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Published on April 10th, 2011 | by Daniel

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Review: The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile (XBLA)

Release Date: April 6th 2011   Genre(s): Side-scroller Beat-Em-Up Developer: Ska Studios Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios Rating: M (Mature), 16+ [Rating: 9/10] (9) Once again, Xbox LIVE Arcade proves it’s the platform for independent developers looking to get their brilliant, wacky and, in The Dishwasher Vampire Smile’s case, plain insane ideas out to the masses. But this isn’t Ska Studios’ first rodeo. Ska Studios, also known as one man development team James Silva, released The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai after winning Microsoft’s Dream. Build. Play competition back in 2007. Vampire Smile continues and evolves upon everything Dead Samurai was- an over-the-top, gory, hack n’ slash game featuring an array of crazy weaponry set against the backdrop of a hand drawn world that oozes atmosphere. The hand drawn environment is a great setting for the hand drawn antics that go on within Vampire Smile. It’s eerie and dark, except when splattered with blood. Which it is most of the time. In Vampire Smile you can play as either The Dishwasher or his sister, Yuki who’s similar to a devil child. She can use a move called blood warp allowing her to quickly transport a few steps in a direction by transforming into the crimson liquid and then reforming at the desired spot. If that doesn’t sound weird enough, she can also wield the vast array of dangerous weaponry that is featured in Vampire Smile, including a chainsaw attached to her arm, or a giant syringe. Yeah, it’s mad.

It’s just bursting with colour!

Yuki has her own story, but it’s quite complicated, especially if you never played the first. But you won’t need to be hooked by the story when your attention is taken up by a wide variety of enemies for you to brutalise with the previously detailed weaponry. Different enemies, of course, require slightly different tactics. Some will be armed with guns, some with swords, others will be robot sharks or giant birds with swords for beaks and those aren’t even boss characters. The bosses get even crazier but I won’t spoil any for you. I did tell you it was a mad game. Aside from the characters, enemies, environment and weapons there is, of course, the gameplay. Yuki, like The Dishwasher, is capable of pulling off insane combos featuring all of her weaponry to fully maximise her murderous potential. Combos are relatively simple to pull off for the majority of the game, and once you get used to the movement and the speed of each weapon, and start administering the awesomely brutal finishing moves, you’ll soon feel like the devil child herself. It’s not all button-mashing combos though, Vampire Smile features a slight strategy element in the form of beads which can be collected throughout the levels that grant perks and abilities for certain things, for example, reduced damage from rockets. It also features magic which Yuki can use to help her thin out the masses of enemies on screen.

OI! CLEAN THAT UP!

Aside from the story mode there’s a training mode, an arcade mode and a Dish Challenge mode which is a wave based game mode where combos equal points! There’s also local and LIVE multiplayer which means there’s a lot for you to get stuck in to once you’ve completed the story with both Yuki and The Dishwasher on even the highest difficulty setting! Despite how awesome this package of a game sounds, there’s one big downfall. The difficulty that was heavily commented on in the first game is back and still kicking your ass in the later levels. Silva has implemented a Pretty Princess mode for those who want an easy ride, but there’s no option to change difficulty midway through your story, making it incredibly frustrating if you get stuck on a certain bit for ages and wanted to peg the difficulty down a bit to get past it. If you can master the difficulty though, Vampire Smile is a well worthy sequel and a stand-out game amongst the stand-out library that Xbox LIVE Arcade boasts. Now go, get the comboin’!

The Good

  • Awesome hand-drawn visuals.
  • Loads of weapons and enemies.
  • It’s crazy! In a good way!

The Bad

  • It can be a tough ride at times.
  • Things can get hectic on screen, especially with blood soaking everything.
[Rating: 9/10] (9)

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