I’ve actually been holding on to this review for a bit because I had gotten rather excited about the possibility of making my garden. Least week I had planned to reveal my design plans for it this week, but what followed was a weekend of accomplishing pretty much everything but.
Shortly after my 3DS ambassador post I went out and got Kid Icarus, like I said I would. Being an avid fan of most Nintendo games, I was particularly excited for this title. I hadn’t really played the original, but having a Wii and a 3DS I’m sure I’ll get the opportunity from their virtual console services.
I popped in the cartridge and loaded it up. The first view of the game is of Pit (the hero of the game) flying through the skies toward the camera and giving a bit of a smile. The 3D is actually very well done. A feather from his wing falls off and remains in the foreground as he flies on. There is no music, which is unfortunate because I was hoping for- oh wait, Pit is now going off in the distance, cue the classic theme and the gameplay demo. Way to keep up the suspense.
I create my save file and start up the “solo” mode. The game gets right into it – you see Pit running in from the right from some unknown dark area (in Skyworld, the realm of the Goddess of Light?) and he is off and flying. There is no tutorial in solo mode (only those paying attention will notice the “how to play” icon in the mode selection screen), but the early gameplay is easy enough to get past the learning curve. Each stage starts with a flying portion which reminds me of Star Fox, and ends with a ground portion which reminds me of first-person shooters.
Story and Dialog
The story in this game comes largely from the dialog from all the characters, including the villains; they have a tendency to chime in if you are on their stage, or even on other stages if they are important enough. You get a strong sense for how the story is going to be run from just playing the first stage: much like a cartoon. The dialog is loaded to the brim with cheesy jokes, puns, and breaking the fourth wall (i.e. Pit calling his various destinations “levels” and realizing he is in a game). At first I was a bit put off by this, as it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I wouldn’t say that I “got used to it,” I would say it grew on me. Later on in the game I had developed a connection with the characters and was chuckling along with them.
The story starts off with a general goal, Medusa has been resurrected from Pit’s adventures from the 80’s and she is wreaking havoc on the humans. Lady Palutena, goddess of light, is trying to stop her. It is so generic that the first few levels aren’t very engaging. Without giving anything away (hint: how was Medusa resurrected?), there is a distinct change in mission priorities, and now the story moves from generic to very in-depth. Nintendo fanboy or not, I bet anyone who plays this game really got into it at this point in the story.
The energy is well kept for the rest of the solo mode. There were a couple of times where the story went a direction without any immediate indication why. For example, the first three levels make logical sense. Pit sees underworld troops attacking a city, he goes to save them. Then Lady Palutena has Pit save more humans being attacked by one of Medusa’s generals. Then another of her generals attacks Skyworld, so we have to defend it. Without any other plot direction, it seemed to me it was our turn to go after Medusa, but suddenly we’re on this quest to eliminate all of her generals who have so far been absent. I guess it makes sense, but I think I would have liked a bit more of a lead-in to why we were going there.
As mentioned before, there are two forms of combat in this game: air and ground. Both of which share the same enemies, apart from mini bosses. Both control schemes share the problem of ow-ow-ow-my-hand-ow, which is why Nintendo generously provided the 3DS stand to hold the weight of the system while you control.
During air combat, often times you get a group of the same kind of enemy, which I took great pleasure in letting my attack charge and taking out 3 or 4 of them at once. In the air, the game gives your weapon a damage boost, attributing this boost to the “power of flight” given by Lady Palutena. However, to me it is obvious that they needed to do this because if they hadn’t, the player wouldn’t have enough time to defeat the enemies as they quickly dart in and out of the screen. Also, it was a bit difficult at first to remember to move Pit as well as my targeting reticule, so early on I took a bit of a beating.
Moving on to ground combat. Yes, it is possible to get good at this, and you will have to if you want to try out “together” mode, but… ugh. They did the best they could, but controlling the camera just isn’t as easy as you want/need it to be, especially during the boss fights. Controlling the camera remains my biggest beef with first person shooters as it often requires more touch than I care to practice to get. I think I might have preferred to play this mode like the built-in software Face Raiders, but it would have changed a lot of the mechanics, such as dodging shots.
Oh man, the music. I need to let Chris borrow this so he can play through it and review the music for his blog.
As expected, the main theme for Kid Icarus appears frequently. Also, every once in a while, for example when a Reaper is alarmed, the original 8-bit sound file is played. A nice little tip of the hat to your roots, I can get into that.
The great part of the music is how well the music supplements what is happening. Epic battle to the death? Epic music. Frantically flying away from death? You better believe the frantic music is going to make you want to physically stand up and frantically run alongside the hero. An emotional moment from the humans? Those notes could not be more tender.
Knocking off half a point for moderately annoying controls, a quarter point for peculiar story choices… I would say this game deserves a 4.1 out of 5.0. I hope more installments are planned for the Wii U.