PlayFirst, the original creators of the Diner Dash franchise, struck casual gaming gold when it was initially released years ago. With success came the inevitable slew of sequels and imitators. Most of the competitors' games felt like exact derivatives of the original, but there were a few that took the formula and added their own twists to feel unique and complementary to the original experience. Seeing the opportunity to diversify a bit, PlayFirst decided to make a spin-off to their successful series. Wedding Dash was one of the first results of this diversification, and after a successful run on the PC, it has found its way to the Nintendo DS courtesy of Zoo Publishing and Empty Clip Studios. Will gamers embrace this title the same way they did Diner Dash, or will they stick with busing tables instead?
The concept is similar to PlayFirst's popular title. You play the role of Quinn, a woman looking to do something different with her life after talking with her good friend, Flo, of Diner Dash fame. When she meets a bride who's had everything go wrong with her reception days before it's scheduled to occur, Quinn takes it upon herself to become the new wedding coordinator and set things right. With her first wedding successful and her reputation quickly growing, your mission is to become the best wedding coordinator the town has ever seen.
The gameplay features a good amount of both new features and familiar ones. Each wedding reception has different prerequisites that can be met to earn bonus cash. For example, the groom might not want spicy food at the reception, or perhaps the floral arrangements must be the same color as the cake. While it may not be necessary to fulfill those requests, doing so will inch you closer to the level's goal. From here, you have to seat guests at their indicated tables and then take their gifts to the couple's table. The guests must be served the appetizer, main course and cake before they leave and make room for other guests. Along the way, you have to also take care of other mishaps, like drunken uncles, crying aunts, errant beehives, and fights between bridesmaids.
As expected, there are a few caveats to the guests. While you can seat them at any table you want, but seating them at a desired table will net you bonus points. Likewise, people may want to sit near specific people, netting you more bonus points and preventing them from leaving. Combos play a big part in getting you more points, so chaining together tasks, such as serving cake to multiple people or seating everyone at the same time, will net you higher point totals than if you performed the tasks separately. These skills will come in handy later on, since later levels have pretty high point goals, making the game much tougher than it originally seems. The pacing of the difficulty is still manageable, though, and it increases well enough to make the player want to keep going, no matter how tough it gets.
Multiplayer is included in the game, though it is exactly the same as Diner Dash: Flo on the Go. All three modes from that game are included here, with no change aside from setting and general gameplay mechanics. Highest Score has you and a friend competing to get the highest possible score in the given round. First To Serve lets you fight to serve a guest first, with the winner being the one who serves the most by the end of the round. Survival has you playing for as long as possible, and the loser is the one who loses three guests first. They're all fun, but, like Diner Dash, multiplayer requires multiple cartridges to play. For a game like this, having a single cart setup would have been ideal, though after seeing the load screens, it becomes understandable as to why they went this route.
Graphically, Wedding Dash is on par with Diner Dash: Flo on the Go. The backgrounds look clean and have a nice cartoonish look. The same goes for the characters, who have a nice art style and are a bit reminiscent of old 8- or 16-bit character models, complete with limited animation sets that are charming rather than detrimental. One thing that does hurt the game, however, is the small size of the characters. You can still see what they're doing and quickly understand who is who, but with a good amount of space between tables, you have what can look like an empty wedding reception playfield, even if you count the dance floor.
The sound does its job and nothing more. The music is nice and happy, but with the exception of the wedding theme playing at the end of each level, none of it is memorable. The same goes for the sound effects, which are good but are the same ones used in Diner Dash. You won't be turning down the volume because of the quality of the overall sound, but you won't exactly be turning it all the way up, either.
Wedding Dash is a good example of how you can make changes to a core game formula and still have a completely fun experience. The graphics may not be as impressive as other games of its type, and the same can be said for the overall sound. However, the controls are fine and the gameplay retains all of the same qualities that made Diner Dash fun to play and difficult to master. Fans of the series, as well as those who were always curious about it, will find this to be a very enjoyable game from beginning to end.
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