Lucky Frame’s unassuming title Bad Hotel is a surprisingly delightful take on a popular genre, tower defense. Surprising, because despite sticking to all the basic elements of a tower defense concept, it weaves into it an absurd storyline and surreal components that are wildly distracting, yet insanely gripping. If you have an addictive fascination for classic castle defense, tackling waves upon waves of armored baddies, you’ll be at a loss here. However, if you are truly tired of doing the same stuff repeatedly, you will find Bad Hotel gratifying.
The Boss and I: Ka-Ching
The story behind Bad Hotel is that you are the manager of a pretty basic hotel building, which is owned by millionaire extraordinaire Tarnation Tadstock. You are responsible for developing and making money off the hotel but Tadstock warns you to be vigilant of the locals who may create trouble. As you progress into the game, you start to see a change in Tadstock’s behavior. Probably irked by all sorts of legislative measures imposed on him, he begins to think it better to destroy the hotel and make a huge insurance claim. And to that end he hires some unsavory characters that come in the form of a swarm of bees, a cloud militia, bomb carrying birds, and swimmers to destroy the hotel. Being the perfect manager you are, you set out to ensure that you survive level after level of career threatening dangers that Tadstock imposes upon your hotel.
Build and Destroy
At the start of each level, you are given a hotel building and a certain amount of money. At the bottom of the screen are a variety of rooms you can append to the building. Rooms are of different types. Some of them generate income, while others come with cannons, ice shooters and health boosters. Your aim is to use your money wisely and add just the right combination of rooms that will protect your hotel.
While the whole thing looks relatively easy in the initial levels, you soon find that its not all smooth sailing. When the action picks up momentum, you are thrown off guard by the relentless pursuit of the bees and the birds and the bashing you get from the left, right and top of the screen leaves you floundering. The rooms that you painstakingly built start to crumble and before you know it, the base of your hotel takes a hit and its game over.
That being the elements of basic play, Bad Hotel surprises you with an inventive musical twist. All rooms have a certain musical bearing and when appended to the hotel, they generate a particular note or tone that creates music. Harmonious tunes or not will depend entirely on how you place your rooms. As you add more rooms or lose some, the music generated changes adding to the delightful cacophony that pulsates throughout the game. You may initially find the tunes jarring and unpleasant, but a few levels into the game, you start to find a rhythm that blends neatly into play, and should you follow the music, you may find your defense strategies working out rather splendidly well.
The Bad Part
If Bad Hotel excels in its quirkiness, it does let you down in a few other aspects. The frantic fast paced action necessitates perfectly good controls and in many instances, you find that dragging and dropping a room where you want it to be stationed never materializes. So much so, that rooms that you hoped to stack one on top of the other, end up barely touching each other and come crashing down like a pack of cards when the bottom takes a hit.
Technical hiccups aside, I doubt that I would ever want to replay the game once I’m done with the six or so worlds therein. Sure, it offers gamers a refreshingly delightful take on a pretty standard genre and has a surprisingly fun and funky play style, but there are no further interactive elements in it that would keep challenging me in different ways, should I choose to take another turn.
My final grouse relates to the end. I would have liked to see a fitting finale to Bad Hotel. After all, beating Tadstock should have been exceedingly gratifying and rewarding but the game’s abrupt end leaves you feeling shortchanged, oddly deflated and wanting more.
In conclusion, I’d say that Bad Hotel may not be everyone’s cup of tea. For those who delight in the quirky and abstract, this could be heaven. For those who prefer to turn off the music and earn some pretty solid rewards for their efforts, Bad Hotel could well leave you high and dry.