The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile Review

I'm going to start things off with this caveat if you don't like 2D side-scrolling action games then you're not going to like The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile. Ignore the final rating I give this game, you're better off spending your MS Points somewhere else because at its core Vampire Smile is the constant button-pressing-driven fighting against waves of opponents type of game that you don't like.

Now if you're still here I can tell you that that core is wrapped in one of the coolest packages you can find on XBLA. The black and white (splashed with lots and lots of red) hand-drawn art style is awesome, giving the game an underground comic look and feel, and crudely animated (and I mean that in a very good way) cutscenes are used to tell a story that straddles the line between brilliantly minimalist and completely psychotic. A couple of minutes into the game and I was completely hooked, purely on its look, story, and vibe. I won't attempt to summarize the story for you, though, because it would spoil some of the fun of experiencing it for yourself and I doubt I could do it justice with the limited space I have here.

As for the gameplay, it may be 2D side-scrolling action at its core, but it feels more like a brawl out of Kill Bill. Blades are the weapon of choice here and they're brought to bear with reckless abandon. The battles are fast and bloody, and, in spite of the genre's reputation, button-mashing won't get you very far in the game. You have to pick the right attacks for the right enemies and timing is critical, especially when facing the bosses. In addition to the attack buttons, you have a grab button that you can use to throw enemies and that also doubles as a "fatality" button that lets you unleash a very brutal and always fatal final attack on an enemy that's taken a beating at your hands. A flick of the stick sends you moving at blinding speed for a short distance, letting you get behind a foe to perform an evisceration. You can vault into the air, attacking flying enemies or juggling those who have no business being in the air. Throw in some wall-running and other staples of platform maneuvering and you've got fights filled with fast-paced and highly acrobatic mayhem.

Once you get through the game's story mode which you can play as "The Dishwasher" or the femme fatale Yuki, or both in co-op mode there are other modes that will test your kill skills and let you compare them to others' via the game's leaderboards. Arcade mode is a progression of short battles against progressively tougher competition in which beating a level will unlock the next. You can revisit any of the levels that you've unlocked to try to improve your score and leaderboard ranking for the level. With fifty levels, Arcade mode will keep you busy for quite some time. Another mode known as the Dish Challenge will test your stamina as you try to stay alive for as long as possible against an endless stream of foes. Replay value here is in the form of beating your previous best or improving your leaderboard ranking, so your mileage may vary depending on how much that sort of thing motivates you to keep playing a game.

As I stated starting out, you've got to like side-scrolling action games in the first place to enjoy The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile, but if you do you'll love the love. It has so much style and character that you'll thoroughly enjoy your time spent with it.

Final Rating: 90%. It will leave side-scroller action game fans smiling.


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