Dual Screen Noir – Hotel Dusk



Yup, it’s Old Game Week here at the factory. No, not really. I take my time playing games. I finally beat this game. It took a billion years. It’s been so long since I had to think through a video game and not endlessly hack and slash or shoot or choose the same strong spell over and over again. You don’t have to think a lot in Hotel Dusk, a point-and-click graphic novel adventure in video game form, but sometimes I was so stumped as to what to do I couldn’t help but turn to GameFAQs to find out what goofy, ridiculous item I needed to do a somewhat-not really-okay-not at all realistic thing. Or maybe I’m just a big DUMMY.

And that’s the worst thing about Hotel Dusk’s gameplay. The leaps of logic……Oh, I gotta look at the CHALKBOARD?! Okay! I gotta tap the BOX? ALL RIGHT! Sometimes it’s not so obvious. You go around, look for things, interact with things that activate little mini-games like SHARPEN THE PENCIL! and UNLOCK THE DOOR! That’s about it. Oh wait, what gets you, at least, what got ME, is remembering what to do and what characters say. Their conversations provide clues you need to remember to snipe suspects in confrontations and to pass the little memory quizzes at the end of each chapter (10 in all) that catch you up on the goings-on of the story.


The thing you do most in Hotel Dusk… is read. Which is great if you like strong dialogue, a clever plot and way better characterization than is expected in a, well, a video game. Nintendo’s in-house translation team, Treehouse, deserve SOME sort of accolade by the end of the year for their layered, hardboiled work but it wouldn’t be as superb an accomplishment without the marvelous character designs to go with it. Sketched in black and white in an East-meets-West manga-pulp mash-up style that forgoes excessive detail, the characters are more like emblems, made up of one or two components that set each character apart from the rest. Glasses + beard = the author, eyepatch + cane = the old woman, pigtails + wide-eyed look = the little girl … They’re also well-animated, as limited as the animation is. This isn’t a full-blown cartoon but it’s just enough to really make the characters come alive.


And man, do they. I started to miss them once the game reached its satisfying end, especially Kyle Hyde, the noir detective you play as. Perhaps the best protagonist since Phoenix Wright, another DS detective, he’s the exact opposite. Rude and self-loathing, he spouts Philip Marlowe-isms that’d make neo-noir contemporaries Dwight McCarthy and Max Payne proud. Which is what Hotel Dusk does best – style and personality. The presentation is nifty too, with a noirish soundtrack and decent Resident Evil-esque 3D graphics for environments. Hotel Dusk may not do anything drastic in the game department – except for a couple novel uses of the DS; to solve one puzzle you have to shut the DS closed, and you can write notes in Kyle’s notebook – but as an interactive novel it’s a real page-turner, and a memorable one at that.



6 Responses to “Dual Screen Noir – Hotel Dusk”

  1. Dual Screen Noir - Hotel Dusk · Nintendo Wii Zone Says:

    […] Grump Factory wrote a fantastic post today on “Dual Screen Noir – Hotel Dusk”Here’s ONLY a quick extractYup, it’s Old Game Week here at the factory. No, not really. I take my time playing games. I f […]

  2. Anime and other things » Blog Archive » Dual Screen Noir - Hotel Dusk Says:

    […] Check it out here […]

  3. Bigfoot Says:

    Yeah, I enjoyed this game alot too.

  4. Chuck Says:

    I GameFly’d it. Took 5 days. I had to check GameFAQs once, for that part where you hear a noise from one of the rooms while you’re in the hall. I had no idea where it was coming from. Plenty of other times I had to just run around checking every room to figure out what to do. Really fun game for readers. Hopefully there’ll be another one like it from the same guys.

  5. John Mora Says:

    My only problem is the dialogue. Occasionally people just repeat things they were just told. Really stilted-like.

  6. Advance Wars: Days of Ruin - War in the Pocket « Grump Factory Says:

    […] Advance Wars: Days of Ruin – War in the Pocket By sirtmagus Advance Wars: Days of Ruin takes a page from the Fallouts, Gears of Wars, Halos and Battlestars and tells a darker sci-fi tale than is expected from a series known for smiley C.O.’s painted with primary colors. This time the palette is muted, the character design has a rougher edge to it and the story questions the worth of humanity in a world decimated by meteorites. Amidst the destruction bands of marauders kill and pillage the few survivors left, and rival countries take the chance to wipe each other out. There is one savior in the maelstrom of violence, Captain Brenner of Razulia, who finds and recruits Will, the game’s naive protagonist, into his army of do-gooders. Along with Lin, Brenner’s headstrong lieutenant, the ragtag group battles rival countries, insane generals, and a mad scientist. It’s a straightforward story with a few twists and characters told well enough to grip anyone familiar with the aforementioned sci-fi titles. The writing drifts into childish “Hope conquers all!” maxims more often than I’d like, otherwise it’s another excellent script in a handheld Nintendo game. (See: Hotel Dusk) […]

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