- Developer - Lucky Frame
- Format - iOS
- Device tested - iPhone 4
- Release date - Out now
- Price - 69p
In the run up to the Independent Games Festival, due to be held on 27 March, now's the perfect time to re-indulge in Lucky Frame's surreal tower defense hit Bad Hotel. It's up for the IGF award in Best Audio, facing down competition from PixelJunk 4 AM and Hotline Miami. And although both of those games have excellent soundtracks of their own, Bad Hotel's a shoo-in for the prize, its mix of tower defense gameplay and procedurally generated music making it one of the best sounding and looking mobile games of the past year.
The basic set-up is very straightforward; Bad Hotel is your classic tower defense game. Using an arsenal of stationary guns, shields, healing devices and cannons, you have to protect a building (in this case a hotel) from waves of randomly generated creatures.
In this instance, those are birds which fly in from above and drop bombs, and blokes, who run towards your hotel and beat at its sides with their hands. Whatever components you have at your disposal to defend your hotel appear across the bottom of the iPhone's screen and you just drag and drop them to place them wherever you think is best. You also have to watch your money, though, which is finite and has to steadily refill as you guard the hotel.
That's all pretty plain. Bad Hotel has a distinctive colour scheme certainly, all pale yellows and sickly pinks, but in terms of straight mechanics, it's pretty typical. What sets it apart, and what's earned it that nom at IGF is the soundtrack, which warps and swells depending on how you build your hotel.
Every room or gun or whatever you fix to the side adds another element to the music, be it in a tapping drum loop, a repeating, trancey electronic sound or an up-tempo bit of guitar.
And that achieves two things. Not only does it make Bad Hotel sound great, the veritable mixing desk of sound effects assembled by Lucky Frame sounding good no matter how you arrange them, it also gives each round its own rhythm. More sluggish games where enemies are few mean making less buildings and creating less sounds - that kind of game organically takes on a more slovenly, Washed Out kind of pace.
But then you have these ultra-scrimmages where enemies are coming in and you're rushing to glue guns onto each other, and the sound builds and builds and gets faster and faster, and the pace of the game entirely changes because of your actions.
Bad Hotel has this excellent tactile kind of feedback about it, where whatever is happening on screen is reflected in the music and vice-versa, and it all forms naturally and on-the-fly.
Bad Hotel is out now on the App Store for the generous price of 69p. If you like tower defense and you like good music, then you have no excuse for not indulging in this.
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