About a year ago, Dishwasher: Dead Samurai intrigued our artistic co-op interests. Now that Ska Studios has gotten a bit of a handle on what to do, a sequel has been born. Dishwasher Dead Samurai: Vampire Smile was on display at this years PAX East, and we got to try out how it plays, how it looks, and ask a few questions about how co-op is. We also took a look at Charlie Murder, which is a 4-player co-op beat-em-up for the Indie community of Xbox.
Dishwasher is back and ready to rock with his crow familiar, and all the right moves.
When we first checked out the Vampire Smile booth, you'd think we were looking at Dishwasher itself. Stylistically, it is identical. Beautiful environments, similar stage design, and of course: Dishwasher the Dead Samurai right on the screen. Now, however, Dishwasher is joined by a second character who is the actual focus of the game. Her name is Yuki, and she is Dishwashers former sister. Death causes strange relationship changes. Anyway, she's been inhabited by Demons, and needs Dishwashers help to fix the issue. The main game alternates between controlling Yuki and Dishwasher, but it has a co-op story where players can control both at the same time. This co-op sounds like it's more of an alternate approach to the story, rather than just a 'mode' but we'll just have to see when it's available. The co-op game wasn't available, but after talking to James Silva of Ska, he assures us he has completely remade the Dishwasher engine to fix any issues the first game had with co-op connectivity.
While playing the main game, the one major difference I noticed is how much cleaner the gameplay is. Switching weapons on the fly, using the guns and melee weapons seamlessly, and especially activating the powers to destroy nearly everything on the screen worked very, very well. I watched a few people play for a while, which just made my mouth water. Of course, I had to play for myself, so after the mob settled down I booted up on my own. A representative at Ska assured me the game was "more difficult than Dishwasher: Dead Samurai" was, but I took my chances.
There was a definite challenge to the game, but with the cleaned up controls and screen rate, it was really no problem. I watched some people try to handle a boss without changing up their weapon (From dual meat cleavers to samurai sword, giant painful-looking-hammer-thing, chainsaws, etc.) all with different attributes from speed to sheer damage. There were also very brutal grabs, which helped with the foes got too close to clear them out, as well as the ranged weapons. Switching between those quickly gave me a real advantage, and I appreciated moving the story to Yuki. Yuki and Dishwasher move, fight, and create carnage the same. I can't wait to see if Yuki ends up with a few new powers, new abilities, or exclusive weapons.
Yuki has her own style, a cat as a familiar, and some pretty sweet moves.
When we talked to James Silva, he gave us the technical rundown that basically said: This is what Dishwasher was meant to be. The engine was rebuilt with the blessing of Microsoft, meaning it will be on the Xbox LIVE Arcade. There was no date set, simply a response of "It will be out when it is done," which makes me very happy. As someone who's anticipated games before, I can honestly say that I feel deadlines/street dates are where gamers go to be disappointed. As it stands now, Vampire Smile is very polished, so to hear that Ska is still working to finish the co-op and remainder of the game makes me a very happy Arcade gamer.
Old school Brawler meets new school music. Groovy.
We know we don't cover nearly enough Indie games on the Xbox indie channel, but there's a reason. Unfortunately, it is true that Indie games get a bit of a bad wrap thanks to the saturation of really, really bad games in the channel. Fortunately, some indie developers have been contacting us, and even giving a lot of great Hands-on demonstrations at events like PAX. This will give us more of a hand-up when checking out indie games. But, I digress - we're here to talk about Charlie Murder.
Charlie Murder is an imaginary band with four crazy members. Drummer, guitarist, Bassist and vocals. Each of these characters can be selected to play as co-op, and each has their own set of amazing skills and bonuses. My favorite, and the one I played as, was the hulking drummer named "Rexecutioner." He was large, in charge, and threw hack-saws at enemies when he starts his heavy jam. I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Charlie Murder is the 4-player beat-em-up that Ska studios has been working on for a while. The game follows these 4 band members as they're under attack in the streets, cemeteries, and other environments of their imaginary world.
I didn't really ask about the story when talking to James, but from what I can tell: Who cares? You play as crazy punk band members artistically styled in a similar light to Dishwasher, you kill enemies like zombies with standard attacks and then the special attacks that are unique to each member? I'm sure the story will be awesome, and important - but I didn't really get a feel for it in my brief demo time. This is definitely a title to look for, especially if you dig brawlers like Castle Crashers or TMNT: Turtles in Time.
While the game was demo'd in the Xbox Live Indie Channel, James had told us that an official launch platform for Charlie Murder wasn't announced yet, but to keep an eye out. Could we be seeing it on XBLA? PC? Event the...PS3?