Japanese salary man Hitoshi Susumu is having a very surreal time of it.Whatever twisted schedule he’s sticking too, his day involves dashing over people, cars, robots, aliens and a whole host of other randomly assorted objects in a bid to reach his goal as quickly as possible. Once there, it’s time for a dance off. Why? Well…we don’t know. But questioning the craziness on display in Tomena Sanner is not a good idea. In archetypical Japanese fashion it’s so off the wall that it makes the ending of Donnie Darko look as complex as a Learn To Read book.
A port of the mobile phone title by Konami, Tomena Sanner is as simple as it gets. As Susumu runs through the bright pastel coloured levels, you press the A button on the remote at the right time to make sure he vaults over obstacles and avoids being slowed down or knocked over. Both of these cost you valuable time and if you run out and fail to make it to the goal for the dance off sequence (again completed by tapping A at the right time) then it’s game over. There are coins to collect which increase your score, and successfully vaulting over items awards you with a rating of either “Good” or “Great”, along with a few valuable seconds being added to the timer. At the end of each dance off you can choose to upload your time to the online leaderboards to see how your fare against the rest of the world.
That’s all there is to Tomena Sanner’s gameplay, laying bare its mobile phone roots. While this isn’t automatically a bad thing, the game does struggle in the cold light of day on WiiWare. Disorientating to start with, there seems to be a slight lag between the button presses and your character’s jumps, meaning you have to adjust to this before being able to get into the flow of the game. This isn’t helped by the sheer amount of things going on and the game like to throw Engrish style phrases across the top and bottom of the screen to punctuate events like making or failing jumps.
Coupled with the colourful and often humorous dancing, farting and other animations from the characters, it’s all a bit overwhelming and you aren’t sure about where you should be looking. Doubtless Konami would say this is a metaphor for Susumu’s crazy life being full of distractions, but the chances are that in the end you’ll just find them annoying and tune most of it out – not good when the quirkiness is supposed to be such a big part of the package.
Perhaps Tomena Sanner’s biggest problem is that, unlike other recent games of this type (such as Canabalt), when making successful jumps it doesn’t really feel like Susumu is picking up speed and running any faster. Instead the game just moves him closer to the right hand side of the screen so you have less time to react to oncoming obstacles, feeling more than a little bit cheap. Things get worse if you participate in the local multiplayer mode where, with up to four players taking part in split screen, things get squashed down into a smaller space.
Tomena Sanner is ultimately disappointing because its simple approach should make it approachable and fun, while the quirky humour and bright, colourful visuals should make it a hit. Unfortunately it falls a bit flat and ultimately the games short nature makes it feel like something which is still better suited to a mobile platform, where you could play it short bouts during train journey or bus rides.