Jane’s Hotel takes time management out of the diners and supermarkets and drops it right in to a five star hotel. You play as Jane (obviously) who fulfills a life long dream when she plunks down some cash to buy a quaint little hotel with just a few guests with fairly simple needs. But Jane isn’t content to stay small, so she reinvests the profits and just keeps growing. As your hotel (and number of guests) grows larger, so do the amount of tasks that Jane must take on. Hectic and increasingly difficult, to be sure. But is it fun?
At first glance, Jane’s Hotel looks an awful like every other time management game. Jane is perky and blonde, and her hotel is colorful and cheery. The basic storyline in Jane’s Hotel is that Jane wants to work her way up to a five star hotel, and win the award for best hotel. As your hotel grows, you are able to handle more guests, and offer them more services. Jane, as proprietor, handles nearly all of the hotel guests’ needs herself. This includes everything from a cup of coffee to a bottle of champagne to a fresh paper. Jane does have a little help, though, in the form of a chambermaid who takes care of vacuuming, changing bedding, watering the plants, and so forth. However, Jane must direct the chambermaid in every task, so it really isn’t as much help as it could be.
It wouldn’t be a time management game without angry customers, so of course you have a limited time to take care of each guest’s needs. Each task comes in the form of a bubble near either the guest or their room. The bubble begins green, and then works it’s way towards yellow and eventually red depending on how long you take to fulfill the task. If the customer gets angry enough, they will leave without paying their bill, which is a particular problem in later levels where every dollar counts. Each level has a dollar goal attached to it, and if you don’t meet that goal you will not progress to the next level. By fulfilling tasks quickly, you can earn larger tips, so keeping things moving at a steady pace is your ultimate goal.
The money you earn when you complete a level is used to upgrade your hotel with items like flowers, statuettes, bars, and even kitchens. This isn’t as much fun as it sounds, though, as you really have no choice in the matter. You upgrade in order as soon as you have enough money, and you can’t really choose not to upgrade because then you won’t be able to make enough money to advance in the level. I think giving players a choice in how they upgrade would have gone a long way in adding interest to the game.
While Jane’s Hotel is a fun enough game, and follows the time management template quite well, there were a few things that stick out to me. First of all, the soundtrack, while very suitable in a hotel elevator music sort of way, gets very old quickly as it loops the same notes over and over. The characters do the same thing, in a way. While your hotel changes and gets bigger and opulent, everything else pretty much stays the same. The same guests keep coming in, and it actually makes it a bit confusing at times, when 3 of the exact same guy are all there asking for different items. It is difficult enough to keep things straight when things get hectic, but having identical characters is a bit of annoyance. My biggest complaint with Jane’s Hotel by far, though, is the controls.
I have played a fair amount of time management games, but none on the psp, and I was curious how the furious pointing and clicking would work into the psp’s control scheme. Despite some effort on the developer’s part with button shortcuts, it did not translate well. There is not a cursor to move around, rather items are highlighted in green, and you move around to them with the directional buttons. The problem is, things don’t really move in a specific order. For instance, there were many times that I wanted to take some coffee to a customer, and I simply could not get them to highlight. An annoyance in most games, but in time management a few seconds can cost you a level. It seemed at times that the game had a certain order it wanted me to follow, and if I didn’t then it just wouldn’t let me go where I wanted to.
There are some shortcuts that help somewhat. For instance, the left shoulder button controls the chambermaid, and the right sends you to the front desk. The square button takes you right to the coffeepot. These do help, but there is a bit of a problem with promoting them. Right at the beginning, before you even begin to play, you are shown a screen that tells you all of the buttons. That’s it. Unless you have a really good memory, you’ll likely forget at least some of them, and the fact that the game only lets you move if a guest wants a certain item means you can’t even test what each button does during slow times. And yet, on each loading screen, you are given “tips” along the lines of “If a guest wants coffee, give him coffee.” Really? That’s a tip? I think the loading screens would have been an excellent place to promote the shortcuts.
Jane’s Hotel adds variety to the time management genre, and is a good choice for fans who want to get out of the diners and supermarkets and try something new. Repetitive music, uninteresting characters, and clunky controls detract from the fun of madly clicking, but they are not ultimately a deal breaker, more of an annoyance. I give Jane’s Hotel a 6 out of 10, and recommend it to time management fans who have played their way through supermarkets and diners and want to try something new.