If you have ever seen the Avatar TV show on
Nickelodeon, the folks over there got it right when it came to walking the
line between cheap children action cartoon and annoying adult cartoon. Rather,
the premise involving a young Avatar (reincarnated soul who needs to master
the four elements prior to a prophetic comet's return), who was born in the
Air clan and must travel the world in order to master each of the elemental
powers (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) before the evil Fire nation asserts its
stranglehold on the rest of the world. There is of course, the cliché
wisecracking friend and his kid sister who happens to be a water bender, but
the writing is sharp, the action is breathtaking and most kids who see it,
want to see it again.
So, here we have the PSPs version of the hugely
popular cartoon, and with such a popular license I approached this game with
some reservations and recruited my nephew to help out with a 12 year olds
perspective (the target audience). The first thing you should know is that the
game is played from a top down perspective and our main hero Aang and his
buddy Sokka are trying to rescue Katara (kid sister waterbender) from the Fire
nation who has kidnapped her in a possible attempt to force Aang's hand
and use his powers to take over the world. As it is, the Fire nation is locked
in a war with the other elemental nations, and controlling the Avatar would
bring about the wars conclusion, and not in a good way.
Aang has a set of basic attacks that he uses with
his magic that of course is based on air. Sokka uses traditional weapons like
a boomerang and staff and maybe some bombs, once you rescue Katara, she
provides the much needed water attacks/magic which in turn brings the healer
to the group. Now when you move around you can easily switch from the
characters by toggling the left trigger button as the other two will always
follow the character you are controlling, they also will automatically attack
anyone who stands in your way should you choose to fight. the whole game is
controlled rather easily and even switching from one attack to another is
simple. Characters move with a deliberate fluidity using the control nub as
the D-pad is used to toggle attacks and navigating the inventory. Action
buttons are for primary and special attacks. It really works well and will
feel very familiar to those gamers who have played the Untold
Graphically the game does do a sweet job of
translating the license, there is no monsters or giant critters to speak of,
rather the bad guys are solely member of the fire nation and maybe a giant
flaming mechanical thing or two, but there is going to be some head scratching
from your little fan of the show should you get them this title. Most notably,
the attacks that I described earlier, are nothing compared to what this kid
does in the show, leaping into the air, doing all sorts of Jackie Chan style
moves, they aren't there, and while the game looks decent, it's what the fans
of the show are looking for, is where the disappointment lies. Sure
the wind effects and backgrounds are above par, I have seen the PSP produce
better lighting effects and for a game where the bad guys are all members of
the Fire Nation, the fires seen in the game aren't as cool as the ones from
Untold Legends. The level design is however pulled straight from the show,
from the towns to the fortresses, at least they got that down correctly, for
what good that does.
"I'll huff and I'll puff!
The games' audio seems to be a continuous loop of
one form of far Eastern music depending on where you are in the game. The
tempo picks up when you are in levels big on action, but when you are in the
city, it slows down as there is no combat to be found. It's kind of tied in
with how any action flick works. The voice work when in combat is primarily
grunts and quick noises, I thought there would be some voice work while
playing, especially during cutscenes, but instead I found myself reading the
I also thought the game would be prime for ad-hoc
or even online play, instead, the game features neither and I was
quite surprised since it really seems like a natural fit.
A smooth free flowing experience that is viewed
from the top, action comes quickly but your attacks can come quicker. Too bad
you can't pull off those same attacks from the TV show.
They are not horrible by any means, but the spit
and polish is simply not as spit-y or polish-y as I would have liked. Level
designs are adequate and the character menu is a direct pull from the game,
but lighting and shadows aren't quite up to snuff. Even some of the water
effects are disappointing.
The music is nice, and fortunately does change,
but does get old after a while, I missed the voice work from the folks over at
the TV station and was surprised they didn't make it on here.
The game is pretty short and easy for anyone who
has saved the world as many times as I have, but it did provide a
hearty challenge for my nephew.
It's a direct pull from a popular cartoon, so I
can't give props to the folks at THQ for thinking up the idea, but they do a
decent job of trying to make it a viable title.
Again, this could have been a great multiplayer
game, there are three heroes in this title, hello?
It's an average title that could have been a bit
better with a multiplayer option and longer storyline, still, any fan of the
show will probably enjoy it once they have gotten over the fact that Aang
can't leap around and kick butt like he does on the cartoon.