First Impressions: Tomenasanner
Posted by Sean Aaron
Rock rock planet rock, don't stop. Rock rock planet rock - DON'T STOP!
What Tomenasanner means is anyone's guess (try guessing in the comments - better still, please advise if you know!). It's written in katakana so it's apparently a word of foreign origin (sure sounds it!), but the closest that Google Translate offered was "tomen" which apparently means "bridle" in dutch and that doesn't seem to fit.
What it is, is Konami's contribution to the funky fresh genre of games on WiiWare joining instant classics like Muscle March and Pole's Big Adventure on the Japanese download service. It's good company and Tomenasanner deserves its place in the triumvirate of the wonderfully weird.
The main character is a suit, an office worker, a "salaryman" if you will - and like all characters in the game he has no face and is a 3D polygonal pixellated-looking dude whose movements are based upon motion-capture sessions with a proper human dancer, dig? He's primed at the start of each stage to take off running at the sound of the bell - why? With all the ticking and tocking, working all around the clock he needs to unwind somehow and he does it by running through a gauntlet of strangeness in different environments: jumping, dancing and fighting his way to the goal.
The control consists simply of pressing a button and you have an excellent selection to choose from: A, B or D-pad - all do the same, so free your mind and pick whatcha like, as long as it's not your nose! Running salaryman always runs; the button makes him jump or perform other actions to get past obstacles taking the form of "objects," which are things that don't move, and "characters," which are people and other creatures (mostly organic).
Getting past obstacles involves pressing a button; press it too early or too late and you'll get slammed down to the street top with a big red "X" on the screen telling you you've MISSed your chance! Get the timing a bit better and you'll get a yellow "GOOD" or better still a green "GREAT" message and some action that helps you on your way (actually some of the misses result in fun animations so it's almost all good).
Actions are the name of the game and there is much fun stuff to see. Whip around trees and kick surly hoodies in the chest! Double high-five rasta cave dudes! Ride a triceratops, moonwalk on the moon, head spin through the air, skateboard, flip cars, dance with school girls or maids, dodge bullets from six gun-toting cowgirls and the list goes on and on. At the same time all this is happening SALARYMAN is racing against a 1-minute countdown - how can he make it to his goal on time? Thankfully there are many balloons to be grabbed which have the effect of speeding him up (move further to the right of the screen - not always good since you have less time to react to oncoming obstructions), slowing him down (move further to the left of the screen - not always good since you'll reach goal slower), granting an extra 3 seconds to the clock (woo!) or making him grow giant/tiny (always good since you bypass all obstructions whilst the effect lasts). Jumps can be chained to reach coins (ah yes, you must have coins in Nintendo games, no?) and balloons which are often off the top of the screen - he's a Super-salaryman! You can jump over obstacles instead of timing the button press for actions, but it's not as much fun, so don't do it! There are also secrets: sometimes a button press will result in striking a pose or doing a dance move - all of this gets tallied and added to your score at the end so keep on pressing!
Reaching the goal and taking to the platform with confetti flying and his former friends/foes around him, salary-man gets to try for bonus points by break-dancing and body-popping: press the button in time to markers appearing in a metre at the bottom of the screen. Too bad you need to focus on that to keep dancing and cannot watch the fun with full attention. Total the score (nothing less than 10,000,000 should be tolerated) and then check it on the leaderboards if desired! Leaderboards are world-wide so get excited non-Japanese Wii owners - the fun will be yours! Leaderboards cover each stage in Normal and Turbo Mode (including Endless) as well as the number of GREATs and Coins obtained - many top 30 possibilities to be had (watch out for SEAN in the top 30 Normal Endless, GREATs and Coins lists)!
After completing one stage you unlock the next with a total of nine split into three levels (how they are different levels isn't apparent other than the music, which is always groovy). Complete them all to unlock Endless mode where you can go through the stages one after the other until time runs out! Also unlocked will be Turbo Mode - all stages with a higher rate of speed for greater challenge. Complete all of those and ??? Then there's VS Mode (2 Player, horizontal split-screen with other player ghosts to show you if you're falling behind), 3-player Mode and 4-player Mode (the latter two are quad-split-screen). Stages include various suburban and city scenes, dinosaur land, Edo Japan, Moon and Hell (ouch, hot feet warning!).
Options include: SFX/BGM volume, rumble on/off, zoom on/off (for the funkiest of fresh dance sequences, full-screen pixellated interlude ensues - catch it!), Title Bar on/off (bunch of stuff in Japanese like "hurry up slow-man!" no doubt). Sadly no awesome trailer sequence to be seen; credits are just scrolling text with the salaryman running in the background. Sad times for dancing fans **sniff**.
Tomenasanner is a nice little game which should feature on mobile phones as well thanks to the simple interface. It's fun and cheap and should find a place in the hearts of gamers everywhere.