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Thor: God of Thunder

Though the Nintendo DS is cooling off in the shadow of its successor, we’re still getting the occasional trickle of notable titles for the aging hardware. WayForward (Batman: The Brave and the Bold) has taken up the mantle of one of Marvel’s greatest super heroes, but does the God of Thunder wisely harness the power of the dual-screen?

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Thor: God of Thunder for DS takes a slight detour in terms of its connection to the movie currently in theaters. What dialogue is here is well-written, offering fans of the comic-book persona something decent to enjoy, but the story premise is pretty thin all the same.

Unfortunately, Thor DS’ gameplay doesn’t quite carry the show, either. It’s a repetitive beat’em-up that pads its already short length with cut-and-paste gameplay scenarios, inserting a handful of character exchanges between levels in an attempt to hide its meager offering.

To be fair, WayForward have put together a sound piece of software with respect to mechanics. The controls are tight and mostly responsive, the hit detection is spot on, and the animations are smooth as butter. Additionally, the combat can be darn fun. The combo system is simple, but it’s also very satisfying – that is, for a short while, anyway.

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By the midway point, I kept hoping the game would throw something new at me to help keep things interesting. To my disappointment, all I got were more enemies, more difficulty, but nothing really new in the way of gameplay.

There are some simple platforming elements tossed into the mix, but for the most part, you’re simply moving Thor from left to right, stopping for mosh-pit battles, and then moving on for more of the same. The bosses range from decent to pretty cool, but they’re hardly reward enough for the slog you’re forced to tread through. Most bosses include additional bouts with lesser enemies, and when you add Thor DS up as a complete package, it’s a monotonous ditty of just two or three notes.

As you progress through levels, you’ll discover orbs which can be equipped to Thor to aid him in battle. Had these collectibles added cool, new abilities to Thor’s combat arsenal, the simple gameplay premise might have been more digestible. Sadly, most orbs simply add passive stat bonuses, such as extra strength, attack damage, or defense against certain attacks.

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What Thor DS does have going for it, however, is a fairly impressive presentation. The sprite work and animations for the main character are excellent. The game offers a wonderful sense of taking on the role of this great, mythological hero. Many of the bosses, too, are an epic treat to behold on the wee DS screens.

With many sprites onscreen at a given time, I never had issues with slowdown. That being said, there’s quite a bit of recycling in terms of enemies – lots of shameless palette swaps and endless visits from foes you’ll grow weary of early on in the adventure.

The music is fitting, though it isn’t particularly memorable. Fortunately, all the little clicks and clacks – many seemingly borrowed from The Brave and the Bold – are an absolute treat (again). None of these delightful nuances, however, are enough to abate the agony of an obnoxiously repetitive gameplay experience.

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Thor: God of Thunder for Nintendo DS is solid. It’s built upon a sturdy foundation of mechanics, as well as a lovely visual style WayForward has become renowned for. The combat is fun…for about five minutes. After that, you’ll likely be asking yourself, “is this all there is?” After a few hours playing the game, the answer will become obvious. And a few hours is all you get, by the way. It looks like Thor, it feels like Thor, but it’s an overly abbreviated snapshot of what this hero is capable of. As far as this gamer is concerned, Thor DS can go to Hel.

5 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in August 2008.

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