Developer: Eidos Interactive
N Amer - 05/22/2007
Diner Dash Review
You have go to love the recent crop of Nintendo DS games that will actually put you to work whether its as a chef at a restaurant, a criminal defense attorney or even a surgeon at a busy hospital. What’s that you say? Why would you want to play a game about going to work? Well, for one thing, these games are actually quite fun and the mix of puzzle and action gaming make what should feel like a chore into something gratifyingly enjoyable. Take being a waitress, for instance. What’s so fun about serving hot meals to a seemingly endless stream of hungry patrons? In Diner Dash: Serve & Sizzle for the DS, the fun is in juggling everything the restaurant business throws at you.
The game’s main Career mode focuses on Flo, an office assistant that is constantly hounded by her superiors to the point that she just cannot take it anymore. Running away from her bosses, Flo runs into an empty diner and it dawns on her that this is what she should be doing … running her own business on her terms. Therefore, our spirited young entrepreneur purchases the diner, puts on an apron and gets busy serving up food to the public. Can Flo successfully take her restaurant and make it thrive or will the pressures of the restaurant business eat her alive? It’s up to gamers to keep those tables filled with happy customers and it’s not going to be easy.
As you tend to your first customers, you’ll have the option in Career mode to decide on seemingly small things about your restaurant such as floor patterns, wall color as well as the overall décor of the place. These options don’t get very deep but it’s enough to make your diner look good enough to please your eyes. From there you’ll be able to earn other accessories such as a radio to boost the happiness of your clientele as well as a podium where you can stop and chat with your patrons waiting in line. The first order of business, though, is to usher your customers to a table. There, your customers scan the menu (many at their own pace), wave to you so you can take their order, drop off said order for the cook, wait for the order, serve and pick up your tip and dirty dishes. Sounds easy enough but once the crowds start coming in you’ll be doing these things all at once.
There are a number of different customers, each with their own personalities and their own needs. The women on the cell phone, for example, orders and eats fast but she’s very impatient and requires you to serve her as quickly as possible. Then there’s the senior who orders and eats very slowly but he doesn’t tolerate the noise coming from the other table and thus becomes irritable. Oh, and then there’s the family that’s very demanding. These are but a few of the many types of customers you will be dealing with throughout the game.
The fun is performing these tasks as quickly as possible while taking under consideration many factors. In essence, this is a puzzle game that not only tests your reflexes but also your mind. You’ll start thinking like a waitress, placing families away from the grumpy senior or the food critic that pops up every now and then to write a review for the local paper. You’ll find it quicker to clear two tables at once since Flo can pick up two empty trays or serve two different tables meals. You’ll even find yourself serving hot java to the more demanding customers for a happiness boost. The more tables you clear, the more tips you collect as well a power ups. Power up items come in the form of energy bars that will make Flo move faster but also extra tables to seat more customers as well as earn a phone station to call in some help when things get really busy.
While Career mode is the perfect mode to start out with since this is where the tutorial can be found but it’s also the place where you earn items such as radios as well as new uniforms. You can also open up new restaurants such as the cool Mexican eatery as well as a seafood dive. The game also includes Endless Shift, a game mode where the action never stops … well, unless you drop the ball and too many customers walk out unhappy. There’s even a two-player multiplayer mode that has three modes such as Highest Score (which player can score the highest), First To Serve X Customers (who can serve a set number of customers before the other player does) and Survival (see who can last the longest).
I do have a few problems with this game and one of them happens to be the price. This would have been the perfect budget title but at the regular price, this is a game I see gamers waiting for that inevitable price drop. Secondly, the game’s major strength on the DS happens to be the touch screen controls but it is also its weakness. There are times when tapping each station, table or items will work smoothly and there are times when dragging customers to their table don’t work as well. Still, even with this, the Nintendo DS controls feel a lot better than the PSP version of the game and thus making this the best portable version of Diner Dash.
Graphically speaking, the game always had that old-school arcade game visual style and that’s fine seeing as you can identify the various customer types the pop up on screen. You’ll definitely know when the food critic comes along because she has her own look and you can certainly tell Cell Phone Lady apart from Business Woman when they come along. There’s a running soundtrack and it’s not bad at all but it does get old quickly. There’s also no voice acting but the game does toss in the occasional busy diner sounds and, of course, wailing hungry babies.
Who knew that serving up hot plates of food as a waitress in a video game would be so much fun. Diner Dash: Sizzle & Serve is a highly energetic and very addictive and even more so on the Nintendo DS. While it’s far from perfect and not priced appropriately - after all, the game can be found cheaper for the PC - this is one repetitive yet deeply enjoyable arcade-styled appetizer that’s worth ordering off the menu. If you played the game before and are looking for the perfect handheld version, I suggest you skip the PSP version and go for the DS version instead.
Review Scoring Details for Diner Dash: Serve & Sizzle
The game plays just like the PC classic but thanks to the Nintendo DS touch screen dragging and dropping customers to their table is handled well enough. The game’s Career mode is actually quite challenging and lengthy and you can always go through a long shift to see how long you can last. Really, the DS has the upper hand control-wise but it’s not as perfect as it should have been.
The graphics are actually pleasantly detailed and despite the retro look, you’ll be able to tell the various customers apart so you’ll definitely know when that food critic comes to visit. The funny cutscenes in Career mode look good as well.
The game’s music is not bad at all but the few tunes you’ll hear will be repeated over and over again. There’s no voice acting but you will hear grumbling from the unsatisfied customers and you’ll always know when new customers arrive.
There are times when you’ll be overcome by the ravenous patrons that will seem to pile on the more you play and accommodating all the fussy customers are nothing compared to waiting on families. On top of that, you have to juggle all the usual duties.
The DS touchscreen works better than the PSP’s controls and Secret Stash Games manages to cram in loads of game levels and game modes including an excellent multiplayer mode. There are even some extras to unlock like different costumes for Flo and you can even work in different restaurants.
Ever wanted to know which one of your friends can serve the most hungry restaurant patrons than you can? Well, now you can and the good news is that the game runs smoothly and the three different game modes will not fail to entertain.
Diner Dash fits right at home on the Nintendo DS and it remains to be one of the most repetitive yet highly addictive games that shouldn’t be missed. The touchscreen features could have been a bit better but compared to the PSP version this one is by far the best portable version of this game.
Diner Dash fits right at home on the Nintendo DS and it remains to be one of the most repetitive yet highly addictive games that shouldn’t be missed.
Reviewer: Eduardo Zacarias
Review Date: 06/05/2007