Diner Dash's PC gameplay succeeds in a big way in its mobile translation...
It's always a very good sign when a reviewer doesn't want to put down a game long enough to review it, and that's exactly what happened to me with Diner Dash from Playfirst and Glu Mobile. Who knew that running a diner could be so devilishly addictive?
Gamers take on the role of Flo, an entrepreneur with a dream of opening restaurants and apparently being the sole member of the wait staff. Diner Dash continues the tradition of games like Tapper, where the experience starts off leisurely enough, but the fun (and the challenge) comes later on when there are seemingly 500 things to do at once. Multitasking is the name of the game.
Gamers begin by seating customers who queue up on the bottom of the screen. Once seated you'll need to take their order, drop it off, deliver the food when it's ready, pick up their check, and finally bus their table to seat a new party. If you take too long to complete any of these tasks your guests will get angry and leave you a smaller tip, or maybe even leave, giving your total score a big hit.
What inevitably happens is that you'll end up with a line of customers out the door, one table who needs their check, another two waiting to place their order, while you have two hands full of food to deliver. Luckily the game's simplistic point and click controls from the original PC release translated excellently to mobile. Your six tables (once you work up to six) correspond with the six lower numeric buttons (4-9). 1-3 also represent stations- one is where food orders are dropped off, dirty dishes are deposited in a bin located in the top right (3), etc.
Even with all ten numeric buttons used and used regularly, I very rarely found myself fumbling with the controls. The game eases you in to not overwhelm you with choices (or customers), and very quickly it just "clicks" that 5 is the middle table, etc. It should be noted that later on even with the excellent controls Diner Dash is almost impossible to play with one hand, or without one's full concentration. This is not a game that a distracted gamer will be able to succeed at.
Flo starts off with just a small diner, but eventually moves up to a tiki palace, a seafood restaurant, and one final restaurant I won't spoil. There are ten scenarios for each, each with a minimum score required for completion, and a much more challenging expert score, to boost replay value. Additionally each restaurant sports and "endless" mode with multiple difficulties, where the day never ends and you keep going until you're simply overwhelmed. I found that each new restaurant was good for a change in scenery, but it would have been nice if it changed the mechanics as well. You may be serving fresh bread and wine instead of cheese sticks and coffee, but it still plays out the same.
A combo system is also present and towards the end gamers will need to understand it inside and out to survive, giving the game an almost puzzle-like quality. You receive bonus's for performing the same action multiple times in a row, so sometimes it's worth it to wait a bit and collect 3 orders at a time or bus 5 tables at once, instead of doing everything the moment you can. Another added bit of complexity is the game's color system. All customers come in a color, and if they're seated in a chair that's the same color, you receive bonus points. It sounds simple, and it is simple, but sometimes things are so hectic I couldn't even begin to think about working out optimum seating.
The slight repetitiveness keeps the game from receiving a perfect score, but nonetheless I enjoyed Diner Dash on the PC and I'm extremely impressed with how well the experience has been translated to mobile. It's a great game that I'm confident any gamer, male or female, casual or hardcore, would enjoy.
What's Hot: Very addictive. Almost dangerously addictive.
What's Not: Level variation is mostly superficial.