Air Gear Game Design Ideas

Which mango series do you think would have some great material to be used in a videogame?

Air Gear, no doubt.

I’ve been rereading it recently and just going, holy crap this would make such an amazing game, but it would be so impossible.

It just has this amazingly rich system it built for skating. It was inspired by Jet Set Radio, but took the concept a lot further and made it more into its own thing, focusing less on graffiti and more on turf wars + the powered skates themselves.

It has this core concept of powered inline skates, these can be customized with different parts and there are different types, riders that operate in teams and compete over turf in different competitions that are varied within each category, progression from simpler tricks to harder ones, different styles of tricks that different riders specialize in, the 8 roads that categorize the different styles of tricks and 8 kings who are the masters of each road, and even tuners who help repair and “tune” the different skates to perform their best.

Here’s a few wiki entries explaining things, there are unmarked spoilers for the biggest twist in the series, so be warned.

And imagining a game of this is awesome, because it has this incredible hero’s journey thing going on with it. The main character starts out barely being able to walk in air trek skates, to riding up flagpoles, to being able to go up walls, to eventually riding on pure air. Other characters learn to shoot fire from their skates, freeze time, and shoot layers of wind at their opponents. There’s a lot of assorted powers throughout the series, but the key is there’s this sense that characters learn them through effort and experimentation. Naturally, having played fighting games and speedrunning mirror’s edge, I have a good idea what this could feel like. When I first learned to kick glitch in mirror’s edge, it was a world opened up to me. It was magical. One of the core themes of Air Gear is this magic of pulling off a neat trick.

The trouble, the part where it’s impossible is, how do you allow players to do all these moves? How do you allow players to learn these moves? How do you pack all these tricks and moves into a system which is naturally designed to have this progression from normal skating to grinding to wallriding to flying across buildings and eventually flying through the air? How do you make players steadily go through these stages?

Part of the reason there can’t ever be a game of Air Gear that lives up to the source is any normal game designer would solve this effortlessly by just making a stat system. Okay, you’ve done 30 dashes, your speed levels up. 30 wallrides, now you can wallride a bit higher. Your overall trick level is 20, now you have access to elemental tricks, all of which are one-button that you can bind to whatever face button or trigger you want.

What I’d really like to see is a control system that somehow emulates the way characters learn tricks. You can take some cues from fighting games, speedrun tricks, mirror’s edge and of course Skate for this.

But how do you feasibly build that, introduce new concepts to the player over time, and avoid players accidentally riding on sheer air by buttonmashing? I don’t honestly know. Is it even possible on current controllers?

Maybe you could have leveling up for the styles and tuning just to keep the insane number of possible tricks you could do reasonable?

The perfect inspiration for air gear tricks is super metroid tricks. The walljump, shine spark, space jump. They’re all really nice design inspirations for low affordance tech. There could be RPG systems that actively change how easy the inputs are to do, like lengthening the windows or even changing the read algorithms to add extra shortcuts.

It’s not a style of game that really conforms to the types of game design that is common nowadays. You’d have to work out how the environments would work, all the things players could trick off of, how to combine tricks, a lot of things.

But damn, it could be awesome. I might write up a design doc if I get any good ideas for it.

So why do you like Air Gear so much? Genuinely curious.

It’s hard to explain without spoiling it. The anime is a good adaptation in terms of just having a better intro, building up the beef between Ikki and the Skull Saders better, as well as introducing the world of the storm riders a bit better, but after that it doesn’t really do the manga justice, and unfortunately a lot of the early arcs aren’t so great, especially behemoth, which is practically just anime fighting instead of inline skating.

What I like about it and what got me into it is, it builds up this world with a real mythic force behind it. There’s this sense of the whole stormrider culture of competition and mutual cooperative self improvement through competition, which is something I personally identify strongly with. Then in the background, there’s the Kings, and the Roads, and the Regalia, and a lot of it is kept vague early on. Early on Ikki sees the Wing Road, and it’s not portrayed as a literal element of magic, but there’s still this sense of manifest destiny that he’s going to climb to the top and learn how to fly. Having the crowd in the anime version of the Devil’s 30/30 was a great touch, and not showing his final attempt was probably the best wrap-up they could have given that limited part they were able to adapt.

Then he starts learning wind road stuff directly from Sora and you have that whole hero’s journey mentor thing going on, with it further cementing manifest destiny because Sora is someone who was nearly crowned the wind king, but he got too high and came crashing down, which is related to the initial fears that Ikki should be kept away from the stormrider world, and his journey to become strong so he can do what he loves. And then you learn that the tower of tropheaum isn’t some metaphor but is a real thing controlled by none other than the people he was brought up with, but because of his path to become the wind king, he’s destined to fight them, even though Ringo is in love with him and they’ve been close ever since they were kids.

And here’s where the big spoilers come in:

And then you find out that ALL OF THAT IS BULLSHIT! His Mentor, Sora planted ALL THIS STUFF ON THE INTERNET to create the entire stormrider mythology. He trained Ikki to be the wind king and set up Genesis in the first place as a monumental distraction for everyone so he and his twin brother could swoop in at the last moment, steal the wind regalia that was stolen and hidden from him years beforehand, as well as a special Toul Tool To tuner. You get this massive betrayal by the mentor character mid-story when it seems like Ikki was finally gearing up to take down Sleeping Forest. From there all kinds of shit gets fucked up, and Ikki finds out the real truth about . But kind of the genius of it is that because it’s a comic, because it’s a story, the manifest destiny and mythology stuff is still true in a way, by it’s own merits rather than in-universe urban legend, you still have this hero’s journey arc and the ending is positively insane.

5 thoughts on “Air Gear Game Design Ideas

  1. Joaquim October 5, 2016 / 4:23 pm

    So, tell me, what kind of type of game do you have in mind, I was thinking about a open world one, like street gears, concerning the characters I’d tell you to give every single person that used AT’s in the anime/manga, plus we need a good advertiser, so that thr game gets well known all Over the world, cuz the anime it’s a piece of art, but it wasnt published well só few people know it/remember it. But that’s it email me of you need me help, plus I’d like to be updated…


    • Chris Wagar October 5, 2016 / 8:55 pm

      This is just an idea. I don’t have a full doc planned out for this, and I don’t intend to put this into production.

      If I did, then I probably wouldn’t retread the manga’s characters at all. What I an interested in for a game are the systems at play in the manga more than any of the actual events that took place.

      I can look up any relevant information on my own, and I don’t intend to move forward on this, just collect notes passively as I come up with ideas until something crystalizes.


      • Joaquim October 6, 2016 / 10:11 pm

        May I ask, why’d you make a thread if you don’t intend to move on with it?


        • Chris Wagar October 6, 2016 / 10:46 pm

          Someone asked. I thought it would be an interesting problem to think through. It’s been something I’ve been turning over in my head. I get asked this type of question a lot. I come up with a lot of half-baked game designs.


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