Diner Dash is a paradox in electronic entertainment. One would think that after a hard day of work or school, the last thing a person would do to relax is pick up a virtual shift at the local e-Denny’s. However, the popularity of the casual PC game has shown that the greasy spoon can indeed be mightier than the sword.
Now, gamers can experience the joy of getting tipped poorly by seniors from the comfort of their couches. With the PSN version of Diner Dash, developer PlayFirst aims to bring their addictive food-service frenzy to an even wider audience.
Does Diner Dash PSN serve up a Grand Slam? Follow me over the jump to find out!
Diner Dash follows the adventures of Flo, who flees her office job to escape the never ending demands of paperwork and bosses by starting her own restaurant. The goal is to serve a stream of customers to earn money for improvement and upgrades.
The gameplay is simple but addictive. Flo must seat patrons, take their orders, bring them food, bring them their checks and then bus the tables. Flo earns bonus points for performing multiples of the same task in a row, but risks angering diners who may be waiting for service.
Diner Dash offers a story mode, endless shift mode, along with co-op and competitive multiplayer modes.
Story mode was by far the weakest of the four. The story is beaten after Flo has earned enough money to start and fully renovate four restaurants. Despite the addition of different patron types, boredom sets in as each of the four restaurants go through the same progression of difficulty and renovation.
On the other hand, endless shift mode offers much more enjoyment. What makes it enjoyable is that it keeps throwing more patrons at you at an accelerating interval until you get overloaded, which hearkens back to the classic difficulty curve of Tetris.
As Flo hits certain milestone scores, the player can choose which upgrades they want. More tables to increase seating capacity, better shoes to move faster, a nice podium to placate diners waiting to be seated, and other options provide some variety and player control.
The best time I had while playing Diner Dash, however, was when I roped my wife into helping me run the restaurant in co-op endless shift mode. Having two live players coordinate how to handle the growing rush is both entertaining and challenging.
Be wary, however! Failure to clear the dishes quickly in co-op will land you in just as much trouble with your significant other as it does in real life, as I quickly discovered. My wife was frustrated with the fact that she always seemed to be bussing my tables, while I felt the same about having to take food out to hers. Coming up with an equitable and rotating division of labor is key to keeping this mode fresh and friendly.
Diner Dash gets a fresh coat of paint in its transition to the console, with vibrant color and definition that adds a nice polish to the simple cartoon-styled graphics. I was reminded of the visual presentation from the Penny Arcade Adventures games while playing, although the set pieces didn’t have as much variety.
The graphics, while prettier, did present some issues for the gameplay. The perspective used places tables fairly close to one another visually, which can make it difficult to determine when patrons have their hands raised for ordering or requesting a check.
This wouldn’t be an issue if you were sitting close to a PC monitor, but in the living room, it’s a little tougher to discern what’s happening at individual tables. When you start serving more than a few groups at a time it can become problematic.
In co-op, the character model for player 2 is just Flo with a different colored apron. My wife and I occasionally found ourselves thinking were were the other person when the shift got hectic. A new skin for Flo’s partner (maybe her husband, Mel?) would have solved this problem quite easily.
The analog controls for movement were extremely responsive, which was actually a drawback for this game. With tables set so close to each other and bus-tubs next to drink/snack stations, it was quite easy to serve the wrong table or pick up the wrong item.
If the spacing was different, it might not have presented a problem, but the visual layout created the distinct feeling that keyboard controls were needed to play the game the way it was designed.
I did run into a particular glitch several times. When using the shoulder buttons to seat patrons, Flo would occasionally freeze in place, even after seating all the patrons. Deep into an endless shift game, it was extremely frustrating to be forced to stand around while all the patrons got angry and left. Despite the issues I had with Diner Dash, I did manage to have a good time with the game.
The co-op endless shift mode is a fun and simple gaming experience for you and a partner to enjoy. With a little more attention to how the gameplay transitioned to the console controls and display, this game could have claimed a lot more of my (and my wife’s) time.
Regardless, it’s worth grabbing the demo off of the PSN Store to see if the gameplay strikes your fancy. Who knows? The casual dining experience at a $9.99 price may have you coming back. . . in short order.
A console make-over did a lot to make the graphics pop, but the perspective impacts the gameplay negatively. The spacing of tables and patron animations worked well for the PC, but for the PSN, it comes off as a source of confusion.
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The uncomplicated yet engaging gameplay is great for bite-sized chunks of casual gaming, but the controls and occasional glitch can sometimes interfere with the fun. The story mode is also forgettable.
The sound effects worked well enough, but the single song repeating during gameplay began grating before long.
Endless shift mode is a decent single player experience, but adding a second player for co-op mode is the part of this game that will keep you coming back.
Open-minded gamers will find some good old-fashioned fun in this title, especially with multiplayer. However, the PC visual layout and control scheme did not translate over as well as I'd hoped. Play the demo and try it out before buying.