Kid Icarus: Uprising takes place in a setting based loosely around Greek mythology.
The main protagonist is the angel Pit, servant of the Goddess of Light Palutena.
Each chapter begins with an aerial battle, consisting of a five-minute on rails shooter segment, with Pit being guided along a predetermined path.
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Hearts are used to increase the game's difficulty by laying bets against the player's own performance.
As the game progresses, Pit gains access to weapons separated into nine types: bows, bracer-like claws, blades (a combination of a sword and a gun), clubs, orbitars (twin orbs hovering near Pit), staffs, arms (a weapon that fits around his wrist), palms (magical tattoos covering Pit's arm), and cannons.
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The game's difficulty, or Intensity, is determined by betting hearts in the Fiend's Cauldron before beginning each mission.
The difficulty ranges from the very easy "0.0" to the highly difficult "9.0".
Development began in 2009, but was faced with multiple difficulties: these included lack of access to the hardware during early stages, balancing between its many elements, and issues with the controls.