Bringing balance to the Four Nations is no easy feat, and Avatar Generations offers a more hands-on approach to Nickelodeon’s wildly popular narrative as opposed to just watching it all unfold on TV. The mobile gacha RPG walks you through the original storyline from Avatar: The Last Airbender and then some, but while the game enjoys the privilege of a huge fandom, does the legend of Aang hold up to its avid fans’ expectations on mobile, or do we make like Zuko’s meme and say, “That’s rough, buddy”?
Table of contents:
AVATAR GENERATIONS VISUALS
Avatar Generations features the same artwork fans of the franchise know and love when it comes to character icons, story beats, and the menu. In combat, however, the game forgoes these 2D styles for a low-poly 3D approach, animating the characters along with their different bending styles whenever they unleash normal attacks and special combos in battle.
There’s also an adorable chibi version that you get to see while you’re traveling on the world map, which is pretty fun and refreshing considering you’ll get to control not only the main cast but also the villains (angry chibi Zuko does look less threatening even when he’s hell-bent on taking down the Avatar).
Of course, in my opinion, the 3D versions of the characters somehow make them look stiff and low-quality, especially since the animations on the actual show are simply stunning. As a fan, I couldn’t help but compare the original 2D motions to the 3D ones in the game, and unfortunately, it all just feels a little underwhelming, especially in combat.
THE GAMEPLAY OF AVATAR GENERATIONS
Battles are a turn-based affair, with an auto-fight function you can toggle on and off as is typical of the genre. Surprisingly, despite the show revolving around the elements, the rock-paper-scissors nature of combat here isn’t dominated by the four elements. Instead, what provides a bigger impact on the outcome of the battle is the character attribute type, which includes Chaos, Mind, Peace, Offense and Defense. Positioning your characters is also key here, which is a pleasant surprise.
In particular, the frontline slot offers a Reduced Damage boon for your hero, while the left slot heals your character for a certain percentage at the start of their turn. The right slot decreases the Advanced Skill cooldown time of that character by 1, and the backline slot can’t even be targeted by the enemy as long as the character in the frontline is alive. This makes positioning an extremely powerful tool when you’re strategizing against foes.
Characters also get a welcome boost in the form of Relics and Arts, which are equipable items that offer special stat bonuses on their own or in a set.
WHAT’S THE APPEAL?
This brings me to one of my main gripes with this game – the gacha system. It’s challenging enough for a free-to-play player to make the most of their summons, but when you add these extras into the mix, scoring a 5-star character can be a pretty gargantuan task. Relics and Supports that you can equip – while they have their separate banners – can also be in the same gacha pool as the characters, so you might go for a 10-pull summon without scoring a single character. To make things worse, characters have multiple versions, which is just adding insult to injury at this point, in my opinion.
Case in point: I did multiple rerolls to see if I could nab the characters I wanted, but in different accounts, I ended up with three Aangs, three Zukos, and two Sokkas. They all have different skill sets and looks, but honestly, ATLA has such a huge treasure trove of characters apart from the Gaang to include – it’s just a shame that the game has to resort to these semi-dupes when it could have made use of all the colorful characters from the original show.
The gameplay here is also extremely grindy, as you’ll have to revisit old places you’ve cleared before to earn Adventure Points – you’ll need these to unlock future waypoints to progress through the main campaign. Energy system aside, these Adventure Points keep you from progressing, and it does feel like a paywall when going back to clear previously completed stages isn’t convenient at all.
This is because in order to clear these stages, you’ll need to assign certain members of your team to each location. Anyone who’s busy doing something in a certain spot can’t be used to clear a different stage; plus, each stage has party requirements you need to fulfill (eg no Fire Nation characters, or a required Aang-and-Katara combo only). This means you’ll need to have plenty of spare characters that you each have to level up to help them survive the stage you’re sending them off to – but honestly, how can you have that many characters when pulling them from the summons pool is already a challenge in itself?
Being an avid fan of the IP, I wanted to love this game so much, especially since I’ve been looking forward to it for a while now. Sadly, the desire to love it wasn’t really enough to get me hooked because of the mediocre visuals and the frustrating gameplay. Not even the idea of revisiting the show’s gripping tale and charming humor could save the game for me.
In the end, Avatar Generations is a so-so RPG that, despite its bold attempt at bringing the amazing show to life in a different medium, still falls short when it comes to engaging gameplay. It might be a treat for fans to try if you’re looking for something to quench your ATLA thirst until the next few projects in the IP come along, but for non-fans, it might be best to spend your time elsewhere.