I know you are reading that title and wondering how the hell this guy can honestly think Hotel Mario is good. Well, there are a few requirements for you to understand my stance on this game. First, you have to have actually played it. Second, played it with an actual controller- not that “remote” thing that Philips packed in with most of the CD-i consoles. Third, don’t be so caught up in this having Mario starring in it. If you can meet those basic requirements then you will probably agree, Hotel Mario is not as bad as people want you to think it is. It is certainly not as bad as the Zelda games that were released by Philips on the CD-i.
One criticism that was leveled, rightfully so for the most part, at the Philips CD-i was a lack of actual games. Early on they went out of their way to produce edutainment releases (remember that abominational genre?). Once they figured out what people really wanted it was too late for the console. Its image was marred too much to turn around. You have to give it to Philips though- they definitely tried to turn the ship around. They tried hard.
Hotel Mario came from an agreement with Nintendo. This was around the early 90’s when there was a chance of a CD-ROM attachment for the Super Nintendo. Phillips was hot to trot to get actual games on their CD-i and Nintendo, well, let’s just say they like money or something. I cannot warrant their licensing of five of their mainstay characters out like this.
Back to Hotel Mario though. Strip the whole Mushroom Kingdom motif off of it and you are left with a single screen action game. The action is simple- avoid enemies on each level while shutting doors. The story involves Bowser kidnapping Princess Toadstool- again. This time though, rather than forcing Mario to tromp around the land and search castles high and low- that has been done and well, only on Nintendo platforms. No, on the CD-i Bowser has gotten an original idea. Instead of castles, which are quite expensive to build thanks to a certain plumber destroying most of the bricks in the land, Bowser has built seven hotels. Instead of meeting Toad in each hotel, you actually “almost” reach the princess before she is whisked away to another castle. Hey, at least it is different than what Nintendo has been parlaying on their fans for decades.
Okay, I will say, if you only tried playing with that remote thing, then you have a right to have a beef with Hotel Mario. That is with Philips though and not necessarily the game itself. The charm of these types of games is simplicity and you can’t get much simpler than shutting doors and jumping on, or avoiding, enemies within the levels. This is also where a lot of people have a problem with Hotel Mario- that there is not a lot of “Mario”-style action to be had. Of course not. This is not a Nintendo bred game, this is a new take on the story of Mario and the Mushroom Kingdom. Think of Hotel Mario as a side story, also known as “gaiden” to our fans from the land of the rising sun.
Hotel Mario may not be the best game on anyone’s list but it is far from as bad as it is made out to be. Get over the license and just give the underlying game a chance. It is not perfect but it still can be quite fun in short bursts (I would not go on a 24 hour binge of it).