(http://www.konami.com/games/tornado/)  Presented by Konami, Tornado Outbreak’s Zephyr is a wind warrior who is fighting to rescue an epic hero from another universe. Or so he was told. This game does not fit neatly into any category, and it’s not because it contains material from multiple genres. The closest comparison one would make is to the Katamari games, in which the player also controls the main character to absorb various in-game objects to grow bigger. However, the goal of the game as well as the whole presentation is different; therefore, Tornado Outbreak is indeed refreshing for habitual gamers who are all too familiar with mainstream genre games.

(http://www.konami.com/games/tornado/)  Presented by Konami, Tornado Outbreak’s Zephyr is a wind warrior who is fighting to rescue an epic hero from another universe. Or so he was told. This game does not fit neatly into any category, and it’s not because it contains material from multiple genres. The closest comparison one would make is to the Katamari games, in which the player also controls the main character to absorb various in-game objects to grow bigger. However, the goal of the game as well as the whole presentation is different; therefore, Tornado Outbreak is indeed refreshing for habitual gamers who are all too familiar with mainstream genre games.

 

Presentation:

Tornado Outbreak’s gameworld is rendered 3D-cartoon style, which appeals more to the imaginative side of things. If the game were rendered photo-realistically, this game would become quite harsh on human conscience as the player levels cities with tornadoes. All of the stages are humorously portrayed, with exaggeratedly generalized impression of locations from around the world. There is a lot of effort that was put into designing the stages of this game, as every object is carefully placed for aesthetic reasons as well as in consideration for difficulty. Although the gameplay is largely the same as it progresses, the player will learn to remember each zone better in order to win. Most of the game is presented in a lighthearted manner considering the comical destruction, but it also has some sentimental moments when Zephyr questions his cause and resolve.

 

Graphics:

There are a lot of objects in each of Tornado Outbreak’s levels, and virtually each and every last one of them can be interacted with (mostly ripped off the ground and shredded to pieces). The areas are always packed and lively to begin with, whether it is medieval re-enactors in their shiny armor riding iron-clad steeds or the signature British red double-deckers. What especially astonishing is how well everything is proportioned: Zephyr’s tornado takes up more space on the screen as it grows, that way the game does not give the perception that everything else is shrinking.

         

Sounds:

Each stage of Tornado Outbreak features its own memorable track as it doesn’t take long before one of them finds a comfy and welcoming spot in one’s head. Except when time runs low then the urgent and fast-beat track comes in to lift the player’s spirit. Overall, the soundtrack is highly enjoyable as the tracks are composed with depth and progress musically. Sound effects are superbly done to increase immersion of destructive experience, maybe even reinforces the destructive behavior. Aside for the people’s comical screeches as they are consumed by the tornado, voicing acting in this game is generally limited to Zephyr’s monologues between the stages. Thankfully, the voice behind him is able to reflect his thoughts and feelings quite well.

 

Gameplay:

Tornado Outbreak is a refreshing experience. The player control Zephyr to destroy various objects to increase the size of his tornado, and it can destroy bigger objects as it gets bigger. At first, the gust of wind that is Zephyr is barely as tall as a step stool, but often it will grow to couple stories high at the end of a stage. While it seems easy and lacking in contents during the tutorial, the game adds up quickly. Once the game progress to the actual stages, in order to finish the stage, the player need to discover a certain amount of “fire flyers” that are hidden within objects of varying sizes. There is also a time limit to do it; on the other hand, obtaining large quantity of fire flyers at the same time will give a time bonus. With all those elements added together, Tornado Outbreak is actually a challenging puzzle game that requires a lot of strategic planning on the player’s part. Each of the 11 stages is broken down to 5 zones with the puzzle-action play being the first 3 zones. After that, Zephyr will attempt to create a gigantic storm by circling the area through these “stormgates” at high speed. The player is responsible for guiding Zephyr through a long series of small-sized gates while he gains speed. When Zephyr gets enough speed to create a massive storm, he reverts back to his tornado form to get ready for a “totem battle”. In these totem battles, the player will carefully guide Zephyr from a start point to the totems, while avoiding sunlight on the way. However, there is more to it because Zephyr needs to destroy the totem heads in “Whac-a-Mole” fashion when he reaches the totems. Tornado Oubreak does wonders to stimulate one’s brain quickly switching between the strategic planning of puzzle-action zones, then the high reaction time of stormgates and totem battles. If that doesn’t demand enough brain power, Zephyr eventually gains 2 extra moves that will allow him to be more destructive and the stages to become more difficult at the same time.

 

Tornado Outbreak also features local multiplayer to allow 2 players to team up and double the destruction.

       

 

Innovation:

Although this game somewhat resemble the Katamari games, but there’s enough differences that it feels refreshing. With the general shortage of puzzle type games on the market, Tornado Outbreak is something of a rare sight.

 

Longevity:

This game has quite a bit of replay value even if not for its pick-up-and-go quick rounds as well as the plain destructive fun. For every normal zones, there’s the challenge of finding every last fire flyers, 3 stone stompers to locate and rescue, as well as a pair of (WATER FAIRY PAIR THINGS?) to reunite; and keep in mind it is probably impossible to achieve all those and finish the stage in one try. It is particularly difficult in the later stages, and it will require the player to master the stage in order to achieve all that.

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