Review Date: December 14, 2010
Platform: PC & Mac
Genre: Time Management
The Dash series of time management games has tackled everything from food preparation to wedding planning, and now it takes on the world of television with Soap Opera Dash. With so many spin-offs you'd think that the formula would start to grow stale, but the latest game offers plenty of new twists to make it feel new again. Who would've thought looking after TV stars would be so hard?
Lights, Camera, Action
The game stars Dinertown resident Rosie who's trying to sell a screenplay for her show, "As The Burger Turns." Things aren't going so well until she manages to convince none other than Simon the celebrity to take on the starring role. With a little help from her friends Flo and Quinn (stars of the Cooking Dash, Diner Dash, and Wedding Dash games) and her bossy mother, Rosie sets off in an attempt to create the best soap opera ever.
As with all of the games in the series, Soap Opera Dash is filled with plenty of familiar faces and references to other games. The people you served food to in Diner Dash now serve as your cast, and Flo and Quinn even make a few appearances on stage.
In keeping with the game's TV theme, Soap Opera Dash is divided into five different seasons, each of which consists of 10 episodes. You can also unlock 10 bonus episodes for a total of 60 challenging levels to play through. The structure is exactly the same as in past games, so you'll be moving quickly from episode to episode, with the option of replaying ones in order to get a higher score.
Oh, The Drama
The gameplay too will initially feel pretty familiar to Dash veterans. The main goal in each episode is make sure both the actors and the set are camera ready. You'll start by giving actors scripts, then doing their hair, dressing them up, and doing their makeup. You'll also have to make sure that each scene has the correct props in place. Pretty simple stuff. But, of course, it doesn't stay simple for long.
Soap Opera Dash throws all kinds of twists at you, making this the most challenging Dash game in recent memory. Equipment will break down, actors will request food, fans will request autographs, and that pesky camera man is always so hard to find. The difficulty ramps up quite a bit once you hit season two, making it quite the challenge to get that coveted expert score. As always, most aspects of the game can be upgraded using the money you earn, letting you do things like make Rosie run faster or make the waiting room chairs more comfortable. Each episode also features some side goals. While these don't need to be completed to pass the episode, they add quite a bit to your overall score.
In terms of presentation, there's nothing new to see here. Soap Opera Dash uses the same bright and colorful cartoon style that the Dinertown games are known for. There's a solid variety of characters to see, and you even get to watch their appearances change as you doll them up for the camera. You'll also get to see Rosie move on up, moving from her mother's basement to increasingly swanky sets.
The Bottom Line
The Dash formula is on the verge of growing old, but it's not quite there yet as Soap Opera Dash does enough new to keep things interesting. It's also quite the challenging experience, so those looking for something a little more difficult will be in for a treat. Rosie manages to prove that she deserves a starring role, and Soap Opera Dash proves that sometimes you can't get too much of a good thing.