|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Ska Studios|
|Pub: Microsoft Game Studios|
|Release: April 6, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Violence|
Though the game is a beat em' up in genre, it's really an art game at its core. Yuki's flashbacks bring you to disturbing jails and mental hospitals, and force you to play out these memories with hindered control schemes. At one point you fight a "neuromancer" that alters your perceptions to make the whole world look like a classic retro Gameboy game. There are plenty of classic gaming references strewn all about for you to find. For example, Yuki's heavy weapon is a big hatchet-like sword as big as her body called the Cloud Sword. Its description says it was named as such because it uses the power of the clouds … and definitely not for any other reason. (Obviously this is a reference to Cloud from Final Fantasy VII as the sword looks exactly like his buster sword.)
The graphics are just phenomenal. As you kill enemies, your weapons and surroundings are stained by their red blood. Not only that, but their blood stains the screen, as does fire, bile, and even water when it is raining. The game is fluid and fast, and every single slash feels so satisfying. When you dodge at the last second, the action slows down Zack Snyder style, and when you deliver the finishing blow to an enemy, the camera zooms in to get a good look at the carnage. If you think all this is cool, play the game on a 3D TV. The environments become so stunning that the blazing fire and reflective water look almost real, and the blood shoots right out at you as you go on your murdering spree. This is easily the best way to experience the game.
There are a couple other additions to the game too. Being that there are two characters, you can now play the game multiplayer both competitively and co-operatively. The game doesn't slow down at all with a second player joining in the fray, and it's even more fun (not to mention slightly easier) with a friend along for the ride. The game features both online and offline play. I didn't get a chance to play the online mode because I had a review copy and there really wasn't anyone else online, but if it's anything like the offline modes you will have tons of fun. In addition, there are also leaderboards available for score junkies, and an arcade mode for people who don't want to deal with the story, a practice mode for newbies, and the Dish Challenge, a survival mode that asks you to kill as many enemies as you can before dying. Even better, all the equipment, upgrades, and abilities you earn carry over no matter what game mode you are playing, so there is lots of replayability if you are trying to build the perfect undead ninja.
I've said lots of good stuff about the game, but if there is anything bad about it, it is definitely the music and sound. The sound effects, though satisfyingly squishy and gorey, are repetitive, and the music, while appropriately filled with thrash guitar, feels pretty generic and monotonous. I'm not sure how either would be improved, but I do know that I eventually had to turn the game off because the constant "SHINK SHINK SHINK GUITAR RIFF" was murder on my ears and brain.
Outside of that one flaw though, The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is a magnificent game for ten dollars. It has plenty to offer both the hardcore and the casual audience, although it is certainly tailored for the hardcore. It has a great story, a fun gameplay system, lots of character customizability, and a flying cat. Did I mention the flying cat? Well, there's a flying cat. Vampire Smile is better than the original in every way, but even if you haven't played Dead Samurai, this is still a game about vampire ninja assassins killing zombie alien cyborgs in the post-apocalyptic future. Can you really ask for anything more from a downloadable game?
Angelo M’ D’Argenio
CCC Freelance Writer