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Review: Bad Hotel (iOS)

Thursday, October 18th, 2012 by

From the premise to its execution, Bad Hotel is one of the oddest games you could ever hope to find in the App Store. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. I think we all enjoy a game that’s a little off-kilter now and then. I know I do, and Bad Hotel totally scratches that itch; it’s certainly one of the weirdest takes on tower defense I’ve ever played, and easily one of the coolest.

It’s not the vintage motif of Bad Hotel that gives it a special quality, although the vibrant splashes of Art Deco found throughout certainly aren’t hurting anything. No, I’d say it’s the way that Bad Hotel incorporates sound that makes it so different from the rest. The developer describes the game as being part tower defense, part “procedural music toy”, and while the extent of its musical interactivity is debatable, I’d say that’s a pretty fair description.

Each floor of your hotel pulses with its own sound, adhering to a rhythm that grows in complexity as the stage wears on. Every moment in Bad Hotel is narrated by a wide range of synthetic noise – sometimes droning, oftentimes punchy. These chaotic “plinks” and “ploinks” all tie together as you play, forming a flat melody that is both unusual and intriguing. No two stages ever sound completely alike, even when you’re repeating one you’ve already finished.

Adding new floors to your hotel will help stave off the attacks of your enemies, all of whom are hungry to do your evil landlord’s bidding and tear the building down. Each floor type has its own function, like healing other damaged floors or firing various kinds of projectiles. Arranging these floors in the right combination and positions is the key to success; it starts out easy but quickly becomes a challenge. Make no mistake: Bad Hotel is a hard game that throws up a ton of walls. With enough persistence and experimentation, however, they can be overcome.

Bad Hotel suffers from some wonky control issues; it’s tough to place floors exactly where you want them, and when things get heated it’s easier than it should be to make mistakes. Also, it’s not always obvious what the floors actually do, making trial-and-error a must. I already told you it was a hard game, didn’t I? Well, it’s worth saying twice. Bad Hotel is not easy.

Bad Hotel is an experience unlike any other. Whenever a game comes along that can stand out from the pack on the merit of its own bold and unique approach, then you know it’s probably something good. Bad Hotel is that game, and despite its flaws, it’s totally worth the price of admission.

4 star

Available in the App Store for $1.99 for the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad.

About the Author

Mark A. Brooks uses the A. initial in his name so as to seperate himself from the teeming legions of other Mark Brookses (there are at least 65,000 in the state of Michigan alone). Keep up with him on twitter, because why not. @unoriginalG

Mark A. Brooks has written 626 posts on Delta Attack
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