Diner Dash

December 11, 2009

Everybody with a PC and access to Shockwave.com has played Diner Dash before. It is your job to control Flo and lead her from the hectic life of corporate America through the hectic life of restaurant ownership and waitressing. It’s up to you seat customers, take orders, deliver food, drop checks, and bus tables as Flo is a one-woman wait staff through the single-player game.

The basic flow of events is this: seat customer, take order, deliver food, drop check, and bus table. To make things a bit more complicated, customers come in a number of colors, and you receive a bonus for seating the same color of person in the same chair multiple times. You also get a bonus for completing the same action multiple times in a row (i.e., take three orders in a row). As you progress through the single-player game you’ll fix up restaurants by upgrading the number of tables and buying a coffee machine (delivering coffee to already-seated customers makes them happier, which means they leave a bigger tip) before moving on to the next restaurant and doing it all over again. It’s worth noting – since the game never mentioned it – that the face buttons are hot keys: X takes you to order drop-off, Y takes you to food pick-up, and B takes you to the dirty dish cart.

Featuring 40 levels and four restaurants, you’ll have plenty to do in Diner Dash. The game starts off slow, with only two tables and one color of patron to worry about. Soon though, you’ll have more tables and blue customers as well as red. And not too long after that there will be seniors who take longer to decide, green customers, and upgrade points to spend as well. Diner Dash is the perfect example of a casual game that translates well from the PC to XBLA – even if the 360 controls aren’t quite as reliable as a good old mouse.

Single-player is lifted wholesale from the Flash game, but where Diner Dash really shines is multiplayer, and it’s available both locally and over Xbox Live. Both cooperative and competitive multiplayer is available, but co-op is the most fun as things get very hectic very quickly and you’ll need to coordinate a lot with your partner to keep things under control. The cooperative Endless Shift mode is so much fun that is makes me wish that two people could work through the campaign together.

Diner Dash makes the transition well from PC to console. The only real sticking point is that Flo is a bit floaty to control which makes it especially difficult to select the right group of customers to seat at a table. And if you have multiple tables open, there doesn’t really seem to be a rhyme or reason as to where pressing a direction on the d-pad will take them. It seems like a small complaint, but when tasks are piling up and help is nowhere to be found, it makes for some unneeded frustration. The hot keys help with other tasks, and the expanded campaign from the PC versions is welcomed. If you played and liked it as a Flash game then you’ll enjoy Diner Dash on XBLA.

Pros: plenty of levels, fun cooperative play

Cons: hard to pick out the right group of customers for seating, nonsensical table assignments

Plays Like: Diner Dash and Diner Dash 2 on PC

ESRB: E for use of alcohol 


Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.