|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|
The opposition starts off fairly weak, consisting mainly of what look like agents from the Matrix who move slowly, take random swings at you when nearby, and occasionally discharge their firearms in your direction. It doesn't take long before you start to see more advanced opposition such as the green goggled special forces members who will use their grappling hooks to gain a height advantage from which to either fire machine guns or drop grenades. This ramping up of challenging enemies continues with the addition of rocket-shooting baddies with jetpacks, zombies, killer robots, and so on, until you have a huge assortment of foes to contend with who all have their own distinct strengths, weaknesses, and attacks that need to be skillfully navigated in order to survive.
In fact, even if you spend a good amount of time figuring out powerful combos and your enemies' routines, The Dishwasher is still an incredibly challenging game, perhaps to a fault. Playing the game on the easiest setting can feel incredibly punishing, with all of the difficulty levels beyond that seeming like they're virtually impossible. Sure, you can upgrade your weapons, extend your health bar, and buy extra lives and healing items using spirals that you collect from your fallen foes, but nothing available seems to make the game much easier to complete. The difficulty seems to even go up a few notches every time you are faced with one of the game's massive bosses, who also seem to always have a plethora of lackeys backing them up and making matters worse for the player.
Some of this difficulty can be partially alleviated by bringing in a second player once you've unlocked the ability to play co-op. After finding a certain amulet while playing the game, you'll be able to bring a friend into the experience, adding their weapons to the mix. Another hidden amulet will also add the ability to have another player join the fight using a guitar peripheral to help deal death. While this is an inventive idea that most games not entirely developed by one man wouldn't even attempt, it unfortunately doesn't work very well and isn't much fun. You'll also need to be cautious when considering the addition of extra players to the fray, as you'll need to balance the worth of this added help against how much more cluttered and confusing the screen becomes with a second player also wreaking havoc at the same time. This can be a very difficult decision to make but at least the option is there if you find it's worth giving it a try.
Despite being fairly repetitive and ridiculously difficult at times, The Dishwasher is still a very good game. The hand drawn visual style is quite appealing, the gameplay is fun even when it reaches controller-tossing difficulty, and there are some fairly unique things tried throughout that work to varying degrees. Had this been a full retail release, it might have been somewhat difficult to recommend, but as an 800 point downloadable arcade game, The Dishwasher is an enjoyable time. If you are feeling nostalgic about the olden days of gaming and/or are looking for a serious challenge, you can't go wrong with this bloody brawler.
CCC Staff Contributor