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Kid Icarus Uprising: The next big 3DS must-have?

The Kid stays in the picture, but it's been pushed back to 2012...

So Pit's long-overdue return to centre stage won't be happening in 2011, which is hardly good news for the fortunes of the 3DS but might turn out to be pretty handy for the game itself.

As you may have noticed, the run-up to Christmas has beeen particularly harsh on the old wallet this year, and on the shelf next to a new Mario Kart and near a fresh Zelda, Kid Icarus might have had trouble standing out. However, there's another, more pressing concern that could potentially be alleviated by delaying Pit's flight for another couple of months.

For every glowing convert to Kid Icarus' breathtaking (mostly) on-rails combat, there's a dead-eyed war vet in the corner of the room, nursing a severe case of Handheld Claw. That's the guy they invented the second circle pad for, although it might be too late in his case. With no reason given for the game's sudden jump to next year, added support for the recently announced accessory is pure conjecture on our part, but come on, Project Sora, you know it makes sense.

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PIT STOP
Now that we've confirmed Second Slide Pad support, it's time to remind you why Kid Icarus will be worth the wait. It's gorgeous, for one thing, which is perhaps shallow of us to point out but it feels like very few games truly put the 3D screen through its paces. Whether Pit's soaring above the clouds, hopping about on foot attempting to take down a hydra, or weaving in and out of a concert of laser beams, he's in one of the best-looking games yet devised for the 3DS.

Obviously there's a catch, and here it's that a lot of the action is on-rails - and even when it's not, it sorta is. The game's split up into chapters, with each one comprising a flying, ground combat and boss section. So far, the strictly movement-limited flight moments seem to be the highlights, with a fixed camera viewpoint that automatically focuses on the extravagant background detail.

On the ground, you have to manually adjust the camera and aim with the stylus, which could prove troublesome in the long run, particularly to that dead-eyed DS vet who hasn't moved an inch since we started writing this.

Weapons are sure to be a highlight too, and judging by recent footage there's going to be a hell of a lot of them. Pit wields everything from claws to guns to, er, dual-shields in his journey, the most impressive by a country mile being a giant obsidian greatsword made up of around three massive blocky pixels. He's come a long, long way since hobbling enemies with a piddly little bow.

DARK MATTER
Plotwise, Pit is once again on a mission to defeat the hideous Medusa, who you might not remember if you're under 25. After you get a proper haircut, young man, you'll be pleased to hear that Uprising constantly doles out snippets of backstory on the touch screen, so you should be up to speed in no time. This latest Kid Icarus - just the third in 25 years - also introduces Dark Pit, who seems to be our hero's evil alter-ego, and not the hard bit at the centre of an olive.

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Dark Pit's role in the story is unclear at the moment, but it's been confirmed that he'll assume the position of Dark Team leader during the game's competitive multiplayer, fighting opposite Classic Pit on the side of Light. Yep, there's multiplayer - when the very last member of each three-person team is defeated, they'll respawn as either Pit or Dark Pit, and have it out against the remainder of the other side.

As if online battles weren't enough, the game will also feature Augmented Reality card scraps. When two AR cards are placed next to each other, the creatures they represent will batter each other senseless - if you're viewing them through the 3DS camera, at least. If you're not, you'll have to use your 'imagination', whatever that is.

There's clearly a lot of content here, so much that it can be difficult, at a glance, to get a sense of what the meat of the game will involve. From everything we've seen, played, heard and guessed at over the last few months though, aerial combat seems to be where it's at, and that's where this revival seems to be shining brightest. We might have longer to wait, but it takes time to reach the heavens. And there's a good chance this game will be heavenly.

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