Thursday, January 04, 2007

Hotel Dusk

If you were to ask a hardcore gamer why they think the Nintendo DS is such a huge hit in Japan and is increasingly pulling away from its rival in the West, they will probably point to the new Mario game, lots of software for big name third parties (specially Square-Enix), and non-games, a new genre of games loosely connected as games that appeal to people who don’t normally play games which has expanded the market and allowed Nintendo to tap into entire demographics (older gamers, girls and women).

The other side of the story however is a growing library of demographic specific titles such as the upcoming Hotel Dusk: Room 215 (known as Wish Room in Japan) which brings back the point and click style ‘adventure’ games that were all the rage on the PCs in the early to mid 90s.

The move over to massively multiplayer and first person games on the PC have driven out the franchise, and adventure games have never found a home on consoles, which in the 90s, at least in the west, was dominated largely by twitch platformers and combat games.

Hotel Dusk is a mystery adventure story set in America during the late 70s and is developed by a small Japanese development house called CING for Nintendo. It features an eye catchy art style with game’s cast of characters portrayed in a pencil on paper 'flip book' animation style. The exploring in contrast is done inside richly textured interactive 3-D environments. This game is full of atmosphere. I love the setting, it has that 80s-style Hollywood noir movie feel to it.

As an aside, CING also developed the relatively short adventure, Trace Memory for Nintendo as part of the DS launch library. The game was criticized at the time for being too simple and short and may have been targeted to a younger audience. As the DS audience has grown however, and Nintendo found many older gamers have picked up a DS, Hotel Dusk appears to be more compatible with my tastes.

Catch the Japanese trailer here. If you have a good eye, you can also catch a glimpse of the De Niro look-alike.

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