If you’re looking for a fresh new game concept to waste away a lazy Sunday afternoon or to relax after the kids go to bed, take a pass on Fitness Dash. While this time management game is quite fun and offers many hours of entertainment, it plays exactly (and we mean exactly) like its popular predecessor, Diner Dash and other PlayFirst offshoots.

You play as Jo the Jogger, a spunky young woman who wants to whip her tug-of-war teammates into shape to take on rival teams in upcoming competitions. What better way to accomplish this than by opening up a few gyms to help her friends lose weight and get fit.

Instead of Diner Dash‘s Flo running around to seat customers at tables, handing them menus and delivering them their food, Jo must free up equipment for gym members (such as treadmills, elliptical trainers, exercise bikes, ab crunchers and rowing machines), hand them towels, quench their thirst and direct them to the showers. Making money is still the name of the game, however, as Jo has a daily minimum to reach in order to advance to the next day.  

Again, Fitness Dash will be déjà vu for those who purchased other Dash games: bonus points are awarded for matching the same customer color to the equipment or shower color or performing two tasks at the same time (such as delivering two towels to two members); upgrade (or expand) equipment or make Jo work faster with the money you’ve earned; and you can avert “disasters” such as getting rid of a tempting ice cream truck guy, repairing the TV and fixing a broken shower.

At the end of each gym you complete your team will engage in a tug-of-war mini game. This puzzler plays just like Super Collapse! or QBeez, where you need to click on at least four adjacent blocks of the same color in for them to disappear (or click them individually to cycle to the color you want). As the blocks move from left to right on the screen, you need to complete enough of these matches before the blocks reach the end, or else you’ve lost the tug-of-war. Because you’re looking at the block pieces, the animated tug-of-war match at the bottom of the screen is a bit of wasted space since you’re not watching it.

From the main menu, gamers can choose to play the main Story mode, an Endless mode (catering to a never-ending stream of gym members) and the ability to play just the mini-game. You can also win varies trophies for playing well, which are accessible from the menu screen.

Fitness Dash is quite fun – I found myself on level 33 out of 50 before I knew it (where did the time go?) but aside from the lack of innovation, there are some other issues. For one, you don’t need to use many of the items in the gym in order to win (and even get Expert status for making even more money). Specifically, the stretching mats, water bottles, microwave and décor upgrades (like choosing a better-quality floor) are all unnecessary. It would have been better if these items and choices were relevant to the game in some way.

Another issue is having to click on a specific spot on the towel washer to get clean towels; because you’re frantically trying to accommodate gym members (and fast enough so they don’t leave), the developer should’ve made the towel machine easier to click. The customers – like moms, teens, businesspersons and elderly folks – also don’t seem too different from one another, even though they have varying levels of patience and other attributes.

We liked Fitness Dash a lot, and along with Parking Dash, it proves to be one of the better Dash sequels, but aside from the mini-game it’s the same ‘ol, same ‘ol. This might be fine for some, so be sure to download and play the free trial before shelling out the $20 on this time management clone.