We've followed Flo and her friends from the diner to the farm, through the perils of opening your own valet business, and into the fast-paced world of fashion. Now Flo and PlayFirst are entering new territory in the first adventure game from the Dash franchise, Avenue Flo!
Avenue Flo features everyone's favorite waitress as she tries to help her fellow business owners salvage what could be the biggest wedding Diner Town has ever seen. Tony and Vicky are finally getting married! Maybe. Quinn of Wedding Dash fame is at her wit's end. The rings are missing, the cake has gone bad and all of the butterflies have flown away. Flo quickly springs into action and hits the streets of Diner Town in search of answers.
First on Flo's handy to-do list? Track down all 99 escaped butterflies. Luckily, the neighborhoods you'll need to explore are covered with the colorful little scamps. Unluckily, that's the easy part. That list is getting longer by the second, and in order to get this wedding back on track, Flo will need to stay sharp and put her detective skills to the test.
Simply point-and-click to send Flo in the right direction or to interact with some familiar faces. The controls and the gameplay couldn't be more intuitive, and the smooth interface ensures that you won't waste time figuring out what to do next. If you get stuck, check the map or that helpful list for assistance.
While there is a small hidden object element to the game, the majority of play is given over to puzzles, which are quite well done. The plot is geared towards the most general of casual gameplay fans, but, in a surprising and welcome choice, PlayFirst wisely stays away from the expected staples of the casual genre, such as match-3. Logic squares, spatial reasoning and pattern recognition are the order of the day here.
Analysis: Avenue Flo is a refreshing entry in the adventure game genre. The humorous and quirky aesthetics established in the myriad of Dash sequels and spin-offs serve the franchise well. The graphics are bright and crisp, although the sound effects aren't quite as good as the art. Flo is, as always, as cute as a button in her well-worn apron and sneakers, and it's a pleasure to see her away from the world of time management. In addition, she actually speaks (and sings) here for the first time, and the voice acting is above average. Experienced gamers may find that there's too much hand-holding and not enough free play, but the overall quality of the game is substantial enough that the linear plot and direction can be overlooked.
This being said, when the game hits a wrong note, it's very disappointing. A rhythm puzzle has Flo teaching an aerobics class, which normally would be opportunity for extreme cuteness or at least a good laugh. Unfortunately, the execution of said puzzle is sub-par, especially in comparison with the rest of what the game has to offer. First of all, and this may just be my personal bias, I dislike playing these kind of puzzles with the mouse. I find keyboard controls much more precise. Issue the Second: For an aerobics class, one would expect Flo to take it on down to funkytown, musically speaking. Nope. There's music playing, but the songs don't match up to the puzzle cues. This means there's no audio guidance. For a rhythm game. Which is just lazy, especially when the game has a jaunty original theme song.
This, though, is only a slight flaw in an otherwise polished game. One of Flo's chores is to finish the beading on the wedding dress. You're given the pattern and are able to see the order the beads will appear in. To complete the design, the beads must be sewn in one continuous line, so you need to plan several steps ahead to succeed. While the mechanics of the puzzle are simple, the presentation and difficulty involved are not, and the game manages to stand out among the plethora of adventure and hidden object games currently available. Avenue Flo is a welcome addition to the DinerTown series!