Diner Dash has spawned more than two dozen spin-offs and sequels since Flo first started serving impatient customers in 2003. The latest, Hotel Dash, sticks to the same basic format that made the time-management game a hit among casual players, but adds challenges and gameplay improvements that make it more than just new dressing on an old concept.
Players control Flo as she supports her friend Quinn’s budding career as a travel agent by running and renovating a series of hotels. Each hotel features a suite that must be prepared before a special guest arrives. To pay for improvements, you must rack up tips by catering to fussy customers and dealing with the problems they produce, such as pissing off other customers by chatting on their cell phones or letting their yappy dogs into the hall.
As a result, the game contains an element of resource management as players must decide whether to spend their cash on ways to make the game easier, such as boosting Flo’s speed, or investing in the goal for the board. It would be a more difficult choice if the game wasn’t so easy. Once you’ve figured out the basic patterns of what guests will want when, it’s simple to anticipate their needs and rack up big bonuses for fast service.
Different types of guests change the formula a bit, but there are only a few levels where achieving a passing score is tricky. These mainly involve having a small number of guests who must be made exceptionally happy, rather than a challenge produced by juggling big crowds. With expert goals often reachable on a first play, it’s easy to wind up with every upgrade possible to the hotel and the special suite with levels to spare, meaning that strong performances in the late game can produce no relevant reward.
One major improvement in the PC version of the game is that players send Flo running with just a click of the mouse, rather than having to control her movements manually. Actions are queued up by clicking on items and the places they need to go. While this means you can occasionally line up a long string of commands and sit back and watch Flo go, it also requires care when clicking, as there’s no way to undo or reorder the commands once they’ve been issued. Choose poorly, and you’ll face a dropping score and Flo shaking her head at the screen in disappointment.