Word has it that Nintendo only went with Kid Icarus: Uprising as the subtitle for its new Kid Icarus 3DS game only after ‘Wristbreaker,’ ‘Carpal Tunnel Provider’ and ‘What the Eff is Up With These Controls?’ options didn’t test well in focus groups.

The game is a distant sequel to a 1980s NES release, which everyone seems to remember fondly despite its horrific difficulty, graphics, gameplay and propensity for transforming your character to an eggplant at inopportune times. Far more than a nostalgic cash-in, this new Kid Icarus bucks the anachronistic nature of its daddy and is way futuristic. Probably too futuristic for its own good, even. It’s meant to be played by an evolved form of humanity with four eyes and four to six hands.

Uprising is so weirdly demanding of extra hands that Nintendo obviously felt a little bad about the control scheme and provided a sort of kickstand to attach your 3DS to as you struggle and fail to tap this, press that and hit the stylus with this while attempting not to gouge your eye out with a fingernail that flies off during the process. You can react to the impossibility of the controls in two ways — by either dropkicking the game and its silly kickstand into the garbage, or ignoring the pain it causes you and focusing on its many positive aspects.

“You don’t know Kid Icarus (whose real name is Pit) like I do,” you’ll say to disapproving friends. “He’s not always so cruel. He’s so tender and understanding when we’re alone. I think I can change him.”

Uprising, a combination rail-shooter/action-adventure romp, is as addictive as porn and nearly as visually appealing. You shiatsu-massage the screen in a frenzy as you attempt to fend off all manner of Greek mythological monsters. Once you beat a mission, you’re scored and given the chance to retry it or any of the others you’ve beaten to score new loot. You can tweak the difficulty level on a sliding scale, taking on more challenging versions of the level for a better booty haul. Much of the game’s fun comes in customizing your loadout of wacky weapons to find the most devastating combos, then field testing your gear and retreating to tweak your arsenal.

The patently ridiculous story is packed with humor and peppered with ironic twists, but you tire of the voice acting when you’re replaying the same missions again and again. We turned the sound down and ignored the chatter to pursue our most lusted-after weapons.

The single-player mode, which keeps on tacking mission after mission long after you expect it to end, is more than enough to make the game stand on its own, but Uprising also rocks a multiplayer setup that’s perhaps Nintendo’s most impressive effort in that field to date. Six-player matches allow for free-for-alls or a tweaked team-deathmatch mode. Most weapons and abilities gleaned in single-player carry over, leading to imbalanced affairs that spur you to do more homework in single-player before heading back into the fray.

The bottom line with Uprising is that you can’t change Pit. You just have to accept him, wings, warts and all, and roll with it. Playing the game is a little like making out with Medusa. Just ignore the hissing sounds from the hair and learn to deal with the fact that you’ve been turned to stone and you should manage just fine.

Rating: 8.5/10

Kid Icarus: Uprising ($39.99) was developed by Project Sora and published by Nintendo. Rated E 10+.

Played and replayed missions on main campaign for 10 hours. Sampled multiplayer and AR modes. The publisher provided a copy of the game for review.

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