In Cooking Dash – DinerTown Studios Gilda, Flo’s college roommate, invites her, Cookie and Grandma Florence to the set of her new show. Not surprisingly (at least if you’re familiar with any of PlayFirst’s Dash games), as soon as the women arrive they’ll be required to make use of their top notch cooking skills. Will the second installment by Playfirst and Aliasworlds be an as entertaining and witty challenge as every dash fan expects it to be, or will players have to face a letdown?

Like its predecessor, Cooking Dash, Cooking Dash – DinerTown Studios features 50 levels in the story mode across five different locations, and an endless mode, where the player can replay each stage with three varying levels of difficulty: easy, medium and hard. At the different films sets, including science-fiction, western and royal court themes, you will meet a lot of familiar characters, but also some new ones.

In addition to the usual cast of Bookworms, Cellphone Addicts, Kindly Seniors or Students, you’ll meet new characters like the Director, the Celebrity and the Starlet. Like all Dash titles, knowing the personality traits of the different customers is highly important to play the game successfully. Some of the guests cause noise with their cellphones, thereby bothering all the other guests who prefer to eat in a calm atmosphere. I am still waiting for an option to throw out guests, although I doubt that will ever happen.

This is only one aspect you have to consider while seating customers. Apart from this you also have to take into account the colors of a customer’s outfit, because each time you seat a person on a stool with the same color you will earn huge bonus points. Besides color-matching you are also able to earn massive amounts of points by chaining similar actions, such as clearing dishes, or serving and cashing out customers.

Your goal is to constantly serve entering guests with meals like fries, cutlet, pizza, ice cream or pineapple juice. To increase your effectiveness you can upgrade your equipment at the beginning of each level, or boost Flo’s and Grandma Florence’s skills. Cooking Dash – DinerTown Studios offers a decent amount of decorative as well as functional upgrades, such as a more elegant interior design, quicker grills or an additional prep-table.

The two most important and noticeable changes from the first Cooking Dash game are "celebrity power-ups," and the Cookie-Meter. Celebrity power-ups can increase Flo’s walking speed even further, cause every currently eating guest to instantly finish the meal, or give every seated guest a patience boost. These power-ups are activated the very moment you clear the dish of any celebrity.

This complicates the effective usage of power-ups strongly, since it constantly gets in the way of your chaining. However, after the player gets used to those power-ups and integrates them into the general routine, they are a welcome addition and interesting twist to the gameplay.

The same basically goes for the addition of the Cookie-Meter. After delivering a certain number of correct orders to the guests, you are able to click on a phone to call Cookie, who will immediately  appear and take on the task of cooking the dishes and giving Grandma Florence new orders. Like the celebrity power-ups, the cookie meter makes the pace of the game even more frantic at first, but when you have used it a couple of times, it really simplifies the otherwise challenging levels in the later stages.

The game is as fast-paced as one expects a game in the Dash series to be, and fortunately you will also find the general dose of humor which is so typical for games from the DinerTown universe. Graphics are lively and extremely colorful, the animations are smooth and quite cute.

Regarding difficulty, Cooking Dash – DinerTown Studios is definitely easier than the first game, and experienced time management players might be disappointed in how quickly they will have finished the story mode with expert score on every level. However, the endless mode offers an additional challenge with lots of replay value, and it can get quite addicting to keep trying to improve scores in story mode as well.

Cooking Dash – DinerTown Studios certainly has not moved mountains in comparison to its predecessor, and significant changes are few and far between. However, the game concept still has not lost its appeal, and fans of the dash series will be absolutely satisfied by this product without any doubt.
For similar games, try Cooking Dash, Delicious – Emily’s Taste of Fame, or Cake Mania 3.