Tower defense is one genre that has traditionally worked well on iOS for a number of years. Whereas many genres beg for traditional controls, touch screen interfaces are arguably the best way to manipulate tower defense games. There is a certain intuition that comes along with using your finger to place your units and defenses over using a 10+ button controller. Bad Hotel is a unique twist on conventions, but does it do enough different to warrant a spot next to Fieldrunners and Plants vs. Zombies on your home screen?
Bad Hotel kicks off by introducing its inconsequential story. You play the role of a businessman trying to establish your hotel in an area that is dominated by the ‘Texas Tyrant.’ Plotting to ensure you don’t get your feet underneath you, this cantankerous guy is hell bent on throwing all kinds of hazards at your hotel to see it blown to bits. Instead of simply worrying about making money, you must also fend off the relentless attacks of the tyrant.
“All our rooms have a lovely view of your impending death.”
Each level starts you off with a core building that you build off. You can opt to add rooms and/or weapons to fend off attacks from the tyrant. The top of the screen charts length of the level and oncoming waves. We enjoyed the risk reward aspect of the action. If you build rooms, you can earn more money to pocket or invest in weapons. Should decide to focus on artillery, you will not net as much money since no-one wants to check into a room that’s filled with weapons.
On the topic of weapons, each of them has unique properties. You can invest in guns, double-barrel guns, ice bombs, and mines amongst other items. There are roughly 5-7 levels in each stage, and some interesting boss battles await you.
An element that is being heavily promoted in the marketing of Bad Hotel is the music. As you place rooms and launch weapons, musical cues and sound effects come into the equation. Everything makes a sound, and listening with the backdrop of a very art deco landscape coalesces into something unique, something different. There will be folks that are turned off by the highly stylized look and weirdness of it all, but we are fans of the visual/audio experience.
“We’re happy to have you as our guest, but please do not attempt to make love to our hotel.”
As a hybrid of tower defense and music rhythm, Bad Hotel mostly gets it right. However, there are some mechanical flaws in the game. Placing hotel units and weapons exactly where we want, for example, is a hit-and-miss proposition. Since you can build your hotel vertically or horizontally, we would find several gaps that look prime for new development only to see a placement that wasn’t where we expected it to go. That breaks a long-standing requirement of the tower defense genre for us. Also, there’s little incentive to keep coming back once you blow through the levels in just a few hours. There are no connected leaderboards, shareable levels, or any social hooks to extend the life of the game.
There is much more good than bad in this game. Bad Hotel is a clever take on a genre that has countless representatives on the App Store. If you are up for an interesting graphics style, cool music, serviceable mechanics, and a silly story, look no further.