Artdink has always had a penchant for producing weird games, but this time it may have outdone itself. Unlike most of its other niche games, Mr. Domino is actually fun in addition to being bizarre in the extreme. Mr. Domino is a cute and unique little game, great for casual and veteran gamers alike...while it lasts.
For whatever reason, you control one of five animated domino people and lead him on a six-stage quest to trigger a number of weird events with dominoes. It's essentially a polygonally endowed fusion of Domino Rally and a racing game, where you run along the six courses dropping dominoes while dodging obstacles and triggering events. You can only play for so long, however - the characters gradually turn from white to black, at which point they turn into lifeless dominoes. To prolong their time in this world, you will have to budget your use of the handful of heal tiles placed on the boards, as well as get through the courses as quickly as possible, to make the most of their short lives. Before you can move onto the next course, you must trigger a set number of events, accomplished by positioning dominoes that will fall on one of the course's event buttons when toppled. Once pressed, events will play out in a brief animation that will usually interact with the course. Many of the events are completely off-the-wall wacky Japanese antics - for example, the third level's events all involve humorously injuring a helpless Japanese family. After the requisite number of events are triggered, you move on to the next level. The real strategy comes in with combos. Most events have areas of the course they'll affect, marked with flashing squares. Placing a domino here will start another chain reaction, and with a little skill, set off another event, which could, in turn, set off another. Having gone through a level a few times, completing a level with one long combo isn't unheard of. Needless to say, setting up combos becomes pretty easy, and the levels never change. With only six courses, Mr. Domino doesn't last particularly long, even if you should play through again with the extra characters. While it lasts, though, Mr. Domino is original and fun and accessible enough for gaming newcomers.
Mr. Domino keeps with Artdink's tradition of producing less-than-spectacular visuals, unfortunately. Mr. Domino and friends are cute as they skip happily through the six courses, but a lot of the game's event animations could seriously benefit from some higher-polygon-count modeling. The game is colorful enough, but the overall look isn't particularly compelling. The game's soundtrack is hip-hoppish and would probably be a little grating by itself, but it somehow manages to complement the game and not become annoying when playing. The sound effects, while not spectacular, do their job nicely enough and add a lot to the game's rampant weirdness.
Mr. Domino is one of those rare games that's accessible enough for nongamers and fun enough for experienced gamers and is enhanced by the $30 suggested retail price. However, like other similarly cross-generational games, Mr. Domino is fun but short-lived.