I tried really hard to like Jane’s Hotel. It’s an extremely addictive time management game. There’s lots to do, lots of things to buy, has an innovative screen spanning system that almost works, and it loooks downright gorgeous. However, when I tried to go back and play one of the earlier levels again, it tells me that in order to do this all my subsequent levels would be erased. It only reminded me of all its other shortcomings that made it such a flawed sim.

Jane’s Hotel reminds me a little bit of Wedding Dash with its two staff system. It’s the only other time I’ve seen it. The maid is responsible for 5 things: cleaning the rooms, watering the plants, doing the laundry, changing the sheets, and bringing golf clubs out to the guests. Jane is responsible for everything else. This includes bringing in coffee, newspapers, phones, food, etc. It all depends on which upgrades you choose to get.

In between each stage is a buying screen where you can use the money you’ve earned in the previous stage to get new furnishings. Technically, there is a choice, but actually, you have to buy everything before you can advance to the next hotel. Some of these things are static, like lamps and paintings; some are interactive, like TVs, dining tables, and the wine rack. Once you buy something interactive, the guests will ask for it in the hotel. So the more you buy, the more customers ask for, and the more likely you will get tips.

Each guest start with checking in where you hand them the keys. They will go to a room that’s available (you can’t hand a key out unless there’s a room available), and once they settle in they will ask for things. At the end of the day they will check out, leave money on your desk, and you have to send the maid to clean up. Simple. With 4 rooms to start, and many more thereafter, it quickly becomes quite hectic and unmanageable. That is, if you don’t know the trick to doing things.

The documentation or “help” in this case is very limited. It lets you know about giving out keys and serving customers, but nowhere does it tell you about the chaining system. It took me a few hectic this-can’t-be-possible tries before I realized that you can chain actions together. For example, even though you can only pick up one cup of coffee at once, you can serve that cup to 3 people. The same thing can be done with the maid; if she has her vacuum out she can do all 6 rooms in a row. You can also give out keys with things in your hands.

Customers look different but act basically the same. There seems to be different patience levels, but I wouldn’t know. There’s no mention of customer types in the help section.

Later on in the levels – you wouldn’t know if you bought it after the trial version thinking you love this game – the game moves on to a multiple screen sytem, where the hotels are so large that they can’t fit on the same screen and you have to scroll. This almost works. It doesn’t really. First of all, if everything weren’t so big, there wouldn’t be a need for this system. Second of all, even though it does alert you (with an arrow) that something is being needed on the other side, it doesn’t tell you what is needed, so you have to scroll over to see it, scroll back to get it, and then scroll over to give it. It’s an extremely annoying system. It hinders play more than it adds to it.

Jane Flo
A side-by-sdie comparison of Jane and Flo. Jane’s a giant.

Another thing that breaks the two screen system is the HUD. In the first couple of hotels, it doesn’t get in the way because it’s not in front of anything. However, once the screen starts scrolling, you’d notice that if it’s in front of anything, you can’t click on it. That applies if it’s in front of the display for the fruit, but not on the fruit, you can’t click on the fruit. It doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but when things get hectic, you’d click on the fruit, click on all the people who need the fruit, only to have Jane stand there doing nothing while everybody gets angry over not having the fruit. Not fun.

Speaking of chain of actions, it’s a good system with flaws. For one, you can’t cancel an action. So if something more important comes up, your maid will still carry out the list of actions. Namely, she could be watering all the plants while the rooms all of a sudden empty out, and a lineup forms at the door with guests wanting keys to those rooms that you can’t give away because she hasn’t cleaned the rooms.

With all that came previously, this might be more of a boon than a bane: you can’t make mistakes. You cannot pick up coffee if nobody wants coffee. You just can’t. You also can’t water plants unless they’re already wilting and taking off popularity points.

Jane’s Hotel is a beautiful game. Jane changes her clothes for every hotel, the hotel looks more polished with every upgrade, and not ot mention each new hotel. The handdrawn sprites are detailed and although they do tend to be a little pixelated at the edges, you can see that a lot of care was put into them. Different animations goes with every action, and it’s just amazing how much work was put into the game graphically. The music, however, leaves much to be desired. Every hotel has the same theme. It really gets on your nerves after a while.

I liked Jane’s Hotel enough to finish it despite its flaws, although once the screen started scrolling it felt more like work than play. It doesn’t save mid-day, and there are no expert scores so there isn’t a point to go back and try to make “expert” once you finished a level. Although I’d like the choice of being able to casually play through a level that I have done before. I also wouldn’t play this with kids around for fear of them picking up the broken English in the documentation.