May 20, 2011

Jane's Hotel

Jane's Hotel is a casual strategy game from Realore Studios, the first game I've played from them. The obvious game comparison is with Diner Dash, as Jane's Hotel has the same kind of rapid-fire realtime gameplay. I wasn't much of a fan of Diner Dash, but does Jane's Hotel do a better job?

In Jane's Hotel, you are helping the title character build her hotel from modest beginnings all the way to winning an award for best hotel in the town. In this world, apparently hotel competitions are a big deal. The artwork is bright and cheerful, occasionally crossing the line over to garish. The game is played in a series of stages, with ten stages each in four different levels. You start out with a simple hotel with a few rooms and eventually get to a hotel with seven rooms that you need to scroll around to see completely. In each stage, guests will come into your hotel, and you have to find a room for them and then take care of their needs. You tap on different areas of the screen to pick up coffee, newspapers or what have you and then bring them to your guests. You also have a housekeeper, who needs to accomplish some of the tasks for you. Speed matters, as the faster you fulfill the needs of your guests, the more money you make. Each day, you'll have a cash goal that you need to get to, and if you succeed, you'll be able to purchase new items for your hotel, which raises the complexity by adding more things your guests will ask for.

The game does get pretty hectic in later levels, finally culminating at a half-dozen different things that the housekeeper needs to do and about the same for Jane, with as many as seven guests going at once, not all of which are visible at the same time. When guests check out, you have to clean the rooms before they're ready again, and in order to make your goals in the later levels, you have to be quick and turn over the guests quickly. The complexity and chaos actually ramps up pretty well at a decent pace, and I never felt bored with the difficulty level. I also did fail levels occasionally, a relative rarity in this type of game. In the end, I played through the entire campaign game, in bits and pieces. I actually enjoyed it a fair bit more than Diner Dash, which didn't work for me, although it's unclear exactly why. The difficulty curve is part of it, as I felt it was well done. The ability to queue up commands to my characters, as well as the fact I was controlling a couple characters was nice as well.

There are some polish problems with the game, or at least the version I played that was provided by the studio. Most of the issues are minor irritants, and none stopped me from playing all the way through, but they're worth mentioning. There are a few functionality problems with the graphics - it's difficult to tell what Jane is holding at times making it hard to finish actions, some of the buttons are hard to press and a few of the target areas on some screens overlap. The game turns the media volume on my phone all the way up when I run it, even if I have the sound turned off, which startled me quite a bit when I would run other apps. The game doesn't always resume properly after locking the handset and on a few occasions caused my Droid to reboot (something I've never seen in another game). Again, none of these were major issues, but they were occasionally frustrating.

Overall, I liked Jane's Hotel quite a bit more than I thought I would. I'm not a huge fan of this sort of game, but this one worked well for me, and has been monopolizing a fair bit of my game playing time recently. It will probably be a while before I pull it out again, having played through it all the way, but I could easily see playing through it again at a later time. I'll give it 3.5 stars, and it's highly recommended for folks who are looking for a fairly hectic time-management game. As a game to play in small bites, it works quite well, with the caveat that if you can't quite play through a full level, you'll often end up having to restart the level. Luckily, that wasn't a problem for me, as the levels themselves were enjoyable.

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