Thor is not your typical superhero. As a Norse god, he spends more time concerned with the mythical realm of Asgard than with happenings here on Earth. Millennia old, he commands the power of thunder, and with his hammer Mjolnir, he can fly at supersonic speeds in the Earth's atmosphere and exceed the speed of light in space. But despite these exceptional qualities, he now finds himself starring in an unremarkable game. Thor: God of Thunder for the DS is a throwback to the side-scrolling brawlers of old. But it fails to recognize that the best brawlers keep things exciting by regularly sending intimidating new enemies your way and encouraging you to change up your approach to survive. Some impressive boss fights occasionally give this shallow game a momentary spark, but more often than not, Thor makes wielding the powers of a god about as exciting as wielding an umbrella.
6312383NoneThe combat that makes up the majority of Thor isn't terribly exciting.
Thor bears the likeness of actor Chris Hemsworth, and Odin looks like Anthony Hopkins, but the game does not follow the events of the new film. Our hero doesn't find himself on Earth romancing a woman who looks like Natalie Portman. Instead, Thor, who apparently hasn't studied enough Norse mythology to know that you should never trust a god named Loki, heeds some advice from his trickster brother and unwittingly stirs up an evil force that threatens all of Asgard. It's not a compelling tale, but it's a decent enough excuse for Thor to go traipsing through Vanaheim, Niflheim, and other places that end in "heim."
The game looks good. The character portraits used to advance the story are large and attractive. Layered, richly detailed backgrounds give each realm a terrific sense of depth, and elements like rain and volcanic ash in the foreground make the action feel firmly located in these worlds. The sight of clouds drifting across the top screen as you fight on the bottom screen lends these mythical lands a sense of scope. And, the ability to make Thor bound effortlessly from the lower screen into the sky high above fosters the feeling that you're controlling a hero whose powers far exceed those of ordinary men.
But alas, Thor is a thoroughly standard and frequently dull 2D brawler. You play as the titular god of thunder, and you run, leap, and hammer your way through the 21 acts spread across seven chapters that make up the game's Story mode. Thor's only weapon is the hammer Mjolnir, and he can unleash powerful strikes with it or throw it at enemies, after which, it conveniently returns like a boomerang. Thor can also roll to avoid enemy attacks, and his godly leg muscles can send him straight up into the air with tremendous speed. From the sky, he can crash down to damage enemies and launch them up off the ground, making it easy to follow up with hammer strikes. And, Thor can grab enemies, as well as rip massive sections from pillars, bringing the pillars crashing down and giving Thor a huge stone that he can hit enemies with or throw at them. Hidden in these pillars, you sometimes find runes you can equip to customize Thor a bit. These grant benefits like increased strength or the ability to inflict fire damage on enemies with each attack. Vanquished enemies often yield red orbs that restore Thor's health or blue orbs that fill Thor's god power meter. When this meter is at least half-full, Thor can call in a lightning strike, an energy shockwave, or a blast of wind that sends enemies flying.
Boss battles against gigantic enemies are the highlight of the game.