Nintendo, you have accomplished the impossible. Yes, I'm aware that Nintendo isn't afraid to trot out its older franchises. Hell, Fire Emblem: Awakening is pretty much Encyclopedia Akaneia. What you have to understand, though, is that Kid Icarus is in a special predicament. The last game in the series killed any chances of a sequel from a story standpoint. And they still made the damn sequel. 25 years later (as the game is so eager to point out). Granted, it's entirely worth it, but it's still a bit challenging to comprehend how they could have made a sequel to a series that didn't seem to want one. How did they accomplish such a task?
Well, first, they completely and utterly ignored Of Myths and Monsters' existence. You'll find tons of references to even the most obscure of enemies from the original Kid Icarus, but Orcos doesn't get so much as a passing glance. (Orcos is the villain of Of Myths and Monsters. Yes, I had to tell you.) And this is in the Family Guy of Nintendo games, which means two things here. First: a shitload of references. Remember how we were all yucking it up about how the first game had Metroid-y enemies? Uprising was listening, and it isn't pleased, taking time out of its busy schedule to tell Metroid to go fuck itself. Same goes for Super Smash Bros, only to a lesser extent. I'd say that the game's sense of humor is overall negative, but as I'll elaborate upon very soon, that's almost certainly not the case. If anything, it's just too referential. One of the early jokes talks about a "machine gun robot girlfriend", and I have no fucking idea what that means. Yes, you should worry.
But if you're not a devoted fan of Nintendo games and thus wouldn't get these references, you can always fall back on Family Guy analogy number two: really, really dumb humor. Not so much dick jokes or anything low brow; I think the worst it gets is when the villain kills a little girl's parents for the sake of a joke. (Spoilers behind most of these links, by the way.) The rest is more really corny scenarios of Pit being a moron. Not terribly funny, but not so offensively bad that I have to get worked up about it. At its best, the jokes merely exist, meaning you have to look elsewhere for something appealing in the story....Is there anything appealing in the story? What's that? Light chemistry between Palutena and Pit? An awesome new villain each chapter? A plot that goes in a billion directions at once? Confusingly Christian imagery in a Greek game? OK, screw everything I said before about the story: it's now worth it.
And the best part of it all? How it blends so well with the gameplay that you never once have to stop the a...did I even mention the gameplay yet? No? Well, I have my reasons: how do you even begin to adapt an NES game for a modern audience? If you're Nintendo, you throw out all the previous gameplay concepts, like screen-wrapping platforming and annoyingly complex dungeons, and instead turn it into a rail-shooting action game. In other words: sounds about right. Speaking of right, Uprising knows what makes a rail shooter great: first, jam enemies in the player's face at a rate of twenty per second. Make sure you can maintain this pace; otherwise, you just look dumb. Next, make the game stunningly beautiful. Remember Panzer Dragoon, Star Fox 64, Omega Boost, Rez, etc.? They all look like a vomit slurry compared to the vast, vibrant environments and towering gods of Uprising. (Ignore the fact that the videos I've been linking all look like they've been bathing in Vaseline.) Third, complement these vast environments with a camera constantly moving all over the place.
Finally, cut it all off after five minutes so you can fight on land. What? You don't remember that part about Panzer Dragoon? I'd say that's what separates the two games, but I've the odd feeling that I'm going to say the same things I've said before. The levels look cool, you get a steady flow of enemies and story, blah blah blah. The only significant differences I can think of are in the levels and weapon choice, but only barely. Sure, Uprising allows you to explore around the levels a bit and gives you enough reason to do so (Zodiac chambers and all), and yet I'm not sure the game's entirely proud of it. I'm not saying that I have a problem with the levels being so linear that they give Euclid a double-necro-erection (necrection?); I'm saying that I have a problem with the arrows plastered on the walls and floors, telling me where to go. It's pandering that distracts you from the better parts of the Icarus experience.
Like the weapons! Wait, that doesn't make any sense. Eh, whatever, you get the point: the weapons are really awesome and encourage a ton of experimentation. Do you know, for example, the difference between a sword and a claw? I don't, but the point is that there is one, and it works this way for every single weapon in the game, especially when you're throwing modifiers into the mix. Modifiers that you yourself added to said weapons through weapon fusion. I know it sounds like a minor feature, but oddly enough, the entire game revolves around fusion. Why are you playing levels? Get more weapons for fusion. Why did you get so many hearts? Buy weapons for fusion. (It's not like you'll ever use the weapons you buy, given how rescuing the world pays jack shit.) Why did you rank up the difficulty? To get more hearts for more fusion. Why does this game remind me of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4? AR CARDS! ALSO, FUSION!
