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Domino Rally (Wii) artwork

Domino Rally (Wii) review


"You know those Japanese games with stupid-sounding gimmicks that rarely get released outside their native country, in fear of not selling well? Domino Rally is one such game that made it outside. Judging by the name, you're thinking this is just some domino... rally game. And you'd be sorta right. Domino Rally is about a man, or thing... this superhero, let's say, called Minon. He, or it, wears a yellow track suit, a face mask, and electronic visor with the words "Go! Go!" on it, l..."



You know those Japanese games with stupid-sounding gimmicks that rarely get released outside their native country, in fear of not selling well? Domino Rally is one such game that made it outside. Judging by the name, you're thinking this is just some domino... rally game. And you'd be sorta right. Domino Rally is about a man, or thing... this superhero, let's say, called Minon. He, or it, wears a yellow track suit, a face mask, and electronic visor with the words "Go! Go!" on it, likely a reference to the Japanese title (Go! Go! Minon). This being, this "Everyday Hero", pops up all around Japan, solving mundane problems of the people, who happen to speak English. With British accents. He... or... screw this, he goes about this in the most absurd way possible: knocking over everything by running on them. Want your dwindling fanbase to stay at your concert? Have Minon stomp on their heads. Need to pick up the phone, but your children are holding you back? Let Minon demolish an entire district, just to pick it up for you. How about making it to your grandson's wedding on time? That's okay, just drink some shrinking syrup and ride in Minon's pants as he hops from train to train.

Why does he run on top of things? It's his only means of transportation, oddly. And whenever he runs out of stuff to topple, don't fret, Minon can create domino blocks out of thin air to blanket the empty space.

It's definitely an unusual game, yeah, but it came from Japan, so it's not that surprising.

With such an interesting concept, Domino Rally could have been a hidden gem for the Wii, but it fails in fully embracing its gimmick. Some of the game's 8 stages, or mazes, to be specific, are pretty straight-forward, asking you to reach a goal or object, while others are just simple fetch quests. And you have no true opposition, unless you consider each maze (which includes their own maps) to be your rival. Ironically, the stage I loathed on my first playthrough is the one I ultimately wished the others were modeled after. This level takes place in a zoo, this busy location, and you need to guide Minon to specific cages and perform some animal abuse. It's not an easy job, since there are a ton of distractions, like multiple lines of people that could potentially send you to the wrong spots if you choose the wrong heads to step on. And mascots are skating everywhere, forcing you to stop in place and stay balanced on your last domino block as they pass by. There's also so many objects and buildings spread out, making it easy to get lost if you don't pay attention.

Another issue that detracts from the experience is something Wii owners are accustomed to: bad motion controls. Basically, controlling Minon in Domino Rally is the equivalent to driving horribly on the road, which contains a lot of one-way streets. You really don't get to see that much of your surroundings, at least enough to matter, and this invites a lot of mistakes. So you usually spend time in levels trying to get back to where you need be, after making wrong turns, by finding new ones that are miles away. Thankfully, you can run. But, see, the thing is, you need to build up combos when stomping to build speed and to keep your "health" up, in order to summon more domino blocks. You create combos by shaking the Wii Remote as you're about to step on objects, kinda like a rhythm game. Guess what, though? The response time is off, and makes performing combos difficult when you gain more speed. So, really, you normally nab a good combo through luck, just by shaking the controller crazily.

Now, the next problem eventually arises from this whole speed/combo situation; as you're running on these objects, shaking the remote with familiar, real-life experience, you hit the end of the line. Whenever you come to a complete stop, your speed bar drains, which means you have to make a new path quickly to retain the remnants. In these particular moments, the on-screen cursor, which you need for choosing from one of a few available paths, is no longer present. Why? It got knocked off the screen because of all that wild jerking! Now you're scrambling to get it back, and by then, you've nearly lost all that speed you obtained through luck.

However, and this may sound strange, these control flaws don't take a whole lot away from Domino Rally. Granted, they suck, but you can beat the game in one hour, due to the title's simplistic goals. The main problem lies with the lack of any real substance to the game's "meat". The developers sprinkled some items to search for in replays, which in turn give you bizarre images, but that's all. Once you're finished with story mode, there's no motivation to jump back in. There's a versus mode, but that only extends the replay value just a tad bit. If they would have added new goals to each maze that open up once you completed the available ones, you know, like what normal games do, then it could have been more enjoyable. The one true positive I can say about this title is its Japanese soundtrack. There's a nice mixture of slow tunes, quirky themes, and rock songs that lend a certain charm to the play mechanics and goofiness.

Domino Rally easily could have been a cult favorite if the development team had put more love into this release, sadly. I guess they were just content with making a weird game.

Rating: 4/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (January 09, 2011)

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