If only I could swing such a big hammer in real life!! I might have been more popular with the ladies . . .

User Rating: 9 | Thor: God of Thunder DS

Thor: God of Thunder is a side scrolling, button mashing, beat ‘em up for the Nintendo DS . . . and it is a beauty!! The story is that all of a sudden on Asgard hordes of trolls are warping in to the area, making an assault on Odin’s headquarters. Taking control of Odin’s son, the mighty Thor and his hammer Mjolnir, you set out to ravage the land, clearing it of all enemy forces. Along the way Thor meets up with many allies, including his brother Loki. As the story develops you realize the truth behind this invasion and must set things right.

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On this game’s main menu there are eight options to choose from, the first of which is “Story”. This is the game’s main mode, where the story I mentioned above will unfold. It does so over a course of seven game chapters, including Asgard, Vanaheim, Niflheim, Hel, Niflheim, Muspelheim & Asgard. Some of the chapters repeat areas you’ve already been to, but the levels do differ within. Each chapter is divided up in to three different levels, always called Act 1, Act 2 & Act 3, meaning there are 21 game levels in total, not too shabby! A lot of the levels end with various types of bosses you have to defeat. Complete all 21 levels and you and Thor have saved the day, keeping Asgard safe!

The second option is called “Runes”. Here you can view the various Runes you’ve collected throughout the game, there are six Runes each under the categories of Thor’s helm, chest plate, and Mjolnir, making for 18 in total. One Rune from each of these categories can be equipped at any given time and they are used to increase your abilities. They do things such as increase your strength, increase your health bar, make Mjolnir more damaging, increase the effectiveness of the pickups you obtain, and the list goes on and on. Here you can view these various Runes and their descriptions, as well as choose to equip them if you so desire.

Third comes the “Survival” option, which is an alternative game mode you can partake in. Basically you choose from one of the seven game chapters that I mentioned under Story mode, once you do you are then taken to an arena somewhere within the chapter you chose. You then face endless random waves of enemies, fighting and surviving for as long as you can, with no pickups to help you out along the way. The goal is to see how many waves you can possibly last.

“Frostgrinder Assault” is fourth on the main menu and it encompasses another alternative game mode. In this mode you get to pick between three of the secondary characters outside of Thor and take them on a short jaunt, attacking the Frostgrinder. The mode is actually pretty easy, it’s just hard to get used to the fact that you no longer have Thor’s crazy abilities at your disposal! Once you complete this mode the first time around you unlock four more additional characters you can then play the mode with. The characters involved include Loki, Sif, Heimdal, etc.

The fifth option we come to really doesn’t have a name per se, so I’ve been calling it “Beast Bowling”. This mode actually remains a question mark until you collect all of the available Runes in the game, after you do the mode is then unlocked. When you enter this game mode you take control of one of the large lava beasts that you encounter in some levels of the game. You set a couple of meters, one for power and one for balance, once this is done the lava beast fires a boulder that rolls over the land, taking out all sorts of trolls that get in it’s way. Your goal is to throw the boulder as far as you can, measured in meters.

The sixth option is the “Sound” option, here you can choose to test both the various SFX and BGM pieces encountered throughout the game.

Seventh comes the “Art Gallery”. Here you can view 21 pieces of game themed concept artwork revolving around the game’s main characters, villains, and creatures.

The eighth and final option on the main menu is “Credits”, which you can choose in order to view a list of the wonderful people who created this wonderful game for us!

When you are out and about in the game there isn’t a whole lot to be on the lookout for in terms of items, but there are a few. I’ve already mentioned the Runes, in total there are 18 of them and they take the form of brightly coloured circles with different symbols in the middle of them. Runes are found when you destroy environmental objects such as columns, ledges, etc. You also have to be on the lookout for the orbs that defeated enemies leave behind. All of them will leave behind blue orbs, which help fill your God Powers meter. But only a small percentage of them leave behind red orbs, which replenish your health meter. Other than that you really only have to look out for the odd little random pickup like the carapace of a defeated lava monster that you use for protection against lava rain or for beating enemies down with, etc.

