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The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile

The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai was a fun action game, but it didn't possess the spark and vision that could have made it special. Enter its sequel, The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, a beautiful and bleak thrill ride that capitalizes on the original's potential to fantastic effect. Smooth controls and animations make the combat feel better than before, and online and offline cooperative play makes it even easier to enjoy this brutal 2D action game with another player. Even more than its predecessor, Vampire Smile possesses a strong identity, settling into a murky mood that befits the ghastly decapitations you perform. So it might be the game's grim tone that first draws you in, but it's the exciting action will keep you coming back. 

The follow-up to 2009's Dead Samurai, The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is a combo-fueled, fast-paced, stylistic 2D action platformer that features the series' staple gritty, graphic novel-inspired art style, built on a brand new engine that allows for an even more visually gruesome experience. Gamers will wield new weapons like the Violence Hammer, whose business end consists of a section of girder wrapped in barbed wire and random hardware, and the Painkiller, a six foot long syringe. The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile comes with two solo character campaigns as well as a co-op campaign, 50 quick arcade challenges and an endless Dish Challenge. 

Genre: Action
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Ska Studios
Online Play: 4 Co-op
Local Play: 2 Co-op
Release Date: April 06, 2011
MSRP: $10.0
Exclusively on: Xbox 360
M for Mature: Blood and Gore, Violence

The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is a 2D side-scrolling beat 'em up video game. It was developed by Ska Studios and released on XBLA on April 6, 2011. It is the sequel to The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, also by Ska Studios, released in 2009. Players assume the roles of The Dishwasher, along with his stepsister Yuki, in two separate solo campaigns, as they battle through legions of enemies and try to unravel the secrets of their pasts. The main story revolves around The Dishwasher's quest for universal freedom and Yuki's quest for revenge against the three marks of power that robbed her of her life. The game was showcased at the PAX East 2010 convention.



Gameplay remains largely similar to its predecessor. The game is a side-scrolling beat 'em up where the player must violently dispense of enemies with the help of numerous weapons. Recurring elements from the original include Dish Magic and Shop Bots where one can buy upgrades and items with money received through defeating enemies. The biggest addition is a new playable character, Yuki, who controls differently from The Dishwasher in combat. Co-op has also been fully integrated into the story-mode allowing for an exclusive campaign. There are five new weapons in the game, including a large syringe dubbed The Painkiller and an over sized pair of scissors titled The Guillotine. Combat revisions have been made as now the player can stock up to four weapons at once with the help of two sets of load outs that can be interchanged at all times. Guns are now automatically mapped to function on the right trigger, and normal enemies no longer have exclusive executions as they are all down to weaponry. A new gameplay feature is the addition of collectible Beads that can be equipped to give various status effects such as improved strength against specific enemies or attacks draining health. The guitar minigame also makes a return, however the Psycho Picks that were granted in the original game for finishing them do not.



  • The Dishwasher - The unnamed protagonist of the series. Once a regular dishwasher at the Foghorn Café, he was murdered in the first game during the Cyborg movement but then revived by the Chef, along with being granted inhuman powers which he used to extract revenge upon the Synthesis AI, responsible for manufacturing the Cyborgs. Since then he has teamed up with Chef and become a silent vigilante. Unlike the first game where he goes on an unstoppable quest for vengeance, The Dishwasher has since become a lot more collected and acquainted with his abilities, and is only determined to use his powers to purge all evil in the universe. His quest on the moon revolves searching for an unknown entity who is controlling all evil behind the scenes. He's very proficient at the electric guitar, and is accompanied by a red-eyed crow throughout the game.
  • Yuki - The Dishwasher's stepsister who was presumed dead during the first game. After dying in the hands of her stepbrother she is revived by an entity known as The Creeper, granting her powers much like The Dishwasher's, but also letting her become manipulated into trying to kill The Dishwasher, suffering recurrent nightmares and hallucinations involving a hideous demon with an insidious smile. After the first game Yuki had escaped earth during its final hours when The Dishwasher and Chef set it ablaze, destroying all remains of life. She was scapegoated as the earth's destroyer and sentenced to rot in the Iffenhaus Space Prison. After her powers awaken, she breaks out of the prison and goes on a quest for vengeance, much like her stepbrother before her, pursuing the three figures of power responsible for her incarceration; The Banker, General and Judge. She's very proficient at the violin, and is accompanied by a cat with wings throughout the game, whom she has named Paka.
  • Chef - The Dishwasher's mentor and savior. The Chef of the Foghorn Café is an ominous and inhuman being who claims to have alien blood running through his veins, granting him inhuman power. It is with the same blood that he resurrected The Dishwasher. With the help of The Dishwasher he managed to destroy the world after it got plagued by Cyborgs and undead. Their partnership continues in this game where they are out to kill all evil in the universe through any and all means necessary.
  • The Banker, General and Judge - The three pillars of power and Yuki's marks of revenge. The Banker, General and Judge are the trifecta of control in the new world. They have since its conception been corrupted with power and run an incredibly fascist and corrupt society on the moon where Cyborgs regulate everything and undead roam the streets, much like the world before it.
  • The Fallen Engineer - The creator of the Synthesis AI and Cyborgs, The Fallen Engineer is The Dishwasher's nemesis and the main antagonist of the game. He is obsessed with creating a world filled with despair and lies, controlling all schemes from behind the scenes. He's resurrected as a symbiont with the help of an accursed mask and fights the protagonists in the center of their own nightmares.

The flaws are few and carry over from Dead Samurai. You can initiate a rhythm game in which your character grooves to a metal beat while you punch on the appropriate series of buttons. Considering the grinding guitars that accompany your journey, these moments fit well with the game's overall ambience, but they break up the pace too much. At least this is an optional diversion. Unfortunately, you can't escape the occasional sense of aimlessness that sometimes intrudes on the level design in spite of the scattered arrows that help point the way. But these are negligible issues in a sequel that takes the foundation laid by its forebear and infuses it with gloomy shadows. At 800 Microsoft points ($10), The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is a wonderful value for anyone who enjoys exploring the darker regions of the soul. 

Watch  The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile game trailer.


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