The Wii was a hugely successful system for which many great mainstream games were created. But for each Mario Galaxy or Wii Sports, there were a dozen weird little titles that didn’t have a broad appeal and didn’t get the recognition they deserved. That’s what this little series called “Wii-rd Games” is all about: The often forgotten and underappreciated weird titles, that came out for the platform. And the first one I’m having a look at right now is Tomena Sanner, a rhythm game like no other.
On paper, Tomena Sanner seems pretty normal at first. Your character, a seemingly average business man, runs from left to right and encounters various obstacles. These can be schoolgirls, trees and statues in the first level. Seems a bit off, but normal enough, right? Well, later, they become more abstract and weird: You encounter dinosaurs, punks, astronauts, weird aliens, robots and many other things. The variety is impressive and all the obstacles match their respective setting, which changes with each level.
You have to press the button (for there is only one needed in this game) in order to deal with these obstacles. Depending on how good your timing is, the animation that plays out becomes more complex, boosts your speed or gives you a time bonus. Those come in quite handy, since your time is constantly running out and if you don’t get enough extensions, you won’t reach the end of the level. If you make it ’til the end, you get rewarded with an extra round where you can dance and get even more points.
If this all sounds very simplistic, then that’s because the game is indeed quite simple. The concept is as straight forward as it gets, but the presentation is where the game shines: It looks quite simply like no other game. The best comparison I can come up with is a mixture of the original Prince of Persia, with its rotoscoped animations and Feel the Magic XY/XX (also called “Project Rub”) for the Nintendo DS. And all this works in favour of the game: the high tempo gameplay mixed with the catchy music and stressful gameplay works in tandem with charming yet simple visuals that exemplify the insanity that happens on screen. And as you can see in the video, the protagonist is constantly making puns that are really hard to catch while playing. But for everyone just watching, they are great fun and just add to the excitement the game provides.
Which is why I feel this is a great party game. Not only is it strange and weird in many exciting ways, but it also has several multiplayer modes for up to 4 players. While online leader boards don’t work anymore, the game provides for a lot of replay value. You need to play a lot until you have figured out the layouts of the levels and how to score the most points or collect the most medals. And when you get good at this game, it looks fantastic, since the best animations are reserved for expert players.
When it comes to weird games on the Wii, this has to be among my favourites and you should definitely check it out. It’s still available on Wiiware, so if you have an old Wii or a WiiU, go dust it off and get this game. It’s amazing, full of great ideas and a lot of energy!
Many thanks to my Twitter-follower Phil who gave me the idea for the title of this feature!