A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the story revolves around a Nickelodeon cartoon show. While familiarity with the show isn't essential, it will be difficult to follow the story without basic knowledge of the cartoon's premise. This game includes a lot of reading and moving from place to place and may not be a good fit for those with short attention spans. But slapstick antics and funny dialogue keep it fun for more than just the kids.
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What's it about?
In AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER, a role-playing game for the Nintendo DS based on a favorite anime cartoon from the Nickelodeon network, you are a heroic figure -- the "chosen one" who will save the world. The game focuses on the world of "bending," which basically means using the elements -- earth, fire, water, and air -- to benefit yourself in some way. You play the part of Aang, the air bender who has been chosen as the next Avatar, master of all the elements. He is in mid-training when his friend Katara is kidnapped by the evil Fire Nation, who want the Avatar's power for themselves; it's up to Aang to rescue Katara and save the day.
The stylus is used to scroll through menus, move items around, and inspect your heroes' abilities. Main movement and control is achieved through the traditional multi-directional gamepad and extra buttons. The game consists of "travel mode," meaning talking, exploring, and traveling; as well as "battle mode," where you combat the bad guys. Battles consist of using your bending skills to defeat the evildoers, which translates to using magic to move stuff around and attack.
Is it any good?
The game is fairly simple but suffers from quirky controls. You must use the stylus to organize items and access menus, a process that can become frustrating. The camera angle can be tedious to maneuver, since you must constantly push a button to move it. Battles can get repetitive and the various numbers and statistics may not mean anything to younger players.
The game involves problem-solving and trial-and-error methods of defeating your foes. However, the battles can be frustrating because the enemy basically tries to use its strength in numbers to trap you in a corner. Since this game doesn't spend much time introducing its characters or setting up its storyline, this is a game best played by fans of the cartoon. The game will be most appealing to fans of the show and younger kids -- older kids may become bored fairly quickly.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the characters' antics and vote on which character they like best. They can find out who in the family may have hidden potential for bending the Earth or healing wounds with water. Which moment was the funniest? Which baddie was the hardest to dispatch? Is this game fun if you have never seen the TV show? Do you prefer games based on TV shows you know or try something new?
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