This time I’m going to take a look at Tornado for the Nintendo DS where you join forces with Toki and the other members of the Cosmic Cleanersto return the things stolen by the Prince with his “Black Hole Device” . In this action game you are an alien cat that can become a tornado by spinning around and around. You use a combination of the stylus and microphone to get level ups and max out your “Tornado” abilities. Let’s see if this game has potential or is just going in circles.
From the start I would like to say whoever made this game should not be allowed to make another one. The reason for this is because once you start you could not give a crap about the game. The story mode needed to be played through to experience everything this game does not have to offer. The problems and issues are too many to name all in this review, but just so you can get a taste of the problems the tutorial takes about 5 minutes to complete before you can even get to the first level of the game, and forget about the bad guys since the time limit for each level doesn’t give you enough time to do anything with them. The amount and size of things you can suck up at any given time has no rhyme or reason. After bouncing into big buildings if you pass that way again you can suck them up but at the same time you can not suck trees or park benches until you can suck up clock towers or bigger. Most importantly, you’ll do all of this within an extremely restrictive time limit.
Once you start the first level you will see that the clock is your hardest opponent to beat. In the first real stage, exploring the map and finding the battery within the allotted span of time proves hard. It’s a little frustrating when you lose. The game doesn’t just take you to a retry screen. It acts like you’ve just hit a reset button and bounces you all the way out of the game to the title screen. Being a gamer you do not want to be at the title screen watching all of the company logos again before you can make another attempt. You can pause the action just before the timer runs out and choose to replay the stage without delay, but come on who the heck missed that step or was the guy on vacation that week? That step shouldn’t even be necessary to avoid the Game Over screen.
Even if you’re a reasonably skilled gamer, Tornado will catch you by surprise. Mostly that’s because of the timer, but sometimes there are additional issues. In one level you are asked to find a member of the Cosmic Cleaners. You have three minutes, the environment is frigid. So you start looking around, but first you have to spend a minute or two just building up your size so that you won’t rebound from any other buildings you touch. Then within a minute into the action a blustery rival tornado happens upon the scene. Just touching against it bounces you away from whatever you were doing, which can be frustrating as you try to suck up as many structures as possible in the search for your quarry. Then you run out of time and the game informs you that you failed because you didn’t defeat your enemy. It turns out that although the screen tells you that your goal is to find a friend, you’re actually just worried about defeating that other tornado. Like I said the timer would be the hardest thing to beat in the game.
Controls were not much better and had a very slow response. Most of the time you would worry about the timer more than anything else. For me it was just too hard to control with everything on the screen. The controls did work well if you could use them were you needed to, but most of the time they would not go where you wanted.
The limitations also pop up on and off in the form of noticeable slowdown. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if you’re just crawling because a superhero zapped you with his beam or because there are too many objects on the screen. Even when the game isn’t tricking you with false level objectives, it can be a drag to play. Simply moving around the screen is frustrating. You have to start by scribbling in circles to build up your meter. Then you can just draw the general route you want to take, but as you heft the landscape into the air, you’ll have to occasionally renew your energy lest you turn back into a harmless rodent. When you come up against enemies or large buildings, you actually need to navigate and recharge simultaneously. Furiously scribbling circles in an approximate direction of course means that accuracy is difficult, and even more frustrating.
They tried to mix things up a little in the items you can collect throughout the stages. Finding three gift boxes will give you additional songs on the soundtrack and other boxes reward you in a more immediate sense with special attacks that you can use for a burst of powerful gusts or even lightning bolts. Besides that, you can blow into the microphone once you build up enough mass and perform a dash of sorts, handy for crossing a map more quickly. Such additions are neat, but aren’t reliable components of your arsenal. You’ll probably decide eventually that they’re for the most part a waste of your time.
Tornado could have been a really great game. It had some neat ideas but lacks the execution to match. What could have been a relaxing and addictive experience is crippled by an absurd timer that punishes the player for trying to enjoy himself. There’s really nothing wrong with the general idea that drives it and there are times when the execution builds on that solid foundation. Unfortunately, the bulk of the experience disappoints. Between technical flaws and a timer that effectively sucks the fun out of nearly every highlight, this is another of those DS titles that I would say don’t waste your money or time. All I have to say is let this game blow by because it sucks. I do not recommended the Tornado game at all. Even at the low price of $20, save your money and buy something else.
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