An expensive, but highly entertaining and enjoyable, futuristic shooter.
Many of the titles released on the Nintendo DSiWare in the first few months of its introduction were published by Nintendo, leaving many to question where the third-party support for the service was.
While the same can be said about the service now, more and more publishers are starting to hop on the bandwagon and release some quality titles. Big John Games just recently released their debut title, Thorium Wars, the first shooter for the service, and while it does have its issues, the final product is definitely one to consider purchasing.
Set in the year 2152, Thorium Wars is a futuristic shooter in which players take control of a variety of different machines to battle their way through waves of enemies. It certainly isn’t anything creative, but the story isn’t what Thorium Wars so enjoyable - it is the game play.
Thorium Wars is composed of twelve distinctive different missions in which you are thrown into the cockpit of everything from aerial fighters to land-based tanks. In each mission, you’re provided with a basic victory condition, usually something along the lines of “destroy a highlighted object on the map” or “defeat all the enemies in an area.” In each mission, the action unfolds on the upper screen, while the bottom screen presents an overview of the battlefield. The amount of variety in the missions is certainly a welcome addition, as it constantly keeps things varied.
Not only does the game provide players with a multitude of different vehicles to control, each of which feels distinct from each other, each mission offers players the choice between different types of each vehicles. There are plenty of different planes to control, tanks to maneuver, and hovercrafts to direct. Each specific type of vehicle feels different from the other types, and finding one that is easy for you control will prove vital to winning. Thanks to the this addition, you can always go back and revisit missions with a different vehicle and see which one suits you best. It would’ve been easy for the developers to do a quick copy-and-paste job here, but seeing as made each individual unit unique, they certainly need to be acknowledged for their hard work.
The controls, on the other hand, are just equally impressive.. While they may be a little difficult to grasp at first, they eventually grow on you and end up working quite well. The game gives players the option to play with either stylus input or an all-button scheme. While the latter works wonders, the former can cause some problems as they aren’t quite as intuitive and responsive as they should be.
One of the biggest issues with Thorium Wars is that there’s no tutorial to explain how the game plays, and due to the complexity of the game, it would have been nice to see one included. Seeing as there are no instructions on how to play the game, you’ll probably have to consult the manual while not playing the game. So in other words, if you have a question while playing the game, you’ll need to exit the game, as you can’t consult it while playing, and then go read the manual.
The missions - while engaging and varied - are a little on the long side, which is quite disappointing seeing as the game is on a portable platform. In general, a typical mission can run up to a full hour, and while there are some mid-level checkpoints in the game, there is no way to create a save file if you want to exit the game. If you want to put down your DSi and resume your progress at a later point, you will be disappointed to hear that you will have to start the entire mission over from the top.
Thorium Wars not only plays great, but it also has a great effort put forward in both the graphics and sound departments. The visuals are very impressive for a downloadable game, and considering that the size limitations of the service, it was nice to see Big John Games try to make the game the best it could be.
Of course, the big question that most people have on their mind is whether or not the game is worth the asking price of 1,000 points. While it may appear quite steep, Thorium Wars is a highly entertaining game that has a fair amount of replay value and high production values. It might be expensive, but it sure is a great piece of software.