Hotel Mario
Hotel Mario.jpg
Box art
Developer(s)Philips Fantasy Factory
Publisher(s)Philips Interactive Media
Producer(s)Michael Ahn
Designer(s)Stephen Radosh
Artist(s)Jeff Zoern
Mirena Kim
Composer(s)Jack Levy
Platform(s)Philips CD-i
ReleaseApril 5, 1994
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Hotel Mario is a puzzle video game developed by Fantasy Factory and published by Philips Interactive Media for the Philips CD-i in 1994. Players control Mario, who must find Princess Toadstool by going through seven hotels in the Mushroom Kingdom; each hotel is divided into stages, and the objective is to close all doors on each stage. Each hotel ends in a boss fight with one of Bowser's Koopalings, culminating in a battle with Bowser.

Hotel Mario was one of four games featuring Nintendo characters published for the CD-i; the others were three Legend of Zelda games. Another Mario game, Super Mario's Wacky Worlds, was never released. Nintendo licensed the characters after reneging on a deal for Philips to create the Super Nintendo Entertainment System CD-ROM, an add-on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).

Hotel Mario initially received mixed to negative reviews; critics felt it was fun but had no lasting appeal. It has since been described as one of the worst video games, receiving criticism for its door-closing game mechanic, unresponsive controls, voice acting, and full motion video cutscenes.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

A stage in the first hotel

Hotel Mario is a single-screen puzzle video game.[1] Controlling Mario, or his brother Luigi in two-player mode, the player must search the Klub Koopa Resort[2] for Princess Toadstool, who has been kidnapped by Bowser.[3]

The game comprises six hotels, which each feature several stages.[1] The player must shut every door in the stage by moving up and down elevators and avoiding enemies. Mario can step on most enemies, as in previous games, but some must be avoided by changing floors or entering an open door.[1] At the end of each hotel, the player engages in a boss fight with a Koopaling; in the final hotel, the player battles Bowser.[4] The game features various power-ups: the Super Mushroom allows Mario to take multiple hits, the Star Man makes him temporarily invincible, and the Fire Flower allows him to throw fireballs.[4]

Development[edit | edit source]

In 1989, Nintendo and Sony agreed to develop a CD-ROM-based add-on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), known as the SNES-CD or Nintendo Play-Station, that would allow for full motion video (FMV) and larger games. However, Nintendo instead signed with Philips to make the add-on, and Sony redesigned their console as the PlayStation.[5] By 1993, Nintendo had abandoned plans for the add-on.[4] As part of dissolving the agreement, Nintendo licensed Philips to use some Nintendo characters for their CD-i console, resulting in three Legend of Zelda games as well as Hotel Mario.[1] Another Mario game, Super Mario's Wacky Worlds, was canceled at the prototype stage.[1] Nintendo had no part in the games' development; they were instead created by inexperienced developers.[6]

Hotel Mario was developed by Fantasy Factory.[6] The developers and testers tended to be older in age; background artist Trici Venola noted one tester was "well past retirement". Since the target audience of children would have faster reflexes, the game was designed to play well for the testers, then sped up.[7] Hotel Mario uses FMV cutscenes to tell its story, being produced by Animation Magic, the Russian-American animation studio that developed and animated the three cd-I Zelda games.[4] Feeling an early version was "mechanical" and "visually no fun", Venola and art director Jeff Zoern used elements from Disney and J. R. R. Tolkien to enhance the visual style. Illustrations of the stages were composed of several blocks, each with one detail. The first item Venola created for all hotels was the door. Each building took a week to complete and was designed with a specific theme; for instance, Bowser's hotel uses a gothic design.[7]

Reception[edit | edit source]

