By Eric Pankoke on Tue, 01/12/2010
When I first saw the screen shots for Thor I was expecting something along the lines of a standard platformer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, because the iPhone sure could use some more of those. As it turns out, though, Thor is actually along the lines of one of those games where you have to dodge stuff while your character keeps running. However, with actions that go beyond the typical “jump or duck” and an actual level structure, this game is something much more than its roots. Instead of simply playing a level or two and then removing it from my device to make room for something else, I found myself going back for just “one more level” until I was suddenly at the end of the game. The only real down side is that I want some more!
In Thor you play the titular character, who just happens to be the Norse god of thunder. Of course, this isn’t your typical Marvel representation of the character. In fact, the truth is this version looks a bit like a wienie. Don’t let that fool you, however. This is one tough god of thunder. You must help him navigate through 12 levels and the ultimate guardian of the underworld to rescue his captured love interest, Edda. In order to do this you will not actually take direct control of Thor, however. Instead, the poor guy is always running, and it’s up to you to touch certain parts of the environment to let him know when to duck, jump or do whatever he must to avoid perilous traps. The key to the whole thing is timing. Click on a trap too soon and he’ll fall right in the midst of it. Click on it too late and he won’t have time to maneuver around it.
In a lot of ways this feels like a 2D version of Dragon’s Lair, especially since some of the obstacles are flashing to let you know they’re coming. The thing is, not all traps give you any warning. Don’t worry, though. You’ll soon discover which items are traps even though they don’t reveal themselves as such. There are also a couple of occasions where you have to touch something several times repeatedly before it goes away, and even a few times where you might have to swipe something like a gate to raise or lower it. They were quite creative in the number and types of traps they came up with. Traps aren’t the only thing you have to contend with, however. At the end of levels 4 and 8 there is a boss, and the final level is all boss. The toughest part of the boss fights is that it seems like the game suddenly becomes a lot less responsive during these segments. I suppose it could just be me, though.
You start each level with three hearts, and anything that hits you takes away a heart. Lose all of your hearts and you have to start the level over. From time to time a heart will appear on the screen, however, which you can click to replenish one of your lost hearts, or add an additional one if you haven’t lost any yet. There are also energy orbs, bolts and chains that you can collect to earn bonus points and multipliers. Orbs must be clicked on individually, bolts can be picked up simply by dragging your finger over them, and chains have to be traced over from start to finish in order to collect them. Finally, each level has a raven spy hidden on it. If you can collect all the spies for a given world you’ll earn more rewards. In fact, there are 3 rewards you can earn at the end of each level, and 3 rewards at the end of each world.
The graphics in Thor are quite charming. The characters themselves are a bit goofy looking, but I actually mean that in a good way. They kind of have a “Saturday morning cartoon” appearance about them. Everything is finely detailed, and the backgrounds are nice and diverse for each of the stages. There are some very nice little touches as well. For instance, if Thor falls in the water in the Underground levels he’ll come back up frozen in a block of ice. There’s no question that a lot of care was put into the visuals, and while you won’t get the opportunity very often, take a second or two to just look at the surroundings.
The sound effects aren’t quite as impressive. There’s nothing wrong with them, mind you, and you might even argue that they augment the whole “Saturday cartoon” feel of the game’s atmosphere. They just aren’t all that exciting either. The boss segment in the second world was particularly annoying when it came to sound effects, and in general the repeated beeping or whatever you want to call it that happens when you click an energy bolt or orb gets old after a while, simply because there are so many of them per level. The music is good for a few minutes – until you realize that it’s the same 30 seconds of song looped infinitely.
Overall I was pretty impressed with Thor. The sound could use some work, and there were a couple of times where it seemed like the game wasn’t being very responsive. On the other hand, the visuals were a treat and the game play as a whole offered some very nice enhancements over the traditional “run as far as you can” type game. If you like such games or are just looking for something addictive to play, give Thor a shot.
Overall Score: 8/10
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