The return of Kid Icarus has been at the behest of Nintendo's devoted fans for some time now, and while this first sequel for over 20 years is a departure from its side-scrolling roots, it's a terrific game in its own right. Part on-rails shooter, part action-adventure, it offers an array of smartly implemented ideas and a story for a genuinely unique adventure, regardless of whether you know about Pit's past exploits.
The campaign sees each level divided into two stages. The first is a simple on-rails shooting section, where Pit whizzes past scenery on a set path, leaving it up to the player to move him around the screen with the thumb pad and use stylus aiming to blast away foes.
The simplicity in gameplay, genuinely stunning visuals of vast vistas and rollercoaster dives through tight crevices make these opening sections incredibly fun, and thanks to Pit's shortcomings when it comes to flying long distances, means they never outstay their welcome.
Stages in both their theme and layout offer great diversity through the lengthy campaign; grind rails and vehicles regularly break up on-foot traversal, while there are secret rooms, chests and loot about for those who want to find them.
Taking on enemies is similar to when flying through the air, using the stylus to aim and a shoulder button to attack, which automatically changes to a melee attack when you get up close.
It's great fun, but occasionally hampered by control issues when things get hectic, especially when multiple or overpowered foes spawn nearby, requiring you to quickly spin the camera with a dash of the stylus and move Pit out of danger quickly, both of which don't quite provide the accuracy or speed that you wish you had.
It's unfortunately this lack of precise control under stress that makes multiplayer an undesirable prospect. Facing routine enemies in the story is generally no problem, especially when you come to discover their behaviours, but facing unpredictable human foes and being able to react to their moves is often frustrating and difficult, which is a bit of a shame considering that's where the best weapons and brunt of the replayability are found.
The slightly cumbersome way you clutch the system with the stylus is obviously the reason behind the bundled stand, allowing players to rest their console to relieve their hands. While some light cramping did persist during longer sessions, I personally found that it was not required.
Of course, reports from other players do suggest otherwise, and this combined with the fact that missions are lengthy for a portable adventure - often over 20 minutes each - suggests that this project might have been better suited on a console.
But Kid Icarus: Uprising makes up for these niggles with a host of clever ideas that tweak and extend the campaign's potential. You can earn more hearts (the game's currency) if you decide to notch up the difficulty before a stage begins, which also allows you to access locked doors in dungeons to earn rare and valuable weapons.
Between missions, weapons can be bought, sold, traded (on StreetPass) or combined for stronger variants, while Powers are equipped by making them fit together on a grid that's a cross between Tetris and Resident Evil's inventory system.
More treasure can be unlocked through certain in-game accomplishments, while Super Smash Bros. fans will revel in the Idol Toss, a straightforward but addictive slot machine that's fed 3DS Play Coins for collectable statues.
But the biggest highlight is the story, which is presented through a series of basic but incredibly well written and voiced cutscenes. Not only are they painless in their delivery, playing out on the bottom screen as you play through the mission, but they're always wonderfully executed.
The banter between Pit, his helping hand Goddess Palutena and the bizarre Underworld adversaries is a constant source of humour, and the script is delightfully self-aware, both in that you're playing a video game and that Pit has been away from our screens for a couple of decades.
What's interesting about Kid Icarus: Uprising is that its biggest strengths lie in the story and well-implemented side features that further flesh out a well-paced and enjoyable campaign. Despite slight control problems that can hamper portability - and unfortunately the multiplayer - there's an awful lot to like in Kid Icarus: Uprising, making Pit's return one well worth the wait.