Before Star Fox Zero arrives in the mail later I decided to go through one more game. This one had trophies, was on the backburner for a while, and it was a short title. That made it super qualified for this role. It’s a fun game although they definitely could have done more with the overall concept. The game really is over before you know it. The actual campaign only lasted a few hours and was certainly less than I had heard. Ironically it is about as long as Star Fox Zero. This review was originally going to come out before Zero’s, but when the game arrived, it naturally took top priority. No worries though, this game is short, but it is definitely fun.
The story revolves around a guy named Zephyr. He is a living tornado and he is the prince/leader of the Wind Warriors. His mentor is one of the wisest guys ever and reminds Zephyr that they must defeat all of the fire spirits before the Earth is destroyed. Zephyr is glad to help even if he has no real regard for the safety of Earth’s citizens. Still, he is going to have to move fast since the villains are everywhere and the tornadoes are really starting to weaken the Earth’s defenses. Also, Zephyr isn’t being lied too right? That would be too sinister even for the villains…uh oh!
There are 8 worlds like your average Mario game and each one has 3 zones. The first two revolve around the Tornado gimmick that I actually liked quite a bit. You start out as a really weak wind that can only hurl away small objects. The more objects that you absorb, the stronger you become. Eventually you become a rank 10-11 Tornado that can whip away everything in sight. You can then find the Fire Spirits and return to your portal before the time limit is up. Rinse and repeat for Zone 2. In Zone 3, you have to quickly win a Ring Race and then destroy the evil Totem Poles that have been placed in the center. You have to avoid the spotlights as you do this.
I like the concept of gradually getting stronger in a level until you accomplish everything within that level. The only game that I’ve played with a very similar concept would be De Blob, which I also enjoyed quite a bit. There’s something about this style that is simply a blast to play through. Both titles are fairly short so maybe there is some reason why that is the case. Perhaps it is tough to program a lot of levels for this style of the developers thought it could potentially get repetitive. I suppose that would happen if it was too long.
The plot isn’t all that engaging, but I did like the style of the cinematic. It felt very similar to the Sly games to the point where I would consider this a homage. Even the main character’s voice was like Sly’s. The plot may have even been a bit better than Sly’s since plot was never Sly’s strong suit when compared to his two rivals. (Ratchet and Jak) I think they could have done a lot more with Tornado Outbreak’s story though. It is very short, but aside from that the character cast is very small so there isn’t a whole lot of banter. In fact, you end up feeling a little bad for Zephyr’s men.
Sure, they doubt him a lot, but Sly’s always rather short with them. They constantly try to make one liners only to have Zephyr quickly take them back to the mission or tactfully insult them. The mentor tries to talk tough, but he can be a bit annoying and cryptic as well. The main villain was decently cool although he could barely talk and by the end he became your average giant villain who could no longer fight. The Rock and Water allies were all right. Basically, what I’m getting at is that the gameplay should be the selling point of this game rather than the plot even if the actual premise is fairly good.
One issue that is never really brought up in the game is how the Wind Warriors, the heroes of the story, seem to do just as much harm as good. The villains are rocking the planet to its core and will destroy it if they are not stopped, but the heroes should still be careful of how they save the planet. Zephyr and his men essentially raze the countries to the ground as they destroy whole neighborhoods and landmarks. They also destroy all of the animals and humans on board depending on how you look at it. I guess you could say that they are just flinging them away and that they’re all okay thanks to Toon Force, but is that what really happened here? Zephyr mentions in one cutscene that they should all try to help rebuild at some points, but then he’s distracted by the villains and it is never mentioned again. I dunno, it is hard to see Zephyr as an actual hero here and he is more of a lone vigilante than anything else. If not for how “Toon Force” everything is, the whole animal thing would have decimated the score. For the sake of the game and my experience, I’ll say that the tornado did gently throw them all away. Zephyr claims to be a hero so it is the least that he could do.
There is a decent amount of replay value to be found here. I wouldn’t call it a super large amount, but enough to make this game a decently long experience. Once you beat the game, you can go and replay all of the older levels with your new power ups so you can free the Rock Golems and the Water Spirits. There are currently no real collectible guides out there so you’ll have to use trial and error as you explore the levels for that shiny Platinum trophy. I can’t say that this game is high on my list to Platinum since it seems rather tricky, but I got a decent amount of trophies so I’m pretty satisfied.
I can’t say that I was very impressed with the soundtrack. It was a little lackluster, but not outright bad either. It was just pretty nonexistent the whole time and typically got drowned out by the actual gameplay. It is satisfying to just swallow up everything on the stage though. The graphics look nice. The cutscenes seemed to be hand drawn and the character models in the levels were good. Nothing awe inspiring, but certainly good enough.
Overall, Tornado Outbreak is a solid game. It’s a little shorter than you would expect, but unlike Star Fox Zero, the game is only about 10 dollars or less. It is certainly worth the price and this is a good game to add to your collection. The gameplay is quite unique in a world where many games are very similar at this point. It is hard to come up with new gameplay styles that work, but Outbreak pulls it off. A sequel to this game would be fun, but if not, maybe he’ll be in PS All Stars 2..heh heh.