Things to Consider when Making an Avatar Game

So last week was another blow to the Avatar: The Last Airbender/ Legend of Korra gaming fans according to the media. A title many outlets were setting high hopes for has been severely criticized by those same outlets. Does it mean that no one can enjoy that title? Not at all, since one of our staff members is having a great time with it on his PC. He says it’s worth looking into and nice for fans. That being said, when I read the reviews, I saw them criticising what the developers seem to miss one aspect or another when it comes to representing such a beloved series. These are my thoughts on what makes Avatar great and how a good licensed game could be made. Note that this is not a review or critique of the recent game. That was only the prompt for this piece.

The Story

First off, Avatar and Korra are known for their stories. They are TV shows with interesting plots and developments. They also are on a higher level of thought than most (if not all) shows on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, respecting its audience maturity growth. A good game needs to have a good story, especially when it comes to representing a series known for its storytelling.

This could be a neat minigame

This could be a neat minigame

The benefit developers seem to be learning is that they cannot be bound to replicating the plots of the series. They need to incorporate the time gaps provided and play with it. However, they also need to be able to tell fun stories about things people want to know. If they can do this with the books, a game should be able to do so as well. If I need to pay $30 to read the story of Zuko’s mom, then I might as well be buying a game.

The Characters

Another thing the series is known for is its character development. The avatar is not the only character with a backstory or learns anything. Mostly everyone gets some time to shine and reveal their complexities. Zuko from the original series benefited a lot from this and became the most developed character out of all of them. With the Korra series, we still see the spotlight shine on everyone so much that we didn’t even see Korra except for one clip at the end of an episode. That is awesome.

The Action

This is the part developers seem to be stuck on trying to unravel. With all of these amazing abilities, how can they incorporate them all? The answer is actually quite simple. Look at the animation and you can see that the action is almost like a dance. That means bending is more complicated and can’t be relegated to just a simple button command. If there was a current series that can be adapted, it’d be Tekken. While Street Fighter has the fancy moves, Tekken is known for its deep strategy and moves that can be learned by watching the animation. Soul Caliber might work as well, but the point is that by limiting the combat, you are actually free to harness the bending powers to their potential. If they can make a good DC comics fighting game, then they can make a good Avatar fighting game.

Tekken or Soul Calibur is the best format for Avatar

Tekken or Soul Calibur would be an awesome format for Avatar

What about exploring the world? That is a good element and it would be great to utilize it, but if I were to choose between solid action and world exploration, I’d pick the action that has stages set in different parts of the world. If the developers wanted to add an optional exploration aspect, then I wouldn’t mind. As long as it is optional and not just to add “hours”.

The Strategy

When making an Avatar game, you can’t ignore the strategic elements when it comes down to what bending to use. This is one reason why I’m interested in the Legend of Korra: A New Era Begins game 3DS. Despite seeing no coverage for the game, it looks interesting because it looks like Fire Emblem. Fire Emblem is known for its solid gameplay, story, and character development. By having so many characters, it makes it possible to shine the spotlight on a lot of them. If the 3DS game integrates something akin to Support Conversations, there is hope. Also, if there are limits on when and how often you can use certain techniques (like having water for water bending), that can really add make an interesting strategy game.

Yeah, that looks like Fire Emblem to me. That's not a bad thing either

Yeah, that looks like Fire Emblem to me, but that can be great too

The Balance

Funny how the last element I’m talking about happens to be the last season for the Legend of Korra series, but it is important. When watching Avatar, just because Aang and Korra can control all four elements, that doesn’t mean they are the most powerful. They are only super powerful when they enter the Avatar State. Aang only mastered Airbending. Korra has more control over the other elements, but predominantly uses Fire when attacking (sometimes water if she has access). However, other characters like Mako and Bolin can control a stronger, derivative element in addition to their default. Asami also has fighting skills and the electric glove. This doesn’t even take into account Ty Lee, Mai, Suki, and Sokka who could hold their own without bending. The thing is that most people could possibly beat someone else. That’s why a fighting game would be good and the level of mastery that comes with Tekken is perfect. However, like Fire Emblem games are fairly balanced, the Korra 3DS game has that potential as well, but only if they take into account all I have mentioned.

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About The Author

Feature Writer/Game Reviewer

Blogger in the IGN community and no longer for Always Nintendo. You can find him still blogging in the IGN community as FalconRise