Thor: God of Thunder Playtest – Possesses The Power Of Thor

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Thor on the Nintendo DS is a game that genuinely surprised me in a few respects. Believe it or not, it feels sort of like a 2D Devil May Cry game once you grow accustomed to its ways and learn how to play it. Luckily, this doesn’t take very long at all, despite the fact that Thor’s combat is surprisingly flexible and has a bit of customization to it as well.

 

The key to keeping the troll population under control is Thor’s magical hammer, Mjolnir. While it’s no Rebellion or Red Queen, Mjolnir can do just about everything you’d expect of an enchanted melee weapon. You swing Mjolnir using the Y button and perform combos by tapping Y.

 

Thor can also throw Mjolnir in different directions. By default, he’ll always throw it straight ahead, but you can hold directions on the d-pad to throw it in any direction you like.

 

This is the move you’ll find yourself using the most. As hard-hitting as it is, Mjolnir is a little too short for melee attacks without getting really close to enemies. A few deaths will teach you not to rely on melee, but to lead with other moves first. I found knocking enemies to the ground with the throw, then running up to them to get within melee range while they recovered to be a tactic that worked well. You can also use the R button to perform a roll and dodge their attacks to get within melee range if you like. The roll is actually pretty useful, especially for dodging projectiles.

 

Once you get up close, you have a wealth of options. You can either go with your standard Y button combos, or you can knock enemies into the air (Up + Y) and juggle them for air-combos. Holding Forward + Y also lets you perform a dashing attack, although this is more trouble than its worth, since there’s a bit of a start-up delay on the move. If that isn’t to your liking, Thor can pick up enemies and throw them around, too. Light enemies can be picked up using the A button, but heavier enemies will require you to tap A repeatedly to lift them off the ground, which gives them a nice, weighty feel.

 

Thor spans both DS screens, so there’s a lot of vertical room to move around in. Luckily, combat is designed around this aspect of the game as well, which is great. You can jump by pressing B, but if you hold Up and then press B, Thor shoots into the sky. Doing this while you’re close to an enemy will lift them up along with you. Once you’ve got them airborne, you can perform an Izuna Drop.

 

If you didn’t manage to take an enemy up with you, no problem; you can come crashing down from high above and pound the ground with Mjolnir, which sends out a shockwave. Both these moves feel very impactful and are fun to pull off, just to watch both DS screens shake like you just caused a miniature earthquake.

 

This is the best part of Thor. WayForward have managed to make the game “feel” good to play. Mjolnir actually feels like a powerful weapon once you learn to use it right. When you hit something with it, you do get the impression that you’re packing some serious weight behind your blow. But wait, we aren’t done talking about combat yet!

 

There’s a bit of customization in Thor as well. Along the way, you pick up different runes that can be fitted into Thor’s armour. These are classified into three categories: helmet, vest and Mjolnir, depending on where they attach themselves once you find them. The catch is that only one of each rune type can be activated at any point in time, so you may find yourself trying out different combinations to see which three runes suit the stage you’re playing best.

 

For example, one rune I found sent out a shockwave around Thor when I threw Mjolnir. This was useful because it would also hit enemies that were behind him. While I used this throughout the entirety of chapter 1, I later gave it up in favour of a rune that increased Mjolnir’s throw speed and power. Another time, I tried out a rune that kept enemies airborne longer, allowing you to juggle them more easily. I found that the customization was quick and simple enough for me to want to keep playing with it throughout the course of the game.

 

Thor’s art looks very nice, too. The sprites are well-animated, and the backgrounds are detailed. The only shortcoming is that the stage layouts aren’t very interesting — you move from left to right (occasionally up and down as well) and kill things. Background art is re-used a fair bit, and this is very noticeable, even early on.

 

That said, the combat makes up for it. The stage layouts are very obviously designed more with combat in mind than exploration. There are plenty of ledges, breakable pillars, sections of thin ice and other stage props that encourage you to try out all the different moves available to you. Oh, and some of the bosses are huge.

 

Food for thought:

1. Thor can also perform Ninjitsu-like moves, Shinobi III style. You can choose between different Ninjutsu moves using the L button, and once your “godly power metre” is full, tap the touchscreen to use one of these. Lightning strikes, powerful winds…you know, Thunder God stuff.

 

2. This is going to sound very nitpicky, but the one thing that did bother me about the game was how it conveyed Loki as a scheming coward, right from the very beginning. I never once got that impression from the Thor movie, and actually liked Loki a fair bit. He was easy to empathize with.

 

 


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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.