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There are some notable similarities between the video game Albion (1995) and James Cameron's epic science fiction adventure film Avatar (2009).

Game programmer Jurie Honeman also acknowledges that fans of both works noticed the similarities, as evidenced in Google searches, and points out some, along with differences.[1]

Possible sources

Cameron conceived Avatar and its premise in 1994, a year before the release of Albion. As such, both works began inception almost simultaneously and it is impossible that they were influenced by each other while Albion was in development.

Many of the similarities can be explained as coincidence, as both might draw from the same literary sources and recycle the same classical archetypes. One can be the Lost World literature which (becaming out of fashion as sciences advanced and the Earth became less mysterious and more explored) gave place to the Sword and planet or planetary romance genres. These take place on alien worlds, often involving a human protagonist among more primitive aliens, along with some mystical technology.

Cameron credits the Lost World and "jungle adventure" literature by E.R. Burroughs and H.R. Haggard, along with "every single science fiction book" he read as a kid as his inspirations for Avatar; these premises involve a male warrior protagonist in an exotic land or an alien planet, overcoming challenges and fears. He wanted to make such a jungle adventure but set on another planet. He admitted that he wanted to capture the feeling of John Carter, but updated.[2]

It is possible that Albion draws on such sources too. However there is still a question whether, Cameron also used Albion as one of his influences during with the development of Avatar in the '90s or the 2000s.

Individual similarities

As explained above, the premise seems to be recycling "lost world" or "planetary romance" archetypes: a Terran protagonist in an alien jungle world, meeting the more primitive alien natives, who possess some mystical technology. Both stories raise moral issues about exploiting and violating the rights of the environment and native populations, colonialism and ecology; so both can be considered "social science fiction".
The narrative begins on a huge rotating spaceship, Toronto/ISV Venture Star, bound for the alien world, Albion/Pandora.
Although in both works no action takes place on Earth (excluding some flashbacks in Avatar) background information mentions Earth as an environmental dystopia.
The destination is a lush jungle planet, which, compared to the futuristic hell that is Earth, is a virgin paradise, populated by a primitive alien civilization, the Iskai/Na'vi.
The human protagonist(s) intitially serve the interests of a nefarious megacorporation, DDT/RDA who want to exploit the alien world, because of precious ores or unobtainium.
The protagonists befriend the alien natives, and in both cases it is the human scientists (Dr. Rainer Hofstedt is a xenobiologist, Dr. Grace Augustine is a xenobotanist) who are fascinated by and empathize with the natives.
Because the unethical practices of the Terrans are menacing the natives, they protagonists change loyalties and join forces with the aliens.
The aliens
Albion's species are the Iskai, while Pandora's species are the Na'vi.
Both aliens are more primitive than the space-faring humans, belonging to the noble savage archetype; they are comparable to human native tribes of Africa or the Amazon, using knives, spears and bows.
Both are tall, thin, slender compared to humans, with 4-digit hands, and some feline characteristics (more pronounced on the Iskai) such as almond-shaped eyes and a long tail.
The Iskai have a unique anatomical feature, the trii on their forehead, which they use for telepathic communication and psionics, but also Mind transfer (sebai). The Na'vi use their queue that emerges from the back of their head, with other creatures or the Tree of Souls, for a bonding called tsaheylu; at some points we see that the Na'vi also perform a Consciousness Transfer ritual.
Both aliens revere their planetary-consciousness as a mother-goddess, Eywa for Pandora and Animebona for Albion.
Both aliens have an elaborately designed culture and customs, even to the point of a language: Na'vi have a full-fledged constructed language that entire dialogues on the film are scripted in that language, pretty uncommon even for science fiction films; some samples of Iskai language is also seen, pretty uncommon for a video game.
Both works display a rich lore and background information. As with many other RPGs of the '90s and later, Albion boasts an elaborate background lore, with a rich cast of characters and a very detailed description of the Iskai culture, and the history of their world. Avatar also has high production values, elaborately designed sceneries alien creatures, many accounts on the flora and fauna of Pandora, the Na'vi culture and the human technology and organizations. Such things are displayed in the film, comics, video games, online encyclopedias and sourcebooks, comparable to many other, larger science fiction franchises.