Written by Twisted Ideas
The popular Nickelodeon show Legend of Korra, the sequel series to Avatar the Last Air Bender is finally getting a game. As a licensed game it has to face the stigma of being a licensed game plus try to live up to the series. Is Legend of Korra worthy of living up to the show?
Legend of Korra
Developer: Platinum Games
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360
What is it?
Legend of Korra takes place during the brief period between the second and third season. After Korra has left the Spirit Gate open, she is confronted the first unforeseen consequence. Korra is attacked by Chi Blockers who take away her bending and is taunted and lured by a mysterious man. Korra has to regain her bending and find that man before things get out of hand.
How does it play?
Legend of Korra is a 3D action brawler. Korra has the ability to bend the elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water and use them in conjuncture with her martial arts. Switching between elements also changes her martial art. Korra can dodge and blocks attacks. If she blocks at the last moment a QTE will trigger and perform a counter attack.
Throughout the game you collect spirits from enemies and treasure chests. Spirits are used to purchase items. Korra can equip up to four items. Some are consumable that can be used during gameplay and some are just equipment that have useful benefits while most having significant pros and cons.
Each of the four elements have their own combos with light and heavy attacks. You can expand these combos by leveling up the elements by defeating enemies and by using spirits you collect to buy scrolls. Eventually, you can charge your attacks to raise your chi level. You chi level changes the properties of you attacks making improving its overall effectiveness. You Chi eventually drains, requiring it to be charged again.
Some levels have Naga sections where Naga and Korra run through the level, avoiding obstacles and jumping over pits. You can use your bending to jump higher, protect yourself from collisions and shoot away obstacles. You have to make sharp turns and collect spirits before the end of the level.
Pro-Bending is a fictional sport where fire, earth and water benders compete to push each other off the arena. You only get to use Korra in Pro-Bending with Mako and Bolin as AI. Players start in Zone One in the center. When a player takes enough hits they will be pushed back one zone. If all members are pushed out of the zone they opposing team will move up. There are three rounds that consist of three minutes. Teams that have pushed the furthest or won a tie breaker will earn one point. If all members or pushed off the arena, it is an instant win. Korra can shoot a series of quick shots, a strong shot with long start-up and can deflect attacks back to the opposing team.
How does it look?
Legend of Korra uses Cel-Shading to mimic the animation style of the show. The levels also takes you through familiar locales of the series from New Republic City to the Spirit World. The graphics are somewhat crude and lack detail but that is to be expected from a downloadable game. Cinematics are shown with the traditional animation from the show but they tend to be brief.
The combat animation looks amazing and is helped with all of the bright and vivid colors. Even switch bending changes Korra’s stance along with her martial arts. When you fully charge your chi the bending effects are incredibly flashy and have a satisfying impact on hit.
How does it sound?
The game uses the voice actors from the show but Korra gets the most voice work in the game. The music from the show as well and due to the strength of both it adds to the experience.
What do I think?
I can’t help but feel that Legend of Korra is a game on a budget made for cash grab purposes. If it wasn’t for Platinum Game’s ability to make the action look great, this may have been shovelware. Platinum put as much as they could into the game. The core combat and item mechanics are interesting and has more depth than some other action games. Pro Bending is very simple but can become very fun and challenge. The levels are designed with hidden treasures encouraging exploration despite it ultimately being meaningless and there were terrible Naga sections. The action scenes in the finale looks incredible. I’m not say that with a bigger budget that Legend of Korra would have been a great game but it probably would have been a respectable one at least.
Despite how good the combat looks it can be frustrating. You can be swarmed easily making it difficult to charge chi which would make fights easier. The mecha tanks take a while to beat and hit really hard. Also, it’s not made clear that you can go into the menu and change your equipment during a level.
The story is the biggest disappointment. There’s part of a beginning and part of an end but there’s no middle and no substance. The story can be summarized as “an old enemy is back for revenge” and that would more or less be efficient. You only see Mako and Bolin during the Pro Bending and when ever you see the traditional animated scenes or if Korra name drops somebody its infuriating that they aren’t apart of the story. Jinora is basically the only other character in the game. She’s made to be much wiser than I remember her being at this point of the show and she’s only hear because of her connection to the spirit world is convenient.
Maybe a lot of these issues are because the show is still on going. Maybe you couldn’t pull the writers or the voice actors for the game for budget, time or logistic reason. But if you’re going to make a game and only put the bare minimum effort on your end, why do it? This doesn’t even try to get new fans into the series.
Should you get it?
Legend of Korra is probably one the greatest cartoons on air right now. The game is probably one of the best examples of a bad licensed game. If there was more emphasis put into story or character development then it may have been acceptable and maybe even good. As is, your money is better spent buying the DVDs or Blu Rays.