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Hotel Mario initially received mixed reviews. Electronic Gaming Monthly praised its gameplay as simple yet addictive.[8] GamePro said the game was fun but quickly grew boring, awarding it a "fun factor" of 2.5 out of 5. GamePro rated Hotel Mario's graphics 3.5 and sound 4 out of 5, writing, "the only intriguing aspects of this game are the well-fashioned animated sequences".[9] Video Games: The Ultimate Gaming Magazine gave the game 7 out of 10, but acknowledged its difficulty.[10] Spanish magazine Super Juegos gave it 87.[11]

Hotel Mario has since been described as one of the worst Mario games.[12][13] IGN's Levi Buchanan said that while it was superior to Philips' The Legend of Zelda games, closing doors was not "a strong enough hook for an entire game",[4] and J.C. Fletcher of Joystiq ridiculed the plot: "Apparently Bowser has nefariously plotted to have his underlings open doors in ... his own hotels, thus wasting air conditioning and increasing his own electric bill. Mario and Luigi must heroically latch all the doors and save their archenemy from having his hallways get too cold."[6] GamesRadar described it as "craptastic",[14] and Eurogamer as "little more than a really rubbish version of Elevator Action".[12] The controls have been criticized as unresponsive.[4][6]

The cutscenes have been widely criticized.[12] described them as "outright terrifying",[1] and IGN called them "abysmal", resembling "a bad flip-book of images printed out of Microsoft Paint".[4] Joystiq described them as "amateurish, garishly colorful, shaky, randomly zooming animation".[6] The voice acting was also criticized;[4] both and IGN found it ill-fitting for the characters and lacking the playfulness of Mario's current voice artist Charles Martinet. Danny Cowan of 1UP wrote: "Mario (voiced in the game by Marc Graue) sounds more like someone's ex-smoker grandpa trying to imitate a Mafia hit man... The dialogue is meant to sound playful, but the character voices imply acts of menace and hate."[1] In 2008, IGN named Hotel Mario one of the ten worst Mario games.[4]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Cowan, Danny (April 25, 2006). "CDi Retrospective from". Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on June 29, 2015. Retrieved June 29, 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Hotel Mario instruction book. Philips Interactive Media. 1994. pp. 2–16. PP0260 GA. 
  3. Philips Fantasy Factory. Hotel Mario. (Philips Interactive Media). Philips CD-i. Level/area: Opening sequence. (1994) "Mario: Nice of the Princess to invite us over for a picnic, eh, Luigi? / Luigi: I hope she made lotsa spaghetti!"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Buchanan, Levi (August 14, 2008). "The Other Mario Games, Vol. 3". IGN. Archived from the original on July 27, 2012. Retrieved September 16, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. GameSpy Staff (January 1, 2008). "Nintendo: From Hero to Zero". GameSpy. Archived from the original on April 4, 2008. Retrieved April 7, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Fletcher, J. C. (August 7, 2008). "Virtually Overlooked: Hotel Mario". Engadget. AOL. Archived from the original on June 29, 2018. Retrieved September 13, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Devin (September 16, 2007). "Interview with Trici Venola". The Black Moon Project. GameSpy. Archived from the original on December 18, 2007. Retrieved June 21, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Major Mike's Game Roundup" (PDF). Electronic Gaming Monthly (Sendai Publishing) 59 (6). June 1994. 
  9. Lawrence of Arcadia (September 1994). "ProReview: CD-i". GamePro (IDG Communications) 62 (9). 
  10. Nakamura, Eric (July 1994). "CD-i Action: Hotel Mario". Video Games: The Ultimate Gaming Magazine: 79. 
  11. "Saltos de Alegria" (in Spanish). Superjuegos (28): 94. August 1994. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Whitehead, Dan (March 9, 2007). "The History of Mario". Eurogamer. p. 3. Archived from the original on August 19, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Buchanan, Levi (August 21, 2008). "The Other Mario Games, Vol. 4". IGN. Archived from the original on September 16, 2008. Retrieved October 25, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Reparaz, Mikel (May 4, 2007). "The 10 worst game intros of all time". GamesRadar. Archived from the original on June 15, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links[edit | edit source]

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