Tornado (Nintendo DS) Review

By Matthew Evans 05.02.2009

Review for Tornado on Nintendo DS

If it's one thing Nintendo's consoles have done this generation it's that they've helped to push new ideas of gameplay through different control methods, and some have even shown signs of success. Ignition hope to replicate this success with Tornado, the uniquely controlled game that they hope will blow away the competition…*tumbleweed blows across site*…I'll get my coat.

Trimmed from

tor-na-do  /tɔrˈneɪdoʊ/
-noun, plural -does, -dos.

a localized, violently destructive windstorm occurring over land, esp. in the Middle West, and characterized by a long, funnel-shaped cloud extending toward the ground and made visible by condensation and debris.

a violent squall or whirlwind of small extent, as one of those occurring during the summer on the west coast of Africa.

a violent outburst, as of emotion or activity.

I'd like to draw your attention to description number 3. Now I'm not sure how accurately it defines the game but it does quite accurately describe my intentions after playing the game.

It's hard to know where to start…actually, if I use some of those words: to start, it's hard. Yep, I think that that's a good point to begin this review as this is where my main frustrations begin. The game is quite deceptively hard, by which I mean that, much like Zubo, the game is quite clearly aimed at a younger audience. It has a anthropomorphic cast of main characters who are designed like the cartoon version of Teen Titans and with a graphical style of Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network shows, the audio is that type of techno/rock that you'd get on a Japanese animation such as Yu-Gi-Oh or Naruto and the plot with its accompanying dialogue would insult the intelligence of a child. Now this is all perfectly fine if the gameplay is pitched at their level, but it quite clearly isn't. You start the game with a quick tutorial on how to the basic functions work and then the game throws you into the first level and up a difficulty spike so sharp that makes scaling Everest look easy. It is honestly like playing a tutorial on Halo then going straight into the last level on Legendary.

Screenshot for Tornado on Nintendo DS

Now I completely understand that descriptions like that mean nothing without context, so let me give you a brief run down of how the game operates. The game's main mechanic and namesake are the tornadoes which are used to suck up items. These tornadoes are created and maintained by constantly moving your stylus in a clockwise or anti-clockwise circular rotation. This will create your level one tornado which is capable of uprooting trees, cars, people, etc., but to get your tornado to level two and above you need to suck up further items by moving your tornado across said items. To move your tornado you either slide your stylus while continuously circling the stylus or while circling the stylus use the D-Pad; if you stop circling then the tornado starts to power down. You will be circling a lot in this game and for around three to five minutes at a time per level, which can get extremely uncomfortable. Also, while it may only take you less than a minute to get from a level one tornado to three, getting to level four alone takes about the same time again and level five takes an absolute age as even level three buildings barely make a dent on your tornado meter. "How is this hard?" you may ask - well, the first level alone gives you four minutes to gather five batteries spread out all over a city map, and one of the closest ones is inside a level five building. To make matters worse, the only way to realise it's a level five building is by trying to suck it up at level two, then level three and level four as the game gives no hint that it's a maximum level building - baffling, especially considering you encounter it so early on in the game's natural progression. So, in that four minute time frame you have to track down five batteries on a map that's far too big, work out what level your tornado needs to be to suck up a particular building, build your tornado up to level five then backtrack across the map to get that final building. Needless to say I failed the first level over five times and get this, when you fail a level it doesn't give you the option to re-try it, the game will just kick you straight back to the beginning as if you'd loaded the cartridge for the first time, so have to sit through all the logos and stuff again then reload through the menu. Imagine doing this multiple times just to get past the first level and you start to get a glimpse of the difficulty and frustration of this game - and if that doesn't put you off the second level will.

Screenshot for Tornado on Nintendo DS

For the second level you have five minutes with which to find a character who is hidden under a random level five building, of which there are a good few spread over the map and about ten seconds travel from each other. When I say 'hidden under' I mean that you cannot see this person until you've sucked up the building. There is not enough time to build up a level five tornado and suck up every level five building so you adopt a trial and error approach and try a different building on each attempt. Guess what? Every time you load the level the game puts this character under a different random building with no logical method to narrow it down. Yes, the second level is based on pure pot luck. I failed this particular level and was subject to the game reloading almost twenty times and pretty much every other level is a variation on these two types. Well, except one level which starts off as a 'find a character' mission, only for another tornado to appear a minute into the level, there's a cut scene and the game starts again. You resume looking for this guy as normal, not realising that an icon in the top left has changed from this character to the a new character with the tornado from the cut scene with a purple bar and the level now wants you to defeat the tornado. Ye,s the game just changed the mission mid-way through a level without notifying you and to top that there's nothing in the tutorial or instruction book telling you how to fight another tornado. That is just flipping awful game design, it is literally by pure accident I managed to bump into this tornado with a level four tornado and noticed his purple bar went down. This game is just far too frustrating, has ridiculously tight timescales, slow tornado build-up, missions that are based on pure luck and a learning curve that is more of a right angle than a slope.

Screenshot for Tornado on Nintendo DS

As I'm reviewing the whole package I'll briefly discuss everything else: the graphics are featureless, blocky and do a rudimentary job of showing what you are scooping up. The sound effects in the missions are good and with cars that beep, people that shout, etc., when you suck them up but the music is unvaried and the audio to go with the dialogue sounds like someone having an epileptic fit on a scratch deck. The dialogue is simplistic and uninformative, for example "You have five minutes to find Deva." Why only five minutes? Why not the three minutes I have in the next mission or the twenty minutes (the rough culmination of level time I have to play before I get the mission to find Russell)?. Honestly, this doesn't matter though as I only got past the first level because I'm reviewing the game. I would've thrown my DS across the room in frustration if I didn't have that obligation.

Screenshot for Tornado on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 2 out of 10

Very Bad

The tornado concept had potential but poor game design choices such as constant circling, no instant retry and a time limit so harsh you will fail more than you succeed have made it a frustrating game that completely forgets the core concept of games - fun and enjoyment.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  2/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


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