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REVIEW: Kid Icarus Uprising

31 Mar

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You’re going to want to play this game several times through. This is not the kind of game you set to Easy and speedrun. This game is about challenging yourself, with addictive gameplay and an awesome risk-and-reward system. Each level should be played at least twice to get the most out of this game. Actually, make that three times.

The Fiend’s Cauldron allows you to adjust the Intensity level of a stage. The higher you put it, the more rewards you will get, but the risk of dying and losing loot becomes much greater. On my first attempt at Chapter One, I set Intensity to 4 (You are able to choose anywhere between 0.0 and 9.0).

The first moment that you burst out into the sky the chatter begins between Pit (your character, an angel) and Palutena, the Goddess of Light. It continues throughout the entire game, with more characters coming in and adding their own individual styles of humour. The voice acting is fantastic (Much better than Thanatos Rising’s)! The way each level is presented as a chapter from a book is interesting too. It’s like one of those books that continues to switch between seemingly unrelated storylines, each containing its own mysteries, which are then all joined and answered in a stunning conclusion.

Anyway, back to the gameplay. Blasting the Monoeyes with your blade as you swoop through the air is satisfying. You move Pit with the Control Pad, aim with the touch screen and fire with L. It’s disorientating at first, but you adapt quickly, and develop your own playing style. If I’m not using the 3DS stand bundled with the game, I rest the system on my knee. After soaring through the clouds, diving downwards, and zooming through a mountain range littered with monsters (all in exactly five minutes), you continue on the ground.

The controls become a bit odd here, using the touch screen to aim and to turn around. But just like in the sky, you adapt to them quickly. You need to devise strategies for the different monsters on the ground, with dashes, dodges, dynamite and, uh, more “hand-to-hand combat”, as your melee attacks get much more use. You’ll also come across treasure chests all over the place, but the ones containing valuable weapons or grant you powers and achievements are usually squirreled away, sometimes behind Intensity gates.

You never know what Intensity you need to be playing at to open these until you see them. After the completing the chapter but not being able to get to the special loot hidden behind these doors, it’s hard not to want to repeat the stage, upping the risk, to get your hands on it. And there is risk. If you set the Intensity high, you’ll need to wager Hearts (your currency in this game). If you die, you lose those hearts, and are knocked down 1.0 Intensity levels. This means if there is a gate labelled 7, and you set the Intensity to 7 at the beginning, you must reach that gate without dying, or the Intensity will have dropped. Thank you for this awesome system Sakurai and co! I’ve played the first chapter 5 or 6 times now, sometimes just to see what Intensity I can handle. (It’s about 7.0!)

After roughly seven minutes of the ground battle, you come to the boss. I found these rather easy. On Intensity 6.0, most of them are pummelled beyond belief in less than two minutes. In other words, dead. But still, they’re fun, and some take multiple attempts. (Mostly because of the damage you’ve already taken that chapter. Looking at YOU, Heads of the Hewdraw!) But if you make it through the rest on a high difficulty level, the bosses are all a challenge. I recommend deliberately drawing them out as you will hear the characters tell a lot more of the backstory. It’s heart wrenching to defeat a boss just as Palutena’s telling you some captivating secret that you were busting to hear all along, just to hear it cut short by Pit’s cry of “Victory!”.

Outside of the Solo adventure (and niggles), there are a lot of modes to choose from. On the cool menu, which you can muck up by dragging the options around, a variety of sub-menus, and sub-sub-menus, and even more can be accessed. StreetPass allows you to swap weapons with fellow Uprising players. The Vault lets you view your “stuff”, like music, idols and records. The idols are pretty cool, viewable in the AR viewer, or just as animated 3D model you can fully explore. (Although it stops you from doing anything NAUGHTY. The game stops you from angling the camera from underneath certain idols. Like Palutena.) The AR cards take a bit of loading time, but they are really entertaining, and battling various characters to see who will win is fun. By the way, a Monoeye beats basic Pit, so it’s a little odd. (You still can’t angle the camera underneath people. Bad person.)

