Kid Icarus plays it fast and loose with Greek mythology.
Did you know that I'm automatically biased against Nintendo? I didn't, but I'm sure you'll be able to scroll down to the comments right now and find unassailable arguments to that effect. My grudge basically started back in the 2000s when they brought out the GameCube. "Oh," said I, "I suppose you expect me to be impressed, do you, by your genuinely enjoyable games and one of the best-designed controllers of the generation? How dare you put on such airs? Out the window with your ghastly little box ottoman. What's this? The DS? With a well-implemented touch screen driving thoughtful game design? Where the fuck do you get off?! Window!"
In all seriousness, it's true that I'm petty and bitter about a lot of things. I'm the guy who went fifty miles out of his way to burn down Lee Drummond's house. But I honestly have nothing invested in pointing out Nintendo's recent failings. Unlike their entire fucking target audience, I wasn't raised on Nintendo, so I have no sense of wounded betrayal. Maybe if I express not having enjoyed a Nintendo product, it's because I didn't enjoy it rather than because I was seething with jealous, impotent rage at its undeniable splendor.
Okay then, now that's covered, here's Kid Icarus: Uprising, a shit game for twats.
The first thing one notices when starting Kid Icarus: Upskirting is that the menu interface seems remarkably similar to that of Smash Brothers Brawl, which makes sense when you think about it, because Smash Brothers Brawl is the only reason anyone still knows what Kid Icarus is. After the initial NES game, Nintendo let the property snooze for about twenty years with uncharacteristic restraint for a company that reimagines its old properties so much that the original imagining has long since faded light blue like a movie poster in an abandoned shop window NOT BIASED.
I suppose the situation has never been dire enough to justify dredging this far down the yawning black pit that used to be the barrel, but with a 3D gimmick continuing to impress about as well as an incontinent St. Bernard at a dry cat festival, Nintendo have to work that nostalgia dollar till its tits fall off. I'm not going to go on about the 3D aspect again, because the amount of times I've gone over my position there, my own tits aren't looking particularly secure, either, and anyway I kept the 3D turned off the whole way through. So even if Kid Icarus does justify that awful bollocks, I'd have never have found out, and I don't care.
What might throw up a red flag or two is that Kid Icarus comes with a peripheral. Not additional buttons or some kind of wing harness so you can control the game by flapping your elbows, but a collapsible stand on which to put the entire handheld. Which might seem strange, but rest assured it's provided for the entirely rational reason that the controls are absolute shit on cheesy biscuits. Move with analog stick, aim with stylus, and shoot with left shoulder button. Here's a practical experiment: try to hold a cat while simultaneously drawing on its back with a glitter pen and poking it in the eye with your other hand. There's no way to hold it up except by its throat, and you're trying to torment the smug little bastard, not strangle it. That's exactly the problem for which Nintendo apparently could come up with no better workaround - like, say, making the character shoot when the stylus is pressed to the touchscreen rather than with a separate button - than mandating the use of a stand. A stand that cripplingly undermines the very concept of a handheld. I like to play DS stretched out on the couch while someone fills my mouth with chocolate, not hunched over it at my desk like I'm making a fucking ship in a bottle.
The main character is named Pit, not Icarus. Perhaps actually naming the character after a mythological figure famously destroyed by their own hubris and overconfidence smacked a little of tempting fate, but anyway he's an angel living in a sort of cutsey-arse mythology world populated by anime versions of Greek deities before Kratos got his leatherin mitts on any of them. In broad terms, Pit's goal is to thwart the plans of the queen of the underworld, Medusa. I always thought Persephone was queen of the underworld, but I suppose one can't ask for too much adherence to classic mythology in a game where you shoot giant Groucho Marx glasses that blow bombs out of their nostrils.
Throughout the missions, Pit is in constant communication with his patron goddess, presumably over Skype. And it's good that they keep the characterization going, but the tone of their dialogue is rather overtly comedic, with "comedic" in the largest quotation marks Microsoft Word will permit. It's mostly self-referential humor, so the reference material was presumably one children's guide to Greek mythology and the complete box set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And I know there are some who like that kind of humor, but it made me want to shove my hand through the 3DS and repurpose it as a sandwich toaster specializing in eggy-in-a-basket.
Each mission consists of one rail shooter bit where you fly around shooting baddies and getting shot because you're distracted by the endless particle effects, the jolly pretty backgrounds, or Pit's delightful, chubby, boyish thighs and then a bit on the ground where you run around shooting baddies and fall down a whole bunch of chasms because Pit does a dodge dash if you move the analog stick any harder than blowing on it. And the recurring motto of Kid Icarus is: "Was that it?" 'Cause the levels are short and the bosses go down faster than your mum in Richard Branson's passenger seat.
Admittedly, you can tweak the difficulty to a rather insanely exact degree as part of the extraordinary amount of menu-based faffing around you have to do between missions like you're making your way through a car park full of abandoned shopping trolleys. Manage your gear, buy new weapons, combine weapons into new ones, collect trophies, view recently unlocked achievements, and there's one rather suspect feature in which you pay the goddess huge amounts of money to walk brisky towards you shaking her rack back and forth. Is Pit even old enough to be at a celestial titty bar?
Kid Icarus's tone is unashamedly retro, what with all the Groucho Marx shooting gallery business and constant references made to the NES one, which mainly comes across as faintly desperate. The visuals are too busy to engage, and any game that's actually physically painful to play isn't quite ready for prime time, is it? The complete mess of between-mission distractions serves mainly to bring any sense of flow to a crashing halt, to the point that it gets harder and harder to bring oneself to do more than one or two missions in a sitting, even disregarding the encroaching back pain that I'm sure you infuriating young people won't need to worry about until you turn thirty and all have spines like the last banana on the shelf. Same thing happened with Valkyria Chronicles - if a game keeps asking me if I'd like to continue the story, I'll find myself dwelling on the question more and more. Hmm, well, since you asked, game, I guess I could be getting on with some writing, and it's certainly true that I'm having less fun with you than I had at my last drill bit tasting.
- He really is the pits: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- Hades in this game sounds so much like Anthony Head's character from Bleak Expectations it's quite frightening
- Go look up whether there were angels in Greek mythology or not