Within minutes of starting Bad Hotel you know you’re into something new. Lucky Frame’s infuriating, addictive musical tower-defence game presents a wonderfully effective marriage of genres straight off the bat, even if it does get incredibly hard, incredibly fast.
The premise is uncomplicated despite its inherent weirdness: you are simply tasked with defending a hotel from its psychotic owner, Tadstock, who is intent on destroying it for the insurance money. He aims to accomplish this by hurling all sorts of oddness at it, from rubber hat-wearing swimmers to kamikaze seagulls, crazed yetis and killer storm clouds.
You must defend the central, core tower by placing hotel blocks in the path of oncoming assaults. The blocks come in several different flavours which change and upgrade as you progress. You’ve got bog-standard blocks that do nothing but soak up damage, healing blocks that repair any damage you do incur, cannons to lay down defensive fire and mine launchers that shoot explosive defences into the air.
The higher your tower gets, the more money you’ll earn to buy more blocks – and you’ll need to act very fast when you’re being bombarded by a screen-full of enemies all at once. If you slip up and your tower starts taking damage, it’s only seconds before it’s all over.
The gimmick that binds the creating and defending together is procedural music. Every block you add influences the musical score, changing the background harmonics based upon your actions. It’s brilliantly effective, encompassing a number of different musical genres and ensuring something feels unique every time you play.
Be warned, however: despite Bad Hotel’s friendly, psychedelic visuals and charming presentation, it’s an absolute monster. By the halfway point, keeping your hotel standing is exceptionally difficult. Tadstock throws so much at you, so thick and fast, that keeping up can feel nigh impossible. It becomes a highly tactical affair when you’re spending money on blocks as fast as you can earn it. Is it better to use weaker cannons or stronger plain blocks? Is it worth putting another mine launcher in, or a healing block instead? The crucial part is that you must decide fast – a moment’s hesitation can see you overwhelmed.
VERDICT: Bad Hotel is a very simple game to play, and a fiendish challenge for those bored of whipping through Android titles too easily. Colourful, cheerful, occasionally very funny and endlessly entertaining, the only real negative is that it will be too taxing for some, and it can become repetitive if played for longer sessions. The procedural music is a wonderful central gimmick, though, and marks Bad Hotel as one that’s definitely worth a look if you’re after something groovy to kill your morning commute.
VERY GOOD. An 8/10 is only awarded to a game we consider truly worthy of your hard-earned cash. This game is only held back by a smattering of minor or middling issues and comes highly recommended.
Review code provided by publisher.