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Quick Game Reviews: The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile and Charlie Murder

Tristan Reyes

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In the Dishwasher, minibosses present a real challenge. Screenshot by Tristan Reyes.

Two classic brawler-style games from the glory days of the Xbox Live Arcade have recently been ported to Steam for a decent price of about $10 each. Most fans probably never expected these games to be released on the PC as the first title, The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai has not seen light of day. Now let’s see how these games stack up today.

Watching these comic book-style cutscenes will keep you interested, but will also leave you with many questions. Screenshot by Tristan Reyes

The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile was released on the Xbox Live Arcade in 2011 after the Dead Samurai came out in 2009. The story revolves around our first main character, Yuki, the stepsister of The Dishwasher who has been wrongfully been put in space prison. After breaking out and getting her arm replaced with a chainsaw, she goes on a bloody and gruesome journey to assassinate the three leaders who sent her there. While on this mission, The Dishwasher is working on a way to save Yuki from a demon that’s possessing her.

Gameplay-wise,  it’s fun, but it’s no walk in the park. It plays like a fast-paced side-scroller where you’re able to fight off multiple enemies at a time. You’re given most of your abilities at the beginning of the game, like getting a gun or using magic, as well as plenty of unique weapons to keep you satisfied. You have to make use of all of these abilities if you want to get through this game. There will be times where a miniboss will absolutely kick your ass if you aren’t paying attention to everything going on. That’s not to say that it’s a bad game because of the difficulty, it’s meant to be challenging. There will be situations where you’ll fight waves of enemies for a few minutes only to get killed by the last guy. Though it may seem a bit unfair at first, you do get full health and keep any health items used from the previous fight. With some time, you learn how to get better until you can speedrun the game for fun.

A little bit of music can help you relax after all the chaos. Screenshot by Tristan Reyes.

The game is also a metroidvania at its core. You explore these beautifully hand-drawn black and white environments in search of secrets and currency that you can use to make your life easier. Upgrades come in the form of beads that give can abilities like making enemies block less, or increasing damage to undead enemies. The game also has one of the best collectibles in the game. Throughout each level, you can find at least two amps, and when you go up to them the character will pull out an instrument (depending on who you’re playing as) and will start a minigame where you press a sequence of buttons to do a sick-ass guitar solo, with a unique song for each amp.

The game has some problems being ported to the PC. If you’re playing on any resolution higher than 720p, the UI and text for the pause menu will be extremely small. If you’re playing this game on a big screen 4k monitor, you will strain your eyes to read the menu settings and that’s not fun. If you just simply put the setting to 720p or if you’re playing on a decently-sized monitor, you’ll be fine. Hopefully a patch will be added soon to fix this minor issue

For a beat-em-up that gives the player a challenge and has the idea that the player should have fun, this game is great. It’s a four-hour long campaign that can be replayed using a different character who uses different weapons. There is also an arcade mode and Online Co-op so you can do those sick guitar solos with your friends. For about $10 on steam, this game is a steal.

For a PC port, it has every feature that you’d want in a beat-em-up. It’s fast, has fluid combat, challenging and most importantly fun. Now let’s look at another game that’s very similar, but has something else to offer.

The Dishwasher:Vampire Smile gets a 4 out of 5.

In the 2013 Microsoft held an event called the Summer of Arcade 2013 in which several games were released for download in the XBLA. One of those games was a game called Charlie Murder.

Charlie Murder challenges the player with innovative enemies. Screenshot by Tristan Reyes.

Charlie Murder focuses on an upcoming punk rock band who must fight their way through zombies, ghosts and demons, among other things, to participate in the Battle of the Bands. Meanwhile, an old friend is trying to stop them with his own band.

The game is presented in an Anarchistic Heavy Metal style, and it’s actually similar to the Dishwasher series except it’s in color, and the game shows you how metal it is. You can see it from the menu screen, to the environments, and even the references the game makes. For example: one of the items that you can buy or find are animals such as birds, frogs and bats. Do you know what you do with them? You bite their heads off like a true rock legend to use your Anar-Chi abilities, of course! 

The gameplay goes as follows: at the very beginning of the game you can choose to play as one of five characters in the game, and as you play the game you can level up and gain new abilities. You gain these abilities by using the character’s cell phone which you can pull up on the fly. The level up system is ok, but a player can easily underlevel themselves if they don’t upgrade the right stats. You can also find and buy clothing items for your characters that increase your stats. What is the most surprising about this is that the clothes actually show on your character, giving the band different outfits to wear throughout any playthrough. Along with clothing, you can also get tattoos in order to use different abilities depending on the bandmate you chose.The combat is fine, except that some enemies can get annoying by parrying your attacks and can sometimes just paralyze the player, making for some pretty cheap deaths.

Charlie Murder does its own take on Guitar Hero in these fun minigames. Screenshot by Tristan Reyes.

However, the game isn’t all combat. During most of the levels, there are gameplay segments that add variation to your adventure. Instances like driving down a zombie infested road while throwing garbage at ninjas and climbing a castle while attacking birds that explode when you hit them with clothes hangers. While the humor here isn’t for everybody, it’s moments like these in co-op that really make the game shine. Also, some of the best moments in the game are during cutscenes where you get to play some of the music as a band with timed button presses. It’s such a shame that there are so few of these segments in the game, but they are enjoyable nonetheless. 

The game still has some issues similar to Vampire Smile, such as how the phone texts and UI are really small on resolutions higher than 720p. These fixes can still be fixed with a few updates of course.

For a beat-‘em-up taking place in a world where bizarre events happen with a heavy metal twist, this game is solid. The game is around eight hours long per character and offers a bit of replayability as you can always play with a friend either locally or online. For about $10, the game is worth it and can be tons of fun.

Charlie Murder gets a 3.5 out of 5.

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Quick Game Reviews: The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile and Charlie Murder