Jane’s Hotel Review—Hands-On and All-Around Servicing
When it comes to casual games of the business “hands-on” simulation genre, a young female character is almost always tasked with turning a humble business establishment into an empire single-handedly. Jane’s Hotel fits the bill. Well, there is Jane, and her story is told through comic panels inserted between every few levels. Oh, I can’t spoil the story, and I won’t give any details further, since nothing really is worth noting.
Casual games are not easy to play, ironically, especially on the PSP. The PC is equipped with a mouse that makes it easier to click your way out in tight situations. On the PSP, you get tripped up, confused and irritated with the D-pad as the main control system (see Supermarket Mania). Jane’s Hotel retains the same controls, but it’s only one of the options.
As usual in business sims, you are treated as superhuman. You hand keys to the customers, bring them the phone, the coffee and the paper. By yourself. Don’t worry, though; you are not going to clean their rooms or manage their dry cleaning. You have a chambermaid for that.
This is a rather new and exciting twist to this genre. You are controlling two characters: Jane and the Chambermaid. By pressing the left shoulder button (L), you are hereby summoning the Chambermaid. She is the one responsible for watering the plants and cleaning up the rooms, while you are busy handling the reception area, serving coffee, champagne and food not just in the guests’ rooms but also in the lounge.
You can cycle through all this chaos via the D-pad, but the folks at Beatshapers are neat enough to include shortcut keys that are truly optimized for the PSP. This game seems like it is designed for the PSP because of how nifty the shortcut keys are. Pressing the right shoulder button (R) once instantly transports the cursor to the reception area for quick handing of keys to the newly arriving guests; hitting R twice gets you to the phone, and hitting it thrice to the papers. Square transfers your attention to the coffee machine. Circle lets you hop across guests.
The goals are monetary. You must reach X amount of dollars before the hotel closes. In order to harvest money from the guests, you must quickly serve them before their moods plummet. Irritated guests yield less money. Also, before starting a level, there are upgrades to purchase like neat lights, plants and, most of the time, services. It doesn’t have depth, actually, as these upgrades are seemingly predestined to be required at the exact level where they become available.
There are no difficulty settings. The difficulty is alarmingly raised as you progress. Mostly the game’s difficulty is based on how many services your hotels are offering, rather than on special guests. Unlike other casual games, the customers here are without personality. Yes, there are those who play golf, but the behavior of each guest is typically random. There are no coffee junkies. There are no drunkards that require more linen changes than the other guests. There are no scripted guests. Essentially, the difficulty curve only progresses thus: the more you upgrade, the more difficult it is to play. Again, without these upgrades, you can’t reach your goals, since you will be earning little money with limited services.
The graphics are good, not the best, but polished. There are some hiccups here and there, like how the menu sometimes takes a lot of time before it appears. The load times seem unjustifiable. The soundtrack is nice, as it easily blends seamlessly into the game. Jane’s Hotel might not be a five-star Mini, but with the neat controls, it is a must-have for those who like this kind of game.