Despite weird control scheme, this is a fun and funny retro revival done right - tweens+ will love
"Sorry to keep you waiting!" I've been a fan of the Kid Icarus franchise, even though the NES was well before my time, and I became a big fan of its mix of platforming and action. So, imagine my surprise when, at E3 (gaming's biggest tradeshow/preview event) two years ago, Nintendo revealed a new Kid Icarus installment for the 3DS. Designer Masahiro Sakurai, known for Super Smash Bros., helped give Kid Icarus' angel protagonist Pit a new lease on life in Brawl, which seemed to be part of a plan to revive Kid Icarus. Well, it's finally here, a year after the 3DS' arrival, and the long development time was well worth it. KI:U is an elegantly crafted, well-designed and downright refreshing retro revival. The gameplay is pretty simple, but somewhat complicated: move with the 3DS' circle pad, shoot with the L button, and aim using your stylus. While I'm used to these sorts of controls, since I've played DS games that use stylus/D-pad coordination such as Metroid Prime: Hunters, Moon, Dementium and The World Ends With You, not everyone will like them. The stand included in KI:U is pretty nifty, but might not fix the problem a whole lot for some people (such as lefties, who would have to make do with the Circle Pad Pro, that $20 3DS attachment, or select a control option that's to their liking). Just try it out and see if you like it, if you're not sure. Now that the only bad thing about the game is out of the way, there are many, many good things about KI:U that shine through the control issues. For one thing, the graphics are breathtaking, especially in 3D. I still can't believe that a handheld can produce something this high-quality. The music is also good, and in keeping with the absurd nature of the game, it has a hilarious, self-aware script that often pokes fun at genre conventions, breaks the fourth wall, and even references other Nintendo franchises (such as itself, of course). Many chuckles can be had here. The replay value is also enormous: in addition to the 10-12 hour campaign, you've got a ton of weapons to collect, you can use the collectable AR cards (six come with the game, and others can be found by various means), you can play multiplayer (fast, furious and lag-free, it bodes well for Nintendo's new online service), and there are plenty of unlockables. Again, none of these things take a gamer by surprise, since this is from the man who gave us the three Super Smash Bros. games (the epitome of unlockable content). KI:U is also quite appropriate for the E10+ set, maybe one or two years younger. As stated, there's a lot of mild fantasy combat with a variety of weapons, but it looks about as realistic as a Saturday morning cartoon, and the mocking tone of the game helps mitigate a lot of things (even the scariest-looking enemies have a very campy look to them, basically). There's also a bit of cleavage from Medusa and a bit of mild innuendo, but those things are also found in many cartoons. Most kids who are about 8 or so have definitely seen/heard these things, by the way. Overall, this is the way to revive a classic gaming franchise. Aside from the controls, KI:U delivers on its lofty promises, and is one of the most innovative games to come around in a long while. Apologies accepted, Pit.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence