I am the humble dishwasher. It's my time to shine!
The Dishwasher is a side-scrolling Beat 'em Up series released for the Xbox LIVE Arcade by (formerly) one-man design team Ska Studios. The first game, Dead Samurai, went up for sale in April 2009, with the sequel, Vampire Smile, following suit two years later.The Dishwasher starts the eponymous Dishwasher, a dishwasher working in a bleak world where humans are choosing to be mass-converted into cyborgs and the undead run amok. One day, he wakes up in the restaurant kitchen with mild amnesia, a big hole in his chest where his heart should be, and an army of cyborgs out for his head. For lack of anything better to do, he picks up a couple of meat cleavers and carves his way through a tale involving evil supercomputers, long-lost siblings, an alien chef, and shotgun-wielding vampire cowboy assassins. The games' plots are presented as a series of gritty comic strips which can sometimes make it a challenge to see whether the story is taking itself seriously or not.The games have attracted some flak for their art style and threadbare, usually ridiculous story, but also attract considerable acclaim for their frenetic combat (reminiscent of Devil May Cry and other combo-based beat 'em ups with scads of bloody finishing moves to boot) and impressive production values; everything from the cutscenes to the music are provided by Ska Studios. On top of a fairly involved story mode, both games also feature co-op play (although the first game's second player interaction is limited to a helper much like in Super Mario Galaxy) and Arcade modes consisting of fifty increasingly difficult challenges. Both are available for 800 MS points each on Xbox Live.
Awesome, but Impractical: The Dishwasher's Dekkentozter in Vampire Smile is a ludicrous Improvised Weapon that consists of a squirt gun, a portable generator, and a toaster on the end of a wire. It does huge damage, especially if you soak the enemy first, but the generator severely hinders the Dishwasher's mobility and its range is far outstripped by the Violence Hammer.
The final battle against the Fallen Engineer and his mind control takes place on a spinning dish in a glowing red abyss.
Better to Die than Be Killed: In Vampire Smile, enemies in critical condition will often kill themselves if left alone for a few moments. Given what the protagonists tend to do to their opponents when they're dazed, this might be more sensible than it looks.
Bittersweet Ending: Yuki's ending in Vampire Smile. The Fallen Engineer is dead (again), but so is the Dishwasher, and Yuki doesn't much care what happens to the rest of humanity now that her mind has been purged.
Blade Lock: during a Messy Kill finisher, several of the more dangerous enemies will raise a weapon in defense, leading to this. You'll have to power past them with a Quick Time Event to deliver the coup de grâce. This also happens if Yuki initiates a ChainsawDuel with a Cyborg Pumpkinhead.
Boss Subtitles: Every boss save the Fallen Engineer has them in the second game. Some examples:
Crapsack World: It's always dark and rainy, and there are cyborgs and zombies everywhere. In the sequel, it's revealed that the Dishwasher and Chef basically burned the world down and tried to start over on the moon.
Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Literally. The architect of the transhumanist movement engineered the cybernetics this way. Cyborg bodies even poison the soil, causing the dead to stir.
Deadpan Snarker: The Dishwasher in the sequel is a little more sanguine about his situation, leading to some very dry wisecracks every now and then. In particular, he's totally nonplussed by zombie sharks.
Degraded Boss: The chainsaw-wielding Pumpkinhead mini-bosses from the first game show up as normal, if especially tough, enemies in the sequel.
Deliberately Monochrome: Limited Palette variant. Enemies, for the most part, have very bright, colorful lights on their person, so the player can spot them through the chaos of battle better. Blood, and particularly imposing scenery are also colorful.
Dissonant Serenity: The main reason Chef stands out like a sore thumb is his default expression: a placid smile. Cheerful disposition, it needs to be said, is in very short supply in this series. This makes it all the more jarring if Yuki kills the Dishwasher, since he sort of freaks out.
Drop the Hammer: In Vampire Smile, The Dishwasher obtains the "Violence Hammer": A hefty pole with ninety pounds of steel girder on the end, wrapped in barbed wire with hooks, knives, and other assorted painful bits tied on, wielded like a polearm.
In the first game, Blue Freaks can land on you from above, though they're fairly small and are relatively easy to dodge.
In Vampire Smile, however, there are the Shoguns: huge, armored, halberd and rocket launcher weilding minibosses that come down with a fairly large shockwave. Problem is, they can do this over and over again while swinging around the aformentioned halberd.
Easy-Mode Mockery / Easier Than Easy: Pretty Princess mode, unlockable in Vampire Smile by dying five times in a row in the same room. In it, everything is covered with a pink filter, hearts float through the air, and enemies all bleed hearts and rainbows. Also, it's actually quite a challenge to even die on this mode.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Dishwasher and the Chef. In the second game, Yuki is referred to as "the Prisoner." Just about all the villains are addressed this way, too: There's the Doctor, the Banker, the General, and the Judge. And the Fallen Engineer.
Gatling Good: Yuki gets one of these on her arm, too, and it's implied she can switch between it and the chainsaw at will.
