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Diner Dash Review

April 6th, 2010 by

When work gets tough many people deal with the stresses of servitude in a mixture of varied ways. Some of us punch a cushion; others may have a wee tipple before relaxing in a tub of fizzing lavender. Others though might just run away from the problems of work altogether. Admittedly taking a bath is a lot more relaxing and easier. But running away from it all is probably a thought toyed and examined in every minute detail by most of us when we begin work on Monday morning at nine!

Knowing what it would really be like to get away from it all and start up on your own is a hard thing to capture. As capturing that feeling requires work in itself which seems to void your attempts to achieve that feeling from the start.  Hudson though have willed themselves to give it a go as you join Flo on her escape from the heady world of being a stockbroker.

Diner Dash might already be familiar to some of you having been available for the best part of a  decade on the PC.  More recently in 2007 Diner Dash started service on the Nintendo DS; last year it ordered a beginning on the PSN and XBOX Live Arcade and now finally Hudson has got round to getting DD onto the Wii, through the WiiWare Store.

Though it may seem odd to anyone who has worked at a restaurant, our star Flo has moved from being a New York Stockbroker to a Diner owner. Buying a small restaurant, hiring a chef and opening a business, DD aims to carve out a new life for Flo by managing the customers that come and visit. To coin an annoying term from the pressurised business environment that the main protagonist Flo is escaping from, DD is all about micro-management.

Speed is therefore key. The quicker you sit, take the order, serve and clear away the customer’s meal, the more money Flo will get.  The more money she gets the more you progress on the business ladder; opening up new restaurants, putting in a prettier doorway and installing the all important beer taps.

DD is unashamedly money driven and because its focus is on this one single factor to determine success, the game firmly encourages bias and extreme prejudice. The old folk for example who visit your restaurant are the pillars of society. Patient, kind, always happy, but unfortunately like most in their old age, they are not overflowing with much cheddar in their tweed trousers.  DD offers these profiles for all your customers with no one straddling the line. Some are ‘normal’ patrons and tip accordingly. Some are uptight and business like and may not be willing to wait, but boy-oh-boy, do they tip a lot! So as this starts to seep into your business plan, an extreme case of ageism also comes to the fore, the old agers are left to wait entire days of service till they eat, whilst ironically the very life that Flo wanted to escape from is being rewarded by offering the greatest monetary value to the player.

What DD also does in a strange way is how the control system has been altered for console play. On the PC version a mouse click on a table takes Flo there to pick up the order, click on the chef and the order is put through. Combinations of such can also be set up, so with a few clicks here and there you can have the tables cleaned, money collected and new orders up and out in a flash. Strangely, even though the Wii has the capability to act like a normal PC mouse and offer a cursor on screen, the WiiWare offering of DD has been a direct port from the PSN and Live incarnations. No exclusive Wii support is offered and instead when it comes to collecting money, cleaning tables and keeping the customers happy, it all has to be achieved with free motion of Flo moving her one by one to each table with the analogue stick. All of this being incredibly clumsy and time consuming moving in between the tables, and in Diner Dash time is money! The PC cursor option is available but instead of utilising the WiiMote support you instead have to cycle through the options, creating the chain of actions using the clunky D-Pad.

Apart from the slight elements of ageism, prejudice and a control system that at times feels like you’re trying to push a turd through a letter box (it being a pretty big turd and a very small letter box) DD can be a real riot to play! Even though you are dealing with the most impatient people in the world, who are angry at you before the food is even served, once you’ve finished a day’s work and got the money you set out to get, the feeling is one of smug pride. The elements of management needed require some challenging thought to keep all the customers happy, content and coming back for more. It’s all a bit like the joy that comes from putting a Kinder Egg toy together without looking at the instructions. Infuriating, tricky and intricate, but rewarding none the less.

However, it must be said that Diner Dash is also 1,000 Wii points which, at around £7 to £8 is a little rich, especially when the differences between this and PC based Flash versions seems nothing more than graphical improvements. When trial and free versions can give you same ‘kinder’ feeling on the PC for free, with the added benefit of a more successful control mechanism,  it might not be worth breaking the eggs over…

MLG Rating: 6/10

Platform: PSN/Xbox Live Arcade/WiiWare  Release Date: 26/03/2010

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Diner Dash for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of five days on a Wii. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

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