Review by Shotgunnova
"Pending for a bending..."
The hit Nickelodeon series has been spread around to most game systems, now, and the GBA release is probably the worst. I'm a fan of the show, it's interesting and watchable for all ages, but the game short-changes the player in quite a few ways.
The game takes place between Book 1 and 2 of the show, and it retains the feel of the show with beautiful colors, appearances by the elemental nations, and characters using their bending skills. The problem is...there isn't much of a storyline. In fact, there is so little dialogue in the game, you could probably fit it all on the front and back of an index card (if yer good). Since the game is targeted at younger audiences -- assumably -- a deluge of text isn't that relevant to keeping the player interested. 'Course, the plot's second pitfall is just as glaring -- the plot is extremely short. Meaning, you could pick this up at noon and finish it long before suppertime, even with a leisurely pace.
Harnessing the character-specific field skills a la Golden Sun, Avatar doesn't quite play as a clone of any sort. Battles take place on the field (no cut-aways) and you can use characters' abilities to fight with the resident baddies. It's a pretty tight structure, and pretty fun to boot. Unfortunately, most of the gameplay is puzzle-oriented and you won't be fighting enemies with every room you dungeon-crawl into. It's pleasant but repetitious gameplay most of the time, but there are some difficult spots one may have to put on a thinking cap for. Once you figure out a 'trick' to solving it, you can get most of the future conundrums solved easier -- pretty easy learning curve.
For the most part, the difficulty falls into the "low to standard" range, but there are a few fights that can really give you a run for your money. The game is for all ages, but it may feel slightly dumbed-down for adult enthusiasts.
Not much to fiddle with here. The music captures the feel of the game to a 't', with the influences often rooted in Oriental sounds. Nice on the ears, but it's background music through and through; don't expect any supreme musical scores.
I'm a fan of the show and still didn't feel there was much replay value in it. The puzzles, once solved, won't serve as roadblocks any longer, and the storyline is mostly linear -- move to one area, find scrolls, fight boss, leave to next area. Like most games of a past generation, they're nice to play once you've forgotten the intricacies to playing them; when you remember how to sleepwalk through the action, it's just not entertaining. By making the game for "all ages," it's a little alienating for people who want a challenge.
None, plain and simple. The closest thing not related to the storyline would be finding Health Potions, which increase one character's max health points; it's quite a stretch convincing myself this qualifies. If you wanted some fun exploration and free-roaming like you saw in the television show, you'll be in for a rude awakening here with this minimalist section.
Pros / Cons
+ Music ain't too bad
+ Characters' skill usage fun facet of progression
+ Just the right difficulty setting for most audiences
- Linear story
- Extremely short
- Barely any replay value
- Give Appa more screen time!
- Puzzle-solving/action imbalance
The Verdict: Say no th"Aang"ks to this poorly-presented game.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 10/23/06
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