Despite having been largely absent from video games for the past twenty five-odd years, Kid Icarus: Uprising proves that the angelic Pit certainly hasn’t been resting on his laurels.

Now under the direction of the creator of the popular Super Smash Bros. series, Pit’s triumphant return is a tough as nails shooter-brawler extravaganza which will leave you feeling suitably humbled by the time you finish the first level.

The story begins with the resurrection of Medusa, the leader of the Underworld, but Pit will have to deal with a lot more than just her minions before he’s done.

Spread across 25 rip-roaring levels, each one is divided into an air and land section. When Pit takes to the sky, you’ll be shooting down enemies, collecting hearts and dodging incoming fire at break-neck speed, all the while careering round a whole host of fantastic landscapes that are as bonkers as they are delightful.

From the deck of an outer space pirate ship to the inside of a thundercloud, these sections are truly sublime with Pit racking up the air miles like no tomorrow.

The land sections feel slightly more stilted, however, as players must use the stylus to swivel the camera as well as aim, and it takes a couple of hours for it to feel completely natural.

Add in an infuriating side-dash which sends you hurtling off platforms far too often, and the land sections are decidedly less graceful than their aerial companions.

They don’t invoke the same kind of visual delights either, often falling into the typical corridor after corridor routine until you meet the final boss.

That said, there’s a surprising amount of depth underneath all the basic shooting and brawling that will definitely keep players coming back for more, and this is mostly down to the Fiend’s Cauldron.

Before you begin each mission, you can alter the difficulty setting, ranging from an “effortless”, walk in the park 0.0 to a relentless “white hot” blood bath at 9.0.

The difference between each one is palpable, but it’s not simply a case of trying your luck on different intensities or racing through on the easiest setting.

You’re also betting hearts, and the more you bet, the better rewards and bonuses you’ll receive.

Punch above your weight though and you’ll lose them for good if you don’t make it out alive. It’s a clever way to entice players back in, but Uprising gives one further by giving players 360 Treasure Hunt achievements to get stuck into as well.

With challenges ranging from time attacks to completing levels with certain weapons on different intensity levels, this adds an even greater incentive to go back to earlier levels, securing Pit’s longevity well past the main story.

There’s also an incredible amount of customisation available too, from your broader arsenal and abilities right down to the nitty-gritty of the camera controls.

But it’s the wide variety of weapons which really give Uprising its edge, as each one has its own distinct feel and play-style.

There’s everything from slow and heavy melee clubs to lighter, more nimble staffs and bows that pack less of a punch but can perform both ranged and close-combat attacks.

You can also fuse weapons together to create new ones and trade them via StreetPass, but even if you come across the same weapon twice in your travels, its individual powers and abilities will always be different, making the whole game a really unique experience that caters to all types of player.

But it’s not just the single-player mode that exhibits this level of individuality.

The online multiplayer, or Together mode as it’s known in the game, is also superb, and you can play in either a Light Vs Dark team based battle or a Free For All fight where it’s every player for themselves.

All your weapons and power-ups from single-player can be brought over for Together battles, and both modes are short bursts of fast-paced and frenetic action that’s completely seamless and lag-free.

Up to six players can join the fray, but it can get slightly overwhelming on some of the smaller stages.

The same land battle camera niggles from single-player come back in full force too, and with screen-wide power-ups that put Super Smash Bros. Brawl to shame, less experienced players may get beaten to a pulp before they can say Palutena on an eggplant.

Considering single-player is so user-friendly, it’s a shame that Together mode isn’t quite so accommodating when it comes to matching your opponents.

All in all, Kid Icarus: Uprising is a hugely entertaining game with loads of hidden extras for players to dive into. Play it for the frantic air battles, play it for witty banter and Nintendo in-jokes that never fail to crack a smile, and play it for the fantastic online multiplayer.

It’s still great fun even with the slight control issues, and you certainly won’t find a more challenging or exciting game on 3DS.

9/10 Kid Icarus: Uprising is out now on Nintendo 3DS.