Friday, 7 August 2015

Hotel Mario (Philips CD-i review)

Developer: Philips Fantasy Factory
Publisher: Philips Media
Released: 1994

Hotel Mario stars Nintendo's famous plumber and it's a puzzle game that's exclusive to the Philips CD-i console.


There's seven worlds with 10-15 levels each and your job is to shut all the doors to progress. Pressing the 1 button allows you to jump on enemies and 2 lets you open / close doors. It's worth opening doors that start off closed as they can house useful power-ups such as fire power and temporarily invincible. World 1 features Goombas and Koopa Troopas, as well as Wigglers that need to be stomped on several times. In the tenth level of every world you'll face a boss that sprints around trying to stop you from closing all the doors. They're decent but not too dissimilar to the usual gameplay mechanics. World 2 introduces Parabombs that explode and can kill you from a distance. World 3 has icy surfaces which makes controlling Mario difficult and you can only see one floor at a time. World 4 has Bullet Bills that fly diagonally across the screen at serious speed. World 5 has Boos that are friendly when see-through but dangerous at all other times. Bizarrely, World 6 has Goombas dressed as Elvis! You'll need to complete two different screens before completing a level here and it's incredibly challenging. Finally, World 7 takes place in Bowser's Hotel and you're bombarded by every single enemy in the game. Despite it's cartoony look it's a very hard game. Most of the difficulty comes from re-spawning enemies that open doors you've already closed; it happens so often that it eventually leads to frustration. The gameplay is fun at times though and reminds me of another Mario spin-off called Wrecking Crew (NES, 1985). You can save your progress at any time and the animated cut-scenes are great.

Hotel Mario is a well-thought out game but it's not perfectly executed and can be a maddening experience. If you're a fan of tough arcade-style titles you might enjoy this but others will likely tire of its repetitive and generally frustrating gameplay.



Random trivia: Philips was originally signed to create a CD-ROM add-on for the Super Nintendo. This was ultimately cancelled and instead Philips was given the license to use several Nintendo characters in CD-i exclusive games.

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