tornado: Solving neighborly disputes

I’ve had a rotten time trying to update this site over the past couple days. My home network has been exceptionally flaky since Friday afternoon, and on top of that, I spent the precious little time I had yesterday testing and prodding a program, only to find when I was done writing, that I had already seen it a year ago. 👿

That’s not the first time that’s happened, although I’ve caught myself more often in past months wondering why my spider-sense is tingling, then realizing I’ve seen a program before. Oftentimes it didn’t do enough to make an impression, and so perhaps that’s not completely my fault. It is discouraging though.

Here’s one that’s easy to remember, and since it’s been a while since we saw a proper game. In fact, not counting tinyfugue and the collection of weaker games, it’s been months. This is something we shall have to remedy.


That’s tornado. As I understand it, tornado is a remake of a classic C64 game called Weatherwar, with the object being to destroy your opponents house by controlling the elements. It’s a variation on the catapult game theme, since your success at tornado will depend a little on your ability to calculate the target given information on wind speeds.

It will also take a little experience, since speeds are given in single-digit values starting at the left and increasing to the right. So knowing that your target is on the left, but knowing that the wind is blowing hard to the right, means you’ll need to work with negative numbers a lot — especially if you’re in the right-side house.

tornado has a few charms. It’s interesting, it’s colorful, and the animation is actually quite good. It won’t hold your attention much longer than it takes to win a game or two, but I can see where it would be appealing to young people learning their basic maths skills, or just as a distraction from other things.

As it stands, tornado is only a two-player, hot-seat game. It’s possible to get around that by starting one machine with the --server flag, and connect a separate terminal to And of course, it’s possible to do that over a network, and actually get two people fighting from their own machines.

As a brief list of shortcomings … it really only works right at 80×25. The “menu” that appears with your selections will occasionally blot out glyphs on the screen. You can see that by stacking up a lot of snow on a house, and as it begins to creep into the space where the menu appears, it will be “punched out” by the shape of the menu.

It’s not exactly clear what the difference is between some elements — obviously hail is your best bet for damage and spread, but rain and snow aren’t particularly debilitating. In fact, snow is rather pointless, since it just stacks up on the house. Lightning is also less exciting than it sounds, since it only strikes straight down, and doesn’t really remove much of the target.

tornado can be a very long game too, since you only win when 100 percent of your opponent’s house is demolished. Knocking down that last character can be rather tedious; it would be nice to establish a threshold for “demolished” where the game ends if less than 6 percent of a house is left, or something like that.

And other than those points, or the suggestion that the scores be shown on the screen all the time, I don’t have much to add to tornado. I like it, it’s a good game and has enough frills to keep you busy for a little while. Like a lot of games, it has some rough points, but it appears to stay faithful to the original, and I admire worthy attempts to keep ancient titles in play. 😉