As wicked witches, Midwestern US school children who have to sit through countless disaster drills, and that cow from the movie Twister will tell you, tornados are bad news. And now, DS gamers have a good reason to fear the swirling vortex of mother nature’s Dyson vacuum as well. Tornado had the potential to blow us away, but tedious missions and some really broken design choices instead suck the life out of the whole adventure.
Tornado’s action is basically a knock-off of the “run around collecting stuff” gameplay made beloved by the sticky-ball rolling Katamari Damacy series. But instead of a round ball, players control a tornado. Actually, scratch that. You control a space cat who in turn controls a tornado. You’re rebuilding the Earth’s surface, which has been stolen by an alien. We’re not kidding.
You conjure up your collecting cyclone by making circles on the DS screen with your stylus. Then, while still swirling to keep it nice and windy, you guide your funnel of doom around using the touch screen or D-pad, blowing into the microphone at times to dash (which we hate. Don’t developers know we play these things in public?) As you rip more trees, mailboxes, and pedestrians from gravity’s safe embrace, your tornado gets larger and larger, able to pull up more massive items like houses and bridges and city-specific landmarks. Eventually, you’ll also find power-ups that can give you the ability to split or send out smaller tornados and vacuum up a wider swath for a few moments.
We’re okay with drawing circles to make a tornado, but thanks to cluttered level designs and some wicked level goals, the game is hopelessly frustrating. Let’s just walk you through the very first level, in which you have to find and suck up five batteries hidden around what appears to be London, shall we?
When you begin, you’re so small you can’t suck up much of anything. So your big, strong tornado literally bounces off of almost everything. Even Dorothy’s ramshackle shack would be safe from you. Lame. This makes navigating the narrow city layouts an exercise in frustration.
Clearly you need to level up quickly, so you spend a couple minutes absorbing smaller items until your tornado is big enough to dismantle the larger structure that surrounds the first battery you’ve located. Score! But unfortunately, you’ve just spend two and a half of the level’s four-minute time limit doing that, so now you only have 90 seconds left to find the other four batteries.