Diner Dash, as a franchise, has been ensnaring gamers with its casual-but-addicting gameplay since 2004. Since its initial release, it has seen titles spring up anywhere from mobile phones to the Nintendo DS. Most recently, Hudson Entertainment has put out an XBLA version of the game, to the delight of fans. Don’t think people will buy it on yet another platform? Tell that to all the people who own Peggle on 15 different systems! The truth is, if something is simple and addictive, people will keep buying it.
To be honest, I hadn’t really played any of the previous iterations of Diner Dash for any extended period of time. Sure, I’ve tried it, but I never really got into it the way other people did. This time, however, I found myself unable to leave my 360 for quite awhile. Why is this? Because of the incredibly simple controls that were adapted to fit the 360’s controller. Most everything can be done by clicking A and moving the right stick, and everything feels extremely responsive. This serves to make an already satisfying experience even more so, and will have people coming back simply because of how streamlined and accessible the game is.
For those of you used to the old point and click style of controls, don’t fret! If one so wishes, the option exists to adapt the classic control scheme. For old pros with way more experience at this than me, that will undoubtably come as good news, particularly considering the Head-to-Head and Team Dash modes present in the game. After all, it wouldn’t exactly be much fun for those used to the traditional versions of the game not to be able to use the scheme they learned on. This way, just jumping in to the game is just as easy for them as it is for newcomers.
Speaking of multiplayer, the fantastic Xbox Live community serves as the perfect backdrop for PvP matches. In my time with the multiplayer, I don’t think I had a single match where I didn’t have a blast. The person facing me was generally having just as much fun as I was, and the community in Diner Dash seems pretty approachable and friendly. As for Team Dash, it actually requires a good deal of communication to do well, and again, the great community already established for this game helped make that teamwork easy to adapt to.
Graphically, the move to XBLA also includes a 3D makeover. These newer visual are more vibrant, and fit more with the aesthetic of other Arcade titles. Again, this just serves to make the game more familiar and inviting. Combine that with the quirky, unobtrusive music and cute art style, and you have about as casual a game as you could ever wish for on XBL. Additionally, it’s one of those few games where I could actually play my own music, and not have it throw me completely off my game. That’s a huge factor for me when looking at games like this.
While the game does a lot right, with a formula proven to work, there are some hiccups. For example, the game can get really frustrating. Yes I know that’s to be expected with a game that’s all about doing things quickly to keep AI customers happy, but there are times when it feels a bit…unfair. Listen you blasted customers, how can you possibly get angry when your food takes more than 5 seconds to get you?! In the real world, I’m lucky if my food gets to me in under an hour. Quit your whining! Also, as I got progressively more accustomed to the game, I found it a little too easy to achieve Expert level. While that might have to do with my skill increasing as I played the game, I would think that something dubbed “Expert” would be a little tougher to obtain.
Most of my complaints about the game are very small things, and don’t do much to take away from the simplistically enjoyable experience that awaits you should you download Diner Dash XBLA. And it is a title worth downloading. For a way smaller fee than a full priced game, you’re getting a title with nearly limitless replayability. Sure, the novelty wears off after awhile, but I’ve found with things like this, you always find yourself coming back for a game or two. Diner Dash is fun enough to merit your time, and I wouldn’t have any qualms recommending it.