Monday, April 20, 2009

demo monday: the dishwasher, dead samurai

oh my aren't you the scariest fellow this side of a jhonen vasquez comic So I had this idea for this thing called “Demo Monday.” I decided to call it “Demo Monday” and not something cutesy like “DeMonday” because that sort of brings demons to mind and while we might decide to be a blog about demons next April 1 for right now I think I just want to write about game demos for right now thanks very much.

So! I’ll be downloading and playing and writing about a different game demo every Monday from now on – that’s because it’s not very time or cash intensive and it exposes me (and you!) to a more varied set of experiences – I find myself writing about the same games and types of games over and over, and this may well be a good way to expand my vocabulary. I’ll write about the game, I’ll write about the effectiveness of the given demo, and I’ll tell you whether I think it’s worth your money. This week, I decided to try out the Xbox Live Arcade’s The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai.

Some background – Dishwasher is a sidescrolling beat-‘em-up, obviously inspired by Alien Hominid. It’s also an Xbox Live Community title selected to be released as a full-blown Live Arcade title right alongside the professionally-developed heavy hitters from Microsoft and others. Needless to say, it doesn’t exactly stand up to them visually – while there are occasionally some impressive effects, most of it doesn’t exceed the standards of a well-done Flash game. That’s probably the best way to describe Dishwasher, actually – if we could run this thing from within the confines of Firefox, it’d probably be worth a Midnight Snack recommendation, but as an Xbox Live Arcade title (that goes for $10!) it’s a little less impressive.

It’s got sort of a neat visual style, all dirty and dark with lots of blood – the sort of thing that would probably have appealed to me a lot more when I was sixteen, but it will still have its fans. Ignore the story, though, or what there is of it – told in a series of blurry, ambiguous comic book panels, the presentation could be cool but ends up being superfluous. As with many beat-‘em-ups, there is a combo system one could acquaint oneself with, but as with many beat-‘em-ups there’s no real need – mashing the buttons works just about as well. Audio is a mostly predictable collection of grunts and techno music. Not much to report there.

As a demo, it succeeds from a gameplay standpoint – just as it ends, you pick up a new weapon and move into a new area – you get a glimpse of the game’s potential, but it doesn’t give you so much that you’re not interested in more. However, from a presentation standpoint, a grammar nazi can find faults - “airborn” instead of “airborne,” and the sentence “If you’re low on health, kill grunts for more health” are notable blemishes. A demo is like a cover letter – little mistakes like that don’t really matter, but leaving in typos is a good way to get passed over by a discerning eye.

So, buy or pass? I’m not super enthusiastic about this one, but it is fun enough in its way, and I think the extra weapons and abilities unlocked later in the game might make it worthwhile. The asking price is just a bit much – for $5, I’d consider it, but for $10 I’m going to have to pass. There’s nothing going on here you can’t find somewhere else.