Brittany is a PC gaming addict! Her favourite genres are simulation games, tycoons, RPG, city-builders, puzzles, and more!
I'm here to hit you with a wave of nostalgia: remember 2005 when everyone was playing Diner Dash on their computer? In case you've forgotten or didn't get in on the craze, Diner Dash is a strategy and time management game that first released in 2003.
Diner Dash was a huge hit during the mid-2000s (it was one of the best-selling downloadable games of all time), and it spawned countless other games in the time management genre (fans also refer to these as "Dash" games). Some of the games were focused on waiting tables or running a restaurant while others placed you in the shoes of different kinds of workers: everything from running a daycare, to a gym, to an airport!
I get nostalgic for these games every few years, and I end up wanting to play them all again, but it can be hard to wade through the literal hundreds of time management games to find the best ones.
As someone who has at this point played almost all of them, here's my list of the best time management games.
The Best Time Management Games
- Diner Dash Franchise
- Delicious Franchise
- Bistro Boulevard
- Cake Mania Franchise
- Carrie the Caregiver Franchise
- Catwalk Countdown and Ciao Bella
- FunPark Beach Blast
- Miss Management
- Pizza Frenzy
- Sally's Salon Franchise
"Diner Dash" Franchise
I've spoken a bit about Diner Dash already, and as the game that started the time management craze, it's still one of the best.
The original Diner Dash holds up to this day, despite being 20 years old! Besides the original game, there have been numerous sequels and spin-offs. All are very enjoyable, but my top picks in the franchise are:
- Diner Dash: Hometown Hero: The fourth installment of the series places you and Flo in various locations around town to serve up delicious foods, including the zoo, the baseball park, and the beach. There's also some "expansion packs", including Flo Through Time which sees you and Flo waitressing through a variety of historical eras!
- Diner Dash 5: Boom!: This was the last original Diner Dash game released on PC back in 2010, and features new customer types, more restaurant customisation options, and hazards that you have to stop during the shift. This game is a nice update to the existing mechanics in the Diner Dash games, and was a good "end" to the franchise.
- Hotel Dash: I loved both Hotel Dash Suite Success and its sequel, Hotel Dash 2: Lost Luxuries when they were released (in 2009 and 2011, respectively) and they're still a lot of fun now. Instead of running a restaurant and waiting tables, you're now in charge of running a hotel; placing guests in empty rooms, running them their luggage, meals, and ice buckets, cleaning up after they've checked out, and renovating the hotel suites and lobby. It's a great spin on the original gameplay.
- Wedding Dash: The Wedding Dash games became a franchise in-and-of themself, with 4 games in the series, starring Flo's friend, Quinn, a wedding planner. Your job in these games is to help Quinn plan the perfect wedding reception for her guests, and then make sure their wedding party goes off without a hitch: seating guests with their friends, bringing them food and wedding cake, and making sure unruly relatives and other obstacles don't upset the bride. I love these games- again, they take the well-known gameplay of Diner Dash and gives it a fun and unique makeover.
I can't go over all the Diner Dash games (there are literally somewhere around 20 of them, not including the spin-offs for mobile devices!), but all of them are genuinely fun.
The Delicious games franchise came out a few years after Diner Dash, and while the gameplay is slightly different, it's another big name in the time management franchise. Unlike Diner Dash, the developers still make and release Delicious games for PC (and mobile), and it's really nice that they're still keeping the franchise alive.
The Delicious franchise revolves around the main character, Emily, who starts off working as a waitress (but later runs her own restaurant, among other things). The main gameplay is to seat and serve customers, however, there's more focus on the food part of the game; for example, customers will ask for particular orders, and you must get them correct before serving them.
The other difference is most of the Delicious games tell a story (with cutscenes) and you really get to know Emily's life, background, family and friends.
Just like Diner Dash, the Delicious games spawned a huge list of sequels and spin-offs, but here are my favourites:
- Emily's True Love: The gameplay is mostly the same as the first few games in the franchise (simply running a restaurant), but the story here of how Emily meets her future husband, Patrick, is adorable.
- Delicious: Emily's Honeymoon Cruise: We revisit Emily, and this time she and Patrick have gotten married (there's also Delicious: Emily's Wonder Wedding which was released between this game and Emily's True Love, and is also a fun play). You don't play as Emily much in this game, instead taking on the role of various workers around the cruise ship; running the spa, tending to patrons on the pool deck, and running the cruise's clothing and jewellery boutique. This is probably my favourite in the franchise (I've played it through both on PC and on my Samsung tablet), due to the variety of jobs and locations, and again, the cute story.
- Heart's Medicine: These games are a spin-off of the Delicious games (they're made by the same creators, Game House), and star Allison Heart, a doctor. In these games, you help Allison work in her hospital by seating and treating patients, and managing their illnesses. I like these games as there are very few hospital/doctor games in the time management genre, and it's always nice to play something with a fresh spin.
- Amber's Airline: Similarly to Heart's Medicine, the Amber's Airline games takes the same time management formula, but this time you play as Amber, an airport worker. The first in the franchise has you go through Amber's career: starting off working at check-in, and finally working your way up to being a flight attendant. Again, I love the new location (finally, something not just about serving food in a restaurant!), animation, and cut-scenes in these games.
Bistro Boulevard isn't really the stereotypical time management game; I'd classify it as a mix between a business simulation game and time management. The business sim side of the game does allow you to manage a fair bit of the restaurant, but the gameplay also has the rush of a time management game.
Running your own bistro in the game allows you to manage various restaurants, hire and train staff, renovate the interior, choose menu items, and make sure patrons are being seated and served quickly.
This game is a lot of fun, and a good balance between a restaurant and time management game. I've played it so many times throughout the years and it's always fun anytime I pick it back up.
"Cake Mania" Franchise
The original Cake Mania game came out in 2006, and it was one of the first time management games that focused more on the actual food/cooking component of the game (unlike Diner Dash and other spin-offs, where you just pick up the pre-made food from a cook who is helping in the kitchen).
In these games, you play as the main character, Jill, and cook to order various sweets and pastries, all within her busy shift. I like that the cooking part is actually quite complex; you complete the orders by clicking on different stations for the oven, or frosting. You have to get the cake shape right as requested by the customer, or put the right kind of toppings on it, and if you mess up, or take too long, they'll get mad and leave.
There are six Cake Mania games in total, and while I haven't played them all, the first and the sequel, Cake Mania 2, are tons of fun!
"Carrie the Caregiver" Franchise
I'm always excited to find a time management game with a fun setting, and when the Carrie the Caregiver games came out, I was even more excited to play them as I worked with children in real life.
These games star the eponymous Carrie, and in the first of the franchise, you help her work her day as a maternity ward nurse by tending to the newborns, changing their diapers, feeding them bottles, and looking after them when they're sick. Carrie the Caregiver 2- Preschool has you look after a group of rambunctious preschoolers, and help them with their activities, while Carrie the Caregiver 3- Camp Funshine sees you as a camp counsellor, also helping kids with arts, crafts, and camp activities.
All three games are really fun, and if you like children or working with children, you'll find a nice comfort from doing so in the game. I also really love the music and soothing sound effects used in these series. I was so disappointed when the developers stopped releasing the games after the fourth game (Carrie's Country Jam), because they're just really high quality time management games.
"Catwalk Countdown" and "Ciao Bella"
I love fashion games, so when Catwalk Countdown was released in 2011, I was thrilled. Again, this isn't the typical time management game; I'd call it more between a mix of a time management and a life simulation game, as you play as an aspiring fashion designer and help her make her way into the fashion industry.
The gameplay here is very different- you have tasks to complete each day, and a limited time to do them in- but they are done by using the character's phone, visiting locations on the map, or interacting with other characters and objects.
This game is a ton of fun for anyone who likes fashion and design games. You get to work on outfits, go to fashion shows and photoshoots, work in a fabric store, and a lot more. I wish they had created more of these games, but sadly it's the only one in the franchise.
However, if you like this game, there's also Ciao Bella, which is made by a different developer, but also features similar day-in-the-life/time management gameplay where you help the main character find a date, and juggle her daily responsibilities.
"FunPark Beach Blast"
FunPark Beach Blast's title probably doesn't inspire much confidence (honestly, what a random mash-up of words), but this is truly a fun, lesser known time management game.
This time around, you play as the main character who is working at a theme park. Instead of seating customers at tables, it's your job to guide them to a variety of roller coasters and amusement park rides, make sure their seat belts are buckled, keep them from puking, and ensure the kiddies are having fun.
It's the unique theme of this game which definitely appeals, though it still has some of the well-known traits of a time management game in it, like getting combos, matching colors, and chaining.
Miss Management is like a mix of Diner Dash and the TV show, The Office- which probably sounds weird on paper, but makes for a super fun game.
In this game, you work as Denise, the new office manager of a small company, filled with a collection of zany employees. The management in this game consists of making sure employees are working, taking breaks, helping the staff reach their goals (sometimes work-related, sometimes literally keeping two employees who dislike each other from getting on the other's nerves throughout the day), and also ensuring that none of them get too stressed out and quit.
This might be my favourite time management game of them all; again, I'm a sucker for a time management game that's presented in a unique way, the humor in the game is actually laugh-out-loud funny at times, and who hasn't dreamed of working in middle-management? Okay, probably not many of you, but Miss Management definitely scratches that itch, if you have it.
If you've ever wanted to be a delivery driver, Pizza Frenzy is the game for you.
This game has you work as pizza delivery driver, rushing around the town maps to deliver different types of pizza, making chains and combos by delivering the same kind to different homes in a row, avoiding scam callers, and more!
Again, not the stereotypical time management game, but it's a fun, fast-paced one which is well worth playing!
"Sally's Salon" Franchise
The Sally's Salon franchise is a series of time management games set in- you guessed it- a beauty salon! Help Sally run her salon by seating customers, giving them haircuts, makeovers, manicures and more.
The sequel, Sally's Spa, is centred in a luxury day spa, where you're in charge of giving clients massages, trips to the sauna, facials, and hot stone treatments, while the third game in the series, Sally's Studio, is focused around running a gym (similar to Fitness Dash, mentioned above).
The Sally's games are made by Gamehouse (the same studio who makes the Delicious games) and are quality time management games, with lots of hours of fun to be had.
What's your favourite time management game? Is it listed above, or did I miss it? Let me know in the comments section!
© 2022 Brittany Brown