Habbo Hotel: Origins is a wonderful time capsule of nostalgia

Habbo Hotel: Origins has arrived at the perfect time.
habbo hotel origins key art

Last year, I became deeply nostalgic for the days of the early web. For RuneScape and AdventureQuest, and GoPets, and yes – Habbo Hotel. I was delighted to jump back into RuneScape‘s classic edition to indulge my nostalgia, and I tried the same for Habbo Hotel. But what I found was starkly different than what I remembered from my childhood.

As of writing, the “modern” version of Habbo Hotel contains none of the rooms and fun that made the original game so enthralling. There are various public spaces and chat rooms, but they’re all pretty bland, and often empty. I visited Habbo quite a few times in 2023, and came away fairly unimpressed. I even found myself googling “habbo hotel classic” at one point, to see whether anyone had attempted to resurrect the spirit of original Habbo.

It was for this reason I was so excited when the game’s publisher Sulake announced an official version of classic Habbo – a reiteration known as Habbo Hotel: Origins. After a few hours with this version of the game, I can feel it all – the memories are flooding back, good, bad, in-between, and it finally feels like Habbo has recaptured some of its former joy.

Read: Habbo Hotel is getting a “classic” server based on a 2005 build

It’s also captured some of the malevolence of the original Habbo – in that the pool, since launch, has been consistently closed by Habbo players reliving a dead meme – but so far, the good outweighs the bad. And for those who enjoyed Habbo Hotel in its early days, Origins presents a wonderful return to the past.

habbo hotel origins gameplay
Screenshot: GamesHub

Aside from it currently being difficult to get into the pool (it seems Sulake is working on a solution to trolls), there’s plenty of warm nostalgia in Habbo Hotel: Origins. It’s strange to see Habbos being able to say “fuck” – there’s less moderation in this server, as it’s mostly adults – but everything else I loved about Habbo remains.

I spent time watching a terribly-organised game of Falling Furni that led to the winner screaming obscenities and being booted from the room after alleging the organiser had no idea what they were doing. I sat in ill-decorated Cozzie Change rooms waiting fruitlessly for other participants. Notably, these rooms popped up just hours into Habbo Hotel: Origins going live.

Read: The metaverse is not new, and it won’t change the world

By the hour, players are rebuilding their temples, and making Habbo Hotel: Origins into the image of what it used to be – a palace of fun, silly games, and the odd creep or two. I haven’t been asked for my ‘asl’ just yet – although it does feel inevitable that Origins will devolve, as its predecessor did. Maybe not as fast, but it’s worth noting the original version of Habbo Hotel was revamped because certain players were ruining the fun for everyone else.

Until the same fate befalls Origins – and there’s still a slim chance it won’t – there is joy in its many halls. It’s nice to talk to an NPC bot and say “pizza, please” and suddenly you’re holding a tiny pixelated pizza. Or “lemonade, please” and you’re sipping on a can. There’s plenty more commands I’ve forgotten, but that doesn’t really matter. I’m enjoying the indulgence all the same.

habbo hotel origins gameplay
Screenshot: GamesHub

I made my way through a special Mat Maze yesterday, and I’m still feeling smug about it. Habbo Hotel: Origins maintains the very funny geometry of its predecessor, allowing builders to place objects in impossible spaces with trickery. It’s up to you to work out which tiles connect to which object, and then make your way across moving platforms with precise timing or clicks.

This isn’t a game invented by Sulake – but one that players innovated when they discovered core glitches in the Habbo Hotel system. I’m glad this hasn’t been fixed, and I’m even happier to report that conquering a maze, and then watching others attempt the same, is still a joyful experience.

Equally joyful is venturing to the Habbo Lido deck, and watching folks jump off the diving board while performing cool tricks, and then holding up a placard to give them a score. I’ve seen some very good 8-9 dives so far, and a lot more bottom-rank 4s. Given you have to have credits to dive, you’d think players would use their imagination.

And that brings me to my one bugbear with Habbo Hotel: the monetisation. As with the original game, you need to spend real-world money to obtain credits or Habbo membership – and so far, I haven’t been able to determine whether there are free paths to getting credits. Back in the day, you could use a referral system, and a dozen email addresses, to milk free credits and buy furniture for your room. I had an expansive pad in the original Habbo, and multiple pets. Now, because I’m not prepared to spend money on a game purely for the nostalgia, I’m completely broke, and my room is white and empty.

I get it. Habbo is a business. Very recently, Sulake leant into the NFT/Web3/metaverse side of things in the attempt to enthral more players and gain more cash. But I feel like the original version of Habbo was perhaps a bit more generous with its approach to in-game cash, and providing players with even a little reward to keep them hankering for more. Either that, or I was more of an email-exploiting kingpin than I thought.

falling furni habbo hotel origins
Screenshot: GamesHub

Standing in my empty room, looking at my domain, I lamented a lack of cool fridge, or bubble furniture, or a talking dog. I deeply desire a rubber duckie – but alas, being financially responsible is a burden. Out of desperation, I’ve labelled my room “Leah (please give me furni)” in the hopes that a whale will come along and leave me gifts. It might be hopeless, but it’s the best chance I’ve got.

Plus, it’s another reason to keep checking into Habbo Hotel: Origins, and seeing how its community is growing. In the months ahead, Origins will likely find its core audience. It will shed those in it for a quick, nostalgic trip, and those willing to invest in the game will continue to build its appeal with neat rooms, new games, and plenty of entertainment.

As announced, Habbo Hotel: Origins is set to be driven by its community, with new developments planned to enhance the experience. Sulake appears confident in the game and its early success, and that should spell great things for its future.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.