The time management genre of games has always been an addictive sweet spot for casual gamers, but never more so than on the iPhone. And now, the iPad is upping the ante for these games, providing an even better platform to engage in the frenzied gameplay these titles employ. One of those games that’s an absolute thrill to play is Diner Dash: Grilling Green, from PlayFirst.
Diner Dash has been around for a while (since 2004), with versions on just about every major gaming platform since its debut, including the IPhone. At the most basic level, you’re a waitress tasked with serving customers in a busy restaurant, all in a timely manner of course. Waiting tables fun? Yes, it certainly is.
In Grilling Green, familiar franchise hero Flo is required to give her restaurant an eco-friendly makeover or be shut down by the powers that be. Most of the core gameplay remains intact: you score points for taking customer’s orders, serving their food, getting their bill and busing their tables. Conversely, you lose points for making customers wait too long. A meter of 5 hearts appears under each patron and automatically decrements as time transpires. When that meter makes its way down to zero hearts, they get fed up with your lackadaisical attitude and escort themselves out of your eatery (not cool). If you don’t get enough points, you will not pass the board and be able to move to the next level.
Probably the best part of the game is that the iPad gives you enough room to roll up both sleeves and use both of your hands to get things done. The app truly takes advantage of the increased size of the device. A good gamer will point and click using one index finger, but a great gamer will use both hands to make sure Flo deftly navigates the restaurant serving customers left and right. But it’s not all random. The gamer gets points for chaining together like-tasks, such as serving everyone’s food without doing another task in between. This actually becomes a necessary strategy, as the later levels have a much higher point requirement and haphazardly serving tables becomes a weak tactic. As an added bonus, you can serve up expresso shots or entertain at the concierge booth, all in the name of keeping waiting customers happy.
The good news for your customers is that the iPad version also allows you to combine similar orders in the kitchen to prepare meals faster. Flo has enlisted her Grandma to help her serve up the fresh food. For the player, this means you’ll be able to commandeer the all new TouchCooker 3000, a grill that you can interact with to cook meals to delicious perfection. Each different type of meal has a mini-game to make things faster. For burgers, you repeatedly tap signifying the excessive use of a spatula to get them burgers well done quickly. For sushi, you swipe upwards to roll and then tap to cut. For soup, you chop up the ingredients and stir in circular motion. While all of this sounds like some serious hard work, it actually is an unmeasurable amount of fun. There’s quite the feeling of satisfaction as you successfully take a half of a dozen orders and serve them up quickly.
While the iPad version only currently offers 20 levels as compared to the 50 on the iPhone, it makes up for it in the aforementioned expanded gameplay and in its awesome graphics. The graphics are similarly themed as the previous games, but appear much more brilliant on the increased screen size and resolution. The in-game music is also a perfect complement, adding a pleasant offset to the chaos you experience while playing. New to the game is an interactive two-player mode, which allows you to have one person serving customers and the other manning the kitchen. It’s a nice feature to have, though the game is much more challenging in solo mode, as you rush to deal with the panic of a lunch hour frenzy.
As for replay value, the game gets a C grade. It can be tough to score enough points to reach Expert on the levels and you can replay them at any time, but the lack of more levels makes the first play through seem a tad bit short. The game is also missing its Career mode and Endless shift modes that are available in the previous versions of the game. Hopefully, all of this will be addressed in a future update.
Aside from a few minor shortcomings, Diner Dash: Grilling Green is worthy of placement on the home screen of your shiny new iPad. Fire it up and soon you’ll be flicking your hands around the screen in unbridled, chaotic bliss. If you’re looking for a fun to play game with a great environmental message to boot, then Diner Dash: Grilling Green is the way to go.