Avatar: The Legend of Aang - The Burning Earth DS
Published by: THQ
Developed by: TOSE
Release Date: Out Now
In case you haven't seen the Nickelodeon animated show, Avatar is the story of Aang, the present reincarnation of the Avatar. Aang has to master the various elements in order to enable him to defeat the warring Fire Nation. Avatar: The Legend of Aang – The Burning Earth picks up the action at the beginning of Book Two. Aang has just mastered the element of water and needs to master the earth and fire elements to complete his training as the Avatar. At the beginning of the game Aang, Katara and Sokka head off to meet General Fong who is supposed to escort them to Omashu where Aang can continue to be trained by King Bumi. When they meet Fong however, they discover he has other ideas and wants Aang not to continue his training and help his forces defeat the Fire Nation. Once that misunderstanding is out of the way Aang has another setback when he arrives at Omashu, only to find that it's been conquered by the Fire Nation.
Avatar: The Legend of Aang – The Burning Earth is essentially an action-RPG that contains a smattering of platform game elements. In the game you'll get to control Aang, Katara, Sokka and Toph and each has their own set of special attacks and bending moves. With the game being an RPG, the characters acquire additional moves as they level-up. The combat is in real-time but it's always pretty straightforward and most gamers won't have any problems with the battles. The platform game elements are also very straightforward and don't add any frustration to the experience.
The game makes good use of the touch screen. You can use it to switch the character you're controlling. You can use items by dragging them from your inventory onto your character information panel and you can also use it to select which power is to be used. There are a few mini-games that are played out using the touch screen. For instance, there is one where Katara has to heal as many patients as possible in sixty seconds. You have to touch the areas of the patient's bodies that are bandaged in order to heal them. Some may be disappointed that the touch screen isn't used more but in truth its use never feels forced and what touch screen support there is, is intuitive.
The Burning Earth is surprisingly enjoyable. That's not to say it's without any disappointing aspects however. Probably the biggest disappointment is the game's length. If you take your time and play through at a leisurely pace you might manage to get seven hours out of the game. It's quite possible to finish the game in a couple of hours less though if you don't hang about. For an RPG this is very short. The game also assumes that you're au fait with the Avatar storyline and doesn't make any attempt to fill in the blanks for those who don't know anything about it. Most will also find the combat a little easy. The only time the combat can become tricky is when you have to deal with a large amount of enemies and even then it's not as challenging as you might expect. Of course, this does make the game more accessible for younger gamers.
Graphically, The Burning Earth looks good. Naturally, the developers have adopted a cartoon look for the graphics and they are very easy on the eyes. You have no control over the camera angles, which is something that might irritate some gamers, but personally it's refreshing not having to worry about constantly manipulating the camera. The game makes good use of the two screens. For most of the game the action will play out on the top screen and the touch screen will display information on your characters, the map and inventory. The tutorial information is displayed on both screens and the mini-games are also played out on the touch screen.
The Burning Earth is fine for deaf gamers. The bulk of the game's conversations are text only but the few that are voiced are subtitled. Most of the conversations are displayed in speech balloons making the text easy to read at all times. The game's tutorial messages are all displayed in text. The tutorial messages can be recalled at any time. Thanks to a clever use of the touch screen, you'll always be aware of your character's health and experience levels etc.
Avatar: The Legend of Aang – The Burning Earth is an enjoyable game but it's a real shame that the game is so short. In fact, for an RPG it's ridiculously short. More effort should have been made to make the story make more sense for those who haven’t watched the animated show because whilst the game is primarily going to be bought and enjoyed by those who are Avatar fans, it's also worth a look for those who are just looking for a good action-RPG to play on their DS.