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    jp's M. Night Shyamalan: The Last Airbender (DS)

    [April 25, 2021 06:26:51 PM]
    I'm still on my DS game bender playing through the stack of games I bought (for not a lot of money). I was fully expecting to be disappointed by this title, especially since I recently watched the cartoon series (last summer). So, for a change, I'm both familiar with the cartoon show's story and characters as well as the fact that the movie bombed and fans hated it. I recall watching the movie on a plane and being "meh".

    The game, however, is an excellent example of really well executed game design within the confines of (I imagine) a strict license, budget and schedule. It skews on the easy side of things (appropriate for the target age, I think) and it features a wide variety of gameplay - everything is reasonably short before you move on to another area. I think my biggest surprise was how tight and responsive the touch screen controls are. You navigate a semi-3D environment using the stylus to direct the character and then press buttons to fire off attacks or things like that.

    Yes, the graphics are quite dated, the animations too, but still - there's simple, functional well-exectued art direction, audio, etc. It really is the whole package in a way that - even as I write this - amazes me. Perhaps this game was less the small-budget rush job that I presume it was? Perhaps there was more money because everyone thought the movie would be huge?

    The game covers the 1st "book" of the show and follows the look/feel of the characters from the movie (rather than the show). The differences in the story (from the show) perhaps follow the movie? I'm not sure, to be honest - but this game is perhaps an interesting case study for properties that move between different licensing schemes and their own restrictions/regulations (e.g. it's a licensed game for a movie that has the license and it can't incorporate stuff from the cartoon because presumably the game rights to the cartoon show are in different hands).

    In another strange "twist" - the game was developed by Halfbrick - which I only know from their work on mobile games (Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride) but perhaps they're a much larger company than I imagined who just happened to move into mobile at the right time? Isn't it weird how these studios that you THOUGHT were "lucky startup" operations that made it big in mobile actually have a decade's history behind them doing games? (Also cool - they're an Australian company, and seem still relatively small).

    Also, based on the box - this was definitely the DSi years and now, in retrospect, it's so evident how hard Nintendo must have been pushing for companies to incorporate features in their games that used the camera and other things. Mostly, from the games I've been playing the last year, it's simple gameplay or little "side features" that aren't part of the game. But still - it reminds me of how important and influential the DS was as a platform that really broadened things in terms of audience as well as design ideas.

    Oh, I just want to note some of the "core features" of the game to remind myself of how "complete" it's game design is/feels:

    - 3 different characters you can control (they're not too different from each other)
    - Progression system to unlock improvements to their powers/abilities
    - Moving/pushing block puzzles
    - Reflection puzzles
    - Timing challenges
    - Racing challenges (against the clock)
    - Lots of short cut-scenes (some in-engine some not)
    - On-rails (flying) sections - fly through hoops
    - Boss-fights (that require different strategies to defeat)
    - Precision/manipulation challenges (move an item without touching the "edges")
    - Puzzles that require activating things in sequence (memory)

    There's more I'm probably blanking on, but the variety was really inspiring - it never got stale/boring and since the game is also pretty short, this is all the more surprising?
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    jp's M. Night Shyamalan: The Last Airbender (DS)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Monday 12 April, 2021

    GameLog closed on: Monday 26 April, 2021

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    No comment, yet.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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