Review: Tornado

The DS is home to a wealth of immersive and creative titles, though many of us may not realize it. Unfortunately, a glut of these games are hindered by their poor stylus-centric control schemes and thus miss the mark when they could have delivered much more. In the case of interesting little platformer Tornado, forced excessive use of the stylus ruins the entire outing. Where solid gameplay designs and interesting execution flourish, touch mechanics are too much of a chore to allow you to enjoy the game.

Tornado can easily be likened to Katamari Damacy. A malevolent Prince has decided to utilize the deadly Black Hole device in order to suck up millions of objects from the Earth to horde on his home planet. Obviously this kind of behavior just won’t fly. A group of stellar kitties known as the Cosmic Cleaners take up their very own tornado machines in order to infiltrate the Prince’s planet and restore the Earth to its former glory. The roles may be a bit reversed, though the plot line is a dead ringer for the popular acid trip through the Earth that we all know and love.

Controlling tornado machines is done via the most non-intuitive manners that could have been chosen: simply drawing endless circles with your stylus in order to keep your furious tornado brewing. As you can imagine, this begins to do a number on your wrists even after a few minutes of playing. In order to move, control your tornado, or even to suck up several different items you must rely on simply twirling around your stylus to keep up momentum. Stop for even a moment and the power of your windstorm will wither away into nothing more than a gentle, refreshing breeze. In this, a typical unassuming DS title turns into less of a fun little platformer and right into a monster that seeks to entrap you in throes of carpal tunnel syndrome.


If you can keep up with the feverish pace in which you must rotate your wrist over and over, your tornado will grow larger and larger, allowing you to pick up several different kinds of items from people to buildings to miscellaneous bric-a-brac to send back down to Earth where it belongs. You can keep track of the size of your tornado via the small gauge in the bottom corner of your screen in case you need to figure out what items you’re still too small for or which are just the right size. Even this mechanic is flawed, however, in that some objects require expenditure of energy when being moved. This will deplete your tornado level, meaning that you’ll need to keep cranking the wrist over and over in order to build up a respectable tornado. It’s a very sick cycle that ends up discouraging and placing you in copious amounts of pain unless you have a high tolerance for wrist flexion.

Aside from this mind-numbingly horrible design decision, camera angles are often too tight to control properly, making discovery of hidden items as well as mission-specific ones too tough to see without making use of trial and error far more often than needed. You are quite crippled when it comes to making out which direction you should be going in or where to find the next items in line, and for a DS title the camera angles should not be too much of an issue. Luckily there are interesting aural treats such as the shrieks of bikini-clad women, the screams of other people, and animal noises as they are all sucked into your all-powerful tornado — and it ought to be powerful, as much of a toll as it is taking on your wrist!

Because of the torment I put my wrists through in order to complete this game for review, I won’t be spending any time in its multiplayer modes via wireless cart play anytime soon, though they offer modes that you cannot fail. At the very least this should reduce the stress that comes from attempting to best this game. You can collect more crystals than your opponent in three minutes or see who can transport the most items in the same time limit — fairly benign stuff that most players likely won’t touch due to the abuse needed to complete all of story mode’s missions.

It’s quite unfortunate that the developers could not foresee such an issue with the constant swirling of the stylus, not to mention any unforeseen consequences one might have with the delicate DS touch screen after scribbling on it for the couple hours it takes in order to complete Tornado. It could have been a perfectly acceptable Katamari Damacy-styled alternative and right at home on the DS had the developers chosen a safer and much less frustrating control scheme. I should like to see a sequel, though only if it employs scant usage of the stylus and relies heavily on the D-pad, as games of this type ought to. I’m already wearing out my wrists typing — why should I continue to do so for one measly game?

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