I have a four-year-old son who doesn’t really like playing the Whac-A-Mole games in malls or wherever. I am happy about that, because it’s actually me who has to finish the game in order to show him how it’s done. Yeah, right…
The thing is that I have this thing for smacking the animals popping up here and there with the little hammer and feel like an almighty God. Some would say that I have some mental problems to find satisfaction in such puerile games, but I don’t care. For as long as I can, I will “teach” my son to play Whac-A-Mole games.
Or not. Because I got my hands on Million Onion Hotel, which is a wackier – or should I say whackier – out of this world experience for those who enjoy Whac-A-Mole games, or just the absurd and beautiful.
The thing is that after my first playthrough – my first try at Million Onion Hotel – I was confused. I was strangely satisfied, even happy, but I was confused. I had no idea what just happened, what type of game I played and what was the point of everything, including the dude in underwear in the hotel and that mean, mean lady and all those people who seem to have a thing for onion soup.
But then I played again. And I didn’t really care about the fact that I was a bit less confused and I learned an extra thing or two. I had tons of fun in a strange, bizarre way. And that’s all that matters when you’re playing games (plus or minus the “strange, bizarre” part).
So, yes, Million Onion Hotel is basically Whac-A-Mole on steroids: you can play it with two fingers or 10, trying to hit as many of the vegetables appearing on the board as possible, doing your best to create lines or combos that help you go up the levels, collecting soldiers along the way and defeating strange looking bosses.
You have to pay attention to the insane chaos on the board and collect extra time clocks, hold umbrellas to protect yourself from falling rockets or other projectiles that reduce your time and hope for the best. Quick thinking has to be on your characteristics list because there’s usually chaos on the board. And this somehow works wonderfully!
But what do you actually have to do? The game presents you with a 5×5 board on which onions and other vegetables/items appear – it’s your job to whack them as fast as possible, creating a full line in order to progress to the next level. Whenever you tap a character on the board, you get some points: more or less, depending on the type of vegetable you hit. And things get even better if you manage to score a combo (2 lines or more removed from the board at the same time)
When you reach a specific level, you unlock a part of the story and a boss battle follows, where the same principles apply, but now you’re also fighting against that boss and trying to destroy it as fast as possible. Pure insanity!
Visually, the game has a beautiful retro approach, with everything looking and feeling like a golden game from the golden age (many, many years ago). This works perfectly with the simple concept behind Million Onion Hotel and, combined with the zany art and overall story, results in a beautiful, albeit strange experience.
The sound is set to resemble the 8-bit era as well, but I am not really a huge fan of that and usually play with the sound turned off. However, for us older guys or girls who still remember being in a physical arcade, the chaos of the sound effects will help you travel back in time and remember pushing quarters into the arcades and being surrounded by those hypnotic sounds.
All in all, this is certainly one of the more bizarre games out there and beautiful in its own way. You don’t have to be crazy like me and actually love smacking toy animal heads with plastic hammers in order to enjoy playing Million Onion Hotel, but that definitely helps.
However, if you have fast reflexes and you love games that challenge you a lot, you’ll really enjoy this game as well. You’ll always want to play some more, score more points, see where the story goes and try to defeat that final boss no matter what. Just give it a try!