Tornado Jockey is an action game in which players become a tornado and create havoc. Players begin as a small twister, and as they advance through the game, they will increase in size and strength, which will allow them to wreak greater havoc. Players are given primary and secondary targets to clear on each level of the game. To be able to advance to the succeeding levels, players must be able to uproot or destroy the primary target for the current level, which can be range in size from a hot air balloon, farm, and even a nuclear power plant.
Primary targets must be taken out before time runs out. Secondary targets are not necessary for advancement but they help players accomplish their missions. Moving the tornado is done by clicking the left mouse button to move to the desired location. Holding down the button lets players drill the ground and cause more damage. When the players destroy objects, the pieces that remain are sucked up and added to the debris. Players can use the debris to destroy structures by clicking the right mouse button.
Players can also absorb fire, water, and electricity to give their tornadoes more power and use these to destroy more targets. Players must reach the destruction goal indicated in each level to advance to the next.