One of the longest lines on the first day of Nintendo World 2011 was for *Kid Icarus: Uprising*, with a wait of about 20-30 minutes even though there were two demo areas setup. And for good reason too. It was by far the stand-out of the day, and while we’ve only played half of the demo (as we chose the easy mode option, which is completely different from the hard mode) it’s just one of the titles that clicks with you right away.
The demo starts with an on-rails section. Right off the bat you could feel the immersion of the 3D effects. Enemies that are far away *look* far away and sweeping through valleys and over the ocean feels like it has an actual weight too it. At one point (which is shown in the trailer) you’re soaring over the city and the camera pans around as you ready for another wave of enemies, who fly at you in all sorts of formations with some of them popping up right in front of you, requiring quick reflexes to defend against them. This moment of soaring made me completely aware of the fact that this game I was playing was *fun*.
Controlling Pit had a great simplicity to it, but didn’t leaving you feeling disengaged through its ease. Moving around the screen was done with the slide pad (or circle pad as I think it’s being called now), while aiming was handled with the stylus. Firing involved pressing the left trigger and felt satisfying as we blasted away at all our foes. The only downside of this is that it may be difficult to play the game if you’re standing up, which is why the demo station was the only one with seats. You really needed to be quite stable. Nevertheless, the controls were perfectly precise and responsive and I quickly lost that sense of disconnection that I’ve felt when controlling characters in other games.
After battling your way through the aerial assault Pit hits the ground and you begin the off-rails portion of the game. Aside from this variety being great I think the ground-based combat is where a lot of the advantages of 3D come to light. As enemies fire projectiles as you there’s something marvellous you realise: you know exactly when they’ll reach you. Now, you can often soon work out how long it takes for projectiles to reach you in most games, but this was instant. You could judge the distance accurately, and easily dive out of the way by pushing the slide pad all the way to the left or right. Effortlessly avoiding differently-timed balls of death-bringing light makes you feel quite awesome.
What I also found curious was that the game didn’t cause any eye strain even though it was one of the longer running demos. As I’ll surely bring up elsewhere, games with immense landscapes seemed to cause the most problems, but it didn’t seem to be an issue at all in this instance.
The demo wrapped up with a boss battle with Twin Bellows, a Cerberus-like creature that was featured in the original game. There’s not much to say about this though. The battle looked gorgeous, but the easy mode made it *really* easy. Continually diving out of the way and spamming the left trigger did the trick in a matter of seconds. This made the preview a little anti-climactic but that’s why we’ll be heading back tomorrow and playing through it on hard mode which will offer up a different slice of the game.
Overall I’d say *Kid Icarus: Uprising* is the best thing we’ve played at the show. It used the 3D well, controlled like a champ and no annoyances that took me out of the experience. We’re yet to get to Ocarina of Time (the line was ridiculous, so we’ll arrive earlier tomorrow), so that may take the crown, but I’d definitely suggest you at least give Kid Icarus a look when it’s released. Definitely a day one purchase for me.