Sawbuck Gamer

Bad Hotel

Location, Location, Location

Bad Hotel has a nasty habit of putting rooms where they don’t belong.

By Ryan Smith • August 31, 2012

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

At first glance, Bad Hotel appears to be an iPhone game originally intended for a Jazz Age audience. The art is rendered in an elegant art deco style that lends the game the aesthetic of the city-destroying ’80s arcade hit Rampage as if it were drawn to look like a series of F. Scott Fitzgerald book covers. The villain in Bad Hotel, meanwhile, is a top-hat-wearing industrialist named Tarnation Tadstock—missing only a handlebar mustache, twirled between his thumb and forefinger, to qualify for the Robber Baron Hall Of Fame.

Underneath all of the nods to 1930s culture, Bad Hotel acts as a sly satire of our modern day economic crisis. Tarnation might resemble Rich Uncle Pennybags, but he talks like a misbehaving banker from the early 2010s with lines like: “You’re getting a bit big for your britches, I believe. I used a credit default swap fair and square to get this hotel, and I am free to destroy it and collect the insurance.”

There are cracks in Bad Hotel’s foundation. It may seem easy enough to construct a multi-storied hotel and use your income to install turrets and fend off kamikaze birds. But the game’s finicky touchscreen controls have a nasty habit of putting new floors in places you didn’t plan, which adds to the already sky-high difficulty level. Bad Hotel works as a fine piece of art and social satire, but it’s an example of a game better admired from a distance rather than actually played.

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1,213 Responses to “Location, Location, Location”

  1. Xtracurlyfries says:

    I like the sad cloud in the above screenshot, but then I think I’ve had enough of whimsy in videogames. Whale Trail finally did me in.

  2. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    I built this! Bad hotels are people, my friend!

  3. Yann Seznec says:

    Hey! Many thanks for the review, I’m one of the makers of Bad Hotel. I just want to say that we have already submitted an update to Apple changing the placement controls. It should be approved soon. Thanks again, I’m glad you enjoyed Tadstock’s quips. Cheers!

    • Ryan Smith says:

      Hey Yann, thanks for the update! I’m glad the controls are changing, that was the only big sticking point to me. Really enjoyed the art and the social satire of the game.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        It’s always nice when someone checks in on the comment thread on an article about them or their work.

        Unless you’re complaining, then it can be embarrassing.

      • Yann Seznec says:

        Hey hey, just wanted to let you know that our update came out, with much improved controls! You can get v1.2 on the store now. Would be great to know what you think!

        All the best – Yann

  4. Brainstrain says:

    But how much like SimTower is it? Because I would give all of my money to a proper remake of that little piece of crack cocaine.

    • Merve says:

      That game came on a 3.5” floppy disk, folks, a floppy disk! Nowadays, we’re lucky if we can fit a game on a single DVD.