One of the most addictive casual games is back with a brand new sequel. Are all the improvements enough to make it the best in the series?
Game: Diner Dash 5: Boom
Rated E for Everyone
Several weeks ago in one of Todd Vote’s amazing “The Top 5” Columns we were talking about guilty pleasures and I mentioned that, thanks to my girlfriend, I was hooked on the Diner Dash games. With a new entry getting released a few days ago I have been playing Diner Dash a lot! Diner Dash 5: Boom is the most accessible entry in the Diner Dash series while introducing enough new features to entice veterans of the series.
What truly impressed me about Diner Dash 5 is how high the production values are when compared to previous entries. The artwork has been redesigned and looks amazing. Personally I believe it looks better than Diner Dash on the PS3 and that game is in high-definition! Also we get some basic and nice looking cutscenes with decent voice acting, something I really wasn’t expecting to see in a casual title. Diner Dash 5 also allows you to connect to Facebook and even share items you earn in game with friends as gifts. Although I am not much of a Facebook diehard, I appreciated having the option of sending gifts.
But what truly sets Diner Dash 5 apart is the gameplay. For those living under a rock who don’t know what Diner Dash is, the concept of the game is that you are a waitress and need to sit and feed people. A basic premise, but as the restaurant stars filling up the challenge ramps up and your time management skills are tested. Some of the basics from previous games are back, like color-matching customers with their seats to earn a bonus and having to entertain them at the podium to keep them from leaving. Diner Dash 5 tosses a bunch of new customer types, like clowns that distract people with their juggling. Since much of the game takes place outside, you also have to activate table umbrellas when it is about to rain and secure tables when it gets windy.
But why outside? Well, Flo’s restaurant blows up (which is why it is subtitled “Boom”) and Flo has to keep things going outside while her friend Hal the Handyman builds a new diner for her. Her new motto, “bring food to the people”, has Flo working on the streets, the circus and more. This not only adds variety, but also adds to the challenge with the aforementioned rain and wind, having to seat people in unlikely places (like a fire escape) and dealing with large groups of people. Some of the new features include a salad bar in which customers serve themselves after you drag them to the bar (although Flo still needs to collect the check and the dirty dishes) and the “townies”, people that randomly show up and are part of no group, but can be dragged to complete other groups. By completing the group you make them happier and also have an extra customer to serve and make money from. This adds an extra bit of challenge as you debate whether adding a townie is worth it if it will break your color-match combo or if losing a couple of hearts is worth it as you wait for the “right colored” townie to show up.
The game keeps you hooked by tossing free upgrades and the opportunity to buy more after every level. The game is very addictive as you find yourself saying “just one more level” just to see what upgrade you get next, whether it is a new sidewalk, windows or something to appease your customers.
A lot of players I have talked to (including my girlfriend) find the game’s biggest weakness to be the lack of challenge when compared to older entries. This is the easiest and most accessible Diner Dash game. Some of the more difficult customers (like the families with babies that needed high chairs and spilled stuff on the floor) are no longer in the game. Veteran players get expert scores on their first try and the lack of the “Endless Mode” from previous versions hurt the replay value. There are also way too many upgrades that make things significantly easier, such as automatic umbrellas, secured tables and the ability to hire someone to work the podium. This frees Flo to focus on the actual service, but at the same time takes away some of the challenge. Personally, I found the challenge just right. Sure, some things are easier to do, but that also makes the game more accessible for newcomers. Plus, I have yet to get all perfect scores on any Diner Dash game. Maybe I am not such an expert after all. The difficulty also prevents you from getting stuck and frustrated with a level. I can make no excuses for the lack of Endless Mode though. It is a glaring omission and I wish it could be added in the future.
Diner Dash 5: Boom is tons of fun and the perfect entry for newcomers to start with. The improvements to the graphics and sound and the new features make it a worthwhile purchase for veterans as well. Sure it might be a little easier and the lack of Endless Mode really hurts replay value but Diner Dash 5 is still one of my favorite time wasters.
- Big improvements to the graphics and sound
- Very accessible for newcomers
- Keeps the addictive qualities of the older titles
- Connectivity to Facebook
- Lack of Endless Mode
- Easier Difficulty
- Some of the old customers don’t return
The new redesigned art looks amazing. Everything looks good and animates well. Cutscenes were a nice surprise.
The gameplay is simple and addictive, just like its predecessors. Difficulty is more accessible this time around.
The music is catchy and the sound effects, although repetitive, are nicely done.
Lack of Endless Mode and easier to get Expert Scores lower the difficulty and the replay value, but this is still one of the most addictive time wasters around.
Maybe it is a bit easier, but Diner Dash 5 is still as fun, if not more, than the games that came before it.