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Mac/PC Game Review: Soap Opera Dash

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Do not let anyone tell you that making a soap opera isn’t hard work.   Soap opera stars put in incredibly long hours day after day after day, and when you consider the fact that they’re often making on the order of five hours of television a week (as opposed to a primetime drama series’ 22-24 hours a year) you can begin to understand just why the hours are so long.  Of course, if math isn’t your strong suit, you can also just download and play the latest entry in the DinerTown universe, Soap Opera Dash, and see all the craziness that takes place in the title.

Okay, that’s probably a little unfair, Soap Opera Dash‘s craziness has minimal resemblance with the craziness on an actual soap opera set.  However, Soap Opera Dash, like many a soap opera, has people doing the same actions over and over and over again.

In the game, you play as Rosie, a woman who has previously appeared as a customer in other Dash games.  Rosie has decided to produce her own soap opera and that means that you get to help her cater to the whims of actors, that notoriously fickle and frustrating group of individuals.

The game, essentially, progresses as all games in the DinerTown universe – you have to accomplish specific tasks to keep the people you’re working with/for happy.  In this case, the actors have to be given scripts; moved to hair, wardrobe, and makeup; and Rosie actually takes charge of doing the hair, outfits, and makeup as well.  As the game progresses, more and more elements are introduced, with new things repeatedly added in, like the stars requesting burgers and iced tea.

You are scored on how well you cater to the whims of those whom you serve, including making sure that you correctly color code the actors with the various stations they go to (red actors to red hair chairs, blue ones to blue, and green to green).  The more colors you can string together correctly, the more points you earn.  The points not only allow you to progress in the levels, but also allow you to buy upgrades between levels so that you can move more quickly and keep the stars happier for a longer period.

The game is organized into “seasons,” with 10 levels comprising a single season and five seasons to be played.  The difficulty level notches up significantly between seasons and the studio also changes between them as Rosie’s little soap opera becomes bigger and bigger.

Soap Opera Dash, as with all the Dash titles, is a title that starts off at quite a basic level, but quickly progresses to a far greater degree of difficulty.  The tutorial, which pops up repeatedly during the game, although somewhat helpful, also can prove something of a hindrance as it forces you to do things in the order that it wants, and that isn’t always the way you want to proceed.  It can become quite frustrating trying to pick up and move a prop that simply refuses to move for apparently no reason only to realize that there’s a small tutorial window that has appeared and which is preventing you from moving the prop.

The most unfortunate aspect of the game is something that readers of this column will know I dislike – the unfortunately added-in story.  Told between levels in comic book-style narration, the story seems like an unneeded addition to the game.  All that is really required is a small bit of story up front to set out the premise.  It is frustrating to play a game with a story and yet to have little to no impact upon said story as is the case here. 

Truly, Soap Opera Dash needs no story, it is incredibly fun to play, and although each individual episode takes no more than a few minutes, you will find yourself sitting down for far longer stretches to play multiple episodes at once.

Soap Opera Dash is not a game where they’ve greatly reinvented the formula, but it’s still a great deal of fun.  With tons of stuff to upgrade, lots to do, and various bonuses available for purchase, it’s a lot of game for a small price.  Additionally, if you go back and replay levels, they will be slightly different, which is also a nice feature.  If you’re a fan of DinerTown titles or just curious to see what the fuss is about, Soap Opera Dash will provide hours of enjoyment.

Soap Opera Dash is not rated by the ESRB.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.