The idea of being a garbage man probably isn’t high on the list of jobs anyone wants to do when they grow up, usually it’s something a little bit more glamorous like a space man, a doctor or a train driver (hey, it sounded glamorous when I was a kid). Unfortunately it’s not very often we get the chance to live out our childhood fantasies and usually have to settle for the mundane. Although, in the not too distant future we have been granted freedom from the responsibility of garbage handling by employing a group known as the Cosmic Cleaners to do the job for us.
The Cosmic Cleaners are a group of space cats and dogs that clean up our Earth so we don’t have to, and what’s more they do it in such a fashion that if it were a real job I’d actually want to do it. Having perfected harnessing the power of tornadoes the Cosmic cleaners use this technology to clean the streets, the world over. That is of course until the mysterious “Prince” turns up and steals the entire contents of the Earth, including the Cosmic Cleaners using a black hole. Materialising on the Princes’ home world, along with everything else from Earth, the Cosmic Cleaners have been reduced to two members. The remaining pair decide the next course of action is to use the tornado technology to find it’s missing members and return everything back to Earth.
The game feels a lot like Katamari Damacy (with a measure of Blast Corps), although instead of using Katamari (or wrecking machines) to clear a path you use your tornado. Just like Katamari you can’t just go around sucking up everything you see, your tornado is simply not powerful enough to suck up larger objects. You have to progress up to the higher levels by sucking up smaller items first, until you reach level 5 and then you pretty much have carte blanche. There are of course limitations and obstacles to get in the way of your goals.
One of the most obvious limitations is the time frame in which you have to complete each stage, clocking in at around four minutes per stage (give or take), leaves you hard pushed to complete any stage with room to breath. This, coupled with your main objective (finding a lost team mate, collecting items, or both) conspire against your best efforts to succeed on even the earlier and easier stages. In addition, you will find dotted around each map are a range of power ups to assist you on your mission and certain stages to do battle against foes which hinder you further and eat away at your precious time.
To play the game you make circular motions with your stylus to create a tornado and then move the stylus (in circles) around the touch screen to move the tornado. Refinements to this method are offered with three power ups and a dash move, each one affording the briefest of breaks from circle making. While the method is unique and takes full advantage of the touch screen, it does get tiring and making sure your spinning at full speed can distract from the game. A solution around the continued spinning could have come from charging your tornado with brief spins, or simply needing to restore any lost tornado power after a collision which could have heightened tension during otherwise marathon spinning sessions.
Adding longevity to the ten story stages, there is the option of vs mode which pits you head to head against your friends in a type of sumo wrestling come Spinjas (or beyblade as the kids call it now). Other than that there is arcade mode, where you can go back and do any stage you’ve completed and play against the clock to remove 60% of buildings, although this is just as hard as the story mode. If collecting is your thing the bonus menu will display all items sucked up from any given stage, the blanks in the list does add replay value to the arcade mode if your the type of person that must collect all the possible items. But in reality finding the odd one or two stray items can be like looking for a needle in a haystack, unlike the so-called hidden songs which can be played on the jukebox.
Release date: February 27th 2009
Main website: www.tornado-game.co.uk