Actually, to back up for a minute, a note on the difficulty: given the way it's crafted, it's damn near impossible to complain about the difficulty in Uprising. Want to complain about how easy this baby game for babies is? Ain't gonna happen, what with the constantly adjustable difficulty. Now you can adjust it to whatever the hell you want. (I settled into a 4-6 area, in case you're wondering, people who have already played this game.) And then the game can throw up doors that only open at certain difficulties and generally lower heart counts, mocking you for being too much of a pussy for not daring to try a higher difficulty. See what I meant about "hard to complain about"?
This is the part where I complain about the difficulty system. Nothing major (outside boss battles consistently lasting four seconds); just nitpicking the logic underlying the game's systems. For instance, actually increasing the difficulty is tied to the game's currency system. This may not sound like much, but let's pretend that you, like me, blow all your money on weapons for fusion. Not only are you essentially locked into a particular difficulty, but actually escaping this trap requires a TON of time, since you won't be able to collect hearts as quickly as you'd like to. Why do you need to discourage me from buying weapons, game? That system sucks enough as it is, so I'm already very discouraged from buying weapons. This is just the cherry on top of the wounds. Or something like that.
It was then that I decided to jump back into the first chapter at the highest difficulty to see how I'd do, hoping to get enough hearts to play the rest of the game right. I got destroyed, but it did leave me a bit more enlightened on how the systems in this game work. Specifically, the game's idea of making things harder is turning this lighthearted totally-not-Disney game into a recreation of 300: you're hideously outnumbered and even the feathers of an arrow so much as brushing your eyelash will result in a fatal cut. That may seem cheap, but what other recourse does the game have? It's a combat-oriented game, so pumping up the enemy power just makes sense. What doesn't make sense is throwing instant death into the mix. Those are cheap, especially since the game isn't exactly forthcoming with lessons. If learning your lessons requires that I kill enough young boys to make John Wayne Gacy blush, you may want to rethink how you're teaching said lessons. Oh, and something about the controls and how they exist, but does that really matter? I've already given you about twenty-nine reasons to get this game, so consider a free stand that kills any chance of playing this game on the go a bonus.
- The plot goes in a billion goddamn directions, and some of them are funny. (Many aren't, though.)
- Imagine if somebody boiled down Panzer Dragoon and El Shaddai into an olive oil solution. It doesn't make sense, but it doesn't have to.
- Then throw some weapon fusion and awesome difficulties on top.
So airbending has become a reality. How long until we get flying bison?
Well, my mind is thoroughly blown. I'm now gonna be cleaning nasal ejaculate off the walls for a good three hours, and I don't know if that's my usual sexual self or if it's a result of the mind blowing. I don't know if my depth perception will ever be the same again. Hell, I'm not even sure if it was all that good in the first place. This should give you an idea of the impact this game will have on your psyche. In a good way? I don't know. Maybe?
You may have installed this game already (since it's free and all) and are wondering what I'm getting at. Just give it a minute....THERE. Your mind was blown. As long as you can form a line blue enough, you can walk on it, physics be damned. Chuck Jones, eat your goddamn heart out. It may sound like I like the game purely out of novelty value, but that's not it at all. Play the rest of the game, and you'll see just how far it takes this one idea of shifting perspective around. There's always some clever way of fucking about the perspective to get things exactly how you want. Sometimes it feels cheap, like getting up real close to an object so it's bigger, but most of the time, it's just clever, especially when moving objects enter into play later on. It's pretty amazing how well the game's able to manage all this weird viewpoint fuckery when even I can't manage.
Which is probably why the game can't manage too well, either. You want to play this game? Then be prepared for a few technical issues. It has trouble adjusting resolutions, and sometimes, it'll just crash apropos of nothing, sometimes taking a few victims (like my browser) along with it. Given how short the game is, though (maybe an hour or two), it isn't too much of a concern. Wait, why am I ending on such a downer note for such an awesome game? Shouldn't I be talking more about the great ideas and execution, or the angular art style sharp enough to kill with, or even the glassy synth music? Why the criticism? I don't want you guys going into this game with the wrong....perspective......I'll show myself out.
- HOW DID YOU WALK TO THAT WALL!? YOU SHOULDN'T BE ABLE TO WALK TO THAT WALL!
- How about those esoteric Simpsons references, eh?