Jun 20, 2011

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Review: Hotel Dash 2: Lost Luxuries

Review: Hotel Dash 2: Lost Luxuries

The Dash series of games (best known for Diner Dash), has branched out.  You can now enjoy the arcade action in all forms, and with all the characters in the Dash universe.  While some of these alternate games have worked better than others, Hotel Dash has always been one of my favorites. So when I heard that a sequel, Hotel Dash 2: Lost Luxuries was released, I was ecstatic, and couldn’t wait to give it a try.

Like the original, Lost Luxuries tasks you with managing a hotel in much the same way Flo does her diner in the traditional Diner Dash games.  While the premise of the first game was fixing up hotels for a honeymoon, this one has Flo and friends struggling to remodel five “lost” hotels into five-star luxurious accommodations in order to snag the coveted French Fry Festival for Dinerville.  As a result, you play your way through five unique hotels, from a treehouse-themed motel to a submarine under the sea, and everything in between.  The new locales keep things interesting and fun, but the fact that the backgrounds are really not animated, makes the scenes a little less vibrant than they could be.  Each hotel also features its own themed music, and while some have a good tune, others are quickly forgotten, and you wouldn’t miss much by playing with your sound off.

Although the gameplay is basically the same as the original (drag guests to their rooms, deliver their luggage, etc.), Lost Luxuries does throw in a few new twists. One of these is cart power-ups.  You unlock these as you progress through each level, with each hotel having its own power-ups independent of the last one.  Before you start a level, you can choose which power-up to take with you to help make the level easier.  These include a rocket (that makes you move super fast), a cellphone (to automatically answer wake-up calls), a mop bucket (to mop spills as you pass), a fruit basket (to deliver fruit automatically on any empty room you click on), and an ice bucket (that works similarly to the fruit basket).  These are handy (especially the fruit basket; definitely my favorite), but the disappointing thing is if you don’t choose one of the power ups, you can’t use that feature (except for the mop and phone) at all.  For example, if you choose the fruit basket over the ice, since there is no ice machine, you can’t deliver ice to cool down angry guests; likewise, if you don’t pick the fruit basket, you cannot place fruit in front of guests’ rooms at all to give them an instant mood boost.  The other problem with the power ups is they can take some of the challenge out of the game, and the game is already fairly low in the challenge department.

Other new elements affect the challenge level, which besides being low overall, can be a bit uneven at times.  One of these is the fact that the game utilizes two sets of elevators: ones that Flo can use, and ones that customers can use.  They don’t mix: you can’t use the customers’ elevators, and they can’t use yours.  It seems to be meant to keep the challenge up, by forcing you to stategize a bit, but it also means that the often awkward level layouts feel contrived.  You also eliminate some of the challenge of having to wait for elevators in order to progress, and it means that the Celebrity guest type doesn’t negatively affect the other guests as much as he did in the original (but more on guest types later). Also, the addition of quick trips from the top to bottom floors via ropes, vines, slides, etc., is fun, but I found that Flo’s pathfinding behavior didn’t always do what you expected.  Even when you planned it so she would zoom down from the top to the bottom floor using one of these methods, many times she would just go back the awkward elevator route, which was befuddling and disappointing.

One new element I really did like was the “new wing.”  About halfway through each level, a new wing will be revealed, and the game will shift to the right, making the original right portion of the scene the new left portion, and the right becoming something new.  This adds a bit of freshness and new challenge, as you have to adapt your strategies to a new layout.  I definitely appreciated this element, but I think it could have been integrated better, because it seemed to me as if these shifts only enforced the contrived awkwardness of the hotel layouts.