Review by MSuskie

Reviewed: 06/08/07

IT SUCKS! (I mean that in the most positive way possible.)

So I downloaded a game called Tornado Mania, right? And I'm starting a new game file, right? And get this – the game tells me that I’m about to create a utopia.

Um… what’s this? I bought a game called Tornado Mania, and now I’m BUILDING A CITY? I’m not complaining or anything; I mean, a good game is a good game, am I right? It’s just, y’know… It’s not what I expected.

Indeed, this is a game about controlling a massive, destructive tornado, and your object is not only to build a hustling, bustling virtual empire, but to make the inhabitants of said empire as happy as possible. Like I said. Not what I expected.

That is the concept of Utopia Mode, the centerpiece of this eight-dollar mobile download. In it, you are tasked with creating a town from the ground up by strategically placing houses, stores, restaurants, barns, factories and so forth around the landscape. Where do you get such buildings, you ask? Why, you engulf them with your tornado, of course! Building the most balanced city while doing the least amount of damage possible is your goal in Tornado Mania.

It wouldn’t be half as difficult if the control scheme developer Digital Chocolate has cooked up weren’t so… unusual. Your tornado is piloted using only one button, that being the OK button in the center of your phone’s d-pad. Your whirlwind constantly moves in a clockwise circle, and holding OK will switch it to a counterclockwise circle. You move it this way. It’s impossible to get the tornado to move in a perfectly straight line; you must adjust to this scheme to “weave” the thing in and out in a pattern that gets it to go where you want it to go.

What? Did you think that controlling a TORNADO would be EASY?

When you want to collect buildings, you’re taken to a separate civilian area and given a minute to suck up everything you can. Grass, trees, streets, fences, cars, cows (yes, cows), lampposts, and of course buildings can all be inhaled with your tornado, and the more you vacuum up, the bigger your tornado becomes. (So, yeah, it’s kind of like Katamari Damacy.) But you don’t want to damage the buildings that you need for your landscape, now, do you? So, you’ve got to circle them without actually passing through them. The slighter the damage you cause to your utopia, the happy your citizens.

I’ve gotta say, it’s pretty fun stuff, if a little weird – I must stress once more that a city-building sim is definitely not what I had in mind when I downloaded Tornado Mania. Odd way to take advantage of a concept like controlling a freakin’ tornado, but hey, whatever.

But then there is Rampage Mode, and… Ah, do I sense a smirk of satisfaction on your pretty little face? Surely THIS is what I bought a game called Tornado Mania for!

It is everything you would want it to be. You’re given a tornado and asked to simply cause as much damage as humanly possible, all the while racing the clock and outrunning a swarm of helicopters bent on thwarting your progress by dropping dry ice bombs. It is, again, very much like Katamari Damacy, where you must simply engulf as many buildings as you can. Wreaking havoc upon endless citizens and cows is mindlessly addicting. Made all the more challenging by the intentionally awkward controls, this is where the title gets most of its value.

Tornado Mania was good enough to overthrow my previous addiction to 300 in the world of mobile games, and if you’re committed to your cell phone, this is one to buy. Utopia Mode causes some fleeting amusement, but Rampage Mode is where it’s at. Destruction rules.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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