The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai (XBLA)

If you go poking through the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) on any given day, you're bound to find some really strange stuff. Aside from game demos, "HD remixes," and remakes of classic 2D games, it's hard to find a good game that isn't already being heavily promoted. Enter "Dishwasher: Dead Samurai," a very stylish and wacky beat-em-up from Ska Studios, which despite some flaws really stands out from the pack.

The name stands out on its own because it doesn't really make all that much sense. Shockingly, the story doesn't help:

An undead samurai dishwasher in a dystopian universe is on a quest for revenge against the evil cyborg army. To dispatch hordes of zombies, cyborgs, and robots, the Dishwasher has at his fingertips a devastating array of attacks using ancient blades, disturbing machinery, and screen-obliterating Dish Magic. Compete with the rest of the world in a variety of speed run and high score challenges to become the most formidable Dishwasher yet!

Although the wacky story is poorly informed by comic-strip style vignettes, it's not the star of the show. If you enjoy "Dishwasher..." for any reason, it's the fast paced action and the GORE. There are buttons for weak, strong, and throw attacks, and various controls for jumping and running up walls.

When an enemy is stunned, you'll see a button prompt for an ultraviolent "clean kill," a spectacular fatality type maneuver that gives you a health boost. The game's half cartoon / half watercolor visual style gives some added allure to the buckets of bloody flying across the screen. Though at times so much is happening on screen that it can be difficult to step back and appreciate it. The simplified controls, while awesome at first, tend to get a bit stale as time goes on, which is standard for such a basic, arcade style game.

Despite it's flaws, "Diswasher: Dead Samurai" rises to the top of the XBLA bunch, if only because of its unique visuals and pick-up-and-play gameplay. If 2009's Dream-Build-Play game design competition produces a quality game like it did this year with "Dishwasher..." I'll be a happy camper... errr dishwasher.

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