Nintendo had an impressive array of 3DS games playable on the show floor at GDC, including the upcoming Kid Icarus: Uprising. It has been almost 20 years since gamers have been able to control Pit in a new Kid Icarus adventure, so to say Uprising is an anticipated game might be a little bit of an understatement. Will the game be worth the wait?
The playable Kid Icarus: Uprising demo was a rather short section of game, likely selected to show off both flight and ground combat. Pit is controlled with the analog stick, while aiming is handled with the stylus and touch screen. The left shoulder button was used to fire attacks. This default control scheme and the fact that the 3DS only has one analog stick seems to put left-handed gamers in an awkward position, literally. As a right-handed gamer, the controls seem to work fine but holding the 3DS comfortably is a little awkward considering the player must hold the system entirely with his or her left hand, while still using his or her left thumb for movement and left index finger to shoot. Resting the system on a table or on your legs might be required for longer gaming sessions. Not ideal for a mobile console.
After getting somewhat used to awkward hand positioning required to play, the controls themselves seemed to work fine and were smooth and responsive. The most difficult task was keeping the system level, Pit moving, and rapidly firing at the same time -- more a fault of the control layout than the actual responsiveness of the controls.
The flying section of the demo played better than the land-based action. Flying in Kid Icarus: Uprising felt very much like Star Fox, flying on a generally predetermined path while still controlling some aspects of movement and then targeting and shooting. After Pit landed, the controls felt a little less intuitive as the touch screen was used for both aiming and rapidly turning the camera left and right. Performing perfect circle strafing was not as easy as it should have been.
The game's 3D effect looked good and gave some great depth to the game, especially when flying. The awkward hand position required, however, made holding the system still difficult when shooting and this in turn made it hard to keep the 3DS in the required visual sweet spot to have the 3D look its best.
The overall gameplay experience itself was enjoyable, if simplistic. Pit simply flew around (or ran around) and targeted enemies and shot them. Sure, that description could be used for a lot of games, but there did not seem to be much strategy or diversity in the approach for how to attack certain enemies. Bulletstorm this is not.
While gamers may be eager to get there hands on a new Kid Icarus game, it might be best that Kid Icarus: Uprising is not launching day and date with the 3DS. Hopefully the extra time will be used to make the title as special as fans want it to be.
Kid Icarus: Uprising is expected to launch in June for the 3DS.