Published May 04, 2009Many of today's biggest videogames are violent but the most popular gaming console has been largely violence-free. Luckily, the super-stylized and ultra-violent MadWorld has stepped up to reconcile this dichotomy with the killingest Wii game yet.
Sure, Suda51's awesome No More Heroes was similarly slaughter prone but decapitated heads resulted in ironic gold coins, not red blood, spewing from the game's severed necks. MadWorld has no such qualms about red blood. In fact, that's the only colour in the Sin City-inspired game, which otherwise uses a black & white template to complement its hand-sketched look.
It's not a deep game but it provides Wii owners with a welcome change of pace from the cuter fair on offer. Plus, too many games try to become hybrids - there's no need for RPG elements when we're dealing with a blackly comic, old-school beat-'em-up, albeit with the odd mini-game like "Man Golf."
The winkingly ridiculous (and subtly subversive) storyline is that bad guys have taken over Varrigan City and transformed this urban wasteland into a Running Man-esque game show called Death Watch. Much of the comedy comes from the over-the-top play-by-play announcers, one of whom is voiced by John DiMaggio (Bender from Futurama).
MadWorld has a throwback level structure (complete with boss battles), as you roam the various areas, using an arm-mounted chainsaw, your fists or whatever else you can find to wipe folks out. Extra points are allotted for the most creative kills, like, say, driving a signpost through someone's neck before flinging him at a wall of spikes. It's all accomplished with a combo of simple-yet-gratifying thumb and motion controls.
Platinum Games' monochromatic comic-book aesthetic - the developer was previously known as Clover Studios and made similarly stylized titles Okami and Viewtiful Joe - is a fantastically smart workaround for the Wii's graphical limitations and makes the violence much more fun than it would be in a photo-realistic world.
MadWorld will likely usher in a wave of mature-rated Wii games but the lesson to be drawn is that creativity is king and that adult games, no matter how vulgar and gory, don't have to be juvenile. (Platinum Games)