Nintendo’s 1986 frustration-fest and general ballache Kid Icarus is one title I’ll never forget. I’ll concede, I scarcely made it to the first boss in my own troublesome travails with the game, but it was the premise I found most interesting. (My progress was impeded by my eternal humiliating demise at the hands of Twinbellows, a dog seemingly borne from the fetid asshole of Satan himself. “Terrific!” the dark lord enthused. “I don’t know why this cretinous canine just fell out of my ass, but it’s sure to serve me well in my nefarious doings. Once I give it a quick wipe, naturally, the thing’s dripping shite all over my floor in a wanton crap-spreading manner. On my new carpet, as well. Someone had better expunge those stains. It took me an age to find shagpile with this particular pattern of blood, guts and savagely rended ballbags." The belligerent beast launches balls of flame from its actual faces. And it has three of them. I can’t compete with those kinds of stylish shenanigans.) In the odd Greek mythology-inspired realm of Angel Land, the goddess of light, Palutena, has been imprisoned by her wicked counterpart Medusa. (Just why does a goddess of darkness exist? Is it not plain that they’ll be nut-numbingly evil? These are the sorts that, rather than helping incontinent old women over the road, like good boy scouts should, would simply push them into it. Asphalt to the face, grandma! That kind of bastard, we don’t need.) Our hero, the subordinate angel Pit, sets out to rescue her. It’s unusual to see a game inhabiting this classical domain, bar the likes of the shit-encrusted Altered Beast, and it made for an intriguing action platformer.
The franchise has returned on 3DS in the form of Kid Icarus: Uprising, a very different beast.While the plot is largely unchanged, (Medusa is enigmatically resurrected, as is the wont of gaming villains everywhere, leaving Pit to attempt to mop up the ensuing shitstorm. As a trainee angel of sorts, it’s always this little dude out there with his mop and bucket. “She’s levelling towns, attempting apocalyptic genocide, all that shit,” Pit whined. “I even saw her allow her chihuahua to take ahuge steaming dump in someone’s yard, before merrily posting it through their door. What chance do I have against that level of malevolence?” As I believe that dude with the glasses once stated in Jaws, you’re gonna need a bigger shitstorm bucket.) the game takes the form of a 3d shooter. Levels are divided into two distinct styles of play, air battles and ground battles. Because Pit is, let’s be frank, a bit crap (Frank, my elderly hobo friend, shuffles over expectantly. On seeing this mention, he does a joyous little jig in his piss-stained pants), his flight time is strictly limited. He has brief periods of such, strictly regulated and supported by Palutena, before he must continue the fight on the ground. Needless to say, whether you’re pumping actual leg-iron like us mere mortal meat-sacks or not, you’re sure to be relentlessly beset by the underworld army. Many of these opponents are introduced with a little scene involving their 80s blur-o-vision NES sprite, a nice nod for retro heads.
Fortuitously, angel boy is equipped with perhaps the most excessive and ludicrous arsenal of weaponry in gaming history. From his standard issue bow to claws, staffs and clubs, there’s something for everybody. (Everybody that enjoys a spot of demon evisceration. It probably breaks up the fleeting monotony of heavenly existence. I’m not sure there’s really much to do up there.
“What’s up, Jesus?”
“Precious little, as ever. Been sitting about scratching my balls for the last couple of thousand years, mostly. I’ve been petitioning that dad of mine to get Hitler sent... downstairs for quite a while, don’t know how he got up here in the first place. He fobbed me off with excuses, the usual, you know. Something about the paperwork getting mixed up. He won’t admit that St. Peter’s getting a little old, I can tell by the stench that he keeps pissing his robes. That old bastard really needs to get some glasses. That ballbag-length beard as well, it’s dramatically uncool. There’s only room for one millenia-old deity-dude up here. And that’s Gandalf.”)
Tangential ramblings aside, each weapon has a subtle effect on how the combat plays out. The claws will increase your melee ability against close enough to smell their festering testicle-breath opponents, while the staff excels at range. The weapon-fiddling menu is meticulously detailed. You can purchase more with hearts you earn from playing, or find them hidden about the stages. Depending on the difficulty you’ve selected, more potent choices will be awarded. Each has their own distinct stats, further affecting play. Even the same weapon in the same class will differ slightly. Further, you can fuse two pieces from your arsenal together, to create a new item relative to the value of the components.
Such comprehensive customization options are typical of Sakurai, creator of the Smash Bros series. His influence is nigh-tangible, too, in the exhaustive array of collectables on offer. There are numerous 'idols' to earn, offering you a stunning 3d image and a brief insight into series history. A facsimile, all in all, of the trophies of Smash Bros. These offer stellar replay value, when combined with the in-game challenges and the Fiend’s Cauldron. The latter mechanic allows you to bet some of your acquired hearts to raise the difficulty of a particular stage. Should you then emerge successful, your rewards can increase severalfold. There’s also an online combat option, allowing you to indulge in co-operative or deathmatch-esque play. I don’t have much experience in that area, as oftentimes I found myself in a game populated by the ubiquitous online uber-ninjas. One of these charming fellows was firing something that resembled a monstrous cannonball many times the size of my body straight into my delicate face. My own claws proved as potent as a quick poke to the nutsack of my aggressor in comparison.
Kid Icarus: Uprising is an example of a title that has plainly been lavished by developer-love. The aesthetic and the gameplay are extraordinary. If you can forgive Pit’s incessant and moronic attempts at 'humour’ (and some of the virulent verbal volleys between our hero and Palutena are so shockingly bad you’ll tie your nuts in a knot), you’re sure to enjoy the game. I don’t think I can emphasize the dire comedy aspect enough. Wait for the barbecue joke for example, you’ll shit.
Finally, take a look at this intro video to the game, which will surely tell you more about proceedings than my ramblings ever could:
Article by Chris Littlechild
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