Story_of_Thor_2 Too easily dismissed as a Zelda clone, this Saturn sequel to the 16-bit original is a beautiful blend of combat action, puzzle and platforming.

On the surface it’s clearly inspired by Zelda, with the real time combat featuring a range of moves and items such as bombs and arrows, and the top-down, free-roaming map system bears some similarities too, but these features aside it’s totally different (though that sounds slightly sarcastic!) The stronger emphasis on the RPG trinity of HP, MP and EXP and the use of ferocious elemental attacks sets this apart from little Link, and the use of spirits in puzzles is quite inspired – you start off lighting torches to open doors (hmm…) and later have to float on clouds and zap lightning bolts. If you’re here searching for the rumoured seventh spirit, Baluu, I’m afraid you’re out of luck: it doesn’t exist. Sorry.

Atmospherically the game deserves strong praise, with the dungeons each possessing a rich artistic quality that complements the Disney-like main character Leon. There are elements of Ray Harryhausen present too in the cackling skeletons and other undead warriors, although these are tempered by some poor sprite-scaling in places. Aurally, Story of Thor II is extremely good, with a rich and rightly-praised soundtrack by Yuzo Koshiro, by this point well out of his Mega Drive dance days. There are no RPG-style melodies here or mock-historic tunes, just a subtle backdrop of sound that enhances the atmosphere no end.

With an expansive world to explore and some tremendous ideas and gameplay touches, Story of Thor II is worthy of a place alongside Zelda in the action adventure genre. Surely it’s about time we had the second sequel, though?