In 2008, No More Heroes awed Wii gamers who were craving a hardcore, over-the-top and violent experience. Its combination of humor, satire and oceans full of blood made for a unique experience on Wii that had yet to be matched, as no other developer or publisher had come up with anything in the same vein.
Enter Platinum Games. This new company is not one lacking in experience, as it is made up of former members of Clover and Capcom, responsible for creating mainstream successes (Devil May Cry, Resident Evil) as well as cult classics that deserve a place in your games library (Okami, Viewtiful Joe, Godhand). Leave it to a studio with this kind of pedigree to try their hand at 2009’s version of No More Heroes with MadWorld, a game that is more violent, more over-the-top, and just as stylistic as last year’s gem.
Mar. 10, 2009
MadWorld is presented in black and white, much like the Sin City comic books. It’s a wonderful style that works on the Wii; the Wii doesn’t have the horsepower for the realistic graphics output of its two console cousins, but the Wii can do stylized, and do it well. Besides the black and white, there is lots and lots of red. If the blood you spilled pooled in Varrigan City, there would be flash flood warnings for days. The violence is completely ridiculous as well, and you will catch yourself giggling like a school girl at some of the destruction you cause-it’s probably best for our mental health that this game eschews realism for a distinct art style, or else we would feel worse about what we are doing.
Varrigan City has been overrun by terrorists and made into the stage for a game show called “Death Watch”. Think of something like The Running Man, with countless thugs and warriors battling it out until just one survives as champion of the games. Your (anti) hero, Jack, has been sent to the island to compete, but he also has some motives you are not privy to until later in the game. You may be surprised considering this is a brawler, but the story is solid and adds to the game. It has a few twists and turns along the way that will keep you interested in between the nonstop bouts of vicious rampaging.
Gameplay consists of running up to the assorted baddies picking fights around town, and basically showing them that you are more of a badass than they are through the use of a variety of punches, weapons, and environmental objects. You can string together short combos of punches that can be concluded with a finisher, easily controlled with a downward or sideways swipe of the Wii Remote. Not only is this system intuitive-you don’t have to waggle for every punch, just make a quick flick for a serious uppercut or hook to stun a baddy-but it works, and works well.
There are also finishing moves that are performed by holding down the A button once the prompt appears, and then you will be shown a variety of different motion controlled actions. Grab a guy by the legs and swing him around until you find something to throw him on or at, or use him to bowl over a group of enemies-this is controlled by swinging the Wii Remote. Knock a guy to the floor and cut his face right down the middle to the floor-this is controlled with a single quick, downward thrust of the Wii Remote. Platinum Games’ choices all make sense for the Wii Remote, and are not just thrown in there because it’s on the Wii. Given the nature of the game, the finishers are actually more satisfying because of the motion controls.
If you don’t want to off the competition with a hard punch and finisher combo, you also have a chainsaw attachment on your arm, which is accessed by holding the B button. You can swipe downward or side to side, and the results for the basic enemies is instant death. This would be a boring way to go through the game though, and would make each level take forever; points for kills are based on how creative you are, so the more thought you put into stringing out someone’s death as long as you can, the more of a reward you get. Given each level has a time limit, you’re going to need to unleash some bloody artistry on those remaining in Varrigan City.
How creative can you get with your kills? Let’s take for instance one of my kills that stands out. After punching a thug a few times and stunning him with an uppercut, I grabbed a nearby tire (hold down the A button to grab and continue holding an object) and slammed it down on the dazed man with a downward motion of the Wii Remote. While he stumbled around with his arms trapped, I grabbed a signpost off the road and then slammed it through his head; again, with a single (admittedly satisfying) motion of the Wii Remote. I then picked him up, dumped him into a nearby barrel, and picked up the barrel, and slammed him repeatedly into a giant spiked wall known as a “rose bush”. Repeatedly.