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The game screen backing Thor: God of Thunder is a really cool feature. Instead of gameplay unfolding on just one of the DS/3DS’s screens, both screens contain the action for a double sized, mayhem filled super hero romp! In the very top left corner of the top screen is located a red bar that represents your health meter. If you take too much punishment and the meter empties, you die and must restart from the last save point. In the top right corner is a blue meter that represents Thor’s God Powers. It must be at least half full to engage, and at the end of the meter is an icon representing which God Power you currently have equipped. When facing a boss, said boss’s own health meter appears at the very bottom of the lower screen. During cutscenes the bottom screen stays the way it is, displaying the in game action, but the top screen changes, displaying subtitles at the bottom of it along with various artwork to go along with what’s happening in said cutscene. As for the game’s menus, on the bottom screen is all of the options you can choose from, while on the top screen is displayed artwork and sometimes additional information you may need to know.

As for the pause menu, it is pretty spartan, containing only three options. These options include Continue, Runes (a simplified version of the Runes option from the main menu, you can also equip them on this screen) & Exit.

The controls on Thor are pretty simple and easy to use. To move him around his environments you can use either the analog button or the control pad. The B button is used to make Thor jump. If you press up while jumping Thor will do a crazy powerful jump up to the very top of the screens, taking out any enemies in his way. The A button let’s Thor grab on to enemies, from which you can then throw them or use them to beat down other enemies. The X button makes Thor throw Mjolnir, while the Y button is your regular swinging attack. If you jump in the air and then press down along with the Y button, you can do a ground pound maneuver. Also if you pull away in the opposite direction of an enemy and then go back at them, pressing the Y button, you will unleash a charged attack on them that can take out multiple enemies. The L button is used to switch between Thor’s three different God Powers (lightning, thunder, and wind) while the R button makes him do an evasive roll. To unleash one of Thor’s God Powers simply touch the stylus to the lower game screen and it will harm all enemies on screen at that moment in time. Lastly, press the Start button to pause the game.

The presentation backing this game up is excellent, I’ve not seen too many games on handheld systems that look better than this. The scale of the game is quite small, the characters are pretty compact, doubly so considering the two game screens are used to expand the vistas you witness as you stroll through it’s various environments. Despite that though, the characters and their environments are very detailed and look really true to the Thor universe. There is plenty of colour scattered throughout the game, a lot of contrasts what with the greens of forests, the whites of the tundra, and the orange and black of a volcanic setting, it really is a beautiful and interesting game to watch unfold. As for sound, there was plenty of game music developed for this title and it is usually quite intense, helping you keep up a frantic killing pace as you help Thor dispatch oodles of enemies! The sound effects are well done also. As for the controls, they respond well and although there are quite a few options for what you can make Thor do, they are easy to understand and catch on to.

As you can imagine, based on my review of the game so far the pros far outweigh the cons! On the plus side you’ve got the great presentation and control scheme making this game super interesting, and both fun and easy to play. I also think the double screen game action feature is quite the innovation, that was a big pro for me. It really made the boss fights amazing, when they took up the whole screen and Thor seemed to be just a fly in comparison, what a great feature! Another plus is the fact that, although they are not very in depth or anything, the game developers provided us with three additional game modes to partake in and help get our value out of Thor: God of Thunder. There was also a bit of unlockable content, which is always appreciated by yours truly. As for the cons, there was only one I could think of, and that is the fact that the levels can sometimes get a bit repetitive.

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In terms of tips and tricks I can offer future players of this title, there are indeed a few. First of all, I think the most underappreciated command in this game is the hold/grab function (A button). Picking up fallen enemies and hurling them in to others or using them to beat on others is a good way of protecting yourself while at the same time dealing out more damage than you would by wielding your regular weapon. And on the bosses this function works even better, allowing you to latch on to them and land a string of blows before they can shake you off, which is a lot easier than constantly jumping around and trying to avoid their attacks and movements. Also, try to find all the Runes as you go along, as it’s hard to remember which levels you found them on and which ones you didn’t once you start missing them. Just make sure that, as you move through a level, you are always on the lookout for objects that you can destroy. If you are vigilant and do this throughout each level, you should find all the Runes fairly easily and be fully equipped not to mention unlock that fourth game mode. On the subject of Runes, get to know them and experiment with them. Although you will sometimes need to change them around a bit, depending on what type of fight you are engaged in, I found there were a small number that I really liked and found most effective, which I kept equipped most of the time. Lastly, don’t skimp on using your God Powers. They are very powerful and with how many enemies you have to defeat in this game your God Powers meter fills up real quick.

In summary, with some innovative features, a superb look and feel, and lots of game modes to choose from, the fact that the game can get a bit repetitive at times isn’t nearly enough to dent my impressions of it. And adding insult to injury, I found this game in the bargain bin! Must have been my lucky day . . .