A set of a soap opera is an hectic environment, but I could not see it as a good setting for a time management game. The Dash series has moved from Diners to Hotels in just a couple of years, and the need to expand into new scenarios is understandable. But a soap opera set, could that really work as well as a service oriented job as a waitress? After a couple of levels I got it, and yes it does work. Instead of an endless stream of patrons you get scenes where you have to make sure the actors are dressed, and ready to act.
Soap Opera Dash is a time management games with clear goals. The controls are tap to pickup and perform and action, and swipe to move actors and crew between stations. As an actor enters the studio you have to hand out scripts to get them started. After that you lift them to the hair station, and tap it to fix the hairdo. On to the clothes cubicle, and finally the cosmetics. After an actor has gone through the stations he/she can enter the scene, or wait for the next scene. There are always specific actors needed, and at times you have to let some of them wait for awhile. When all actors are ready you have to drag Hal the handyman slash cameraman to the camera. The scene is shot, and cleared for a new scene.
There is a numberless queue system in Soap Opera Dash letting you queue loads of actions. Without numbers it gets hard to keep track on what is ahead. As there are no ways to cancel orders you are better off just queuing a maximum of five actions. To get great scores you have to keep everything colour coded. The last actor who used them codes them with the colour of his/her clothes. Starting with the scripts, and all the way to cosmetics booths and cubicles. As there are only two colours available it is quite easy to keep the colour combo going. At times I have had trouble distinguishing the colour of an actor as it is seen in the clothes only. When a blue dressed actor sits in a red chair it gets hard to tell apart, and I have full colour vision.
The formula in Soap Opera Dash is quite refreshing, as you get clear goals instead of an endless stream of nameless patrons. There are of course some issues with the game design such as critics showing up taking up space in the chairs ordinary used for waiting actors. As you can’t move actors backwards in the chain you get stuck, and have to wait for the actor to leave the set in an angry mood. Some actions also feel plastered on to get more to do. For example having to fix broken cubicles, and handing out burgers in the middle of makeup.
The one thing bringing down the game completely is the lack of challenge. You can loose quite a few actors, and still attain perfect scores. The first 25 levels I got perfect scores, and nailed all extra objectives without even trying. Then the game started to spatter, spurt and grind to a halt. From level 26 severe slowdowns haunt the game on my original never jailbroken up to date iPhone 4. I am stuck on level 29 without any chance to complete the level. It would literally take me an hour to play that level as it moves at 1fps. Restarting the phone, and clearing all active processes has not helped at all. My wife has the same issues on her 3GS. A shame as there are only 30 levels available.
The presentation is your standard time management cartoon style graphics. Nothing extra fancy, but for the most part clear and informative. Some effects are present when actors get makeovers, and the set is cleared. The music is perfectly decent elevator kind of music. It is there, and it isn’t really obtrusive. After hours of playing the game I still have no idea how the theme goes. Sound effects are good, and help in getting priorities straight. Actors moan, critics garble and cubicles break. You can play your own music, and keep the sound effects.
I really like time management games for my iOS devices, but Soap Opera Dash leaves me dissatisfied. Too easy for the most part, and even without the upgrades between levels perfect scores can be met. The lag problems experienced after level 26 could probably be fixed in the next update, but nevertheless it feels sloppy to not have better quality control. I hope to see some improvements to the level of difficulty, as well as more content in future updates. There are already studios with “coming soon” on them when you select level. Soap Opera Dash might not be that great as of now, but if you are a complete time management freak it is still worth getting as it introduces some new fresh ideas. If you are new to time management stick to the classic Dash-games, and Sally-games instead.
Soap Opera Dash $2.99
Seller: Playfirst, Inc.