Diner Dash (XBLA)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Friday, November 20, 2009

Graphics: 6.50
Sound: 6.50
Gameplay: 6.50
Replays: 7.00
Gamelength: 7.00

“Diner Dash” comes to Xbox Live Arcade, but does it retain the addictive gameplay of the original PC version?

“Diner Dash” was the start of an entire chain of casual games, which eventually included “Cake Mania”, among many other things. Obviously, the original game was a huge hit amongst the casual gamers out there, who apparently became addicted as soon as they started playing. Now, several sequels later, including a Nintendo DS port of the original game, Xbox Live Arcade finally has it’s own version of the very first game in the series. The question is, even if the game is identical in every way, are the controls solid enough to keep the addiction going for more than 5 minutes? Let’s find out as we follow Flo throughout the course of her hectic adventure in “Diner Dash” for the Xbox Live Arcade.

One of the two things that have changed for the Xbox Live version of “Diner Dash” is the overall visual style. The same art design and levels are all there, but Flo and some of the objects have been rendered in full 3D. Flo herself is actually cell-shaded now, which gives the game a whole different look. However, while this should be an improvement, the framerate seems to be capped at 30. I don’t quite understand why this game doesn’t run at a constant 60 frames per second, given that, for example, “Dead Rising” can run with 1,000+ things on screen at the same time and still retain a solid framerate. A game like this really seems less fluid without that 60 frames per second boost.

All of the songs and sound effects have been ripped straight from the PC version of the game. That of course includes the cheesy, yet relaxing soft tunes and the character sounds. The same goes for the sounds of food cooking, cleaning up tables, collecting tips; everything.

On paper, the gameplay sounds identical. The concept is still the same frantic restaurant-based design, but the controls are completely different. Rather than clicking the mouse constantly and letting Flo do her work while you tend to everything on the screen, players are meant to control Flo themselves. Moving around with the joystick and clicking on everything works well in theory, especially with the ability to quickly press the left trigger to seat customers from anywhere in the diner. Now, this wouldn’t be so bad, but the difficulty has not been adjusted accordingly for the new slower-paced controls. On top of that, Flo herself moves far too slow with this new control scheme, so the game gets extremely difficult very quickly. Near the end of the game, this version of the game is so hard that it becomes almost impossible to even survive the duration of a level. Of course, as a side effect, it seems like the expert ratings are completely out of reach, which really puts a hit on the replay value and overall fun factor.

Aside from that whole control problem, this is still the same “Diner Dash” that we all know and love, but with a few really cool features. For those who deal with and even master the controls, this is easily even more addictive than the original game if you manage to find people to play with.

Yep, you read that right! This version includes a full Xbox Live online mode! Both co-op and competitive modes are available, although the overall gameplay doesn’t stray too far away from it’s core.

The co-op mode is identical to the single player, but with the addition of another player helping out. Between the 2 players, the game becomes far more managable and honestly, this is where the game truly shines on the Xbox 360. The single player gameplay is flawed, but the co-op really brings the whole thing together.

As for the competitive multiplayer, it’s just one big competition for tip money. The gameplay is the same, but at the end of the round, the player with the most tip money is the winner. It works and is generally solid, with very minimal lag, if any at all.

At the end of the day, this is just another game that’s better off on the PC, but this one deserves a definite A for effort. It’s surely not a bad game at all, but there’s much better out there in the same price range. Unless you’re one of the few people who already owns every good game for the Xbox Live Arcade service, this is a definite try before you buy.

Pros:
+Same overall level design as the original hit PC game.
+Multiplayer really adds a new spin on the things.
+Available to even more players.

Cons:
-Low framerate takes away some fluidity.
-Thanks to the new controls, single player is extremely difficult.

Bottom line:
Try before you buy. If you like the trial, you should be able to get into the full game. Just remember: The game gets extremely difficult later on with the

Overall Rating: 6.50

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