|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ska Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 1, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
As video games continue to get more elaborate, expensive, and complicated to develop, the teams that work on them must also grow in size to keep up. These massive teams are in stark contrast to how things were done just a couple decades ago, when it was entirely feasible for one guy to sit down at his Apple II and create his own game in his spare time.
While the current state of the video game industry seemingly makes this kind of one person game development rare, it isn't entirely unheard of. In short, the dream of making your own video game is still very much attainable, and The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai is a perfect example. Created by James Silva as an XNA game, The Dishwasher was entered into and won Microsoft's Dream Build Play contest. This gave Silva the time and money to take his creation and finish/polish it to be released in its current form as a full-fledged XBLA release.
Based on the game's title, one could probably discern that they will be playing the game as a dishwasher. However, unlike most normal dishwashers, the Dishwasher isn't concerned with the cleanliness of the dinnerware. Instead, in a fairly poorly delivered and nonsensical plot, you'll figure out that the Dishwasher is actually on a revenge-fueled quest against an evil cyborg army. Admittedly, it may not be a deep and compelling story, and it definitely isn't Shakespeare, but as with the rest of the game, it has an unmistakable offbeat appeal about it that manages to make it somewhat endearing.
Dishwasher's story is delivered in small chunks, fitting between the game's levels in the form of some fairly short, scrolling comic strips. Even though the default speed for their scrolling seems to be set at a snail's pace, it can thankfully be sped up or skipped entirely by more impatient players. While these strips are certainly an interesting way to deliver the narrative, they can also be needlessly difficult to follow due to their look. Because of the usage of a fairly muted color palette and the overall blurriness, it can often be next to impossible to figure out what is happening in many of these mobile story squares.
The game itself shares the same visual style as these comics, minus the odd blurring effect that made them virtually indistinguishable. Visually, Dishwasher is entirely 2D with some simplistic yet appealing backgrounds, well-animated characters, and an attractive hand drawn art style. Almost everything in the game is also made up of faint blacks, grays, and the occasional whites, drawing players' attentions to the frequent bursts of red. During just about any fight that takes place in The Dishwasher, blood sprays by the gallon, coating the surrounding environment and even appearing to land on the screen.
Much like the concept of a single person making an entire video game by themselves, the core of The Dishwasher's gameplay harkens back to an earlier time in gaming. The basics are quite simple with X and Y providing light and heavy attacks, B working as a throw, and A allowing the Dishwasher to jump. Players will also eventually gain the abilities to run up walls, teleport, evasively roll, perform execution moves, and even use Dish Magic attacks to help out in the more intense combat situations you'll find throughout. Just mashing the buttons will get you through some of the earlier levels, but players will definitely need to spend time practicing combos, working on proper timing, and learning the tendencies of their enemies to have any chance at surviving late into the game.