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Tornado - hands-on

Usually, when the world needs saving, it calls on something boring like a young farmhand who hasn’t realized his destiny. Yawn. Tornado goes in a unique direction and uses a group of super cats who can turn into tornados to save the Earth.

Their ability to turn into nature’s vacuum cleaner comes in handy when an alien prince uses a black hole to steal everything from Earth. This prompts the feline heroes to spring into action and suck up whatever isn’t nailed down.

The game doesn’t try to hide the fact that it’s Katamari Damacy with tornados, which is not a bad thing at all. The games share a similar blocky graphic style, with half the fun coming from the wacky objects you can pick up (in England, we sucked up “Harry Pitter” and his school “Hogwhats”). Katamari and Tornado also share a similar objective - collect everything you see to get bigger – and a similar story, in which you rebuild what’s been destroyed by picking up the world’s junk.

Unlike Katamari, however, each level of Tornado takes place in a stereotypical version of a country, such as England, France or Iraq. We barely made it to the third level, due to the objectives being in Japanese, but we can tell you that the game's Iraq is full of nuclear warheads, UN and Iraqi soldiers, camels and cactuses. We never said the stereotypes were accurate.

The game requires more from the player than just blindly controlling a tornado. For one, movement is uniquely handled with the stylus. Dragging and drawing circles at the same time will let you tear through the city and replenish your energy, and having a tornado full of energy means taking out bigger buildings. There are also mission objectives which usually have you looking for specific items to pick up. The second level, for example, has you scouring France for a teammate. This gives each level a little more purpose and driving motivation than just dragging a tornado through ten maps.

Tornado delivers the simplistic pleasure of total destruction in a way that's only comparable to crushing your little brother’s city made of LEGO blocks. If you don’t have a little brother or enough plastic bits to build a city, then look out for Tornado’s quick action and unique premise when it ships near the end of 2008.

Jul 25, 2008