First, it was the tycoon games that the “value” developers started picking up and making clones. Soon enough, the Diner Dash clones became the norm. Some of them have been pretty good. Some of them were BETTER than Diner Dash. Some of them, especially this one, is abysmal.

Coffee House Chaos is a Diner Dash clone set in a coffee house. Your waitress do the usual – seat the customers, pick up orders, make coffee to order, pick up coffee and bring customer their order, then bring them their bill and clean up. Sounds like a winning formula, right? NOT. Coffee House Chaos plays like a game that’s never gone through beta-testing and just went straight out to the public without having been played beyond a few levels by, say, 5 people. Pretty much all of the game’s mechanics are just slightly broken enough for it to not work well as an action game.

How bad is it? Let me count the ways:

  • Your player-character walks quite slowly. To speed her up, we have to click on a “coffee boost” icon, and it’d give her a burst of speed. This is timed, and using it too often will only give you a few seconds of speed each. Great idea, right? Nope. Why? We’re not told how the timer works. It’s not like it fills up or anything. You can just … guess.
  • You can’t make things like coffee in advance? I mean, I can’t just make a few cups (like in other games similar to this) and wait for people to come in?
  • Every time you pick up dishes, you’re going to be washing them. Washing them takes up a chunk of time until later levels.
  • What’s worse, if you pick up an order, then some dishes, and then go and do the dishes, you’d throw the order down the drain. You can’t go back and get another one either – it’s just gone. That customer is going to sit there without coffee until they eventually – and ultimately – storms off.
  • Your customers DO have a “heart”meter that tells us how they’re feeling. When it drops, an “unhappy” face shows up over their heads and let us know that it has dropped. We’re not told about this otherwise – it’s a hidden heart meter. Cryptic, huh.
  • There is simple color matching, but they’re by the table. There is no “mixed” color table. Another layer of strategy out the window.
  • Chaining bonuses are not multipliers – they’re more like a “+10.” It’s not very rewarding at all. Besides, the goals are set so low that they’re never necessary.
  • Speaking of goals, there are no expert goals. There is a goal, and it’s a number that counts down. Once you reach that you might as well drop your hands and wait for your shift to be over and the customers storm off.
  • When you click on “menu” you’re presented with “resume” and “retire.” Confusing enough? Retire means to go back to the main menu and when you come back, you will restart that single level. In other games, retire means to quit and start a new game when you get back.
  • There is no “levels map.” Once you’re done a level, you can’t just click on the level icon and do it again. Not that you’d want to, mind.

Add to that, the graphics are pixelated in the Betty’s Beer Bar style, which immediately looks dated even next to the first Diner Dash. As for the sound, it repeats something like every four bars. I turned it off mid first level. It’s THAT bad. Do I have something nice to say about it? No. Not at all. If you’re looking for the next Diner Dash, it’s NOT HERE.

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