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In Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, a humble dishwasher, Bruce Lee (Jason Scott Lee; no relation) fights a bunch of chefs armed with meat cleavers in the back alley behind the restaurant. It’s one of the few good scenes in an awful film, but would it not have been even better if, instead of Bruce Lee (Jason Scott Lee; no relation) fighting the chefs, you had a dead samurai Dishwasher? And if, instead of a bunch of chefs, he fought an unending army of zombies, special forces soldiers, and cyborgs? Of course it would, and it would have been no less accurate in its account of Bruce Lee’s life.
Anyway, that’s The Dishwasher. Sort of. It’s a deeply stylised 2D fighting game with a combo system ripped from Devil May Cry in which the working class misery of washing dishes is glorified with ultraviolence, robots, and magic. It’s thanks to that DMC combo system that The Dishwasher is such a colossal cut above the likes of Streets of Rage or Final Fight, in the same way Devil May Cry makes a mockery of tripe like Final Fight Streetwise. A modern fighting game needs a modern fighting system, and The Dishwasher is the best scrolling 2D fighter since the Gamecube’s Viewtiful Joe.
Like Devil May Cry’s Dante, The Dishwasher can deal out lengthy combos of light and fierce attacks, launch and juggle enemies, throw them around the space, and switch weapons to mix combinations of attacks up. With a combo system this sophisticated, just moving around the space and battering wave after wave of enemies is a game in itself, and the entire premise of the dozen or more arenas in The Dishwasher’s Arcade mode.
But The Dishwasher is a huge game, with online play, a full story mode, and challenge rooms to score attack which reward your combo-building skills learned playing through the campaign. The pay-off comes in thousands of points and gallons of blood, with a score system which rewards mastery of the combo system and encourages excellence.
For the button-hammering attention-deficit types who can finish DMC and Ninja Gaiden without a hit, there’s more on offer in one level of Dead Samurai than the entirety of the full-priced Ninja Blade. For everyone else, it’s really, really violent, and that’s something everyone can get behind.
May 4, 2009