If I wasn’t giving it its little bit of recognition here, this would be a shoo-in for one of those fun but meaningless awards like ‘best game nobody played’ or ‘most overlooked game of the year’ (surely an oxymoron if you’re recognising it with an award?). It’s been and gone so completely that it’s hard to believe that it actually came out this year.
It felt to me like 2007 was a poorer year than previous for the DS in all respects but sales, which are still in the stratosphere. The new entry into the Ouendan series lacked the immediate appeal that the first game had, and even Zelda seemed to arrive with little fanfare, missing out on the event game status that New Super Mario Bros enjoyed. Hotel Dusk, though, is a uniquely DS game that won me over with its noirish style and storyline. It really wouldn’t have worked as well on any other platform.
While far from perfect, it was able to tap my enthusiasm in for a number of different things. The old adventure games, for one. And noir. And the brilliant design decision to hold the DS vertically like a book, emphasising the pulp novel influence and really making it perfect to play on the bog, and allowing for the genius idea of writing your own notes in your notebook. If only they’d fixed some of the minor annoyances – slow text scrolling is a pet peeve of mine, and the plot progression wasn’t always smooth – Hotel Dusk could have been even higher on this list. More adventure games please, Nintendo. Or make LucasArts do the right thing.
But in the meantime, play this one. I’m sure it’s cheap now.