Nintendo's nationwide Kid Icarus: Uprising tournament spread its wings in Los Angeles last night, and the competition's third and second-to-last night was its largest yet. With 72 competitors, tons of people had to settle for spectating. Nintendo reps were on hand to speak with fans and show them how to play, and t-shirts and collectible augmented reality Kid Icarus cards were handed out liberally. At 7:30, two and a half hours into the festivities, there were only a dozen competitors left, and the atmosphere was electric.

Among those dozen were the three who would shortly emerge victorious: Alexander Casillas, 19, of Moreno Valley, CA; Brian Najm, 18, of Fresno, CA; and Garrett Medina, 19, a native of LA. Casillas's score of 2,893 points proved unbeatable, while Najm and Medina hit 2,872 and 2,221, respectively. The game itself, an explosive, colorful, fast-paced battle royale between light and dark forces, prompted positive reactions from players and onlookers. The pleased murmurs throughout the crowd and smiles on everyones' faces were proof enough of their approval.

While Casillas and Medina had had some practice at GDC last week, Najm's skills were straight up natural—he'd never touched it before today. Only Medina, however, has ever been to New York before, and all three were eager to head there next week—on Nintendo's dime, of course—to compete in the finals on the 22nd. As finalists, they're already assured to receive copies of Uprising and $50 Gamestop gift cards. The grand prize includes the game, a $500 Gamestop gift card, a Kid Icarus-themed 3DS system, copies of Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Pilotwings Resort, and Star Fox 64 3D, and a snazzy winged trophy.

"It's like the greatest opportunity ever," said Casillas, thrilled to "get paid pretty much (the flight and all that!) to play a game."

"The excitement hasn't fully set in yet," Najm said. "I can't find the words to describe how I feel right now."

Medina added, "It doesn't feel real I guess."

The three life-long Nintendo fans ("I started out with the original Nintendo, the NES, and then I built my way up," Najm said) seemed fast friends as they posed for pictures in front of the score board, but we're guessing they'll be all business once next Thursday's competition arrives. They'll have some fierce competition, as the finalists from the past two weeks' events in San Francisco and Orlando, FL will be present as well. And even onlookers will have the opportunity to purchase the game a day before its March 23 launch if they head to NYC's Gamestop on Broadway and 84th during tourney time.

Nintendo doesn't normally hold pre-launch events like this, but given how much fun competitors, onlookers and even Nintendo's staff seemed to be having, we think they might want to do it again. Isn't there a new Smash Bros. game—like Uprising, headed by Masahiro Sakurai—coming out for the Wii U at some point? Just saying.

When asked if they had anything to add, all three replied that they love their mothers. Now that's a wholesome good time if we've ever had one.

Tags: kid-icarus-uprising, nintendo, 3ds, kid-icarus, gamestop
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