Cooking Dash 3: Thrills and Spills promises to be yet another satisfying time management game, but is it worth adding to your game collection? Does it offer up anything new to fans of the Dash series? The short answer is yes. Playfirst has hit another fantastic home run with this title. Read on to find out why.
Great Twist on the Winning Dash Formula
Initially, Cooking Dash plays just like Diner Dash. Customers line up and you need to click and drag them to an available table as soon as possible. Each of these customers will give you a bonus if you seat them on a chair that matches the color they are wearing. A thought bubble containing their order will appear above their heads when they decide what they want to order, and it's up to you to fill their order as soon as possible. Grandma is in charge of a few select specialties, but all other cooking is up to you. Cooking isn't an automatic thing in this game, so be prepared to give fries a stir and flip frying foods over to ensure an even, golden brown crust. Mmm.
Adding cooking to the gameplay mix could have been a recipe for disaster, but it comes together beautifully. The cooking processes are simplified enough to be manageable while waiting tables yet detailed enough to be a lot of fun. If you find yourself with the sudden urge to prepare batter dipped fish or a hankering for a giant Cobb salad, it's the game's fault. There are bonuses for serving perfectly cooked food, so paying attention to the foods as they are cooking is key.
At higher levels, keeping track of food orders requires a sharp memory. Customers can start creating their own combinations of different foods on the menu, and this makes preparing their plate a challenge. This is the one flaw in the gameplay mechanic; sometimes the computer combines foods on the same plate that shouldn't be combined, leading to lost time and a bit of frustration. This doesn't happen all the time, and it's certainly not a deal breaker, but when it happens it's a bummer.
Despite this one quirk with the controls, Cooking Dash 3 still has some of the slickest controls in the entire series. It's hard to explain, but the controls just feel smooth. Even tasks like switching around the colors of customers as they are being seated is now incredibly easy.
Setting and Story Set the Tone for a Great Game
In terms of storyline, this game is actually a prequel. Flo is a fresh faced teenager with doll like eyes and pigtails, and Mr. Big is a lot younger than in other installments of this series. Mr. Big is still just as terrible with his money as always, and he has found himself in a bad situation with the amusement park his father thought was turning a profit. Mr. Big has only 10 days to fix his run down dump of a theme park before his father arrives to look it over. The only successful stand at the park is run by Flo, so in desperation Mr. Big gives this teenage kid the task of running a full sized restaurant, the Jelly Roger. Flo has always loved a good challenge, and so she accepts.
For players who have played through previous Dash games, the storyline in this prequel is sure to please them, since it's a lot of fun to see where it all began. However, new players won't feel lost because the story is simple and easy to follow. Cooking Dash 3 would actually be an excellent introduction to this game series.
As Flo works to make the restaurant a success, more and more people turn up at the park due to her efforts. Eventually a drive-thru is added to her restaurant, and this adds a new element of challenge to the gameplay, since you can never quite tell when a customer is going to pull up.
Having this game set at a theme park is a wonderful idea. Having several themed restaurants only makes sense in the context of a theme park and brings DisneyWorld to mind. What a great idea.
The presentation is amazing. Cooking Dash 3 is a far cry from the original Diner Dash in terms of graphics, sound and art. Gone are the comic book panels and intentionally lower quality art style that long time fans of the Dash series will be familiar with. They have been completely replaced with slick, well crafted cutscenes, and the characters even talk! The quality of the voicers is excellent, and the revamped character designs look sharp but still capture the essence of the characters many of us have grown to love.
The music for each themed restaurant really matches the atmosphere of the place, and the cooking sounds are just perfect as well. Hearing the crispy crackle of frying battered fish or the bubbly, effervescent fizz of freshly mixed soda is delightful. It just adds something to the experience, and that's what casual gaming is all about!
Hours of Fun Thanks to Two Difficulty Modes
Casual mode will take a few hours of gameplay to complete all by itself, but this game also includes an expert mode as well. This ups the length of the game considerably, and also serves to make this title accessible for more people. Overall, the difficulty level of Cooking Dash 3 is pretty high, even in casual mode. The game is challenging, yet it's never impossible. Both newcomers to time management games and long time fans of this genre will get a lot of enjoyment out of this title.
There are also awards that can be unlocked by achieving the expert scores in levels and by completing every level in every mode. This increases the replay value considerably.
New Minigame Interludes
Taking a breather in between levels by playing little minigames is a surprisingly wonderful idea that helps keep the game's pacing steady. The minigames vary from hidden object type puzzles to fast paced matching games. The prizes won during the games will appear in the next level of the game, and they can be very helpful. If players aren't into playing the minigames, they can always be skipped.
Conclusion - A Great Advancement On the Diner Dash Game Model
Cooking Dash 3 is not merely another game in the Dash series; it represents a massive step forward for the series as a whole. This game redefines the time management genre and proves that there are still exciting new directions to take while still keeping the fundamentals of the gameplay the same. This title is an impressive introduction to this type of game for those new to the genre and a must have for any fan of this type of game.
Review by Alice Flynn
Alice Flynn is a gaming enthusiast and journalist from Los Angeles, CA. She is currently obsessed with obscure foreign dramas, making tofu taste edible and the latest, greatest computer games.