By: Courtney Miller
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you crossed Diner Dash with Hell’s Kitchen, wonder no more: Cooking Dash already exists.
Cooking Dash will feel nostalgic to anyone who played Diner Dash back in the day. It has the same basic game structure: serve all the customers before time runs out. The only difference is that the main character, Flo, helps with cooking now instead of just serving.
The premise is that Flo is competing on a cooking game show, though I’ve yet to see a non-player character competing against her. Each level is an episode of the show, and there are multiple venues within the show, with different themes to choose from. Every episode has a certain number of customers to serve within a time limit (usually one to four minutes), and you can upgrade items in each show to serve people faster and make more money.
Everyone starts with the Table Steaks venue, where you prep, cook, and serve The Keg-style food, but you can unlock other venues like Hip Stir Café, Medieval Dines, and 29 others (as of April 2018) by spending gold.
Oh, gold. The make-it-or-break-it currency of Cooking Dash. Every upgrade and almost every new venue requires some gold and coins to unlock — and, of course, you are encouraged to buy those things, even though you can earn them for free.
When upgrades start costing 70 gold, it’s tempting to purchase some to make your life easier. But if you’ve got the capacity for patience, you don’t have to shell out any money for an enjoyable experience. Some of the customers randomly drop gold, there are daily goals you can complete for gold, you can watch ads to earn gold, and the developers recently added three prize wheels where you can win gold.
The gameplay itself is addicting because you can always do better — and you’re really just playing against yourself. You can go for hours, so long as you have enough supplies (each episode costs 10), and you’re never stuck on a level you can’t beat. You simply go to a different venue and play there, or replay episodes to improve your score, and the developers are always adding new features and venues.
The recently-added Trial of Style lets you compete against other real people for prizes, and the new outfits feature lets you change what Flo’s wearing for certain advantages like speed. There are also special events where every customer will drop gold, or where playing requires no supplies, which pop up somewhat regularly.
All in all, Cooking Dash is a good way to kill time, so long as you can wait for progress, or you have the money to spend on virtual currency.
You’re a student, though, so save your coins for ramen.
Cooking Dash is available at the App Store and Google Play for free.