Dishwasher Dead Samurai is a co-op game where players control a zombie ninja hell bent on lopping the limbs off anything that moves, how could it not be good? The independent game was the winner of the first XNA Dream, Build Play Contest and therefore published by Microsoft for Xbox Live. It's a fast paced beat em up game that features some slick hand drawn visuals, but one that ultimately falls shorts despite some interesting co-op options.
Dishwasher is an aesthetically pleasing game. The music, while not exactly varied, is interesting enough while not being a distraction to the players, given a bit of spice with each guitar riff that is unleashed along with special powers. Artistically the game flowed with a comic book aura, with every level as well as cut scenes, leaving me almost wishing I could read the game, rather than play it.
While the game supports online and offline co-op, the only mode available to online players is an arcade mode. In the arcade, the Dishwasher and his Shadow are challenged with clearing "rooms" of enemies, competing in a semi-friendly manner for the highest score possible by chaining attacks together to increase their multiplier. The immediate problem with this is there's no benefit with being in co-op, other than a lightened burden of enemies, your scoring isn't tied together in any way. The bigger problem with this, the online co-op is almost completely unplayable. After only a handful of levels the game would become so incredibly lagged that we'd have to quit and restart to re-sync. As if this wasn't frustrating enough, even on the easiest difficulty, some of the levels are beyond ridiculous in difficulty. Enjoyable button mashing quickly became infuriating controller throwing, with a dash of colorful language.
Going out on a limb, it may be safe to say the button mashing does seem to have some form of strategy, and not just using combos. If properly balanced, the five different weapon combinations, which can be changed out mid-air if one chooses, can be chained for some brutal attacks. Unfortunately, with the network lag, and the accumulating frustration, it is difficult or pointless to find that balance for certain levels. For instance; The battle dubbed "L'opera Robotique" gives you the standard two weapons, but the only strategy that we found that worked, was spamming the 'Y' button. Thus making the weapon combos pointless, and wasting over an hour of our time.
The story mode did feature an "unlockable" local co-op mode, it was just the unlocking part that was odd. In order to have a co-op buddy jump in to the story mode, you have to find an Amulet that unleashes Dishwashers Shadow, it's about 3 levels into the story. Once you find this amulet, which is absolutely possible to overlook, local co-op is unlocked on any difficulty, and then you can play the story co-op. Another local mode that was unveiled before release is the Guitar mode. In designated parts of the story, you find a guitar section that uses the Guitar Hero or Rock Band guitar as a controller, where a third player can jump in as a floating guitar. Your third player will feel pretty left out through the rest of the game, too bad this wasn't it's own mode altogether. It's an interesting diversion but it's no substitute for a real story based co-op mode.
When it all comes down to it, Dishwasher ends up being a game that's unpolished and unbalanced. It falls short on its full co-op potential, and overall was just disappointing. We really hope to see a patch in the near future to fix the network issues that plague the game, we feel that these issues probably made the game even more difficult than it already was, sucking the enjoyment out of it further.