Hotel Mario

1994 video game

Hotel Mario is a puzzle game developed by Fantasy Factory and published by Philips Interactive Media and Nintendo for the CD-i in 1994. The primary character of the game is Mario, who must find Princess Toadstool by going through seven Koopa hotels in the Mushroom Kingdom. Every hotel is divided into many levels, and what the player must do is close all doors on each level. Killing a Koopaling on the hotel's final level takes the player to the next building.[1] After Nintendo decided not to have Philips create an add-on for the Super NES, they gave Philips permission to use five of their characters in games for Philips' CD-i.[2] There wasn't a lot of time for the games to be developed and there was little funding. The games resulting from the license were widely criticized, with Hotel Mario being known as one of the worst Mario-centered games,[3][4][5][6][7] due to the animation of the shutting doors, the non-working controls and especially known for the cutscenes that used full motion video.[4][6][8][9] The CD-i was considered a commercial failure and the games became valuable because of their rarity.

Hotel Mario
Developer(s)Fantasy Factory
Publisher(s)Philips Interactive Media
Designer(s)Stephen Radosh
Artist(s)Mirena Kim
Composer(s)Jack Levy
Genre(s)Puzzle game
Mode(s)Single-player, two-player


The player controls Mario or his brother Luigi in two-player mode.[10] The player has to complete all levels of the seven hotels in the game. The first six hotels contain 10 levels, and the last 2 hotels contains 15 levels.[10] The player to shut every door before time runs out to get to the next level.[1] The game does not show how to shut the doors.[11] Elevators, which work differently depending on the hotel, let the player to go between the five floors of the level.[12] The amount of points the player gets in the game will depend on how fast they can beat the level.[13] Every stage has its own title screen, which is how the game can be saved.[14] The screens are also used to enter hotel levels that were already played and the map of the Mushroom Kingdom,[15] which allows the player to access any visited hotel.[10]

While trying to close the doors, the player must avoid certain hazards. Mario will lose a life if he touches an enemy, runs out of time, runs off the edge of the floor he is on, or if all the doors are open.[16] Enemies in the game are mostly regular Mario series creatures, such as Goombas, Koopas, Boos, and their variations.[17] The opponent on the last level of each hotel is one of the Koopalings, who use different methods to try to kill Mario.[1]

In his normal state, Mario can take one hit from an enemy and kill most of the monsters with a stomp.[12] By opening doors, the player can find power-ups, which grant different powers. A Super Mushroom transforms Mario into Super Mario, making Mario glow and have the strength to take two enemy hits.[18] If the player finds another mushroom while Mario is in the Super Mario form, the item turns into a Fire Flower. When grabbing it, Mario becomes Fire Mario and can throw fireballs to kill enemies.[18] A 1-up mushroom known as "Extra Mario Mushroom" or "Toad" can only be found by Fire Mario.[18] Another way to earn an extra life is collecting 30 coins.[19] The player can also get a Star Man, which makes Mario temporarily able to knock any enemy off the screen by simply touching them.[19]


Bowser has turned the Mushroom Kingdom into a hotel resort for the use of himself and his children. The land is renamed "Klub Koopa Resort" because of this. Each hotel in the area is protected by one of the Koopalings and their henchmen.[20] The hotels represent different building types with many different locations, including a tree, a mine and a cloud.[21] When Mario and Luigi are invited to a picnic by Princess Toadstool,[22] Mario and Luigi enter the Mushroom Kingdom. At the entrance, however, they find a message from Bowser. They find out that Bowser has taken control over the kingdom and established seven hotels there, at one of which Princess Toadstool is being held as a "permanent guest".[23] As they visit the first six hotels, Mario and Luigi find the Princess many times, but on every occasion she disappears out of their sight, ending up in another hotel.[24][25] They eventually enter another land where Bowser himself lives.[26] With the hotel's owner killed, the brothers run away from the building with Princess Toadstool before it falls apart. The Princess, now able to rule her kingdom in peace, thanks the Mario brothers for saving her,[27] giving them both a kiss.


In May 1991, after failing to develop a CD-ROM-based add-on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System with Sony, Nintendo signed a deal with Philips to develop the add-on.[2] However, after seeing the negative reviews of the Sega Mega-CD, Nintendo no longer considered the add-on profitable anymore, and the project was stopped entirely.[2] As part of dissolving the deal, Nintendo gave Philips the license to use five of their characters, including Mario, Luigi, and Princess Toadstool, to be featured in their games for the CD-i.[28][29] Philips used the characters to create games for the CD-i, with Nintendo taking no part in their development except to give comments on the look of the characters.[28][30] The Mario characters were going to be used in Super Mario's Wacky Worlds, but the game was cancelled with only some prototype versions being programmed.[31][32] While Wacky Worlds was planned as a CD-i adaptation of the side-scrolling platformer video game Super Mario World,[5][33] Hotel Mario was made into a puzzle game in which level areas were limited to a single screen.[8] Unlike the Legend of Zelda-related games also for the CD-i, the game was not developed by a third-party company, but by Philips' development team Fantasy Factory.[34]

Many full motion video cutscenes were animated for Hotel Mario. The videos show Mario and Luigi as they get to the next hotel, telling each other and giving hints to the player such as: "If you need instructions on how to get through the hotels, check out the enclosed instruction book!". The voices of the Mario Brothers were provided by Marc Graue, with Jocelyn Benford doing the voice-over for Princess Toadstool.[35] On top of the full motion video capabilities of the CD-i, Hotel Mario made use of the system’s internal clock by showing messages that changed according to the date.[36]

The backgrounds of the hotel stages were designed by freelance artist Trici Venola.[35] After seeing Hotel Mario's first version—which Venola called "mechanical" and "visually no fun"—she and art director Jeff Zoern decided to use elements from Disney and J. R. R. Tolkien to improve the game's visual style.[37] Drawings of the stages were made out of several blocks, each of which featured one detail. The first item Venola created for all hotels was the door.[37] Every building took one week to complete and was designed according to a specific theme. For example, a gothic design was used for Bowser's hotel.[37]


Upon its release, Hotel Mario received negative reviews from video game magazines Electronic Gaming Monthly and GamePro. Critics commented that Hotel Mario's gameplay was simple yet addicting.[38] GamePro, while calling the game fun, believed that it would soon bore players, and gave it a fun factor of 2.5 out of 5.[39][40] When Electronic Gaming Monthly named Mario the greatest video game character in 2005, they considered Hotel Mario his most embarrassing moment.[41] Similarly, it was considered as the worst Mario game of all time by ScrewAttack, who criticized the game for its audio and controls, as well as for being solely "based on shutting doors."[4] GameDaily included Hotel Mario in its list of the worst games starring Nintendo mascots, stating its gameplay lacked identifiable Mario elements mainly used in the series.[6] The game was also listed as the worst 2D platformer in the Mario series by N-Europe. The site found the Koopaling battles "uniquely bad", calling the game itself a "steaming turd".[5]

IGN said that Hotel Mario was better than The Legend of Zelda titles, but noted that closing doors was not "a strong enough hook for an entire game."[9] Chris Kohler of Wired magazine saw Hotel Mario as "a puzzle game with no puzzles", assuming it was one of the reasons why Nintendo was not impressed by the CD-ROM medium.[31] The game was referred to as "craptastic" by GamesRadar[42] and "little more than a really rubbish version of Elevator Action" by Eurogamer.[3]

In its 1994 review, GamePro rated Hotel Mario's graphics at 3.5 and sound at 4 out of 5, saying that "the only intriguing aspects of this game are the well-fashioned animated sequences."[39] Years after the game was released, the cut scenes were also criticized among video game websites,[3][5][43] and were called "outright terrifying" by[8] IGN described them as "abysmal" and "a bad flip-book of images printed out of Microsoft Paint. The quality of the voice acting was also questioned.[5][8][9][43] Both and IGN thought the voices were unfitting for the characters and did not achieve the same playfulness as those of Mario and Luigi's current voice artist Charles Martinet. Hotel Mario was listed in the Top 20 Worst Mario Games of all time.[8][9]


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  24. Philips Fantasy Factory. Hotel Mario. Vol. Philips CD-i. Philips Interactive Media. Level/area: Lemmy's High-ate Regency Hotel. Mario: Get ready to catch her! / Luigi: She's not coming down! / Mario: She's up there!
  25. Philips Fantasy Factory. Hotel Mario. Vol. Philips CD-i. Philips Interactive Media. Level/area: Wendy's Blitz Snarlton Hotel. Mario: Where's the Princess? / Luigi: Over there! Look! Wendy's hotel!
  26. Philips Fantasy Factory. Hotel Mario. Vol. Philips CD-i. Philips Interactive Media. Level/area: Bowser's Seizures Palace Hotel. Mario: This is it, Luigi. Remember, where there's smoke... / Luigi: There's fire!
  27. Philips Fantasy Factory. Hotel Mario. Vol. Philips CD-i. Philips Interactive Media. Level/area: Ending sequence. Princess Toadstool: Thanks to you two, I can safely rule the Mushroom Kingdom, free from the terrible Koopaling Clan.
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