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Avatar: The Last Airbender - Into the Inferno

Score: 71%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Halfbrick
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 2 (Single and Multi Card)
Genre: Action/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Into the Inferno covers the last chapter of Aang's adventure and the final confrontation with the massive Fire Nation. And, like the previous wave of Avatar games, it seems that the DS version fairs a bit better than its console brethren. Mind you, the game is far from perfect, but when compared to the PS2 and Wii versions with the same name, Into the Inferno's DS release has many welcomed differences.

Visually, the game takes on a drastically different look than any other Avatar game. Instead of portraying the characters as they appear in the series, they all take on a small-bodied, large-headed chibi form that gives the game a much more light-hearted feel to it. Actually, the graphics reminded me of the series of shorts that ran a while back alongside the normal episodes.

Sound is barely present. With no voicework and the only real sound effects consisting of repetitive swooshing sounds when attacking, what is there does what it needs to, but definitely leaves something to be desired. As for background music, the Avatar theme is present, and the rest of the music has the appropriate Asian flair, but much like the sound effects, it feels very humdrum.


Gameplay:

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Into the Inferno follows the show's last season pretty faithfully. The game's levels match the show's episodes pretty well and the general idea of each episode is conveyed fairly well via the cutscenes. As far as the gameplay itself, Into the Inferno takes on a very different feel from both the other Avatar games and the series.

In this version, you will always have two characters in the level. For the most part, one of the characters will simply follow the other and you will switch between the two only when you need to use a certain character's bending abilities. There are also plenty of times when you will have to leave one character behind to solve some puzzle (typically involving leaving them on a switch or going down a hallway only a specific character is allowed to use). This is done by tapping the chain icon in the lower right corner of the screen. It is actually a fairly intuitive system and since you will always have a pair of characters with very specific powers, the game offers quite a variety of interesting puzzles to challenge you.

Some puzzles will be simple like forcing you to throw yourself across a gap with Aang's tornado, but only after making an ice bridge in the nearby water so you will have something to land on. Meanwhile, others will be even more complicated by having you stack rocks while you are on them with Toph so you are high enough for Sokka's boomerang to hit a switch. At least one thing is pretty certain with each puzzle presented to you, there is some way to solve it given the very explicit skillset the developers have given you, so no matter how frustrating some of them might get, you should always be able to find the solution.

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Into the Inferno also offers a multiplayer game in a volleyball match with other gamers (both single card and multi-card options are available), but truth be told, this mini-game feels more like a tacked-on menu option to give some kind of multiplayer feature.


Difficulty:

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Into the Inferno doesn't really have any hard parts to it. Most levels take quite a bit of time to complete, but the fact that they are broken up into several parts really helps to make the game manageable. Even though the levels are long, progressing through them is typically straightforward. I found that the most complicated aspects typically involved figuring out the exact combinations of movements and powers in order to solve the current problem. More times than not, the characters have to progress by going down separate, parallel hallways. It never fails that whenever your characters have to split up in this fashion, each character will need the other's ability to progress, so you will have to keep them both on-screen at the same time in order to help each other out. It sounds more complicated than it is, but after getting through the first level, you won't really be surprised by any strange new puzzles. Sure when the game introduces things like Toph's ability to raise and lower rock columns or Sokka's boomerang, the puzzles get a little more complicated, but they are still pretty straightforward.

Game Mechanics:

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Into the Inferno has one thing going for it and that is extensive use of the DS' touchscreen. For one, you move your character(s) around by touching (or dragging) where you want them to go. Attacking is as simple as tapping on the bad guy, and bending involves tapping and dragging your stylus from an element resource and moving it about the screen. This is great for grabbing rocks and throwing them at enemies (or crates), or using water puddles to put out Fire Nation fires as they are hurled at you. As for Sokka, you simply trace the path you want his boomerang to follow and when you lift up, it flies out and follows the pattern you made (no matter how convoluted).

Using a character's special ability is little more than point and click as well. Simply tap the icon in the lower left corner of the screen and then perform the necessary action. For Aang's tornadoes, you spin the stylus and once the tunnel is formed, select a direction for it to blow. There are four arrows that appear, and selecting a direction is as simple as being on one of those arrows when you lift the stylus. Katara can make ice bridges when you draw a line across water and Toph can raise columns of rock or move other rock pieces around.

Into the Inferno's biggest problem doesn't really have anything to do with the game being too easy or too hard, or that any one thing is broken. The main issue comes in actually wanting to go through the whole story. I am a big fan of the Avatar series, so it seemed like playing through the show's story in this fashion would be really great. But something about the execution causes the overall feel to get too redundant too quickly. This game is definitely a rental before purchasing to see if you can stay involved enough to actually finish it, but even then I would only recommend it to big Avatar fans.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Nintendo Wii Call of Duty: World at War Windows Spectromancer

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated