Today’s installment in our 50 Best Game Series on iOS is Diner Dash, the series that started the time management craze. In these frantic real-time strategy games from Playfirst, you control a waitress, Flo, as she takes customer orders, delivers platters of food, then cleans up the mess and collects the check. Over the years, Flo has taken on some lucrative side jobs, and even opened her hotel to monsters.
The first Diner Dash game for iOS launched in 2008, after it had already appeared on numerous other handheld and mobile platforms. The most impressive thing about the iOS version were the touchscreen controls, which let you instantly zip Flo around her restaurant, managing customers and orders like a seasoned pro. But at the same time, the visuals were a bit of a letdown, and later Diner Dash games would see higher-resolution graphics to complement the gameplay.
Key Quote: “Diner Dash’s white-knuckle multitasking is as fun as it’s ever been on the iPhone, which seems almost like it was custom-built to play this kind of game. The game’s lackluster presentation is a bit of a disappointment, though.”
Diner Dash: Grilling Green
With the launch of the iPad in 2010, developers had more room to let their games stretch out, like a comfortable, double-wide restaurant booth. Grilling Green not only made full use of the iPad’s extra space, but it also introduced new gameplay elements, like minigames that allowed you to assist Flo with food preparation. For example, you could tap to chop veggies, or press on the screen to grill burgers. Diner Dash: Grilling Green is still a very fun time management game, and you can even play it cooperatively with a friend.
Key Quote: “Diner Dash: Grilling Green is a great showcase for the iPad’s gaming capacity. The larger screen allows for beautiful graphics and you can have a second player help you prepare each dish. We think it’s more than just fine dining: It’s fantastic.”
Also in 2010, Flo branched out from the restaurant business to manage a hotel. In Hotel Dash, guests would check in at the front desk, wait for their bags to be delivered to their room, and then check out when it was time to leave. Like in Diner Dash, placing customers in the correct rooms would award you extra points, but it also added obnoxious guests like noisy teenagers and wandering sleepwalkers.
Key Quote: “If you love the frantic brand of fun that accompanies Flo as she runs businesses using only her fleet feet and talent for multitasking, you’ll enjoy Hotel Dash. But if you’ve visited DinerTown before and found it a bit too wound-up for your tastes, or if you’re just tired of the scenery, drive on by.”
Hotel Transylvania Dash Deluxe
A tie-in for the 2012 animated film Hotel Transylvania, this game replaced Flo with Count Dracula and the guests with a variety of not-so-scary monsters. The gameplay was essentially unchanged, and you still had to escort guests and their luggage to the correct rooms without keeping them waiting. Comic-style cutscenes added a bit of new personality to the gameplay, and we enjoyed the goofy monster designs, so we think Hotel Transylvania Dash is worth playing regardless of what you think of the movie.
Key Quote: “Any fan of time-management games– and certainly any fan of the Dash franchise– will enjoy trying to juggle the eccentricities of Hotel Transylvania. Just don’t grab the room next to the Yeti if you want to get any sleep.”
Diner Dash Rush
This year, Playfirst released a new Diner Dash game for iOS, Diner Dash Rush. Similar to high-score games like Tetris Blitz or Bejeweled Blitz, you had to try to seat and serve as many customers as possible in a limited amount of time. Diner Dash Rush also had a new visual style, skewing the restaurant at an isometric tilt, and a free-to-play pricing model.
Key Quote: “Overall, Diner Dash Rush is a worthwhile addition to the franchise which may divide some people who do or don’t like some of the changes. But in the end, it’s definitely worth a try for fans of the franchise, especially with a free price tag in the App Store.”
Next Monday, we’ll take a look at the Da Vinci Code-esque adventure series, Broken Sword.
This article is part of a series about the best games on iOS, 2008-2013. You can read the rest here.