Though many of fled the quarter, there’s still a fair amount of truly excellent games making their mark on this holiday, among them the Big Three: Uncharted 2, Modern Warfare 2 and Assassin’s Creed 2. It’s easy for a quaint game like Tornado Outbreak to get completely washed away by blockbusters like these, but developer Loose Cannon Studios stood their ground (which is certainly more than can be said for certain other games), and released their game with apparently no fear. (Because you’d have to be fearless to go toe to toe with some of the other games coming out amirite?). I’ve heard that Loose Cannon was formed with members from Sucker Punch; It’s certainly not hard to believe, as I can see a lot of the charm put into classic Sly Cooper games being placed here. Really, I’m not kidding. If you’ve played the Sly Cooper games, you will no doubt feel a very light sense of deja vu as you take in the art style, presentation, and soundtrack.
But that’s certainly not a bad thing. While Tornado Outbreak might not have all the polish or pure muscle of other giants, it’s still a pleasant experience.
In Tornado Outbreak you play as Zephyr, a senior member of a group of wind spirits known as the Wind Warriors. They come across a dying being who claims he was a hero in the dimension he came from, but the villains of his world defeated and banished him, scattering his power orbs as well. Zephyr and the team take it upon themselves to help him out, and head to the nearby Earth to gather up his six power orbs. The story isn’t bad, but ultimately forgettable.
Tornado Outbreak’s gameplay is, for all intents and purposes, a different angle on the Katamari games. You control Zephyr, who in turn controls a tornado, sucking up as much as you can (and steadily growing much bigger in the process) within the time limit. Though the game teaches you the fundamentals in the very first level, it only introduces other nuances of the game to you over a fairly steady basis. First you’ll learn about the Fire Flyers, little critters who hide under certain objects and present an opportunity to reap a lot of extra points (and trophies). Then you’ll learn new moves that you can use to help other elemental denizens of the world. Just like in Katamari, there’s a lot of satisfaction to be had once you hit somewhere around Lv10, at which point you’re now big enough to start sucking up individual buildings, skyscrapers, and other gigantic things. But this time I found more satisfaction from the crazy amount of Fire Flyers you can hoard at a time at that size, as larger objects yield larger amounts of Fire Flyers. I remember at one point I was juggling around 60 of them, which of course netted me a substantial time increase and points bonus.
Though the gameplay is solid, it’s not especially compelling, and the game itself is pretty short, featuring not more than about ten stages, each of which can be completed in about 20-30 minutes. Granted, there are some unlockables (and, by extension, trophies) providing incentive to go back and ace each stage, but there’s no denying that Tornado Outbreak won’t last you long.
On a technical level, the graphics are quite lackluster, and look like something a PS2 could churn out (In fact, I saw a couple of effects that could have been ripped right out of an N64 game). The frame rate stutters slightly but noticeably when sucking up a lot of stuff within a small space of time, and becomes downrate unstable when you get somewhere around Lv13. However, the game doesn’t require an install, and the loading times are reasonably brisk despite this.
Overall, Tornado Outbreak is good while it lasts, but unfortunately doesn’t merit much more than a golf clap. A 6.5/10.