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|A.P.I Review:||Mr DOMINO|
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|Game Type:||Platform/Puzzle||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||November 1998||Standard Joypad|
Setting the Scene
domino / doh.min~o / n. (pl. -noes) any of 28 oblong pieces marked with 0-6 pips in each half; in pl. game played with these. Ever played with a set of dominoes before? Exactly which game did you play? Thirty-ones? Five's and three's? Last man in the box? Or perhaps you simply stood all twenty eight pieces up on end creating a winding trail. Then by toppling the first block over you created what has become widely know as the Domino Effect. With this in mind Artdink have come up with a cute little game where an animated domino character races around an obstacle course, leaving several lines of these oblong blocks in his trail. Next time around they must be knocked over and, if correctly positioned, will trigger a number of reactions.
After several moments of thought and consideration I would definitely place Mr Domino in the platform bracket.
Visually Mr Domino is a peach of a game. Both Mr and Miss Domino (and family) bound around the clustered playing area with arms swinging by their sides. Mr Domino has a little quiff of hair sticking up from the top of his brilliant white 5:2 body frame, while Miss Domino has two cute bear shaped ears protruding from the upper half of her shapely six:blank. Each level follows a set theme where your chosen character must follow a preset path much in the same style as other platformers, but later in the game several alternative routes become available. The clustered sets are constructed almost entirely from Polygons. On the opening level there's rooks, knights and pawns to negotiate past on the chess board, colored balls block your route across the green baize of the pool table and scattered dice must be negotiated on your journey across the craps table. Wandering around a Japanese house obstacles appear in the form of discarded items of clothing and fruit falling from the table. Once a chain reaction has been activated the game smoothly switches to a selection of high quality FMV sequences. Many of these scenes reminded me of those used in Micro Machines V3, while the colorful animation and intelligent use of lighting effects also match the high standard reached in that Codemasters racing classic.
Sounds and Effects
The sound effects are fairly average. There's bumps, bangs, whistles and the occasional untranslatable Japanese uttering, while a selection of electronic pop tunes play incessantly in the background which will probably appeal to the kids and drive their parents up the wall.
The idea behind Mr Domino's gameplay is relatively simple. First select a male or female character. You even get to decide the number of spots that appear on their bodies (although why it went all the way up to double nine is beyond me). There are two game speed modes - fast or slow, of which the latter is recommended for beginners After a short countdown you must guide the little animated domino character around an obstacle course, laying lines of these oblong pieces in his/her trail. Using the directional pad allows you to move left or right, slow down or speed up. Any one button can be used to unload the dominoes either singly (by tapping the button) or in a line (by holding it down). Where you leave a row of dominos is very important. You see on the floor there are several glowing icons strategically placed around the course. The idea is to lay down a line of dominoes that lead up to the glowing icon, so that when you begin the second lap you can bump into the blocks and knock them over to score points. Should your the final domino in a line land on top of the glowing icon then an FMV is activated and you are one step further towards completing the level. The number of icons required to complete a round varies from five upwards. While many of the glowing icons are situated in fairly accessible positions there are several forms of obstacles and hazards which are used to make collection more difficult. Small strategically placed studs can trip up Mr Domino making him stumble for a few steps. By the time he recovers his footing the icon has been missed. Wandering over a speed up square will see your character go into maximum overdrive for a few seconds, which is usually long enough to turbo past the required icon. Crossing over a slow down squares will grind Mr Domino to a virtual standstill and cost vital seconds. Although there is no set time to activate all of the glowing icons Mr Domino eventually becomes tired. As he moves around the obstacle course his brilliant white body gradually darkens. When he becomes grey... game over. Luckily there are several health icons littered around the course which will recharge his energy to maximum, but take care as they are usually placed near a 'Reset square'. If this is crossed every glowing icon collected is deactivated and the entire level resets taking you all the way back to the start. At first handling Mr Domino isn't easy. He seems slow to react and sluggish to manoeuvre. However, after a while you realize that this lethargic behavior is actually part of the gameplay.
Value for Money
I loved the idea of Mr Domino but it leaves me wondering just which audience it is being aimed at. The kids would love it, but may find it too difficult. Adults may leave it alone thinking it was purely for kids. Personally I liked it. The gameplay is fresh, the graphics are very good and it definitely has that 'one more go' feel to it... as long as you can get by the initial frustrations caused by the control.
|GRAPHICS:||16/20||Mr Domino belongs in that category of Japanese games that will have you tearing your hair out... but for some strange reason you cannot put it down.|