Diner Dash: 360 review

Casual gaming is one of those industry terms that self-appointed game industry besserwissers love to hate. These days it almost has a derogatory ring to it, thanks to mile after mile of bile and more bile spilled in comment boxes internet-wide about how there are too few “hardcore titles” released these days. This is, of course, poppycock, but that’s a discussion for another day. The point is that while the phrase “casual gaming” might not have been part of the collective vocabulary for very long, it should come as no surprise that the phenomenon itself has been around for much longer. Take Diner Dash for instance.

Red vs. Blue as directed by Jim Jarmusch

It’s been seven years since the original was released for the PC and since then PlayFirst has churned out more sequels and spin-offs than Capcom could have wet dreams about. The concept is simple; you play as Flo who owns a restaurant. Your job is to, well, run the restaurant. You seat the guests, take orders, bring them the food and drinks, hand out the cheques and clear tables. Beautiful in its simplicity, really.

As the game starts it feels insultingly easy but for every level you clear, one more element of work is added to the mix. This includes colour-coding guests to specific chairs, adding up combos for the tasks you perform and giving out free drinks to waiting customers. As you are the only employee, bar the chef, this soon becomes a flaming nightmare where multi-tasking is essential. Halfway into the game and you find yourself juggling half a dozen different guests, as many different colours, different types of seating, drinks, free snacks and combos. At times it’s hellishly difficult, while on some levels you’ll breeze through, hardly breaking a sweat.

Is it just me, or is this the Black Lodge?

There are certainly challenges to be had here, but the repetition will become almost unbearable after a few dozen levels. You are rarely given any items that actually help you, it’s just more tedious aspects to constantly keep an eye on. The fact that while you upgrade your restaurant, you never really get any actual rewards for it makes the progression feel unsatisfying. After a while you will begin to question why you are playing a game where you perform huge amounts of stressful and frustrating menial labour, right after you got home from your job where you performed huge amounts of stressful and frustrating menial labour. You know, the job where you earned the money you spent on the game you’re playing.

There is little inherently wrong with Diner Dash; the graphics are charming and the gameplay is addictive enough. It’s just hard to see the point of buying a game that has dated so much, when you can spend your Microsoft points on much more stimulating pastimes. We have yet to play any of the many, many sequels, but we imagine that at this point they must have reached a stage where “playing” every day, all day is mandatory, just like an actual job. If you don’t boot up the game on time, perform badly or turn it off too early, a shady man from PlayFirst will come to your house, growl “You’re fired” and proceed to smash your 360 to pieces using one of your pets.


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Written by Rikard O

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