Review: Diner Dash


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Jul 5, 2008
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I first saw the Diner Dash game when a coworker of mine was playing it all the time anytime the boss was away. Of course, she was supposed to be working on my project, so I was a little annoyed.

But I tried not to let that distort my view of the game.

The premise behind Diner Dash is simply. You are Flo, a woman who has given up the corporate world to own her own diner. You spend the day seating customers, taking order, bringing food out, and cleaning tables.

Who wouldn't want that?

The game play lends itself to the iPhone touch screen. You can tap around the screen at the various stations (order station, customer seating, etc) to assign your tasks. One nice thing is that you can build up a queue of tasks - Flo will complete them in order. So that means you can tap-tap-tap away and Flo will simply work her butt off to do what you tell her: seat these customers, then take an order, then pick up food, then seat some more customers, then clear a table...and so on and so on.

Basically, the idea is to keep people happy. You start off very basic, having two tables, and just a few customers. The happier your customers are, the more points you get. If customers are delayed in being seated, putting an order in, getting their food, or paying, they get more and more unhappy.

As the levels increase, you get to expand your diner. More tables, better decor, more options (like a coffee machine) - these will all keep your fingers busy, and hopefully increase the number of customers you get. You also get an increase in the types of customers. In addition to "red" or "blue" customers (seating them at red or blue tables gives you more points) you get senior citizens - they don't mind waiting as much, but they don't pay as much (fewer points).

As you advance, you will find there is more planning required. You need to think ahead about what tables to put customers at, what order to take food orders or to bring food to the tables, etc. All in the name of saving time, so you can get more work done.

This is a fun game, that is relatively fast paced and gets more and more difficult at each level. I found myself playing it more than I thought I would. One nice thing is that you can stop playing, save your place, and resume at some later time when you play in the "career" mode.

Endless shift mode is just that - an endless shift to keep playing and playing and playing....well, you get the idea.

While I haven't progressed very far (I so far made it to buying a second diner, and getting through a few levels of that) I can see how this game can grow on you. There may be more hidden features that will appear as your progress along in the game - I woldn't be surprised to see things added to improve ways to keep customers happy (like the coffee machine to keep them happy when they are waiting). Who knows, maybe eventually you can add a bar or live entertainment! :)

The graphics and sound in this game are okay, but they really aren't anything outstanding. The music is a normal little background song (it would be nice to have a jukebox feature to play your songs that you have on the iPhone!). The graphics are simple and straightforward - nothing to wow you, but at the same time it is just what this game requires. If you are looking for really nice graphics or sounds, you won't find it here, but IMO you don't need it for this game.

One thing that would be cool would be a competition mode. Perhaps over wifi (with two waiters or waitresses playing at the same time in the same diner), or perhaps taking turns to see who can get a higher score. Since my wife just got an iPhone, I have found myself thinking more about multiplayer games, and I could see this being one that could be fun in multiplayer mode.

Pros: Interface that works well with the iPhone, simple game play, difficulty increases the more you play
Cons: Fingers might get a little tired

All in all, the game is a little pricey - $7.99. Looking over at AppShopper: iPhone Apps, Deals, and Discovery I see that it was on sale a while back, for $4.99 (but before that it was $9.99). For $5 the game is a clear buy, for $8 I would still suggest it, but only if you would enjoy the career mode. The game is fun, somewhat addicting, and has a high replay factor. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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