Casual Monday: Tomena Sanner

We know how it is. You worked hard for your 10:1 KDR, but sometimes, you just want to take five, relax, and enjoy a quick game on your phone. Unfortunately, finding good games is anything but quick – most mobile gems end up buried under a mountain of trash. But like we said, we know how it is, so every Monday we shine a spotlight on a great diversion to get you through the work week.

One of the greatest aspects of the mobile games market is that it often gives games overlooked on other platforms another shot at success. One such title is Konami’s strange sidescroller Tomena Sanner, which first found life as a WiiWare title back in 2009. It wasn’t quite robust enough to warrant a purchase for many people, mainly due to its short length and semi-repetitive nature, but on mobile devices Tomena Sanner is the perfect silly distraction before or after a tough day in the real world.

120316_5The game stars the suit-wearing Susumu Hito-Oshi, a businessman who is apparently very late for work. As such he’s hell-bent on sprinting his way to the office, and it’s your job to make sure he avoids every obstacle he faces along the way. Doing so is as simple as tapping the screen when danger approaches, sending Susumu onward without breaking stride. It’s an admittedly simple premise with only one real input, but Tomena Sanner avoids feeling generic by showering players with sheer weirdness.

You see, Susumu doesn’t just jump parked bikes or sauntering students. Instead, he’ll hurdle over squatting housewives, flip cars with his bare hands, ride dinosaurs as part of his commute, and bound over tons of other strange roadblocks. Tomena Sanner never fails to throw something completely off the wall at you, and it makes an otherwise forgettable experience infinitely more interesting. There’s also a running commentary flying across the screen as you progress, passing judgement on your skills and calling you out on your mistakes in hilarious ways. It layers some self-aware humor onto an already hilarious game, and only enhances the title’s unique sense of style.

Nowhere is this quirky style more evident than in the numerous dancing segments scattered throughout the levels. Susumu may be in a hurry, but he won’t hesitate to break it down with a b-boy or perform a routine with a group of schoolgirls along the way. Every level ends with a rhythm-based dance section to hammer home Susumu’s unparalleled grove. Konami even went the extra mile and used motion capture technology to make his movements as realistic as possible – a delightful and wholly superfluous touch.

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The game’s no walk (or sprint) in the park, though. You have a tight time limit in which to complete each level, and every stumble or mistimed leap along the way will cost you dearly. Conversely, perfectly timed taps will grab you some invaluable extra seconds on the clock, so players will have to perfect their technique to guide Susumu to success. The game’s short and challenging levels lend themselves perfectly to mobile play, providing bite-sized chunks of zany sidescrolling action.

Boasting only 9 levels, Tomena Sanner is tragically brief. That said, each level is so completely strange and its gameplay is so addictively simple that you can’t help but return again and again to chase a higher score. The game also offers Turbo Mode for those players who desire even faster twitch-based action, increasing the speed of the game significantly and effectively doubling the content on offer. More levels would have been welcome, but what’s here is so unlike your typical runner game that you’ll likely look past it.

Tomena Sanner is a truly unique experience, and at $1.99 is an easy recommendation. If you need a reason to smile, or maybe just want to live the unpredictable life of a Japanese businessman, look no further.