As you progress through the game you unlock different types of magic which get a clever name and brief description. But, it doesn’t tell you which magic is mapped to which button. In the heat of battle it didn’t really matter since you were basically mashing buttons as fast as possible for the best combo anyway, but it would have been nice information to know.
Other things you unlock as you progress through levels are a few new weapons unique to Yuki or Dishwasher, and some beads. The beads were a really cool edition to Vampire Smile, as each bead can be worn in one of four slots in your inventory, and each bead has an ability. Abilities range from added damage when your health is low, slowly regenerating health, or resistance to certain weapon damage.
Additionally you can upgrade each of your character’s stats, weapons, and buy health items to assist you through some pretty hectic battles. I’d like to have mapped those items to a hotkey on the controller, but having them (again each item with a clever name) was appreciated all the same. Seriously, who doesn’t love a good Squid Chip snack?
Stopping the game to heal was only really a problem in the co-op, as it interrupted both players flow. Co-op was otherwise a real smooth ride. Latency was never an issue through the campaign, even with a screen full of enemies and a lot of speedy button mashing, weapon swinging going on. One other minor issue we had with the co-op was a lack of a revive mechanic, instead, it was a timed based revival. So if one player went down, the other needed to make sure they stayed alive for a certain amount of time before the downed player would come back.
When starting up the co-op campaign you’re put in a lobby that can switch which mode (arcade or campaign) you wish to participate in. The campaign and arcade sessions you participate in are saved, regardless of which person initiated the play session, so you can change characters mid-way through the game if you wish to get a taste for Yuki or Dishwasher and their individual weapons.
One thing we saw in our PAX East 2011 Preview of the game was the addition of a BYOB mode in which another player can take control of Yuki or Dishwasher’s little pets; a cat and a raven. This twin stick shooter form of gameplay is just an assist, but it’s a nice addition to get a casual player involved in your game, best of all, it works both locally and online. Basically each pair of local players can control the pair of characters: Yuki/cat or Dishwasher/raven. That brings this two player co-op experience up to four.
Overall The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is one of the tightest original co-op beat em up experiences on consoles to date. If it wasn’t for a few minor bugs and annoyances this would be a near perfect experience. Graphically the game looks stellar with several new effects and animations, the new weapons are a blast to use, and the co-op mode is exactly what we were wanting in the first game. On top of all that content there’s an arcade mode (playable in co-op) for challenge style rooms, a scoring based challenge arena, speed runs and more.
Simply put, The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile is one not to be missed and should definitely be part of your co-op library when it releases on April 6th.
The Co-Op Experience:
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.