. The game truly hits its stride after Chapter 9, when Hades is revealed as the true villain. Things also get more complicated after that, with the introduction of the genocidal Goddess Viridi, a race of high-tech aliens, the incarnation of chaos, and more. 

Medusa and the Forces of the Underworld

Medusa and the Forces of The Underworld

There are also several memorable bosses waiting at the end of every chapter. Mostly thanks to their personalities. The characters elevate what is already an interesting and complex story you can never predict. The main characters of Pit, Palutena, Hades, and Viridi are consistently excellent. While recurring and one-off characters like Pandora, Thanatos, Magnus, and Pyrrhon all make the most of their time.

The adaptations of iconic mythological characters are amazing and inspired, whether they’re straight rips from mythology, or new characters based on ones from myths. Mythology buffs and casual players will both get a kick out of them.

The story of Kid Icarus Uprising is near-perfect as both a sequel and a standalone game. The setup is almost identical to the original, with very little hints toward the twist before it happens. The moment itself is iconic, and the way things expand after that moment is amazing. However, things can feel like they’re stalling at times, with some plot developments coming out of nowhere.

And suddenly, aliens

And suddenly, aliens

Gameplay – Around the Globe

The gameplay is quite easily the most divisive aspect of Kid Icarus Uprising. And by that, I mean there’s one gameplay element that people are really torn on. The game is a third-person shooter. However, the 3DS only has one analog stick, used for moving Pit around the environment. Which means players have to aim their weapons using the touch screen.

Dragging the stylus across the bottom screen will move the reticle to that position on the top screen. On top of that, you have to spin the bottom screen like a globe to control the camera. It’s certainly unique, and takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s not bad once you get the hang of it. 


Weapons of Mass Production

There’s plenty of gameplay to go over before Pit even steps outside Palutena’s Temple. The biggest one is equipping weapons. There’s actually a lot of variety in what Pit can equip, moreso than most games of this nature. He can use one of nine different weapon types at any given time: Staffs, Bows, Clubs, Orbitars, Blades, Claws, Palms, Cannons, and Arms.

The type of weapon influences how much melee and ranged damage Pit does, along with how fast or slow he moves. For example, Orbitars have great ranged damage and don’t slow Pit at all, but are useless for melee. There’s a practice range as well, so you can use that to try out each weapon.

Pit wielding the Standard Orbitars

Pit wielding the Standard Orbitars

Along with that, there are several different versions of every weapon, each with their own differences, and unique animations. And each weapon can have up to six modifiers on it, both positive and negative. So, you could have two Viridi Palms, but one will be better thanks to a Health +4 modifier, while the other has a Speed -2 modifier. And that’s not even all of it.

There’s also an Arms Altar where you can buy, sell, and fuse weapons. Weapon fusion is your friend, as you can fuse two weapons to create a stronger one, and pass on certain modifiers to the new weapon. So, if you have a bad weapon with a good modifier, you might be able to use it to create a good weapon with that good modifier.

Pit wielding the Tiger Claws

Pit wielding the Tiger Claws

He’s Got the Powers

Pit can also equip Powers, limited-use boosts that restore after a chapter. Each power has to be equipped on a 6×6 grid, with powers of higher levels taking up more space. So there’s an added layer of strategy that goes into equipping good powers while maximizing your space. There’s also four grids that you can fill at once, allowing you to experiment with layouts without losing the one you’re using. Another great use for the practice range.

Kid Icarus Uprising also has an achievement system in the form of Treasure Hunts. Three 10×12 boards amounting to 360 achievementsHowever, you are rewarded for each one you complete with either a weapon, currency bonus, character idol, or soundtrack addition.

You’re also in luck if you’re a fan of viewable character models, as Kid Icarus Uprising features 412 of them. The easiest way to get them is through Idol Toss, where you toss eggs that you gain by spending time in chapters. It’s like a gacha game, but with eggs. You can also spend Play Coins to get eggs if you’re feeling lazy. 

The Reaper Fortress

The Reaper Fortress


With that all out of the way, Pit can finally head out into battle. Before entering a chapter, you get to select that chapter’s difficulty on a scale from 0 to 9. Either spending currency to make it easier or betting currency to make things harder yet increase your potential gains. Certain chapters also feature Intensity Gates, which can only be opened by reaching it on or above the Intensity level on the gate.

The chapters themselves are more often than not split into two sections: Flight Battle, and Land Battle. Flight Battles are on-rails shooters as Palutena grants Pit the Power of Flight and guides him to his target. However, you can still move around a 2D space to dodge enemy attacks while fighting, along with environmental hazards. Things get more interesting once Pit lands. 

The wings are just for show

The wings are just for show

Pit has a lot more range of motion on the land. He can get closer to and further away from enemies while fighting them, along with dodging attacks and being able to pull off dash shots that do more damage. He can also explore the environment when he isn’t fighting.

The locations tend to be rather linear, though there are always treasure chests, funny conversations, and even the occasional hot spring waiting for those who look beyond the beaten path. And sometimes Pit will get lucky and find a vehicle, item, or floor ice cream to assist him.

There’s almost always a boss waiting for Pit at the end of every chapter. Most of them are simply more challenging shooter segments, as most shooter game bosses are, but some have more unique elements to them. A good example is the fight against Hades’ Heart later in the game. It’s as much a boss fight as it as a first-person Bomberman experience. 

The first boss: Twinbellows

The first boss: Twinbellows

Graphics & Sound – 3-Detailed

The graphics and sounds in Kid Icarus Uprising both push the quality of the 3DS to its very limits. Nintendo hasn’t exactly been at the forefront of console power or graphical fidelity, but that doesn’t mean the game looks or sounds bad by any means.

There are some incredibly beautiful environments in Kid Icarus Uprising, with my personal favorites being the areas in and around the Space Pirate Ship and Lightning Battle. Pandora’s Labyrinth of Deceit is also the best use of the 3DS’ 3D feature I have ever seen.

The only thing that looks better than the environments are the characters. Their models may not push any boundaries, but their designs and expressions are superb, and perfectly capture their personalities. The bottom screen will play out like a visual novel as you’re playing, displaying a portrait of whichever character is talking (or talked recently) with an expression to match their dialogue. It adds yet more personality to characters that you rarely physically see like Palutena, Hades, and Viridi; and gets you more attached to one-off characters.

Viridi and her Reset Bomb

Viridi and her Reset Bomb

It also helps that all the voice acting is incredible. Pit himself is voiced by Antony Del Rio (Blue Beetle in Injustice 2), and he captures the perfect mix of childlike spirit and passionate conviction that defines Pit. Palutena’s comforting and playful voice is provided by Ali Hillis (Liara T’Soni in Mass Effect). Viridi’s sweet and psychotic disposition is brought to life by the amazing Hynden Walch (Princess Bubblegum in Adventure Time, Starfire in Teen Titans). And other notable actors like Troy Baker, Fred Tatasciore, Kari Wahlgren, and Nika Futterman lend their talents to this game’s colorful cast.

Kid Icarus Uprising remains one of Nintendo’s biggest hidden gems. The odds of ever getting a sequel, or even a Nintendo Switch port, seem unfortunately slim. So, if you’ve still got a 3DS lying around and haven’t tried out this wonderful game, I highly recommend it. 

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