Friday, 30 March 2012

First Impressions: Kid Icarus Uprising

I'm going to skip any pointless retrospectives regarding the Kid Icarus series' past this time around and instead cut straight to what they call the chase: Kid Icarus Uprising is without a shadow of a doubt single greatest game to see release on 3DS in the system's current one-year . This retro revival is witty, sharp, fast-paced, and most of all an absolutely gorgeous spectacle to behold. Angelic protagonist Pit's not-so-humble apologies seem just about unnecessary after experiencing the first set of chapters as well as the expansive multiplayer modes and extra content found jammed within what is without a hitch the biggest release on 3DS thus far. Quite simply, if you own Nintendo's latest handheld then one truth is clear: You need this game. And even though I've praised it thoroughly in this opening, I'm going to go into even more detail as to why 3DS owners should definitely purchase Pit's cartridge-based return to glory. Before that, though, I'd just like to announce something: I'm sorry to keep you waiting. I had a preview of the Kid Icarus Uprising well underway and set to be posted the day before the game's release, but that didn't happen by the time I received my copy and became absorbed in the enthralling experience it offered. So, I've decided to write a short but sweet First Impressions post to warm up your cockles for the main event: the review. Before that, though, let's begin with a quick look at Uprising's solo modes...

The main menu found in Uprising's small but mighty cartridge is drastically similar to that of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, giving off a feeling of pure Sakurai charm, and it's on this menu that you'll find two distinct modes: Solo and Together. Both are self-explanatory, but each house a lot more than you'd bargain for. The main bulk of Solo is Pit's quest, which in layman's terms sees the angel returning after 25 years to take down the revived lord of the Underworld Medusa, but a dash of complexity here and a heap of amazing plot twists there the plotline becomes much more than that, without spoiling anything. Pit's not on his own, however, as the Goddess of Light, Palutena, acts as his guide throughout most of the game. Throughout every single chapter there's a large amount of dialogue that can't be described as anything other than absolutely hilarious, without being to cheesy or at all annoying. This bickering and other forms of vocal exchange (including sexual innuendo, bad jokes, jaw-dropping puns, references to other Nintendo titles and some incredible fourth-wall breaking) could've partially broken the game, because it's heard the majority of the time throughout the nine chapters I've played so far. Luckily, Sakurai's crew at Project Sora picked the perfect voice cast, with Pit himself being likeable but rather clueless with his voice reflecting that. Despite the humour, the game still continues to retain a sense of epic scale, marking a fitting return for the original NES game's heroes and villains alike. The visuals are also reflect this epic scale - I won't go into detail until the review, but I can say that while it may not be the most detailed graphically, Kid Icarus: Uprising might just be the most beautiful game to have ever sprouted from any of Nintendo's branches, especially when you flick that 3D slider up. Oh, and the music - Words can't even describe the catchyness of some of tunes I've heard so far, and this incredible tunage looks to sound even better from here onwards.

Of course, the immense production values and ridiculous amount of content found within Kid Icarus: Uprising is only the icing on a very delicious cake - the gameplay itself used to bake the main bulk of which. One big aspect of the game you lot who haven't yet played the game probably want to hear about is the controls, of which many reviewers have been doing anything other than praising. Despite all the effort put into the game, despite all the content, all the gorgeous art and tremendous production values, review scores as low as 4/10 have been 'awarded' to this release because of one reason - you guessed it: the controls. However, you've got to keep one thing in mind about so-called professional games journalists, and that happens to be the fact they're very busy people. They don't have time to go into options screens to adjust controls to their liking, and instead judge games based off the default settings, which even I will admit are fairly poor. However, with some adjustments (namely, an increase in horizontal reticule speed on both Land and Air Battles as well as an increase in stopping speed on the former) they worked perfectly. It is a fundamental flaw that they got the default settings wrong, at least from my and many others' perspectives, but with the adjustments I mentioned they work like an absolute charm, and many who own the game seem to agree with yours truly more than a lot of the press. Don't expect me to be giving this game anything less than a great score when it comes to the reviewing process. As for the gameplay of Pit's quest, I'll also leave that for the review. Got to have something to write when the time comes, right?

Finally, we're brought to the multiplayer aspect of Kid Icarus: Uprising. Of course, the development of this game has been lead by none other than a certain Mr. Sakurai, the same guy who created Super Smash Bros. That alone is enough to say that Uprising is great fun with your friends, or even with computer-controlled bots (all of which have randomised names based on characters and creations from Nintendo lore, which is pretty awesome to say the least). Action is fast-paced and frantic, packed with Dragonball-style action (that means enormous explosions and mega lasers all over the place, folks) that never holds up, while still being perfectly playable. The framerate does indeed play up on odd occassions while playing with other players across the world, but never enough to halt your experience. There's two game modes found in Uprising's multiplayer: Light vs. Dark and an every man for himself Free-for-All. The latter is self-explanatory but still extremely enjoyable, while the former is a lot more interesting. Two teams of three players are tasked with defeating the opposing team's angel, who appears when a team's life gauge is fully depleted through a number of defeats (the life gauge decreases more rapidly depending on the value of a defeated player's weapon, but more on that in the review). The team who defeats the opposing team's angel achieves victory - It couldn't be simpler, but it's still very fun. Overall, the multiplayer mode is even more icing on the aforementioned delectable cake that is Kid Icarus: Uprising. For now, you lot can look forward to my review of the game which will be posted here on the blog in the coming months, but for now please take my word that this is an absolutely amazing achievement in more ways than one for Sakurai, Sora and Nintendo. Next up on the blog is my oh-so special 100th post, so be sure to look forward to that, drop some comments here if you wish and stay tuned in for more on Kid Icarus: Uprising!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Update: The Big 100th Post and Other Incoming Pieces

Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come. No, the world hasn't come to an end just yet, please continue to write off all that silly speculation as insanity for the time being. Anyway, the purpose of this update post is to divert your attention in the direction of an oncoming storm. A very positive oncoming storm, that is. While every post on this blog is a celebration (apologies for the grating cheesyness of the latter nine words) there's little that could be more important than the big 100. As it stands, this is the 98th published post here on the blog, so in little time you'll be seeing the post-count of this one-man publication reaching triple digits, in turn answering the question: What could possibly be the 100th post here on the blog? I'll let out some clues for now to leave you readers guessing until the piece is finally posted later on in the month, shall I? First off, it'll be a review, as per usual of a game. A very important and rather massive game, to say the least. No, it's not the latest Legend of Zelda epic, Skyward Sword, as that wouldn't really be a surprise considering the fact I've already announced that in a previous update. It's a game that I've referenced many a time in quite a few pieces since I first started up this site, just as the game itself references a lot of other source material. If I've still left you guessing at this point, please take my apologies - I won't be dropping any more clue bombs until the review itself is posted. What I will be revealing is other, less secretive posts I'm working on at the moment, many of which are almost finished. Now that's some good news after the decrease in a post count the past three months...

I'll admit it here and now: Countdowns have taken a long while to finish of late. I promised I'd have my Top Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2012 posted before January ended, and frustratingly I couldn't find the time to finish it until the latter days of February almost a month later. Not only that, but the piece was so unexpectedly lengthy that it took two posts to be neatly packed up and published. I guess I've just got too good at writing, right guys? Exactly. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make here is that, if I don't want to burn myself out too much, I should take time on longer posts like that and several other countdowns I've promised of late if I want to keep producing shorter, sweeter pieces and a faster pace. The last two months are more than a good excuse to do this, and if you want even more evidence then let's put things into perspective for a moment: the Tekken 3D Prime Edition Preview, posted last month, took under a day to write and proof-read, and that was a pretty high quality piece if I do say so myself. With that in mind, surely you'd like to see a higher rate of posting here on the blog, as would I. So, as of now, the Top Ten Personal Favourite Games list that I promised in the last update I wrote will not have any kind of deadline. Hopefully by doing this, I'll be back to finishing four or five sweet pieces of journalism posted every month, some of which will indeed be bigger than others. Moving onwards, I'll reveal the upcoming posts you probably don't know about that I mentioned earlier before writing about a completely different subject. Thankfully my more important posts aren't this convoluted.
Naked Snake likes to describe his food as 'tasty'. I like to describe his game as more than that: absolutely friggin' incredible. Expect a review sometime in the future

In the last update I wrote up, I mentioned that I've got a number of reviews in the works that haven't yet been posted. Well, those reviews are still very much in the works, or haven't been started yet. Aside from the top secret piece mentioned at the start of this update, I've oddly and surprisingly not got many other reviews planned. You'll still be seeing the likes of Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Kingdom Hearts 2 and Persona 4 reviewed in the next set of months, but other than the possibility of a few surprises thrown in for good measure, not a whole lot else. However, before I forget, I have been playing through the fantastic Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (the original PS2 version, not the recent 3DS re-hash) and I'll definitely be writing a review of that at some point in the future, albeit not before the aforementioned posts I've got in the works. The main bulk of any new announcements this month enters this update in the form of general gaming-related pieces; Previews, my opinion of some demos, and various other things. Tomorrow, you'll be seeing a preview/rant based around Kid Icarus: Uprising, the re-incarnation of the classic 80's series left long in the shadows, only to be brought back to life by Masahiro Sakurai twice over (the first time in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and second with this stellar-looking 3DS release). So, what could I possibly be ranting about? I think it's quite obvious: the critics' general response to the control system of the game. I'll leave anything about that until the actual post, mind. Moving on, following my 100th post I've also got a journalistic look at the seemingly excellent Rhythm Thief and the Emperor's Treasure, a rather fun demo of which was recently released on the 3DS' eShop free of charge. I'm sure everyone else who has tried out the demo will agree that this rhythm action-meets-Professor Layton experience will be a strong 3DS title when it's released. Other than that, you can also expect the usual straight off the top of my head gaming banter, hopefully keeping that dipping post count up for once. Like the last update, I'll also be signing off with a quick list of what's to come for all you lazy people out there. Later, readers!

Upcoming Posts Round-Up (Post-22/03/2012)
Mystery Review (100th Post)
Preview: Kid Icarus: Uprising
Preview: Rhythm Thief and the Emperor's Treasure
Review: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater