Sunday, February 14, 2010

Title: Hotel Dash: Suite Success
Release Date: December 24, 2009
Genre: Casual, Time Management
Rating: E for Everyone
Platform: PC
Publisher: PlayFirst
Developer: PlayFirst

Casual games are often branded as games that are ruining the video game industry. Many people believe they are taking skilled workers, production time and money away from other games that are marketed towards recreational and hardcore gamers. Luckily companies such as PlayFirst, PopCap and GameHouse have appeared as companies who solely produce casual games, therefore leaving production of non-casual games to the big boys.

Hotel Dash: Suite Success is a casual game that’s aimed towards people who don’t normally play video games. It is a spin-off of the massively popular Diner Dash series, which if you’ve never played it, is a game where Flo, the game’s playable character, works as a waitress in a diner. The game revolves around keeping customers happy by seating customers, taking orders, serving orders and cleaning up all in a timely manner. This is where the time management aspect comes in because you must choose the order to complete each task ensuring every customer stays happy and you earn the most money. Stringing alike actions together earns you multipliers and therefore, more cash.

The storyline starts with a couple of Flo’s friends getting married and reserving a room in a nearby hotel for their honeymoon. Flo decides to makeover the hotel so it is beautiful enough to suit her friends on their special day. This version works in much the same way as Diner Dash, only now you are a busboy (or rather busgirl) for a hotel. You have to lug guest’s bags, bring room service, make wake-up calls, retrieve pillows, towels and ice, you know, the kind of things a real hotel worker does. Each of these tasks earns you tips which you spend on upgrading the hotel.

The game controls with the mouse, every task is issued by clicking on that area on the game screen. Graphics are alright, some actions the gamer needs to look for are too small and displayed in such an area that they are often hard to see, the easiest to overlook being the time-limit bars on wake-up calls. Sounds are good, effects help cue the player on different actions that need attention. The music, like in most games, will get muted once it gets bothersome.

A couple little annoyances appear in this game. The first being when the player accidentally clicks on a wrong item. The game allows you to queue up a ton of actions you want Flo to perform but when you click on a wrong object by accident, Flo with pause for a second, then clear all upcoming items in the queue causing the gamer to have to requeue all these items as if any confusion makes her suddenly lose her short-term memory.

The second problem appears when you upgrade Flo’s movement speed. When customers enter your hotel, you choose a room for them and their luggage appears on the lobby floor. Flo has to pick up their bags and take them to the customer’s room. When you upgrade Flo’s movement speed she moves faster then the visitors causing her to arrive at the room before the guests, then you encounter the above mentioned problem of clearing the queued items. When this happens it is usually followed by Flo running around the hotel, carrying a customer’s bags while trying to complete the actions queued since the last dump. These issues have appeared in Diner Dash games since the beginning so it is possible the developers want to keep it this way. I just think it’s annoying.

Hotel Dash: Suite Success can only be purchased as a download for PC and Mac, there currently is no hard disc copy available to buy anywhere. The game is just far too easy and can be completed in a long afternoon. Everything else is on par with other like casual games, but a short storyline brings this one down a few notches, however it’s still good for a casual game.

Overall Rating: ***

The Gaming Savant, Ryan Smith


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