I’m waving goodbye to my 20′s and to celebrate I’m counting down 30 games from the last 30 years. Join me while I countdown 30 great years of game memories.
Thor: God of Thunder
WayForward Technologies. Give them a round of applause for almost single-handedly keeping 2D side scrolling beat ’em ups and platformers alive. From the excellent Shantae on the Gameboy Color, to the sickeningly sweet A Boy and His Blob or the under the radar Aliens: Infestation, WayForward has been the harbinger of all things neo-retro.
They also have a pretty good knack for bringing a bit of spice to the often (unjustifiably at times) maligned licensed game world. Batman: The Brave and the Bold held its own against the ever-popular Arkham Asylum in its more cartoony portrayal of the Bat, and recent efforts with both games based on the Adventure Time and Regular Show are well worth tracking down, not just for their licences but also because they’re pretty good retro-inspired games in their own right. The same can be said for the often forgotten Thor: God of Thunder for the DS, which unlike efforts on other systems, is actually an excellent game based on the film of the same name.
Thor is simple in its execution, and it’s this simplicity that goes a long way to making it so endearing. Straight away anyone over the age of 20 will be thrown back to the heyday of 16-bit brawlers – and that feeling never goes away. Thor’s design document could well have been transplanted right from a Super Nintendo or Mega Drive game and we’d be none the wiser – you run left and right, taking on multiple enemies along a 2-D plane, and unleash awesomely devastating multi-hit combos and special moves. It’s pure and unadulterated retro brawling and while here’s nothing new here per se, in an era where games are seemingly out to out-complicate one another, it is sometimes nice to go back to basics, and when it’s done as well as this who cares that it feels like a 20 year old game.
The developer has a great track record when it comes to its art and Thor is no exception. I hesitate to call it ‘stunning’, but Thor’s pixel spritework and animation is, like all of its output, close to second to none. There is a certain retro beauty to the game’s graphics that isn’t matched by the smoother, higher resolution sprites in today’s games. It looks old, but underneath the game’s still appearance, is a master-craftsman’s work. Some of the best artists in human history are known for the details of their execution rather than the overall aesthetic of their work; and WayForward are no different in this respect. The way it moves, the way the characters react to attacks, the excellent use of parallax scrolling for its backgrounds – it is these things that makes it a beautiful game. Screenshots don’t do this game justice, watching it in motion is a revelation of just how amazing WayForward are as artists.I
Have a favourite game from 2011? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to come back soon for the next game in our countdown. Miss a year? Catch up below.