When Diner Dash first released in 2004, it not only became a casual classic but almost single handedly created the time management game sub-genre. Among the copycats that have since began to pop up in endless droves is Dead Hungry Diner, which takes the idea of Diner Dash and seeks to give it a Halloween themed twisted, replacing the customers with hungry monsters and the plates of spaghetti and burgers with brains (well, fruits that looks a good deal like them). This all sounds well in line with a typical DD knock-off, able to entertain even while being fairly derivative in its niche of the casual game market, but Black Market Games wanted to go one further and throw in their own unique mechanics into the mix. Essentially, it wasn't broke, and they tried to fix it.
DHD shares a lot in common with its Playfirst cousin. Customers/monsters line up hungry for a meal, and you must manage them in a timely fashion, seating, feeding, and collecting the checks while racking up combos and frequent seating bonuses before the day ends. This is all fine, if done to death by a million other games already. Ironically, it's when DHD tries to differentiate itself from the pack that all its problems arise.
First, it cripples your ability to quickly seat customers by requiring you to first move them up to the front of the line. It's only one extra step, but quickly becomes hugely frustrating as more and more line up and you have to shift through them to get to who you want to seat. Second, it segregates different customers by the type of monster they are, forcing you to reorganize your seating arrangement so opposing monsters won't fight with each other and have to be thrown out. Interesting on paper? Yes, but in practice it turns what should be a light diversion into a stressful experience, requiring far too much advance planning and trial and error to succeed.
I like what Black Market Games was going for, and applaud them for attempting to innovate in a genre that desperately needs it, but they went about it in a way that makes Dead Hungry Diner more of a chore to play than anything else. I'm rather confused as to why they chose to alter the parts of a tried and true formula that they did, as the changes seem to have little logic behind them or practical purpose for existing. It's a shame, but one can hope they get it right the next time (because casual games never die, they just redo themselves). I honestly didn't think it was possible to screw up Diner Dash, but I guess there's a first for everything.