Review by Flomit

"Go with the Flo."

The smell of freshly polished floor. Impossibly gorgeous Californian kids pretending to smoke chili fries. The unwarranted pat on the bum from an in-transit truckie. Being threatened at knife-point by an ace gonzo journalist and his Samoan attorney. FBI agents eating cherry pie.

The diner mystique remains thoroughly entrenched in many of our minds. There remains, to this day, a vast cultural well from which we draw these rose-tinted ideals; from an Australian standpoint, we have little else to reference apart from our own, often meagre, travel knowledge.

Diner Dash features none of these things. Despite this, however, it stands as the definitive restaurant game.

The question is why. For a start, there really isn't much competition, especially on the DS. This is not a put-down, just fact. Secondly, and most importantly, it sucks you right in.

Forget all those preconceived diner notions. This game is just plain fun. The little touches, added by both the designers and yourself, serve to make you just another part of each diner's self contained mini-universe. There are moments in the game where you can only sit back and marvel while the din builds, babies start to cry from frustration, and a lonely green haired boy waves at you, the glint of dessert in his eyes. I guarantee that you will finish a shift and mutter to yourself, "what a day...".

There is something so oddly pleasing, and so right, that you cannot help but smile when you one handedly clean up a baby's mess and give them a fresh drink with the other. It's like you can envisage the situation in real life. The developers also take a gentle jibe at restaurant clientele - watch for the angry, impatient reaction the moment they see their dish emerge from the kitchen.

I never played the PC games on which this was based, in fact, I had never even heard of the Diner Dash series until I picked up this game, looking for something to while away the time on public transport. However, it seems to have made a smooth transition to the handheld market. Touch screen controls are generally spot on (though slightly problematic when the bar seating becomes available late in the game), and the check mark system works well for planning serving routes. Graphics are bright, chirpy and functional, as is the sound. Apart from the brutal point requirements of the odd later stage, the game's other 45+ stages are fairly easy. The opening sequence of Flo's emancipation is cute but pretty superfluous - I would rather make up my own back story - but thankfully the narrative doesn't really extend to the career mode.

The game itself is, at release, already cheaper than most. Add to the career mode an "Endless Shift" option and multiplayer (both of which I haven't touched yet), as well as the obligatory "I'm re-playable" additions (high score tables, unlockables), and there is simply no reason that this game shouldn't be yours. Unless you actually work in a diner.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 05/29/07

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