Tornado on the DS absolutely knackered my wrist, to the point where I had to put the DS down and stop playing after about 10 minutes. The fact that I wanted to stop playing anyway, on account of Tornado being frustrating and tiresome is beside the point. One of the golden rules of game design is: games shouldn't make you feel pain. They're for fat lazy gits like me, after all. Tornado doesn't just break this golden rule, it uproots it and sends it spiralling towards the Land of Oz.
Tornado is such hard work because you spend the entire game repeatedly drawing circles with the stylus on the touch screen. If you stop, your tornado loses power, eventually fizzling out into nothing more than a light breeze. So you can't stop. You have to keep drawing circles, working that wrist into oblivion.
Tornado is like Katamari Damacy, except without the fun. The silly story sees the evil "The Prince", who may or may not pack a guitar and a sing like a girl, use his black hole device to suck up everything on earth and transport them to his home planet. Caught up in the black hole is a group of anthropomorphic felines called the Cosmic Cleaners, who take it upon themselves to use their tornado machines to transport everything back to earth, and thus save the day.
The story suggests the game is aimed at younger gamers, but that can't be true, because the endless drawing of circles requires wrists as muscle-bound as Arnie's were in his prime (can you have muscle-bound wrists?). Your tornado moves about the environment, sucking up small objects at first, then, as it increases in size, even bigger objects. Everything and anything is up for grabs, from people to castles, but what you can teleport is governed by your tonado level, displayed on the Tornado Machine Gauge in the bottom right of the screen. At the start of the game your tornado is at level one, which means that you'll only be able to transport people and small objects. The more objects you transport, though, the higher your tornado level will get. At level five you'll be able to transport anything. Crucially, some items use up your tornado machine's energy when you transport them, dropping your tornado level on the way. When this happens you have to frantically draw circles to get it back up again, hence the pain. Oh, and you can dash by blowing into the DS' microphone, which isn't embarrassing in the slightest.
The fact that the game ruins your wrist isn't the only problem. The camera is positioned too close to your tornado, and provides a perspective that feels like it's tying your hands behind your back. You want and need to see more of the environment than is provided because of the frustrating trial and error gameplay. In the main story mode missions charge you with touching a number of hidden objects within a set time limit. These objects are usually contained within houses or other buildings, or protected by level five structures. It's impossible to know where to look for these items, so you end up blindly searching the map, sucking up as many objects as possible in order to make your tornado more powerful, then fail because you ran out of time. Then you repeat, knowing where the items you found are. Then you fail again. Eventually, if you have wrists of steel, you might find everything the mission asks of you, and proceed onwards to more bone-crunching frustration. This is, in a nutshell, Tornado.
The very first mission is a case in point. You're charged with finding five tornado machine batteries within four minutes, which proves nigh on impossible because you've no idea where to look. You'll find some, though, so when you do fail, and it is a case of when, not if, you'll save time by heading straight for them when you retry. I failed again. At this point, my wrist in tatters, I stopped playing. That would have been it, if I hadn't had to review the game.
At least there's a wireless versus mode to mess about with. Because you can't technically fail any of the three versus game modes (eat more sushi than your opponent in three minutes; change the colour of more crystals than your opponent in three minutes; and transport more buildings than your opponent in three minutes), it's much less frustrating than the story mode. It's still a nightmare on the wrists, mind.
If Tornado does something right, it's the silly sound effects you hear whenever you transport something capable of complaining about it. Bikini-clad girls girlishly scream as they get caught up in your whirlwind. Cows moo as they fly into the air. Somehow these noises make you smile amid all the pain.
Tornado is more of a shame than a disappointment. The Katamari Damacy style gameplay could have been a perfect fit on the DS. It boggles the mind that someone somewhere within the development team didn't notice how much strain constantly drawing circles puts on your wrist. Unfortunately it's a flaw that prevents Tornado from being playable for any decent length of time. And that's not even including the frustrating trial and error gameplay or the crippling perspective. If I have to put my wrists through the wringer, I for one would rather I got some pleasure from it.
VideoGamer.com Score3 Score out of 10
- Sound effects will make you smile
- Camera restrictive
- Destroys your wrist
- Trial and error gameplay frustrates