Kid Icarus: Uprising on 3DS was one heck of a game. A bombastic shooter inspired by Greek mythology, the game still has a devoted fanbase. In fact, a good number of Nintendo heads have always been a bit miffed that such an ambitious, explosive game from one of the industry’s all-time greats (Smash Bros. boss Masahiro Sakurai) didn’t spawn a new franchise. But with the success of the Switch and now the Switch Lite, could Pit and Palutena be primed for a triumphant return?
2012’s Uprising was the third game in the Kid Icarus franchise, and was released a massive 21 years after the second. The game’s story revolves around Palutena (the Goddess of Light) sending Pit to thwart Medusa (the Goddess of Darkness) and her evil schemes. The gameplay essentially sees Palutena guide Pit through the skies in an on-rails shooter format, before the missions become ground-based and much more open. This was always Sakurai’s original concept: a game in which you must fly to where your mission takes place, before landing and tackling your main objective.
Utilising the 3DS stylus to control your weapon of choice (more on that later), you used charged shots as well as continuous fire to take down foes. Different classes of weapons offered different firepower and, back at the home screen, it was possible to customise your blades, bows and clubs. The overall result was a frenetic and immensely enjoyable handheld experience, and the care and love that Sakurai and his team put into the game was especially impressive given that so much of the beautifully rendered visuals flashed by in an instant. The game also featured some of the finest voice acting in a videogame, ever. There were frequent hilarious moments, knowing nods to the player and plenty of memorable quotes: “You’ve got to be upbeat, upbeat, upbeat! Or you’ll be dead meat, dead meat, dead meat!”
Hera One Day, Gone The Next
So, with strong reviews, good sales and even something of a cult following, why hasn’t there been more from Uprising and its world? Well, Uprising’s developer Project Sora (a company founded by Sakurai) shut down soon after the game’s release, with little reason given as to why. Since then Pit has only been seen as a playable fighter in Smash Bros, the franchise Sakurai returned to after completing Uprising. Even worse for those of us who’ve been holding out for a new game, Sakurai has, in the past, dismissed talk of a sequel or a modern Uprising port and even commented on how nightmarish the game was to develop – that doesn’t sound like a man keen to give Kid Icarus more of his time!
But *record scratch* some recent Nintendo news offers Uprising fans real hope. According to Takashi Mochizuki (Wall Street Journal), Shuntaro Furukawa (worldwide president of Nintendo) wants to bring more 3DS franchises to Switch after the huge 2019 success of the Switch Lite. With the 3DS at the very end of its lifecycle, and well-established 3DS franchises such as Pokémon and Brain Age already making the jump, it certainly seems like there is a real opening for Kid Icarus: Uprising to receive a remaster on Switch. This could even be used as a trial run to measure the desire for a fully-fledged sequel and a long-term continuation of the series!
So just how would a Kid Icarus: Uprising remaster for Switch work given that the game was specifically developed with the 3DS in mind? Let’s start with the control scheme. The most divisive aspect of Uprising, the control scheme saw players using the left stick to control Pit and the stylus to aim on the 3DS’ touch screen, with the 'L' button firing. Some players just couldn’t get on board with this control method (even when using that weird plastic stand that shipped with game), but the Switch and its twin analogue sticks offer an obvious solution. Aiming the on-screen crosshair with the right Joy-Con’s analogue stick would probably be somewhat slower than sliding a stylus along a screen, but maybe the game’s weapons could be made a little more powerful to mitigate that lag.
There’s also the question of the game’s amazing dialogue, a near constant audio banter that comes accompanied with beautiful character graphics on the 3DS’s touch screen. The Switch obviously doesn’t have a second screen, and the Wii U and its Gamepad might seem like a more obvious fit for this dynamic, but that console’s time has long since past. No, the answer probably lies with other Switch-ported games like Fire Emblem Warriors that employ unintrusive dialogue boxes in the bottom corner of the screen, complete with a small anime character portrait. Fire Emblem Warriors is by no means the first game to take this approach, but it is a Switch title that proves in-game dialogue can be implemented without interfering with hectic on-screen action.
So, Should Nintendo Reopen Pandora’s Box?
The fact remains that Sakurai has never sounded eager about returning to Uprising. Things can change though, and, after Sakurai has finished working on DLC fighters for Smash Bros Ultimate (and hopefully taken a very long, relaxing holiday), he’ll no doubt be looking for a new project. And if he doesn’t want to do it, maybe someone else at Nintendo could take up the Kid Icarus mantle, perhaps with Sakurai on board as an executive producer?
Despite all the obvious obstacles, it’s probably fair to say that there is at least a realistic hope that Kid Icarus will get a continuation on Switch. An Uprising port seems like the most obvious place to start, essentially because the game always felt like a fully-fledged home console title crammed into a tiny 3DS cart anyway. But we wouldn’t say no to a brand-new Kid Icarus game either, no matter who’s working on it! Just don’t tell us there’s still another 21 years left to wait.