Gorn: The first game splashed floods of gore across the screen, and the second amps it up even further. Finishers nearly always involve some form of dismemberment or someone getting Impaled with Extreme Prejudice. In Vampire Smile, one of Yuki's boss finishers turns the entire screen red for a couple of seconds.
High-Pressure Blood: But of course. Old samurai movie-style blood fountains shoot out of freshly defeated enemies defeated by blades.
Hoist by His Own Petard: The Dishwasher has at least one finisher per enemy in Dead Samurai that involves killing a cyborg with their own weapons. Of particular note is the one where he pulls a grenade out of their belt, calmly flips it around, and rams it into their eye socket.
I Have Many Names: The final boss of Dead Samurai is called, alternately, the Fallen Engineer, the Masked Rider, and if you go by the achievements list, That Guy on the Horse.
Improbable Weapon User: something of a recurring theme in the series' arsenal is The Dishwasher or Yuki picking up some dangerous object and comfortably and gracefully using as a weapon as though there were a thousand-year old martial art behind its use.
Interface Screw: One boss in Vampire Smile, the Invalid, is a wheelchair-bound hospital patient who turns off the TV and turns it back on with the game in a different genre. He uses the distraction to leap out of his chair and strangle you while screaming his head off.
Ludicrous Gibs: The ways that you can turn enemies into hamburger meat and blood are truly astounding. Sometimes you don't even need to be the one to kill them.
Metaphorgotten: "Diaboldi's corpse looks like it's been hit by a truck...with knives welded to it...Maybe some sort of mulching mechanism."
The Minion Master: The Doctor in the first game is a fairly weak boss who can summon hordes of high-leveled enemies more or less indefinitely. In Arcade mode, you fight two at once, which makes things a little hectic.
Noodle People: The protagonists are pretty scrawny, especially considering their hideous feats of strength. The Big Bad, however, takes it into Body Horror territory.
The Obi-Wan: The Chef is something of a mentor and protector figure to the Dishwasher, appropriately enough. He's effectively the one who kicks the journey off by rescuing him from the Sinthesis, and of course is a rare source of exposition.
One to Million to One: Yuki's method of Teleport Spam. A particularly nasty example since she is simply shredded into a full body version of Red Mist instead of transforming into a swarm and is implied to feel all of it.
Ontological Mystery: The Dishwasher in Dead Samurai wakes up in a kitchen with no idea how he got there and his heart cut out. It doesn't last long, though, because his memory starts coming back.
Orcus on His Throne: Averted in Dead Samurai. The Fallen Engineer personally leads the initial attempt to retrieve the Dishwasher, and serves as the first boss. It backfires, badly, since the Dishwasher steals his Shift Blade.
Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: The dynamic "grab" moves used on sparking foes are invariably one-sided-beatdowns-par-excellence. In the sequel, however, a rare few of Yuki's foes will let her know, quite harshly, that they're not nearly dead enough for that to work on them.
Reverse Grip: The Dishwasher's Shift Blade in both games, and Yuki's Conviction in Vampire Smile
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: This drives the Dishwasher in Dead Samurai. Also drives Yuki in Vampire Smile, though she's noticeably more vengeful about it.
Short Range Shotgun: Both games feature shotguns whose optimal range is kissing distance. In Vampire Smile, at a range it won't be much stronger than the submachinegun, but point blank it's powerful enough to One-Hit Kill several mooks.
A boss in Vampire Smile is called "the Murderfly." The developers were not aware of this reference but instead the Murderfly is intended as an homage to a logo by Ska Studios' Michelle Juett drawn in 2008.
An achievement in Vampire Smile references Mortal Kombat (the method of initially unlocking the item that lets you get the "achieveables" required for it, which involves pressing Start after cat's head pops out of the corner of the screen when you juggle enemies in a specific area, which in turn transports you to a Boss Rush with the developers' heads pasted on the bosses), Red vs. Blue (specifically the "achievements PSA", with Caboose saying "I also have my own achieveables!" or "I have so many achieveables!" whenever you unlock one, along with the name of the achievement as well as the fake achievement popup being straight from the short) and the overall concept of silly achievements (3 of them consisting of opening a present, double jumping and shooting an enemy with the Awesome, but Impractical weapon described above).
Sinister Scythe / Epic Flail: The paired kusarigama (Kamas in DS, Kama-Kazi in VS), used alternatively like nunchaku and just plain sickles by the Dishwasher in Dead Samurai and then by Yuki in Vampire Smile. They take the role of the token Dual Wielding, quick, finesse weapon - in the first game, they effectively replace the cleavers.
Walking Shirtless Scene: The Dishwasher in both games. He gets a shirt in Dead Samurai after you beat the Story mode.
Wake-Up Call Boss: The Viking in Dead Samurai is the first boss who doesn't bat an eye at Teleport Spam, and his attacks are unpredictable, cover wide areas, and deal huge damage. When his health gets critical, he'll go berserk and start hacking up the entire screen in an attempt to take you with him.
Where It All Began: The final level of Vampire Smile, the Stagnant Nightmare, is a twisted version of the first level of Dead Samurai.