The Time Management Game That Started It All
Diner Dash is a time management game aimed at the casual gaming audience. The main appeal of this game is the laid back attitude free of lengthy plots and cutscenes. This sim game has you escaping the grind of the rat race for the freedom of running your own diner.
The rest is pretty self explanatory, making the game simple and approachable for all ages and persuasions.
Solid Gameplay and Controls
This is the definition of a time management game, pure and simple. It's really hard to pinpoint what exactly makes this game genre so addictive because it sounds so mundane when explained: seat guests at tables, take their orders, serve their food, bus their table; repeat. Yet it is addictive and highly entertaining because it's not as easy as it sounds.
Two tables is a snap; three requires a little more thought; 4, 5 and 6 will have players clicking all over like mad. Keeping everything running smoothly is a blast!
Flo starts out with just a handful of tables and only 1 kind of customer. These customers are easy to predict and please, and the fact that they order and eat quickly is a perk that keeps things moving. Then as the levels progress Flo upgrades some of her tables to 4 seaters and makes the place attractive enough to bring in some older clientele who order and eat slowly while leaving a smaller tip.
This is where the juggling aspect comes in since the faster, younger clients are a lot less patient than the seniors. Keeping everyone happy becomes more challenging at this stage of the game because they all move at their own pace.
Another interesting concept is the color system in the game. Each customer is wearing a color, and they appreciate it when they are seated in a chair that matches. Each successful match gives a bonus and the bonuses climb higher as the chain of consecutive matches increase.
By no means does the game force players to seat customers according to color, but the rewards for giving color some thought can be quite high. If color is disregarded and another color is seated in the chair, any chains are broken and the chair turns into that customer's color. Color is easy to keep track of with tables for two, but it's harder with tables for 4.
The game also implements complimentary drinks at higher levels and a podium where Flo can address lines of impatient customers when lines get too long and tempers run high. Overall, this is standard time management gameplay.
Graphics Lack Pop and Style
Diner Dash has a comic book theme that is featured in the beginning cutscene which gave us a peek into the main character's backstory before opening the diner. It would be safe to assume that the goal was to give the graphics of Diner Dash a cartoony, comic book vibe but the results are less than stellar. All of the visuals in Diner Dash are generic and uninspired, looking more like poor quality clipart from the '90s than a modern game.
The graphical expectations of a time management game like Diner Dash should be relatively low since these games are about gameplay rather than story or eye candy, but this was distractingly subpar. These graphics are just flat out boring, and it doesn't help matters much that Flo herself has a bad habit of yawning all throughout gameplay.
Other than the pitiable style of the graphics themselves, everything else is as it should be. The graphics are smooth with no glitches and a nice touch is that the food actually disappears from the customers' plates as they eat. This is more than just fun; this also helps players keep track of how much longer each table will be occupied.
Low Level of Difficulty Cuts Down on Fun
Diner Dash didn't seem to deliver the kind of pulse pounding experience I was expecting. For example, when the 4 seater tables were introduced and a coffee maker put out on the counter, I figured the game would amp up the speed at this point. It did no such thing, and I found myself never even using the coffee at all. Coffee increases the happiness level of a table and prevents customers from leaving, but I was never in danger of losing a table at all.
Things didn't improve when the second restaurant was built, and the difficulty level actually seemed to reset back to zero with the exception of a new color of customer having been added.
One could potentially choose to challenge themselves by striving to get the optional expert score in each level, but there is little motivation to do so when the game is more than happy to move players through whether they hit the expert dollar amount or not.
Repetitive Gameplay May Lead to Boredom After a While
Once players have completed the tutorial, they have basically experienced all this game has to offer. This will not detract hardcore fans of the time management genre, but it may be an issue for other players.
Great Replay Potential
In essence, this game is a puzzle so it's not surprising that it has a lot to offer in terms of replay value. If one enjoys the core gameplay mechanic, they will enjoy working through the levels again and again, making this game a good buy.
Conclusion - Still Pretty Fun, May Be Better Options Out Now
Despite some flaws and missing features this game is still a solid offering that is free of glitches and hiccups. It's sure to please any fan of the time management genre, but may not be the best introduction for those new to this type of game. All in all I'd give it a very strong 7.0; nothing to sneeze at, but nothing worth writing home over, either.
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.