For Sega’s series of Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One games, it was the PS3/Xbox 360 games that most people were looking towards and being promoted in the press, but with a few exceptions, those were the ones that were to be avoided. Save Captain America: Super Soldier where the at-the-time next-gen version of the game was clearly the best of the bunch, in the cases of both Iron Man and Iron Man 2, their respective original DS games were the best of the lot, and I’ve already gone into detail about how Thor: God of Thunder on the original DS can’t be missed if you’re a fan of that character. While God of Thunder on the 3DS and Wii doesn’t deliver on the promise of the “God of Thor” game that we all want, it is the best 3-D Thor solo game to date whether played on a handheld or console despite being on inferior hardware compared to the PS3/Xbox 360 game. It’s also quite a bit of fun too.
All three SKU’s of Thor: God of Thunder have different stories that have a similar plot structure but go through their stories in unique ways. Thor: God of Thunder on the 3DS and Wii has more in common with the main console game with frost giants invading Asgard, claiming the life of Sif and Thor setting off to avenge her only to be tricked by his brother Loki into unleashing the hidden evil entity, Mangog. Like the other versions it’s a serviceable plot to suit the realm hopping adventure made better by having both Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston voice Thor and Loki respectively. The first Thor film spent a lot of its run time with the title character on Midgard (Earth) and it’s in this version and only this version that you spend any time there. Unlike the film however where people thought that Thor was crazy, citizens constantly call out to Thor for help like this has happened before or something.
A reason many may have looked past this particular version of Thor: God of Thunder is because it looks less “realistic” for lack of a better term in comparison to the other console game, opting to have a style that’s more like a comic than one set in the same universe as a feature film. This decision was more than likely done to fit within the restrictions of the respective hardware, but it doesn’t feel like a compromise. This version of God of Thunder has a style that very much feels like a Thor game and also makes this game stand out among its counterparts elsewhere. It’s also nowhere near as cartoonishly exaggerated as that of Captain America: Super Soldier on the Wii/3DS that would follow it. The 3DS game doesn’t look quite as good as the Wii title with a shorter draw distance and sequences where either Thor or his enemies appear too small on-screen, but it’s pretty impressive that Red Fly managed to get all that was on the Wii into a 3DS cart. This is easily the best looking game of this type when compared to the likes of all the Phase One MCU games that arrived either on the Wii, PSP or 3DS.
Thor: God of Thunder on the 3DS/Wii is a 3-D character action game and while it doesn’t have the deepest combat mechanics, it’s still fun to smash all manners of foes from across the Ten realms with Thor’s mighty hammer, and unlike the other 3-D Thor game, your hammer actually connects when you hit things. There’s a fair amount of variety to the way you go about fighting enemies as well, with additional combos becoming unlocked as you gather experience points, the ability to parry and reflect projectiles and a plethora of storm powers that are made available as you progress through the campaign that incentivize you to switch things up. These abilities are used both to solve some basic puzzles like using lightning to power up doorways and also in combat. Fiery enemies from Muspelheim need to have their fire extinguished with wind before they can be attacked and trolls from the realm of Vanaheim similarly need to have energy shields shocked away with a lightning bolt before they’re vulnerable. God of Thunder doesn’t dump all of these abilities on the player at once, instead slowly introducing them over the course of the campaign as to not overwhelm the player with a bunch of abilities from the moment you start.
Like God of Thunder on the DS, the Wii/3DS version also charges the player with discovering runes hidden within levels that further augment Thor’s abilities and encourage experimentation. A rune for example that increases your attack power and the damage you take is best used in tandem with one where you get power back from dealing melee damage. Players who also favor one type of magic ability over another may choose to equip their runes to reflect that, and things get much more interesting once you unlock the ability to have multiple runes activated at once. You gain this ability by getting deep enough into three skill trees and at such time you can really play around with that how you want to develop Thor. The final rune slot doesn’t unlock until you finish the game, so this adds reason to go through the game at least one more time after you’re done, as does other rewards like new difficulties, concept art you can discover and alternate costumes.
There’s a lot to like about this particular version of Thor: God of Thunder, but as it is a movie tie-in game, it does have a lot of short-comings inherent to those types of games as well. It won’t take you long to get through the game the first time and the action while well constructed, can get repetitive as it’s about all you do. Environments and enemies change as you travel through various realms and new powers get added to your repertoire, but you’re still more or less doing the same thing over and over again. Giant bosses like Ulik the troll, the fiery lord of Muspelheim, Surtur, and Ymir the frost giant feel like little more than damage sponges that have to be felled with quick-time events than meaningful encounters meant to break up the moment-to-moment combat. This game does take advantage of Thor’s flying ability in a few stages which helps to break up the pace, but these segments are few and not terribly challenging or particularly long.
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE VERSIONS
Normally this is where I would instruct you to stay clear of the Wii game due to imprecise motion controls, but you know, there’s something to be said about slamming the Wii remote around and Thor responding in kind with his hammer on-screen. The Wii game does a good job of mapping all of your abilities to the awkward remote/nunchuk combination, but they don’t feel as intuitive as the 3DS game that has all of the storm abilities you collect all neatly placed on the bottom screen that can be activated with a simple touch. As mentioned above, the added power of the Wii means that the visuals are a lot sharper than on the 3DS, but the entire game, including a bonus episode of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes about Thor is compressed onto the 3DS cart. The 3-D adds little to the overall experience and is best left off, so there isn’t a clear choice as to what version is superior to the other, and it really boils down to what piece of hardware you still have that can play this game.
Those expecting a God of War or Devil May Cry level of depth in Thor: God of Thunder will not get it, but if you adjust your expectations accordingly, this version of the game is a fun 3-D action/brawler that’s good while it lasts. While it’s not the Thor game that as of this writing we’re still waiting for to happen, it comes far, far from recommended than Thor: God of Thunder on the PS3/Xbox 360, even with its somewhat repetitive structure and short playtime. If you passed over this because of the reception of the main SKU or because you had gotten over the Wii, it may be time to give this game a second look, especially if you’re looking for a Thor console game to play after getting out of Thor: Ragnarok.