“ Developer: Zoo / Ages 3 and over / Release Year: 2010 „
Diner Dash: Flo on the Go is the follow up game to the successful and highly enjoyable Diner Dash for the Nintendo DS. In the first game you play as Flo, as she follows her dream of setting up a restaurant - waiting tables, keeping customers happy, and so on. In Flo on the Go, Flo takes a well-deserved holiday with a friend, but some luggage mishaps mean she has to work in various restaurants on cruise ships, trains and other modes of luxury travel so she can buy more clothes.
Aside from the backstory, the premise of Flo on the Go is exactly the same. You seat customers at tables, take orders, serve drinks and snacks, take payment and then clear up. As in the first game, there is more to take into consideration than simply serving customers quickly. Each customer is a certain colour (red, blue, yellow etc) and if you match them to the same colour of seat, you get more points. Each type of customer, such as bookworms, businesswomen and seniors have their own likes and dislikes about who is sitting near them, with differing levels of patience about noise, so you have to take care who you sit where.
The controls are almost identical. The game is played using the stylus on the touchscreen, and the main difference is that "pause" is no longer the start button, but is actually in the corner of the touchscreen. Hardly a major problem, but mildly irritating given that not only the first game but most DS games use the start button for "pause", so I keep forgetting that it is not that.
The menu screens are slightly different to the first game, but generally similar, and they are fairly intuitive - you can easily work out what you're doing without an instruction book. One issue I have with Flo on the Go, which is kind of menu related, is that there is no "save game" option as you find elsewhere. Your game saves automatically, which is fine, but there is only one space for a saved game, instead of the usual three slots. So when you load up the game you don't choose which load game, it just does it automatically. This isn't actually a real problem for me, as I am the only person who plays the game, but I have a friend whose partner also plays her DS, so it would be a problem for them. If I enjoy a game, I might start it again, and so I would want a second save slot for that, but I probably won't be playing through Flo on the Go again once I have finished it.
So far I have indicated that Flo on the Go is very similar to Diner Dash, which I loved and have played a few times, so why wouldn't I play this one again? The answer is simple: the gameplay. It's bordering on a nightmare to play. Diner Dash had what you might call a scrolling screen - on the lower screen of the DS, you could view the main part of the restaurant with the tables, or slide across to see the queue area. In Flo on the Go, this is all in one - everything is on the screen at once. Now, in theory, that sounds good, but the size of the DS means it just doesn't work. Perhaps on a DS XL it would be better, but it's no use on a regular size DS Lite.
When you play the game, you are effectively seeing two screens worth of action on one. This means everything is smaller, more crammed in than it was in Diner Dash. Subsequently, it is sometimes hard to see things happening - one example is that it is very hard to see spills, which happen a lot in Flo on the Go as all the restaurants are moving. Worse than this though, is that all the points which you have to tap to make Flo do things are tiny. It drives you mad. You tap out a whole series of commands, only to discover that she has skipped a few which you thought you had included, but obviously missed, and then you start losing customers because of it.
The game itself doesn't appear to be any harder, if anything I think it might be a touch easier than Diner Dash, but it is made harder by this changed layout. And this isn't a good thing, this doesn't make it more of a challenge - it's just downright annoying. Players want to be challenged by the game itself, not its design.
I loved Diner Dash, so much so that I bought Flo on the Go from a Hong Kong based seller on Ebay as it wasn't available in the UK when I wanted it. I feel completely let down by Flo on the Go, I don't think I've ever been so disappointed in a game as I am with it. If you have a DS XL, this game may be better on it (although I don't know about compatibility), but for the majority of DS-ers who have the standard size, don't bother. Buy Diner Dash, it's brilliant, but forget Flo on the Go.
Hopefully there will be a third Diner Dash for DS, using the original layout.