(See my review on the whole Diner Dash series.)
Just when you think our favorite hardworking waitress has put her apron away, Flo is back in the fourth and latest Diner Dash game called Diner Dash Hometown Hero Gourmet. With the help of Grandma Florence as cook, this time Flo is saving her hometown by revitalizing five restaurants in the area.
The rules of Hometown Hero Gourmet are the same as in the first three Diner Dash games. Controlling Flo, players serve customers as quickly as possible before they get angry and leave the restaurant. The faster customers are served, the happier they are, and the bigger the tips they leave. Make enough profit at the end of the day to move to the next level. Players that hit Expert score on a level can upgrade certain items such as a faster stove, or special shoes that add super speed to Flo. Players can earn bonus points in two ways. One is by "chaining" activities, such as taking orders from five tables in a row. Another method is to color coordinate customers with their chairs, e.g. sitting a person in blue on a blue chair.
As in the previous games, Hometown Hero Gourmet offers a slew of difficult customers for Flo to juggle. For example, Teenagers chat incessantly on the phone and annoy surrounding customers. However, if you sit Teenage boys and girls next to each other, they'll flirt with each other and stop using their cell phones. The Hungry Man eats two meals, which is great since he pays for two meals, but breaks the chain since he stays at his table twice as long. And many of the old customers are back — the impatient but fast-eating Business Women, the slow Bookworms, and the Families with very noisy babies.
The biggest difference between Hometown Hero Gourmet and the other Diner Dash games is the introduction of an online multiplayer mode. For the first time, players can compete or work with each other in a restaurant. The single-player version introduces this concept with special levels that feature Flo competing with another server. Players can even design their own restaurant to use in multiplayer mode. Another added feature is the ability to purchase clothes for a player's online avatar. Clothing was introduced in Diner Dash 3: Flo on the Go, as players unlocked various outfits for Flo upon passing certain levels.
Overall, I enjoyed Hometown Hero Gourmet as much as the first three games. I'm glad that the rules and gameplay haven't changed, and I welcome the new customers. I also think that multiplayer mode is a great idea as it offers a fresh challenge for those who finish single-player mode. I consider myself to be a pretty good Diner Dash player and have Expert score on almost all the levels in all four games, but when I played against a live person for the first time I got whooped. It definitely forces you to change your playing style when you compete against someone, which can be exhilarating for some but frustrating for others.
However, as much as I like the addition of multiplayer mode, I don't like that one is forced to play the new levels in which Flo competes with another server. Yes, it's to expose the player to multiplayer mode, but these competition levels in single-player mode should be optional for those who have no interest in competing with anyone, not even a computer player.
Another aspect I didn't care for was the clothing purchase option. As I mentioned earlier, clothing was introduced in the last Diner Dash game. However, it seems that game developer/publisher PlayFirst decided to have people pay for their avatar's clothes to make a few extra bucks. Granted, there are a few default clothes available, but naturally the best looking outfits are for sale. At the same time however, keep in mind that purchasing clothing and multiplayer mode are completely optional.
If you're a long time Diner Dash fan like me, you will definitely enjoy this latest installment in the series.
Diner Dash Hometown Hero Gourmet is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.
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