It’s hard to believe that this moment has come. The reason that I purchased my 3DS last year is finally here, so people must be wondering what I think.

Before I begin, let me tell you a story….

I got my NES back in 1987, and sure, I got the expected Mario/Zelda/Duck Hunt/Ghosts ‘N’ Goblins fare, but Kid Icarus was an unusual happenstance. I used to spend the weekends with my Grandmother, who was a neat, eccentric lady who would often give me an allowance of $3.00 when we would go shopping. Three bucks today doesn’t buy much, but back then, that was a comic book or two, or a few rounds of Paperboy or Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at the mall’s arcade (Yes, I know I’m old). During one of our visits to K-Mart, I saw that silver NES box, and got excited. It was an “Adventure Series” game, and certainly, that had to be good, right?

On a whim, I asked my Grandma if I could have the game. Never hurts to ask, right? And to my surprise, she said “Yes”, marking one of the few few video games that she ever bought me (outside of my Sega Master System).

I still have that old cartridge, by the way.

So here I am, 25 years later, no longer a kid, but excited nonetheless about a prospect to revisit a fond childhood memory. Sure, I was nervous. I’ve been building anticipation for two years now since E3 2010. And Pit’s adventures were no longer incredibly tricky platforming, instead taking a cue from the original game’s final level and making it an overall shooter. But then, they turned Metroid on its ear with the Prime series, and that turned out okay. Not to mention the game was made by Masahiro Sakurai, and I do love me so Super Smash Bros.

I won’t lie. I teared up a little when turning the game on.

There’s so much to cover about this game, it’s hard to know where to begin. The endless menus and customization, the multiple modes of play, the music and graphics, the gameplay…. It’s a lot. Actually, it’s a ton.

But I guess we will start with gameplay.

Kid Icarus: Uprising is now a shooter with ground based shooting missions. It’s vastly different from the original game, yet wildly familiar for those who played Pit’s two adventures: The bizarre enemies, the heroic musical score, the intentional moments of 8-bit music and graphics, the utter… strangeness of the whole experience. It’s a beautiful looking game with lightening fast action. Anyone who fears Nintendo has gone “soft” over the years needs to play this. It will quickly reset you to those old “Nintendo Hard” days.

The Reaper is still there, and the utter, gut-dropping sense of dread returns if he spots you (nice to play the music and sound effects from the original game to reawaken childhood nightmares, Nintendo). Paluntena makes a reference that if the Reapers seem like they are evil and crazy, it’s because they really are evil and crazy. The Eggplant Wizard is still just as rotten and unpleasant (and he’s not even the worst one). The hot springs are back. Everything that made Kid Icarus stand out back then is back and/or referenced. The game is a different type of creature, but it’s still very much true to its namesake.

There’s also the matter of the writing. Nintendo went all out and made this game a chatterbox. This could have gone either way. When Samus was given a voice, fans were mixed on the results. I can no longer imagine Pit and Palutena without voice ever again. Games that inject a sense of humor often just try too hard. This game? It’s legitimately funny. Even the tutorials are worth a recommended sit-through due to all the oddball stuff the two banter on about. It’s funny and well written, and made me audibly laugh more than a few times. Most surprising of all is the very subtle and underlying hints of sexual tension between Pit and Palutena. It’s nothing that wouldn’t be found outside of a sitcom or even a Disney movie, but one can’t help but mutter “Just ask each other out, already” as they flirt with each other. Poor Pit. Everyone bashes on him about his inability to fly…. If you’re wondering about the other characters, they are just great fun as well. Excellent voice cast.

Gameplay is fast and brutal. It goes from 0-9, and setting it up there will hand your keyster on a platter, marinated, with a special glaze sauce of pure humiliation. The game is gentle on easy stages, but if you step up to the challenge, make no mistake that it’s delivered. Gameplay is brilliantly fast with so much to look at on the top and bottom screens. This is a game where you simply cannot blink with so much going on.

There’s also the matter of weapon fusing to make even cooler weapons (which you can try out before entering a new stage), eggs that can be bought to turned into idols (like the trophies from Super Smash Bros. Brawl), sound tests, idol rooms, power customizations, something that offers up hearts to Palutena to bring her closer to you (whatever this will do remains a mystery for now)…. Sakurai packs his games with content. This is absolutely no slouch. Be prepared for the most “full” 3DS game I’ve ever seen that utilizes almost every feature of the system. I haven’t even done multi-player yet (takers are welcome – 1332 7709 5212).

There are also AR Cards. Finally, something new past the system pack ins. Place on in front of the 3DS camera. and you see the character come alive (while getting an idol in the process). Place two cards next to each other, and the cards start to fight each other. There are new cards coming out in magazines and the like, so (ugh) I have a new thing to start collecting.

If there’s a downside to the whole game’s experience, however, are the controls. Yes, you have options out the wazoo to work with, but sliding the stylus to turn the camera is a convoluted experience in the heat of gameplay, and the default setting has cramped my hands a few times after extended play sessions. Why they failed to use the Circle Pad Pro as an option is beyond me. It feels great for Resident Evil: Revelations. With this being their “big” 3DS showcase title, I don’t see how they could not make this game control as well as it looks sounds, and plays. Don’t misunderstand: It plays well, but I would have preferred something a little less awkward and painful for such a brilliant game. But you’ll find a way to manage. The game is simply too compelling to have this sour the experience, and this title is far too fun to ignore.

The 3DS has become home to a collection of remarkable titles, and this may be the most grand of them all. As Pit soars by with a friendly “Sorry to keep you waiting”, you can’t help but forgive him for the 20 year absence, as he truly returns in style. I was one of the few people I’ve known to have just loved Pit back in the heyday, and his return is not unlike the feelings you may have found during moments like the new Punch-Out!!, Donkey Kong Country Returns, or even Capcom’s Mega Man 9. It’s a simpler time of colorful, good-natured characters, where games felt like a joy to play instead of just another multi-million dollar production.

This is the game I’ve waited 2 years for, and in a larger sense, over 20 years. I can thankfully, finally say that the end result does not disappoint, and I hope Pit’s adventures will become more of a regular thing, than an experience that I would have to see again with grandchildren.

Then again in my experience, the last time a grandparent got involved with Kid Icarus really wasn’t such a bad thing at all….

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