PC, Nintendo Switch
June 5, 2023
Asylum Square Interactive
“Cute” and “Thor” may not be words you think would go together when discussing the mighty Norse god. However, it will probably be the first thing you’ll think of when you see Tiny Thor. This 16-Bit platformer, which devs Asylum Square call a “love letter to the golden age of SNES and Sega Genesis platformers”, presents a tiny, pixelated, child version of Thor who has just received his divine hammer, Mjölnir, on his tenth birthday from his father Odin. On your way to play with your new birthday present, your path crosses with a mysterious elf-like stranger who tells you the Bee Queen is planning to attack the town that evening! Thor decides to take on the task of stopping the Bee Queen, which sets him on an adventure throughout Asgard, tackling different arrays of creatures that wish to squash his plans of saving the town.
Though the hammer and Thor himself may be tiny in stature, the former is not tiny in its use. The hammer is undoubtedly the star of the Tiny Thor show and Asylum Square’s influences of Pin Ball and Breakout can be seen in how the hammer can be used. When thrown, the hammer bounces off surfaces, and if angled in the right way, it can be used to move objects, kill enemies, and hit switches. When you hold down the throw command and pivot Thor’s body and arm into different positions, a dotted line appears that shows you the trajectory that the hammer will take if it is released at that particular moment from Thor’s grip.
It is obvious that Asylum Square has created and made design decisions for Asgard and its creatures to truly show off the power of the Mjölnir. For example, certain enemies can only be killed if the hammer hits them directly on the head, meaning that you need to find the perfect angle for the hammer to bounce off of to hit the fatal blow. These enemies are usually found in areas where you are boxed in, so you will need to position your hammer quickly to survive.
If you aren’t quick enough, hopefully you have some of the game’s hearts under your belt. Health comes in the form of red bouncy hearts which can be found by headbutting little grey boxes that contain the heart symbol. When you are injured, the heart pops out of Thor with the number of lives it contains etched in its middle. However, the heart contains the same physics as Thor’s hammer and will bounce away from you, with the number of lives slowly ticking away the longer it is out of your body. Unfortunately hearts aren’t found often in the game and there seems to be less and less of them as you progress, despite the gameplay becoming harder. It’s disappointing that the game doesn’t have difficulty settings as some players whose reflexes aren’t strong will struggle to keep up with the game’s flow. If you do die in Tiny Thor, you are resurrected at the last checkpoint you visited but all enemies will regenerate.
“…a love letter to to the golden age of SNES and Sega Genesis platformers”
The main objects you will see scattered throughout your runs are sapphires and rubies. Your HUD will show you the number of sapphires and rubies to be found per level, with the latter usually being in the hundreds and much easier to find. The number of rubies per level is only three and are found in hard-to-get or secret locations; your hammer can also retrieve these sapphires and gems if they are in eyesight. At the end of each level, your run time will be shown, plus how many jewels you have acquired.
Sapphires can be used to purchase upgrades from the Trinket Treetop shop such as obtaining the ability for your hammer to extend its range by 50% and your heart duration increasing by 50%. Rubies are used to unlock challenge runs that are locked around the world map. These runs consist of difficult obstacles and enemies to get through as quickly as possible and I can see it becoming popular with those who love a speed running challenge. However, seeing as the sapphires are so hard to come by, I was disappointed to find that the level of skill needed to retrieve them didn’t match with the reward of access to the challenge stages.
Each of the 30 levels introduces new enemies and ways to explore the possibilities of Thor’s hammer. In the Jelly Jaunt level, you’ll find bouncy pink jelly-looking squares left around the world that you need to play around with to reach higher areas. In Bee Battalions, you will be bombarded by tiny bees that continuously sprout from hives and that you can bounce on to kill. Your hammer also helps you solve puzzles such as using it to quickly hit certain switches within a time limit to advance forward, hitting air-filled containers to propel you into the air, and moving objects you are standing on in order to cross terrain that is deadly to the touch. Tiny Thor, therefore, is a game that isn’t scared to challenge the player’s skills and reflexes with its ever-changing world of puzzles, enemies, and deadly landscapes.
- Cute, pixelated world
- Tiny Thor's hammer is fun to experiment with
- Changing gameplay elements means the game never gets stale
- No difficulty levels
- Sapphires and rubies could have offered more enticing rewards
Although Tiny Thor may seem like a pretty simple platformer when you first encounter it, is actually quite complex. You will need to become a master of Thor’s hammer and find the most effective ways to use it in order to progress throughout Asgard. The game never feels stale as each level brings some new gameplay element to continue to challenge the player and offer opportunities to use Thor’s hammer in creative ways. Whilst the level of difficulty and the lack of health is a bit frustrating, fans of fast-paced, ever-changing, cute platformers will find a lot to love in Tiny Thor.