When you think of the Wii, you don’t normally conjure up images of poles being jammed down people’s throats or chainsaws ripping through torsos. Enter MadWorld, the first game to be released by Platinum Games, which is a studio made up of former Devil May Cry, Okami and Viewtiful Joe developers. MadWorld brings a bit of the old ultra-violence to Nintendo’s kid-friendly console, and hardcore gamers who have been waiting for the next big adult title since No More Heroes need to look no further.
When looking solely at the screenshots that Sega has released thus far, it is hard to see how truly amazing MadWorld looks. In person, the graphics are fairly stunning thanks to the super-sharp visuals that are further accentuated by the largely black and white color scheme. The art style is unlike any other game out there, wearing its influence from Sin City and other similar graphic novels on its sleeve, and the limited use of color adds further accentuation to the already striking visuals, especially so when the bright red blood breaks the colorless palette as it spews forth from a downed enemies’ wounds.
The demo level was set in a factory, with all types of grinders, spike platforms and saws strewn about for use in the dirty deeds. The game felt very much like the aforementioned No More Heroes in action, as most of my time was spent bashing my foes heads in with whatever I could find. The world seems to be setup like giant amusement park of pain, with each room offering different ways to send your opponents to their untimely ends. You move Jack, the main character, around with the nunchuck and perform attacks with the buttons on the Wii Remote or through some perfunctory motion swipes. After several moments, I was throwing enemies into spinning blades and power-slamming them into a bloody pulp on the pavement with ease. It may not have flowed as smoothly as Travis Touchdown’s light sword combat, but I am confident that it will become second nature once you have learned the intricacies of the fighting system.
While I enjoyed my time with MadWorld immensely, I hope that the retail game offers enough gameplay variations between levels to keep it interesting. I realize that jamming a thug’s face into a spike will never get old, but having to clear out armies of hooligans on every stage in similar ways may. The game breaks up the action by throwing “Bloodbath Challenges” at you mid-level. After triggering one in the demo, I was taken to a room with a pit and told to throw as many enemies in there as possible before the spikes smashed down from the ceiling. I was then assaulted by oncoming brawlers as I quickly tried to crush as many of them as I could to get the best score multiplier.
Unfortunately, the demo was short and really didn’t give me a clear indication as to whether or not there would be enough variety to sustain the title. As long as they infuse plenty of diversity into the design, the ever-fun mechanics and inventive death-traps should keep this disk spinning in your Wii for awhile. Sega has also promised that several minigames will make it into the final version, including a game called “ManDarts” that has you hurling foes at a giant dart board to rack up points. This almost sounds like reason enough to pick up MadWorld, and I hope that the other minigames are as interesting and hilarious as that one.
Overall, despite only being able to demo it for a short time, I walked away very impressed with what I had seen of MadWorld and am eager to jump back onto the streets of black and white mayhem upon its release. The game is constantly creative with its weaponry and is often as funny as it is violent. Wii fans who can stomach over-the-top gore and are looking for something more mature than Pikmin should consider picking up MadWorld when it ships on March 10, as you aren’t likely to find a more unique action title on any console this season.