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Jeremy Jastrzab
21 May, 2009

XBLA The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai Review

360 Review | Taking ridiculous too far.
Many will tell you that independently developed games are the future. Certainly, supporting the Indies does have its advantages. It exposes you to ideas and concepts that wouldn’t have otherwise made it off the production floor at a large developer. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re infallible. At the end of the day though, the game still needs to deliver the goods if it is to justify the asking price. On that front, The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai for the Xbox Live Arcade deserves some credit for its one-man development effort but said one man looks like he tried too hard.

The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai does a lot to promote the XNA Game Express Studio scheme, which looks to encourage independent projects. There are a lot of aspects of the game that are likeable, but a few issues work against an otherwise good game. Well, first off, there’s the issue of the name. Often referred to simply as Dishwasher, can you imagine telling someone who isn’t into games that you’re playing this? Heck, some gamers will probably raise an eyebrow.

Woah, I'm over here!

Woah, I'm over here!
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Dishwasher is a 2D side-scrolling beat ‘em up, with a completely ridiculous premise. We’re usually quite open to the most outlandish of story concepts, but this takes it too far. You play as Dishwasher, a former kitchen-hand brought back to life to go and avenge his sister and take down a cybernetic cult. That doesn’t sound too bad but the execution is terrible, driven by completely disjointed comic strips that are hard to make out. It’s impossible to tell whether the story is serious, or seriously taking the mickey out of players or even the actual sequence of plot events. In the end, everything that tries to be ‘cool’ falls flat and leaves a horrible mishmash of failed clichés and innuendo.

The gameplay from Dishwasher harks back to another era, though tries to add some modern touches. Essentially, Dishwasher roams through over a dozen levels, hacking his way through anything and everything, while sometimes stopping to find a key or other important item, and sometimes taking part in a guitar-playing mini game. Theoretically, the levels aren’t very long and should make for a good arcade game to just pick-up and play. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Dishwasher is a very acquired taste. The masochists who believe that gaming peaked in the 1980s will be the most likely group to get their kicks out of the game. This is because the game is hard, but not in a good way. The difficulty stems from enemies that won’t die. Well, not until you’ve waled an excessive number of hits on them and not until you upgrade your weaponry. A lot. It’s sad because the enemies come off as an annoyance, rather than a driver for the gameplay. The bosses are fast and furious, but by the time you’ve figured them out, you’ve probably run out of lives and are back at the start.

The foot is mightier than the sword.

The foot is mightier than the sword.
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It would be all good and well for the enemies to be hard to kill, except you’ll be buried under wave after wave of these annoying buggers. The fault lies with a combat system that while astute for a 2D plane, doesn’t reward the player for their skill such as Devil May Cry. Instead, it rewards luck, particularly as you often (eventually) kill an enemy before you get a chance to try for an item drop. Another annoying issue is the implementation of the archaic 'lives' system, which would have been fine if you didn't lose everything that you collected and upgraded along the way.

So while for the first five minutes, you may think “hey, this is pretty cool”, you’re brought back down to earth with a thud. It isn’t until about half way through the game (and potentially a number of hours later) that your weapons are strong enough and you’ve found the chainsaw that game becomes a bit more of an exhibition as opposed to a chore. Dishwasher is the kind of game that you’ll almost be forced to play through on easy (which still isn’t that easy!) to upgrade and unlock as much as possible before you move on. At the end of the day, some will thrive on this and others won’t. However, there are better games out there that will test your skill and not your patience with the design flaws.

It’s a shame, because it’s actually a rather astute package. At it’s best, Dishwasher is ridiculously brutal and has a variety of weapons and 'dish magic' to be unleashed on the unsuspecting hordes of the undying. The story mode has replayability, if as mentioned, this is your kind of poison, as well as a large set of arcade levels to play through at your leisure. Furthermore, you can plug in a second controller and have someone join in the carnage. On price and features alone, Dishwasher is one of the better valued packages on the XBLA.

Dish magic... Is there anything NOT ridiculous in this game?

Dish magic... Is there anything NOT ridiculous in this game?
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Graphically, the game is again, hit and miss but mainly hit. The animations are very smooth, there’s plenty of corn-syrup and explosions and it has to be said that the style is distinct. Again though, it will not cover everyone’s platter, as some would describe it as dull and drab or even something conceived by a bored high-school student taking arts so to avoid maths or science. The comic strips are especially contrived, as they are extremely hard to make out. The sound in the game tries to convey some eastern themes, though these get lost under a lot metal and other load noises. Still, this is one of the aspects of the game that fits without being too annoying.

The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is a game that will break a lot of hearts, but not because of devious yet ingenious design. There are some that still get their kicks out of what starts and finishes as a masochistic experience. For the rest of us, it’s a real shame, because virtually everything else is here in place for a good or possibly a great package. It should be a lesson to other independent developers, to really keep gameplay design the focus, over trying to make the game ‘cool’ or audacious. Otherwise, things just fall flat.
The Score
Apart from a few bad design issues and ridiculous premise, The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai has most of the elements required for a good and possibly even a great game.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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8 Comments
4 years ago
Honestly, I didn't find the game that hard, when I started playing it it was kind of a kick in the face, but after a little bit I got into a groove with it and hte teleporting sword I was knocking the shit out of everything and having a lot of fun.
4 years ago
No it isn't that hard, need some skillz to pay those billz there jezza.
Also, come on it was a community game made by one guy.......It plays brilliantly and i salute the guy for that........
4 years ago
^My skills ain't got nothing to do with this sunshine icon_wink.gif I've got people that can vouch for those *looks at Denny and Jahanzeb* but at the end of the day, not everyone has the skills for the bills and a review should be for everyone.

For a community game, it's a very good effort but it still needs to go by the same standards as everyone. I can't lightly forgive a combat system that is based on luck more than skill, requires so much time to let you in and I'm the most tolerant person when it comes to ridiculous stories and premises, but this just took it way too far.

Some people will like this type of game, but I get the feeling that a lot more won't. Whatever floats your boat I guess. But i'm not going to laud over something just because it's splatters a lot of blood and was made by the one guy.
4 years ago
no worries daisy icon_wink.gif you didn't even finish it on normal...which is the meat of the game.
Blood splatter has got nothing to do with it....
4 years ago
I am about halfway through... Hey, hey hold on, is that a challenge! I ungraciously accept icon_razz.gif

And will most likely regret = P
4 years ago
cool, it doesn't really ramp up the difficulty too much, i just think it was a far better game than 90% of the drivel on xbla, samurai mode is bloody hard, i'll give you that.
4 years ago
^Done icon_smile.gif Skillz have paid the billz, k thks bai
4 years ago
C'mon, a 6 1/2? I thought that was a little harsh.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Publisher:
  Microsoft Game Studios
Year Made:
  2009
Players:
  2

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