When it comes to casual games, I'm generally pretty ambivalent. Sure, I've been known to waste too many hours matching sets of colored jewels or feeding pixelated fish, but more often than not I want more substance out of my games. So take this look at Diner Dash for the PS3 with a grain of salt, since I'm already a little biased against the mass-market, lighter fare.
Diner Dash for the PS3 is, as far as I can tell, an almost direct port of the now-aged PC classic. The graphics have been given a bit of an overhaul, but for the most part the game is the same. Players take on the role of Flo, a restaurateur trying to make a go of things. This is accomplished by selectively seating guests, picking up orders and delivering food, and subsequently busing tables as quickly and efficiently as possible, all before her customers lose their patience and leave in a huff. But for a few minor variations, that's the entire game.
Customers of varying types arrive in groups to enjoy their dining experience. Depending on the customer type, be it the patient-but-slow-to-decide elderly gentleman, the gotta-have-it-now power luncher, or several types in between, Flo must find a spot for everyone. All customers have a patience rating, which increases with prompt attention, coffee and free drinks, and a friendly chat. Of course, that meter dwindles rapidly when left hungrily awaiting their food or impatiently looking for their bill. Customers can be set at various tables depending on group size, and extra bonuses are racked up if players can manage to keep customers of the same color clothes sitting in a given chair throughout the evening. Flo then needs to visit each table at least four times, once to pick up the order, once to deliver food, once to settle the bill, and finally one to bus to table to make room for the next group. Maximum points are racked up by performing uninterrupted chains of identical actions, such as picking up four tables' worth of orders before delivering the food. Of course, Flo only has two hands, and so she has to juggle varying wait times of each table with that all-too-important patience meter. After a set number of customers cycle through, the diner is closed for the level and score is tabulated. Should Flo manage to meet the goal, it's off to the next, usually slightly more difficult, level.
So how does the PS3 version differ from the very-familiar PC game? Not much, and not in good ways. Sure, the graphics are nicer than the original PC title, but the series has come a long way on the PC, so the latest Dash title on PC looks better as well. On the control side of things, the PS3 version really feels clunky. Lacking precision of the mouse control, I often found myself having troubles negotiating the levels. Rather than clicking on a given station or table, players need to walk Flo through the Diner via the analog controls. This often means getting her hung up at various points, or missing the hotspots by a few pixels and wasting precious time. Having been years since playing the PC original, I don't know if they compensated for this loss of control precision by being kinder on the time limits, but it felt frustrating regardless. Oh, there is a multiplayer offering, for those that really want to bring another human player into the mix, but even that doesn't seem all that appealing to me.
So is it worth it to fire up this casual title on the PS3? Not really. Sure, if there is a die-hard Diner Dash fan, perhaps, but then they're playing this series in its native land of the PC already. Firing up a console for some light and fluffy gaming just seems a bit strange to me, but I suppose there are folks out there that don't have a PC and want lighter fare on the PS3. There are a lot of more entertaining "light" titles on the PS3, though, so I'm just not able to drum up much enthusiasm here. Just stick to the PC version and give this one a pass.