I'm Worried We May Never Get A Good Avatar Video Game

I'm Worried We May Never Get A Good Avatar Video Game

Yesterday I posted my review of the Legend of Korra video game. While it had some high points, I mostly wasn't a fan. And now, with the Korra cartoon and entire Avatar universe winding down, I can't help but worry that we might never see a video game truly do the series justice.

First off, for those just joining us, the basics: Avatar is a great cartoon series about elementally fuelled martial arts action and -- at least, in The Last Airbender -- some of the most believably human characters on TV. It's also not long for this world. Korra season four is being positioned as a finale, both for the show and, for the time being, the entire lore-bound tome of a main series. Bummer.

Nickelodeon could pluck the series from its sunken desert library of abandoned franchises someday, but at the moment they don't seem overly fond of it. Moreover series creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino are definitely moving on after season four concludes, so the future doesn't look especially rosy at the moment.

I'm Worried We May Never Get A Good Avatar Video Game

That leaves Avatar's video game legacy in an unfortunate spot. Even Korra -- which despite my misgivings, is probably the best game among many halfhearted attempts -- feels thin and flimsy in the context of this near-boundless universe. While the combat is a cut above anything else we've seen from Avatar games, it's still sloppily grafted onto a 4-5 hour budget game. And that vibrant world full of far-flung nations, zany technology, and animals combined with other animals? Nowhere to be seen, replaced by a series of dispassionate colorless corridors.

What else have we got on the Avatar game slate? Let's see... mediocre action-RPG, mediocre action-RPG, minigame collection, medicore action-RPG, and so on. Also a billion inconsequential webgames, because Nickelodeon loves their webgames.

I'm Worried We May Never Get A Good Avatar Video Game

That is a shame worthy of real tears, the sort normally reserved for funerals and spilled cabbages. There are so many aspects of Avatar that would make for a fantastic video game. For instance:

  • Elemental powers: This is an obvious one, but even the Korra game -- with a combo system rooted in elemental switching -- didn't use them in an interesting way. Elemental oppositions can add strategic depth to combat, just as they did on the show. Water benders frequently gave fire benders fits, for instance. That kind of thing. Avatar combat shouldn't just be punching with pretty lights attached, but that's pretty much all any games ever did with it.
  • An expansive, explorable world: The Avatar world is gigantic, with four major nations (Water, Fire, Earth, and Air) and countless cities, villages, and wildernesses in between. There's still so much of it we never got to see on the show -- so many ruins and mountains and cities of glimmering stone left untouched. A game with even a small open-world component could take advantage of that marvelously. The best possible outcome here? Something like Skyrim, but set somewhere in the Avatar universe. It will probably never happen, but you can't blame a guy for screaming at the sky and trying to pick fights with every deity about it. Er, dreaming. I meant dreaming.
  • Years and years and years of history: Aang and Korra are the most recent in a long, long, loooooooong line of Avatars. We're talking thousands of years of lore here. Brief overviews of previous incarnations in the kung-fu wizard shaman line have included nation-ruling badasses, good-for-nothing surfer jerks, and people who lost their loved ones to a face-stealing slug-spider abomination. Actually you know what? Just give me a horror game about avoiding getting my face stolen by Koh The Face Stealer and we'll be squaresies.
  • There are basically Pokemon: OK, maybe I'm reaching a bit with this one, but the Avatar world has platypus bears, sky bison, polar bear dogs, turtle ducks, and every other Frankenstein monster animal combo imaginable. Also dragons, because fuck yeah dragons. Running around and teaming up with/taming creatures would rock, especially if it involved the sort of bond that, say, Aang and Appa share (as opposed to merely being a medicore Pokemon clone or something).
  • Remember that one part in season two of Korra? The story of the first Avatar -- or at least the world he inhabited -- as a game. Think about it. Think about it and weep for what could've been.
  • This game is called Jade Empire: OK, now take it, throw in Legend of Korra: The Game-style combat, sprinkle in some smartly written, funny characters to compliment the fact that you'll be talking with people a lot, stir, and bake until you have made literally the greatest thing.

And that's just me riffing on a few simple ideas. There's so much possibility in the Avatar universe, but time constraints, low budgets, and other downsides of licensed game creation mean we may never get to see it properly realised in video game form. That idea legitimately breaks my heart.

I'm Worried We May Never Get A Good Avatar Video Game

If nothing else, Avatar isn't definitively dead and buried. Creators Konietzko and DiMartino are saying this is the end "for the moment." So maybe one day in the future, Nickelodeon and others involved will realise the error of their ways and try to make things right. Or maybe not. It's impossible to say at the moment. Here's hoping for something someday, even if I'm not exactly getting my hopes up.

To contact the author of this post, write to [email protected] or find him on Twitter @vahn16.


Comments

    The Legend of korra could of been a greater game if they put more time into it....

    Good game, could of been better

    Year of the hype fails

    See, I was thinking that I'd really love a Mass Effect, Skyrim, or Dragon Age model adopted for an Avatar game, then I realized that I would probably be happy with that model adopted by just about any great IP.

    There need to be more DA/ME/Skyrim clones.

      Dynasty Warriors style Avatar game?

        Agreed. Would love a DW:Avatar game.

      Agreed.

    Legend of Korra was a low budget game but it's an extremely well made low budget game. I hate to dwell on it since it's not the point of the article but man, for a game that could have been absolutely terrible and sold the same amount they've really done a great job. Sure, it could use more content, more enemy variation, etc but with the exception of a few rough patches on Extreme mode it's very well crafted (and for some odd reason the title screen and most of the main menus look like placeholders).
    Where most low budget games feel like they ran out of money half way Legend of Korra feels like the team just had a really good idea of their boundaries.

    I know it's not that likely, but personally I'm hoping this Legend of Korra game gets enough attention that they re-use the engine for another Avatar game. Preferrably telling the story of an old Avatar.

    Last edited 26/10/14 1:42 pm

    I reckon a JRPG Avatar game could probably work.

      Yep. The list is pretty much a dot-point list that describes most (all?) of the final fantasy games.

    Plenty of IPs better and worse never get a great game adaptation.

    Stop having expectations of games to be what YOU want them to be and maybe, just maybe, you'll enjoy it for what it is. Expectation is the enemy of enjoyment.

      But... but... The entire raison d'etre of gamers is to constantly complain loudly that every game was not developed completely to your individual expectations.

      Last edited 26/10/14 7:44 pm

    Man, how good is The Legend of Korra.... gonna rewatch now

    I don't see why its important to have an avatar videogame. Can't we leave TV where it is and make original games instead?

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