In the last days I've become addicted to time management games. Is not that I didn't like the strategy genre before, which I love, but it's more that I have never really tried the iPhone versions of the popular online games. To meet my needs, I go to gaming experts PlayFirst. They have track of successful games for other platform and they iPhone titles seem to have the same. Don't forget they are the creators of the highly anticipated Plants vs. Zombies.
Diner Dash [iTunes Link] is the time management game from PlayFirst where you build up the fame of your restaurant until you have a food emporium. The game doesn't vary from the desktop version and other successful iPhone titles like Sally's Salon, Chocolate Shop Frenzy, Supermarket Mania and the like.
Just like the original version, you will need to help Flo, your character, to run a small restaurant. This would involve seating the diners, taking their order, serving the food, getting the bill and the table clean for the next customers. This s basically the different tasks, plus a "complimentary" drink that you can serve while you wait to take their order.
As soon as you open, customers will start queuing. The diners have different colours (oddly) and if you assign them their corresponding chair colour you'll obtain a higher punctuation. Customers have a limited patience, represented in hearts, and different attributes like being generous tipping. The amount of different characters is not as varied as in other games and it feels a little awkward. With the crazy colour clothes and the amount the groups of clones that come to have diner, it makes the game less than realistic. I know it's a small aspect, but it looks weird to me.
The upgrade system is not based on a shop where you can buy items. When you pass a level, the gameupgrades one feature of the restaurant that you will need in the next level. Again, it is not very open in that sense, meaning that you won't be able to play a certain level with the restaurant configuration you want. There is no element to choose the upgrade that will make your life easier, the game chooses it for you.
The gameplay is the high point of Diner Dash without doubt. You can see in the video included with the review the amount of tapping and fast thinking that comes with it. After some hours of play you will do some routines automatically. There is also room for error: You can't serve the wrong order to a table. It's always correct. The key element to remember is that Flo has two hands and can carry two items at the time. I like to plan the trips she does to save time. If you do certain combinations like service to tables at the time, you'll score bonus.
The graphics have been improved in the last update, which old owners should be thankful for.
The cartoony style is the usual in the Dash franchise and similar time management games. I still feel it's too basic, speciallyif we consider the colour issue with the customers. The last update also brings a new restaurant type for S. Valentine's day. The iTunes reviews about the 2.0 are asking the devs to go back to the old graphics. I'm more concerned about the level requirements, that could be tweaked.
Overall, a game that has been there for a while and that has been revamped. Despite the two faults mentioned, it has the gameplay there, the hectic rush to serve the food and the angry customers. I would like to see a higher level of customisation that a iPhone game should game and sadly this port doesn't. Any time management fan should check it out and probably other PlayFirst lites as well. Good fun.