E3 2011: Kid Icarus: Uprising
QUICKTAKE: Nintendo showed off two new features of its long-awaited Kid Icarus follow-up for 3DS. Multiplayer pits (pun intended) three players against three, and offers a fun, but not particularly deep, challenge. AR Cards show in-game characters battle against each other, but without any interactivity, the novelty runs short.
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THE DEMO: There were actually three different demos for Kid Icarus: Uprising at Nintendo's E3 booth. The first was single player, which we've already covered. The second demo showed off the game's rather uninspired use of AR (augmented reality) Cards. Finally, the third demo had two teams of three fighting battling each other in a Team Deathmatch mode.
DETAILS: The AR demo was entirely pointless. A Nintendo rep couldn't tell me any more information on how these cards can be acquired, but it seems safe to assume that a few will be bundled with the game. In AR mode, you'll be able to see 3D recreations of characters from the game, not unlike with the 3D Pokedex. Unfortunately, there isn't much else to do other than attempt to look up characters' skirts. You can watch them battle each other, but with no input from the player, this feature is merely a short-lived tech demo.
Multiplayer was a far more meaty experience, albeit still a shallow one. What I played was essentially Team Deathmatch, pitting three players against three others. Although this is early code, initial setup for matches seemed to take quite a long time. Before each match, you'll be able to select a weapon. I chose the claw for its powerful short-range melee attack. There are other options, including weapons that function more like shotguns, sniper rifles, etc.
You use the analog stick to move, and the stylus to control where you aim. By double tapping the analog stick, you'll be able to dash. Getting close to an opponent will allow you to unleash a melee attack. It's entirely serviceable, although not particularly comfortable. Given how quickly all the characters move, it felt like aiming with the stylus simply couldn't keep up with the action on hand.
While Nintendo is known for creating unique gameplay experiences, the multiplayer portion of Kid Icarus felt entirely by the numbers. Each team has, essentially, a shared health meter. The twist introduced in Uprising is that when one team loses all its points, the last member defeated will be resurrected as "Angel Pit," a character with enhanced abilities. Only by defeating the marked Angel will one team be able to claim victory. Nintendo says this introduces a new "ebb-and-flow dynamic," but in practice, it simply makes the match go on for a little bit longer.
Both the AR support and multiplayer functionality feel like afterthoughts in comparison to the more fully-featured single player experience. Multiplayer especially feels like it needs a bit more variety, and a bit more depth. Although the creator of Smash Bros. is at the helm of this project, it seems clear that Kid Icarus is not destined to become a defining multiplayer experience for the 3DS.
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Kid Icarus: Uprising