Sidescroller: Nintendo goes hardcore

Kid Icarus makes his comeback.

Nintendo often gets pigeonholed as the “kiddy” company. The safe company. The company you can cuddle with all night long without getting steamy. Still, Nintendo isn’t just Pikachus and lollipops. It can crank out true hardcore gaming experiences with the best of them. Why, here are two right now:

‘Kid Icarus Uprising’
Console: 3DS
Company: Nintendo
Grade: 5/5

Back in the Reaganized ’80s, Nintendo released “Kid Icarus” for the NES. Fans thought the surreal take on Greek mythology was going to be another mega franchise like Zelda or Mario. Those fans are now middle-aged and bereft of any real interests, but their dream finally came true. “Kid Icarus Uprising” is the true sequel people have waited 25 years for, and it’s a doozy.

The game is an odd mix of ground-based exploration with sky-based shooting. Consider it the beautiful marriage of Super Smash Bros. and Starfox. The controls take some getting used to, but the game’s 90 difficulty levels (really) and near unlimited customization options more than make up for it. Playing online is a blast, too.

‘Xenoblade Chronicles’
Console: Wii
Company: Nintendo
Grade: 4/5

Nintendo was all set to deny North America this dose of JRPG goodness until a fan campaign changed its mind.

Now we can enjoy the fruits of their labor and dust off the old Wii for one last, grand adventure. In many ways, this feels like the epic Final Fantasy title we didn’t get this generation. There is a lush world that is open and ready to be explored. There is lots and lots of story and plenty of dialog. Also, for those hesitant to embrace the genre, there are no random battles and a brilliant real-time combat system. It feels like a JRPG made for Western audiences. Clear your schedule, though. It takes more than 60 hours to beat. 


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