This story was written by Tanya Takahashi, the teenage daughter of GamesBeat lead writer Dean Takahashi. This is her first GamesBeat story.
Make way, guys. The next DDR has arrived — and no, it’s not Dance Dance Revolution (I was disappointed, too). Diner Dash Rush came out last week as the latest edition in PlayFirst‘s Diner Dash franchise. Playfirst claimed this free-to-play iPhone game would strip the much-loved original down to its core elements and add some new features to make it a fresh spinoff of the old game. But I found Diner Dash Rush incredibly one-note, and the game failed to provide enough incentive for me to keep playing
Diner Dash Rush (iPhone, iPad, iPad Mini and iPod Touch) launches you right into gameplay with a quick tutorial that sets the pace for the rest of the game. Because it only consists of one never-ending level, I got the hang of it pretty quickly. In no time I was serving up customers in a way that felt very familiar to previous Diner Dash games. Diner Dash Rush, however, focused more on earning as many points as you can in the allotted time rather than meeting a set goal. The overall objective of the game is to get to the top of the leaderboard with the most amount of points. If you connect the game to your Facebook account, you can compete with your friends to get the best score.
Though this new Diner Dash Rush still contains the core concepts of the original game — seating, feeding, and cleaning up after the customers — you do all these things at a much faster pace. The customers eat in a flash, and the cook produces dishes in under 2 seconds. The fast-paced gameplay gives the new Diner Dash game a, well, rushed feeling.
My dad and I got to talk with Marco DeMiroz, the chief executive of San Francisco-based PlayFirst, and the vice president Becky Ann Hughes. Their aim was to do something different with a franchise that has been downloaded more than 700 million times since it first debuted on the PC in 2004. DeMiroz said the game fits with the rapid gameplay styles of arcade-like titles such as Bejeweled Blitz, which is a time-based, fast version of the old Bejeweled game. So Diner Dash Rush is designed to be played as fast game in shorter bursts of time.
I have played many of the Diner Dash franchise games in the past — the original Diner Dash, Wedding Dash, Cooking Dash, Hotel Dash — the whole shebang. I enjoyed the personalization of the previous games. You continually improved your hotel or restaurant by choosing new carpets, equipment, etc. Diner Dash Rush pales in comparison because it doesn’t incorporate any of those aspects. This new game is just a fraction of what the original Diner Dash was. I guess you get what you pay for, though, in a free-to-play game. [PlayFirst says it will release new content on a weekly basis.]
Diner Dash Rush did introduce a few new concepts. It has handy power-ups available for purchase with the coins you earn during the level. You can purchase the Fast Flo, Charming Flo, or the Full Hands Flo power-ups to make Flo quicker, increase customers’ patience, or enable her to carry four dishes instead of two. Unfortunately, these power-ups only last for one use.
In-game purchases come in if you don’t have enough coins. They are available from $1.99 to $99.99. For $99.99 you get 2, 100, 000 coins–probably enough to last you a lifetime and a half. Another new addition are the special abilities that come with certain customers. Above the happiness meter on choice customers are their special abilities. These special abilities can freeze time or provide coins. For me, the best part of the new game was the featured Happy Hour period. Happy Hour mode unlocks if you gain enough points during the level. All the customers in the restaurant then turn purple and never lose happiness. I thought it was a great way to end the level on a good note and nab that extra boost of points.
The graphics are definitely improved from past Diner Dash games. The customers look much more three-dimensional, and everything looks sharper.
While I did appreciate the crisp new graphics, I found the new game stripped of the fun of the original Diner Dash. Gone are the fun cartoons that once provided Flo’s busy backstory and troubles. Diner Dash Rush has no story whatsoever and little variety in characters and actions. You can’t even customize the restaurant. The objective is to compete with Facebook friends. In my eyes, aiming the game at Facebook users creates a distinct problem, since it seems to target children, who wouldn’t have Facebook accounts. [PlayFirst' DeMiroz says that 80 percent of players are over 18].
While I liked the introduction of some new concepts such as Happy Hour and power-ups, I didn’t think the new additions could save Diner Dash Rush from being simplistic and at times, monotonous.
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