Diner Dash 4 review

Diner Dash is back! And even if you're not, Lucy is very, very excited...

I suspect that my next statement will achieve mixed reactions – Flo is back! For those of you that are terribly excited by this, then welcome to the club. Those that aren’t, why are you even reading this review? Yes, Diner Dash is like Marmite. I can’t stand Marmite though, but I do love Diner Dash. Good old Playfirst released this new title just at the right time as I was beginning to get really exasperated because I couldn’t find a casual game that inspired the same open-mouthed, mindless addiction. It is damn addictive.

For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, Diner Dash is an extremely popular casual games franchise, and Hometown Hero is the fourth instalment. You play as Flo, a stockbroker turned waitress, whose one love in life is to wait tables. Sounds easy? Don’t think so. Of course you’re broken in gently, as you seat the customer, take their order, deliver their meal, then give them their bill and finally, clear the table. But things get increasingly complicated when you have a vase of flowers to put on tables before seating the customers to earn you more points. And don’t forget you can now bring the customers drinks, snacks, puddings, mop the floor if there’s a spillage and so on. There are many different types of customer, some get on famously (the teen boys and teen girls flirting are great!), whereas some are chalk and cheese (cellphone addicts and bookworms, ouch!). The idea is to get to the end of the level having served as many tables as possible, and hopefully with none of your customers walking out!Hometown Hero has expanded on the already ridiculously addictive gameplay by introducing a new plot, with some hot new themed restaurants (I love the 70s themed restaurant, the customers are in flares, you gotta love it!), new characters, and new ways to make you shout at your screen until you finally figure out your strategy to get you past the level.

Of course, what makes this Diner Dash different to the others is this one has a great deal of online interaction. There are two different versions, one is the offline version which I have been playing, and the online ‘Gourmet’ edition has a bundle of new features for fellow addicts to enjoy! In the Gourmet edition you can dress up your waiter/waitress in different clothes; design your very own diner and then even invite other people to play in the masterpiece you have created! You can also purchase (yes, with money, hence why I’m sticking to the offline version) unique items for your diner, or new downloadable restaurants.

So basically this latest incarnation has everything the previous three titles had – and more! There’s certainly more replayability, because as well as redoing levels to get an ‘Expert’ score on each one, you may now want to keep playing in different restaurants of your, or someone else’s, creation.

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In conjunction with the launch of Hometown Hero came DinerDash.com – “The Home of Flo and Friends.” This is where all the cool add-ons are available (at time of writing, in aid of Hallowe’en, there is a Crypt Café available) and where players can upload their restaurants, waiters and scores. There’s also a forum for Diner Dash addicts to connect with one another, and an area to download buddy icons, wallpapers and other goodies. Nice touch.

This is definitely my favourite Diner Dash to date, they’ve taken something and still managed to make it different, and I think the customisation options will just keep people coming back for more. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a 70s Diner to rescue…