Domino Run: A Mind-Boggling Puzzle Game

We’ve all seen something related to dominoes at some point in our lives. Either we’ve played a game of dominoes or watched an epic show of colored dominoes falling, toppling each other in a chain reaction.

Developers at Shiny Eggs Studio have tried to reproduce the latter experience rather than the former; they have created a puzzle game that, for me at least, has walked me back down memory lane to being a seven-year-old kid, trying to create a swirly pattern out of some dominoes I had lying around the house. Read on to find out more about the game.

Availability

Domino Run is available on the Android Market for devices running Android 2.1 and up. It’s available in two versions: Lite, which is free but has a limited number of levels, and paid, which has more levels, but will set you back about $2.25.

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Domino Run

Gameplay and Difficulty

The mechanics of the game are fairly simple. Each level has a fixed number of Domino Stones, arranged in a particular fashion on a series of platforms. Your objective it to rearrange them in a way that will make them all tumble. Just tap on a stone and then slide in the direction you want it to tumble. Fairly simple, you might say. Well, I’ve been playing this game for over a week and I couldn’t beat it.

The game has progressive difficulty; by beating the early easy levels you gain access to harder ones. The problem is that there is no hint system whatsoever. If you get stuck on a level, you either rage quit or you ask a friend for help. I found this very frustrating. As a puzzle game, I think it should give you some hints while playing.

“Hint for new players: You can still move blocks while other dominoes are tumbling. If you’re stuck in level 1-15 you may want to remember this.” This is the only hint I could find. Maybe it helps you, but it certainly didn’t help me.

You are, however, rewarded if you can complete a level under a certain amount of time, in a certain amount of moves. If you can match the number of moves you get a bronze medal. To get a higher rank you need to finish the level faster than the par time. If you take too long, but match moves, you won’t get even bronze. Here comes another frustrating thing:

Some of the par times are a bit too fast. I mean I need a couple of seconds to see where all the stones are and then at least 10 more seconds to figure out what’s the best position for them to be in. That should add up to a minimum of 15 seconds for each level. I may be a slow thinker, but when I finally figure out how to place the stones in the required position, I get no medal for thinking too long.

You can revisit each level and improve your score, but even then it feels like you’re being judged on how quickly you can move your fingers, rather than on how intelligent a solution you can work out. And sometimes if you don’t place the domino right on the platform, the game places it where it was, rather than the platform closest to where you want it.

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One of the game's many levels and the reward screen.

Types of Stones

I may not be able to tell how hard the levels get towards the end of the game, but I can tell you the types of stones and contraptions you’ll find along your way. There is a good range of them, which combine in interesting ways:

  • Standard – A black, solid and reliable stone. This is the most common of them all, so there’s nothing special about it.
  • Finisher – This one is blue. As the name implies this stone must be the last to fall. It cannot be moved.
  • Stopper – An orange, extra though stone. It can be moved, but rather than falling, other stones will simply bounce of it.
  • Tumbler – A yellow stone. The Tumbler does what its name says: keeps on tumbling until it hits another stone.
  • Bridger – Cyan is also in the mix. This one spans a gap of one space between two existing platforms.
  • Splitter – This green stone will split rather than crumble when hit by a stone from above.
  • Exploder – When this red stone tumbles, it will take a piece of platform with it.
  • Pusher – The only mechanical object in the game. When a black stone tumbles on one side, the Pusher will push the stone on its other side.

Music and Graphics

Though I found the interface and difficulty frustrating, I was very pleased with the music and sound. The music is calming, and whenever a stone tumbles it makes a characteristic “click” sound. It’s a subtle, but noted effect.

Another great plus is the graphics of the game. It’s simple; there are no fancy graphics, just simple colors.

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Settings Screen. You'll notice the simple UI throughout the application.

Performance

Domino Run runs great on my LG Optimus One P500. I do run CyanogenMod 7.1 on it though, so if you plan on running it on your stock LG Rom, you might experience some lag (I’ve found this with other games in the past).

I’ve only noticed a small frame drop when I try to move stones while others are tumbling, but I think that is a feature, rather than a bug. It might slow down the game deliberately to help you place your stone.

Final Thoughts

I may have found this game a bit frustrating at first, but I think it’s worth a shot. Clearly there was a lot of time invested in it. I don’t want to be the one to say it is a bad game, but there is room for some improvement. As a score I give it a -1 for the lack of hints, -1 for the reward system and a -1 for difficulty. That should give it a final score of 7, but I give it a +1 for the excellent music and graphics, which means that 8 is my final verdict.


Summary

Domino Run is a challenging puzzle game. You'll need to use all of your brain's gears to solve it's puzzle, but it's worth a shot. With simple gameplay, even more simple graphics and a few small hick-ups you'll be entertained, if you enjoy these types of puzzle games.

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  • http://www.enjoycreativity.com David Needham

    Your photos don’t seem to be working. :-(

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