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SummaryNot all that bad! Really!
The GoodHotel Mario is one of the abortions that came out of Nintendo's ill-fated experiment with the CD-i platform. I expected this game to be a huge parking lot full of dinosaur shit, and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be quite decent and playable.
According to the cutscenes, Mario and Luigi have been invited to a dick-lick by Princess Peach. Okay, maybe it was "picnic." The game's voice acting is questionable at best. Anyhow, Mario and Gay Luigi (or maybe it was "Hey, Luigi!" Sheesh...again with the voice acting) discover that Princess Peach has been kidnapped by Bowser, and hidden in one of his seven Koopa hotels. Yes, at some point in the Mario timeline, Bowser has become a hotel manager.
It's a weird premise for a game, but Hotel Mario compensates by being really simple to play. You journey to each of the seven hotels, which contain 10 stages. To clear each stage, you have to shut all the doors. You can use elevators to ride from one floor to the next, and also to avoid enemies. All of Mario's old foes (Goombas, Koopas, etc) are out in force, and they can be fought either by jumping on them or by killing them with fireballs. Even though the game uses familiar tropes from the SMB platform games, it's fairly different in design. Don't expect your skills playing those games to be of much use here.
The art is a definite high point. The backgrounds (designed by Trici Venola) are colorful and fun, and drive home the visual theme for each hotel. The animation works well for this sort of game, and there's enough of it to make the levels seem "alive" instead of just a collection of tile graphics (a common fault in puzzle games)..
The final boss fight is pretty cool. If they'd kept up that level of intensity throughout the entire game, we might have had something ("something" here being defined as Claw, Gruntz, or Jazz Jackrabbit).
The BadThe cutscenes are bad. Really, really bad. I won't describe them. I'm trying to repress the memories. Just search Youtube for "Hotel Mario Cutscenes", sit back, relax, and wonder why you aren't doing something more productive with your time like doing drugs or slashing car tyres or something.
This isn't a game that aims for the stars. All you do is shut doors. Seriously, that's the whole game. When the height of your gaming experience consists of "Wow! In this level I shut doors WITH SKULLS ON THEM!" it might be time to assess how much fun you are really having.
The music sucks, the levels are repetitive, the controls are difficult, and no, I don't know how shutting doors helps you save the Princess.
The Bottom LineThis isn't a game that's worth tracking down, but let's give it a decent legacy. It's not the worst game ever made for any platform. It hovers around "average". The only really bad parts are the cutscenes, and once you're past those it only gets better.
As a point of interest, it is rumoured that their experiences with the CD-i scared Nintendo away from CD-based mediums. THIS GAME MIGHT BE THE REASON YOUR N64 ONLY ACCEPTS CARTRIDGES.
Then again, that's probably too awesome to be true.