Leaping off the comic book pages onto the big screen, and ultimately to the interactive medium is a path traveled by many Marvel superheroes gone by. THOR: God of Thunder for the Nintendo 3DS is the Norse hammer-wielding god’s final destination on his tour to becoming an instantly recognisable name. The 3DS version of THOR: God of Thunder is essentially a port of the Nintendo Wii version released a few months back, redesigned specifically for the Nintendo 3D console. Can THOR: God of Thunder 3DS transcend to the halls of Valhalla, or will it plummet back down to Earth in a thunderous clap?
Developer: Red Fly Studios
Platform: Nintendo 3DS (Reviewed)
Release: (EU) September 9th 2011, (NA) September 13th 2011
The story takes place prior to the events of the movie adaptation with Thor’s homeworld being viciously assaulted by the ice titans; the Ymir, intent on the destruction of Asgard. During the attack, Thor’s Asgardian ally Sif loses her life at the hand of the invading forces. Blinded by revenge, Thor seeks justice for the death of Sif, however Thor’s father Odin forbids him to go to war with the Ymir (sound familiar?). With a little coercion from his trickster brother Loki, the thunder god ignores his father’s warning and brings the war straight to the frost giants’ front door. Due to his brash actions, Thor unwittingly unleashes a hidden weapon that threatens to tear the nine worlds apart. With Mjölnir in hand, Thor must correct his wrongs and restore peace before all is lost.
Adopting gameplay from the God of War series, THOR attempts to bring a similar experience to the Nintendo 3DS. Thor is able to use straight forward melee attacks, dash moves and hammer abilities like hammer throws, and by whirling Mjölnir as a defense mechanism. Enemies can also be air juggled through a launch strike, followed by well timed button presses. It’s surprisingly loads of fun and I found myself using this one particular ability a lot throughout the five to six hour long campaign mode. All these moves can be strung together to form a combo chain, filling a combo meter that affords the God of Thunder the ability to perform a selection of high impact magical attacks activated via the touch screen.
Combat is rich and enjoyable, offering variety in executable destruction however does begin to wear thin towards the end. No single move ever felt more effective than another which is a blessing and a curse. As the skill sets are fairly balanced, it does lead to lazy gameplaying and spamming of the same move, over and over. There isn’t much incentive to mix things up after you’ve seen each move once and I found myself using the area attack hammer whirlwind to clear waves of enemies and destroying the environment as I fast-tracked to the end of each level.
In between all the unrelenting action and mayhem are the odd flying levels that injects some diversity to the non-stop beatdowns of enemy grunts. Its a bland affair of targeting enemies and destructible environments, mashing X until nothing is left in Odinson’s wake.
Visually THOR looks solid in certain aspects but a poor assortment of environments cheapens the overall experience, giving it a somewhat ‘rushed’ feel. The transition from a chilling ice cave to a fiery lava pit is fairly uninteresting, lacking in any real detail to distinguish between the two bare-bone surroundings except for a colour palette swap. On the other hand, the character model for Thor is fairly crisp, in particular when 3D is enabled. THOR is plagued with graphical slow-downs during intense combat and the presentation of special move effects could be slightly better, but these are just minor gripes.
The touch screen feels under-utilised in some parts as there are no touch functionality with the initial game boot menu. At first I assumed my touch screen was broken when it didn’t respond to tactile inputs, only to realise it simply wasn’t supported. Breaking up the pace are animated 2D comic-style cut scenes which I found pleasurable to sit back and take in. Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Tom Hiddlestone (Loki) lend their voice acting talents helping to bring the story to life. It almost felt like the actors were reading me a bedtime story with visual aide. Good stuff.
Runes can be collected throughout the game unlocking additional magic attacks, concept art, new costumes and upgrades for more special abilities and stat improvements, such as more health or increased damage. Upon finishing the game, an extra difficulty mode becomes available; as well as an episode of the Avengers cartoon based around Thor for added viewing pleasure. For completionist there’s quite a lot to collect, although whether you’d be compelled to replay THOR again is questionable with most extras being unlocked in the first playthrough.
THOR: God of Thunder helps to fill a void in the Nintendo 3DS gaming line-up but regrettably won’t be the saviour of Nintendo’s woes. Sadly inadequate detail, design and lack of replayability underscores THOR‘s contention as a stand out 3DS experience. THOR: God of Thunder would appeal to fans of the comic book genre, gamers looking for a ‘God of War’ clone for the 3DS, and younger players who enjoy the Norse superhero however beyond that, I don’t imagine thunder will be striking twice with this title. It’s an odd choice to publish THOR so late after the initial box office release, or perhaps its clever marketing on Sega part to re-energized the franchise for the DVD/Blu Ray launch. Whatever the case, THOR provides quick bursts of action and solid gameplay when you’re looking for a few minutes of button bashing fun, just don’t expect too much from Thor. He is only just a god.
6.0 – Above Average. Fun but it is let down by some questionable design choices. While it has its own identity, it doesn’t go beyond its own limits.