One mode is Together, which lets you play online. It’s frantic, frenetic action, with everyone whacking anything that moves. But if you calm down, there is some strategy that can be employed. You can gain items and powers here, and take them into Solo, and vice versa. Balance your powers to have the best chance of winning a battle. In Free-for-All, you only gain points for striking the finishing blow when battling somebody. In Light Vs Dark, every bit counts. I won’t explain it all here, but go to the official website to discover more.

The music. It’s grand and orchestral, although some is 8-bit, echoing the original. Some has a very Greek ring to it, like Dark Pit’s theme. I love the inbuilt music player, too. You’re able to listen to any (unlocked) track whenever you like.

Now I’m able to do things I never thought I’d be able to at the start. The Intensity level just goes up and up, and the loot pile follows suit. But you’ll never finish this game. It just keeps on giving, even after the 100% completion mark.

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REVIEW: Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters

12 Mar

Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters People often draw a similarity between Kid Icarus and Metroid, with Kid Icarus’s actual Metroid enemies, and the fact that some of its gameplay is very similar, possibly due to Yoshio Sakamoto working on both. But Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters, makes even more connection. It’s the black-and-white Game Boy sequel to the original NES game, and has just been released for the 3DS’s Virtual Console. It was made in Japan by Nintendo, but never released there until now. The gameplay is pretty much identical to its predecessor’s, ┬áseeing you going vertically at first, then side scrolling, then flying, and you can now backtrack down the screen, a feature missing from the original. Also it is now on a much smaller screen, so the graphics are cramped, not too dissimilar to Metroid II: Return of Samus. In fact, the game runs on the same engine as Metroid II!

The sprites are big, with Pit taking up about a fifth of the screen’s height. Having such a small play area means better graphics, but it doesn’t come without its setbacks. Even though the screen can be scrolled in some stages, it’s annoying that you can’t see a Reaper just four blocks above you, so by the time you’ve jumped and spotted him, he’s seen you. When he sends the Reapettes, they bounce around only the small area of the screen. Not even the boss battles fit onto a single screen either, and they carry on for ages, and are a bit, yawn, uninspiring.

Most enemies are back, like Shemums, Reapers and Eggplant Wizards, though some are missing or changed, including Monoeyes, which have been replaced by Cyclops Skulls, and Medusa, who is nowhere to be seen, has been replaced by Orcos, an archdemon. But the story in a second, I’ll continue with the enemies. One weird new enemy is Pythagoras. Yes, Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician! He stands in place throwing, uh, triangles at you. In the longplay by cubex55 below, he can be seen at 1 hour 18 minutes (if you’re wondering about anything, find it in the video). The Eggplant Wizards aren’t as punishing as the original’s were- they shrink you down to half the size when you are transformed into an eggplant, so you can dodge enemies and fit under gaps on your way to the hospital. In fact, the whole game’s easier in a sense. I cleared the first level in one attempt, unlike the first NES stage. But don’t worry, it’s not too easy. The NES game was just so hard! But, it let you use an infinite number of lives, with no real Game Overs, and in Myths and Monsters you only get 3, until you lose and must restart the area, with some items missing.

The music is 8-bit awesomeness with added Greek bits (I think). I really like the Underworld music; it’s so cool! Check it out in the video too.

For the game’s backstory, (don’t worry, no spoilers!) Palutena, ruler of Angel Land, has a dream, and a soothsayer interprets it as an sign that Orcos is coming (which he is). So the Sacred Treasures are assigned guardians by Palutena, and as part of Pit’s training so that he can defeat Orcos Pit must travel and retrieve the Sacred Treasures from the guardians, and then in the end battle Orcos. It’s a good (but a little backwards) story for a great game.

There are parts I much prefer from the NES game, like the graphics and screen size, and parts I think are improved on in the Game Boy one, like the added tap A to float to the ground, and the easier difficulty level. If you liked Kid Icarus, and you want more of the same, with just small tweaks and all-new levels this is for you. And if you can’t wait for Uprising, give this a try if you can’t get the original, or its 3D Classics counterpart.

A final similarity between Kid Icarus and Metroid: Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters was released 1991, the same year as Metroid II. When I looked in the new Virtual Console manual, up the top it was referred to as Kid Icarus II. Was there a bigger connection between this and Metroid II? Or this and Metroid? Who knows. TinyNinja scores Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters for VC

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