Hotel Mogul Review—Lynette’s Revenge
Alawar is a big name in the casual game market, and they’ve published a fairly steady stream of their titles on the Minis platform the last two years. Their release schedule has been very strange, though, with getting their games rated by the ESRB months, even years ahead of time. This game, Hotel Mogul, was rated back in April and is broadly classified as a time management game.
The time management genre, though, is pretty wide open, encompassing everything from strategy games to action games, but a common strain among them is generally running some sort of business. Farms, restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, and real estate in particular. Hotel Mogul combines these last two genres, essentially putting you in charge of developing a hotel chain.
You’re actually trying to help out this woman named Lynette (the one on the right), who used to be a hotel mogul but married a young gigolo who quickly divorced her and somehow got control of the hotel chain. She had hired a really, really awful lawyer, apparently, that screwed up the prenuptial agreement. Kind of a strange story, but it’s rare that the cutscenes are included in an Alawar Mini; their most commonly used Minis port developer, SPL, apparently removed them in the titles they worked on.
The game seems very simple while you are working through the tutorial. You simply buy a lot, then build a hotel (or something else) on it, then upgrade it, occasionally buying more materials. But once you get past that, you have a time limit, and the goals start getting more and more difficult. You have to start adding more and more different buildings into the mix—cafes, statues, and bigger and better hotels. It’s not hard in and of itself, very simple (not like, say, a Tycoon game) but the hard part is managing everything efficiently, so you can accomplish the goals of the level in time. Which is why these games are called “time management.”
The difficulty is not helped by the rather clunky and sluggish interface. You move from lot to lot with the D-pad, but it’s not always clear who owns the lot, you or the AI, as the only real way of telling is the number of stars by the side (which represent the upgrade level). They are very small and not always obvious. Similarly, it’s very easy to accidentally sell a building lot. I had to restart levels many times because I did that by mistake.
There are 20+ levels in the game, which you can replay if you like. Probably at least 10 minutes for most levels, if you managed to do it on the first try, though that likely won’t be the case. Some of the levels are very difficult, actually.
All of Alawar’s games were originally developed for the PC. Some of these convert over extremely well, like how Snowy: The Bear’s Adventures in particular was almost made for the PSP, and the two match-3 games worked well. That’s not really the case here, though. The interface is clunky at best, and the graphics, while pretty good, are too tiny. I don’t think it’s the developer who did the PSP port’s fault. They tried to adapt the PC version’s interface the best they could, but it was simply meant for a mouse (and a bigger screen).
Hotel Mogul is a solid game, but you have to struggle a bit with the interface to get at it. If you like these sort of games, you might give it a try, but if you have other platforms to play it on, it’s really best played on those.