Reviewed by Herb Levy

HOLLYWOOD DOMINO (Hasbro Games/Parker Brothers, 2-8 players, ages 12 and up, about an hour; $32.99)


Some games are classics whose popularity lasts for generations, sometimes even hundreds of years. Such a game is dominoes and, in maintaining its popularity, dominoes has undergone many variations through the years. The latest domino variation to hit the gaming tables comes under the Hasbro Games/Parker Brothers imprint with a Hollywood theme and a spectacular production: Hollywood Domino.

Hollywood Domino comes in a suitcase style and stylish black box with gold lettering. But the box is nothing compared to the outstanding quality of the pieces themselves. In keeping with the movie theme, there is a Red Carpet, 8 movie markers. a Mr. Hollywood Domino marker, score pad and 95 Hollywood Domino tiles. These tiles are heavy and gorgeous and, in keeping with the movie theme, look like pieces of film that you splice together to create your own movie masterpiece.hollywooddominobox

The game itself plays very much like Mexican Train Dominoes with a few touches to give it a theme and its own personality. The game is played in 13 rounds with each round starting with a double domino placed in the center of the star. Hollywood Domino starts with a double 12 in its center star and players branch out from there. (Subsequent rounds are started with the next lowest double domino.) On turn, each player tries to play at least one domino, the object being to get rid of all your pieces and score the lowest number of points.

As in Mexican Train Dominoes, players begin by laying out dominoes, number to number. You may always play a matching tile on your own line of pieces (your “film” in game terms). In addition, there is the “red carpet” where ANYONE may lay a matching tile. If you find yourself unable to play a tile, you have to draw from the unused dominoes (the “Boneyard”). If the drawn tile can be played you may do so. Otherwise, that tile
into you hand. In addition, you must place your Movie Maker token on the last played tile of your film, announcing that anyone can make a “cameo appearance” on your film by playing one of their tiles there, thereby opening up a third venue for the other players. Your Movie Maker token stays (and your film open to “cameos”) until you are finally able to play a tile on your own film. Finally, there are a few special tiles and moves to spice up things.

When double tiles (tiles displaying the same number on both ends) are played, they must be immediately “closed” by playing a tile of a matching number. If you can’t close a double, you must draw another tile and the next player must close the double. If you can close the double, you may play up to two more doubles in your hand (but must close each before playing another). A second double is called a “sequel”; a third is a “trilogy”. (Playing a trilogy allows you to skip the requirement of closing a double. However, the NEXT player must close it if possible.)

The Blockbuster tile (which is one big star) is powerful. It is played sideways and then you may play as many tiles are you can leading from it that match each other. (However, the first tile played MUST match the tile just above the Blockbuster.) The double-starred Stunt Double tile is wild; it will match any tile played and may be closed with any other numbered tile. But there is a “Scene stealer” rule. Any player who has the actual tile that matches the two numbers on both ends of the Stunt Double may replace the Stunt Double tile with the “real” one and then use the Stunt Double on a subsequent turn. The final special tile is the Comeback. This tile, which looks like a movie ticket, is a keeper. If you have this when the round ends, your score is reduced to that of the lowest scoring player. If that player happens to be you, your score drops to zero!

When a player is able to play his final tile, the round is over. The total number of all the numbers on tiles left in each player’s hand is each player’s score. Added to that are any unplayed special tiles still held. These are costly. An unused Blockbuster adds 20 points to your score; an unused Stunt Double adds 30.

Once a round is completed, the next round begins. The game continues until the last round is played. (Although 13 rounds make for a complete game, that might be a bit too long in some circumstances. Fortunately, you can certainly adjust the number of rounds to keep the game within the confines of specified playing times without losing any play value.) The player with the LOWEST accumulated score wins the game.

The classic game of dominoes gets the Hollywood treatment in Hollywood Domino, a sterling example of how a traditional game can be transformed into a spectacular visual tour de force. The tiles are a tactile treat and the film motif scores points too. We’ve seen transformations of this type. Several years ago, Milton Bradley took Reiner Knizia’s Flnke Pinke card game and gave it the “beautiful tile treatment” renaming it Quandary (reviewed for us by Sid Sackson in the Summer 1997 GA REPORT). Sid’s own Acquire got a similar high class upgrade under the Hasbro/Avalon Hill label a few years later (and featured in the Spring 2000 GA REPORT.) While hard core gamers may not warm to yet another domino game, it is hard not be impressed with the first class production value of this Hollywood production, one that is sure to impress the casual gamer in your circle of friends. – – – – – Herb Levy


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