Never judge a book by its cover. This expression holds very true in regards to video games. Despite having a very cool cover art, which comes with its own shinny sleeve, Tornado is one game that looks cool but completely falls apart during the first opening cinematic.
When the game is first powered on, the player must forcefully go through line after line of plot that is absolutely atrocious. There is something about an alien who wants to capture earth so he uses some kind of tornado machine to suck everything up. The opening cinematic slides are some of worst I have seen on DS and really don’t make any sense. To make matters worse, there is no way to speed up the text, forcing players to wait a few seconds after every dialog bubble. Just painful.
Tornado is basically a Katamari Damacy clone, but instead of rolling over everything with a sticky ball, the player controls a tornado. The more things you blow over, the bigger the tornado becomes, allowing even bigger things to be knocked over. Although this gameplay tactic works very well in NamcoBandai’s ball rolling sim, it is a broken mechanic in this game. Instead of just moving a tornado around, the player must constantly draw circles on the bottom screen to keep up the momentum of the twister. This is also combined with the directional movement of the tornado. Drawing constant circles, while trying to aim the movement of the twister, on a screen that is only a couple inches wide, is a little tricky to say the least. Metroid Prime Hunters still holds the record for being the most hand cramping game on the DS, but Tornado takes the silver. After playing level 1 for the four minute duration, I was actually looking forward to taking a break.
Even if players become comfortable with the awkward play control, the game’s basic level structure always works against the player. Every level must be completed with a certain amount of time. But since the controlling the tornado is cumbersome, hitting the target time is very difficult. For example, the goal of the first level is to collect five batteries in four minutes. Because most stages are rather large and movement is not easily performed, the game over screen will be seen more often than not. In order to complete each stage, the player must memorize where to go if you want to have any chance at finishing a stage. And as another way of kicking you in the balls, the game actually boots you back to the title screen if you fail your mission objective.
There are a couple other modes of play, including a multiplayer mode, but everything is based around time. Instead of having the objective of collecting a dozen pieces of sushi in three minutes, why can’t I just find my raw fish before my opponent does? A constant time limit makes the gameplay feel overly rushed and the finer details of the game cannot be enjoyed. For a DS game, the simply designed 3D worlds look half way decent, but players will never be able to soak in the details because of the rushing time limit.
Tornado is one game that you should not judge by its cover art. Yes, this first impression should easily be placed on your good side, but the gameplay is more of a chore than it is entertaining. Having the stress of a time limit as the basis of gameplay and the constant need to circle your stylus on the touch screen is tedious and literally painful. If a little more time was spent in development ironing out these kinks, then Tornado could have been a solid form of competition for Katamari Damacy.