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Avatar: The Last Airbender Review

Developer: THQ Studio Australia Publisher: THQ
Release Date: November 19, 2006 Also On: GCN, PS2 and Xbox

Avatar: The Last Airbender is a video game on Nintendo’s new-generation Wii based off of the popular Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar. The show features an “airbender” named Aang whose job it is to restore peace to the world. In the game, the Fire Nation attacks his village and takes the Water Tribe’s Katara, a friend of Aang. As the airbender, you will use your skills to free Katara and defeat the Fire Nation with your friends.

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Much of Avatar: The Last Airbender is of the basic beat-em-up mold. Using the Wii’s controller you can make sweeping gestures down, left, right or up to create combo moves. A basic melee attack can be performed with A and a block with Z. In all, the action in Avatar: The Last Airbender is rather simplistic. A child is wholly capable of defeating the computer enemies in this game with relative ease. The challenge comes from knowing where to go and what to do.

You can play as four different characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender, including Aang, Katara, Sokka and Haru. As your characters, you must select missions, following markers on your map. Once a mission is selected, you follow the arrow on the map to where you need to go until it is completed. Once you are finished you can select from more missions. Some are optional side missions that will result in items and experience, but others are mandatory in order to move the story along.

One of the neat things about Avatar: The Last Airbender is its experience system, which you rarely see in games geared towards a younger audience. Every enemy you kill and mission you complete you gain experience points from. The more experience that Aang and the other characters attain, the more moves that you will unlock. You actually start the game with the single A attack, but additional combos are added to your melee arsenal once you earn them through experience. Focus Mode, where you draw on the screen using the Wiimote (think of Okami) will clear the path for you when it is blocked and will open certain locked boxes.

Experience isn’t the only surprising inclusion in Avatar. The inventory and management system may actually go over the head of some younger players. Aang and each of his friend’s can wear three pieces of armor: on their head, torso and feet. They can also equip up to three different types of trinkets to upgrade health, armor, strength, chi (a vital life force that exists in all living things, according to Chinese belief).

The graphics in Avatar: The Last Airbender are an overhead third-person perspective with a camera that moves along with the characters on-screen. The game doesn’t come close to pushing the Wii’s hardware to the limits, but the cell-shading looks cartoon-like and the environments are all brought to life. The character models don’t really match with the cartoon though. On the sound side, I found myself bored multiple times listening to nothing. I didn’t realize how important sound is to a game where you run around a lot, but it keeps your mind occupied when you aren’t doing much else. Avatar: The Last Airbender lacks very much music and ambient noise, but has decent voice-acting.

If you are a fan of the television show or have a child interested in it, you may want to give this a rent. For whatever reason, THQ left out multi-player. With the four playable characters, you would think that they would want you to play with friends instead of stupid computer players. This omission hurts replay value, but the game is still decent fun while it lasts.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 4
Gameplay: 6
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 5.5
Written by Kyle Review Guide