Cooking Dash
Reviewed by Minna Kim Mazza
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-09-03 PC Time Management E (Everyone) PlayFirst / Aliasworlds

It seems as if P1 is churning out the "Dash" games at an astronomical pace. One of the latest releases is Cooking Dash, with Flo as our main character again. The story takes an interesting turn with Flo's previously innocuous chef "Cookie" gets tapped for a cooking show, and leaves the diner in Flo's hands. Without a cook, how does Flo handle serving her guests? Flo employs the help of her grandma in order to not only serve her guests, but cook the food they're eating!

The game play as usual is simply point, click and drag. It's pretty much the same as the original Diner Dash games, except with the added component of the cooking steps. So not only do you have to worry about keeping customers happy, you also have to make sure you're cooking the food well! The game introduces you to the different types of foods that use fryers, grills, frozen yogurt machines, smoothie mixers, and of course grandma at the deli bar. When you take a customer's order, it's not a simple order slip anymore ? you have to pay attention to what they're requesting! The customer's "chat bubble" will tell you what food they order.

Regarding foods on the grill and fryer, sometimes a customer will request a food from both on the same plate, like a juicy steak and fries! So you have to take the extra steps to click on the raw food item, and place them in the cooking vessel. A timer shows you how long it will take to be done, and will flash when done. If you leave it in there for too long, it starts to get overcooked... indicated with a bright red slow timer that slowly tells you hey, your food is getting burned here! With how hectic it is in your kitchen now, it's understandable your food might not get perfectly cooked every time (so you can still serve it) but you won't get any bonus points!

Every restaurant seems to mirror that of the original game (that is, the original DD2 game), but each of the chefs that you normally work with has been asked to appear on the same show as Cookie! So for example, Darla from Darla's Caf?? gets called up, so you have to get cooking in her kitchen as well, which have different food items but generally the same cooking devices. The thing is that when customers order, the pictures are of the final cooked product, which looks similar enough to the raw product. It's not too hard to figure it out, but it was something that slowed me down initially.

It gets even more challenging as the new types of customers are introduced. I found it interesting that the game doesn't bother explaining the types of customers, it just assumes you've played DD before and know all the different types (the cell phone guy, the businesswomen, etc.) though if not, you can always find it in the help files, especially since there are a few characters I was not familiar with!

Every time you complete a level, you can take the money you earned and spend it on upgrades to your diner. The less expensive upgrades are mostly decorative. The bigger ticket items include improvements such as faster speeds for Flo and Grandma, more cooking stations so you can cook multiple items of the same foods at the same time, and boosts to customer moods.

There's also little "medals" that you can earn whenever you accomplish a particular task. It's kind of a bummer that they spoil it a bit for you by listing them all, but grayed out before you earn them. I wish it was more of a surprise to find out what you were awarded.

Overall the graphics in this game are pretty slick, the animations are a lot smoother and have little nuances like actual chewing of food! It's a cute addition to the Diner Dash series, and definitely a challenge.

Special thanks to Gene Miguel and PlayFirst for providing a copy of this title.