Needless to say, PlayFirst has been milking its "Dash" games more than a freakin’ dairy cow – er, in fact, there’s even a Dairy Dash game to go along with the many Diner, Wedding, Doggie and other "Dash" time management puzzlers. The latest is Fashion Dash, where gamers play as Coco, a woman with dreams of becoming a fashion designer who takes on the challenge of outfitting customers with tailor-made clothes while they wait.
Problem is, if you’ve played any of the previous “Dash” games, then you’ve more or less played this one, too. That, and some technical issues, makes this casual game download a difficult one to recommend.
Fashion Dash begins like most of these time management games: a young and talented woman stumbles into a career and with the support and guidance from Flo (of Diner Dash fame) she begins to make a name for herself in the biz by helping unique customers, making money and working her way up from one location to another.
Second verse, same as the first.
The gameplay works as follows: customers stream into a boutique and ask Coco for an available dressing room; bonus points are awarded for matching their shirt color with the same color dressing room and by placing customers near each other to flirt or gossip. Then Coco must hand each of them a booklet that outlines the various clothing designs she has and they’ll ask for a specific piece of clothing and color: a guy may request a blue jacket, while a girl might ask for a pink dress.
Coco then clicks on the customers to take their measurements and brings the info to the seamstress in the back of the store (by clicking the correct color material). When the clothing is ready, Coco must click on the items hanging on a rack and deliver them to the correct customer. At this point they may pay and leave, making room for other customers, or they may request additional items such as jewelry or perfume, before paying. Finally, Coco must pick up the empty hangers and bring them to a rack near the back of the store.
As with other “Dash” games, Coco gets a chaining bonus for performing two of the same tasks together, such as delivering two consecutive pieces of clothing or giving advice to two customers one after another (a question mark appears over their head when they don’t know what to buy). If you make enough money before the end of the day, you can purchase a few upgrades – such as a faster Coco or seamstress, or comfier chairs and a radio to help add patience to waiting customers – before advancing to the next day. If you don’t reach the daily cash minimum, you must play the day over again.
Different kinds of customers with unique traits will visit the five unique stores (beginning in the humble Dinertown and making your way up to Paris, France), including a guitar-playing female who irritates those beside her, an elderly granny who has a lot of patience and a Paris Hilton-esque “heiress” and businessman with no patience. The stores look a bit different, including a different layout, new customer types and items. Along with the main 50-level Story mode is an Endless mode, where players can see how long they can keep a continuous stream of customers happy by dressing them up in a timely manner.
Aside from the fact this game has zero ingenuity, there are technical issues, too, such as mouse clicks that don’t register. For example, you can click around the screen to queue up Coco’s tasks, but inevitably some won’t “stick” – especially when it’s time to give the tailored clothing back to the customers. To make sure I wasn’t wrong about this glaring bug, I had my wife play the game while I studied the screen and indeed when she clicked one or two pieces of clothing on the rack to bring to a customer, a couple of moments later I saw the little checkmarks disappear before my eyes, leaving Coco standing there and customers growing impatient.
Fashion Dash is yet another example of a disappointing – and self-destructive – casual game trend of pumping out similar (or virtually identical) games every other month or so in the hopes customers will continue to cough up the $20 for more of the same. If publishers like PlayFirst spent half as much time dreaming up new ideas as they do shoveling us the same game in a new wrapper, we might just see this industry evolve both creatively and financially.