Madworld Hands-On

Sega's upcoming Wii action game is the right kind of crazy. We investigate the madness in our hands-on look.

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Madworld is probably one of the most anticipated Wii games in a number of different circles. The stylish and ultraviolent third-person action game offers a change of pace from the lighter fare that's prevalent on Nintendo's juggernaut platform. Instead of brightly colored cartoony visuals, developer Platinum Games is serving up a dose of noir-inspired black and white lunacy with dramatic flashes of color in a hyperviolent package. Yes, it's completely crazy, but after trying out a work-in-progress version of the game, we can say it's looking like a good kind of crazy.

Admit it, this guy would look much better with a chainsaw sticking out of his face.

Madworld drops you into a sci-fi fantasy world set in an indeterminate time period. You are cast in the role of Jack, a participant in a virtual reality show whose goal is to have you beat, impale, kill, and maim anyone you encounter in the enclosed areas you're being sent through. Yep, this is no Wii Sports. While we've seen the game a number of times over the past year, this was our first chance to try it out ourselves. Before we were able to get our hands on the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, we got a quick look at another new area in the game, dubbed Asian Town. The level was much like what we've seen before--a city street area with nooks and crannies full of people to murder. It seems that the hook for each area is a collection of themed murder options, some of which become available as you rack up a specific number of points. In addition, the demo let us get a look at a boss battle between Jack and Yee Fang, a huge roly-poly boss that rates about what you'd think on the stereotype scale.

Once our guided demo was done, we got the chance to try out the game ourselves. We were more than familiar with the game's control scheme after having seen so many demos over the past few months. The Wii Remote-Nunchuck combo works well, although the camera can be a problem when you're trying to murder everyone around you. The A button has a number of context-sensitive uses, from punching to picking up items to throwing. The B button fires up your chainsaw for the special up-close-and-personal eviscerations that are gorily commonplace in Madworld.

The level we played had us guiding Jack through the downtown stage and taking people out. A map on the right side of the screen showed enemies as red dots and made it easy to get around. Killing options included using our bare hands, going slice-and-dice with our chainsaw, and, more interestingly, impaling enemies on pretty much anything around us. The environments in Madworld beckoned with everything from spiked walls to spinning razors that we could toss foes into with a few context-sensitive button presses and motions with the remote and nunchuck. As we murdered our enemies, we also used the map to guide us to the new bonuses that would become available from dispensers set throughout the level. The goods ranged from health-restoring balloons to massive knives that could be used to fillet enemies.

While all of that is well and good, the real fun comes from challenges that kick off in certain areas. We encountered the "death press," which was a massive spiked press that would mash anything underneath it at set intervals. Our goal was to toss people underneath it and reach a kill count. The gore enthusiast in us appreciated the growing pool of blood as we came close to our goal. Our hands-on demo ended with "man darts," which we've seen before and which has lost none of its appeal. If there's a better use for a large dartboard, a limitless supply of hapless victims, and a spiked baseball bat to blast them into the air with, we've yet to see it.

Just when you think you've seen all of Madworld's crazy-gory executions, this happens.

We've waxed poetic about the game's visuals more than a few times since we first saw Madworld, and our high opinion hasn't budged an inch. The game looks great in motion, and the minimalist use of color really pops. The levels are almost sensory overload thanks to everything that's crammed in, but it all fits the style. There's a bit of weirdness when the action gets too crazy--for instance, it can be hard to keep track of where you are and who around you needs a punch or chainsaw to the gut, which we hope gets polished up as development progresses. Still, other than that, the game looks great and moves smoothly.

We need to do a special callout for the audio, which is nearly as over the top as the visuals. The music is an eclectic mix of hip-hop tunes--recorded especially for the game--that are reminiscent of the cool array of tunes in the Jet Grind and Jet Set Radio games, only darker. The effects for the various implements of death and chainsaws are meaty and work well. The voice in the game sounds like it's going to be steller, with John DiMaggio (of Futurama and Gears of War fame) and stand-up comedian Greg Proops offering a volley of commentary that falls somewhere between WWE and monster truck rally announcers. Outside of that, the outrageous voice work of your pimp/host and the various ambient noises add up to create a surreal, hard-edged atmosphere that really works. All told, this could be the best audio in a Wii game this year.

Based on what we saw and played, Madworld has a lot going for it. The game looks impressive, blending solid tech with a great sense of style, and it plays pretty well. There are the usual tricky issues around camera and targeting, but time will tell if they're a serious roadblock to fun. We're also curious about the game's length and if it will have enough variety to hold our attention. As of right now, we're hopeful, since we could play man darts and throw fools into the death press all day. Madworld is currently slated to ship this March exclusively for the Wii. Look for more on the game in the coming weeks.

Discussion

191 comments
Vreshifola
Vreshifola

In my opinion, the Wii really misses violent games, some games already broke it as No More Heroes, Madworld will be a great success, due to be innovative to be black and white and only the blood will also be colorful and have an interesting story.

datniccah187
datniccah187

Early front running in best graphics artistic.

SethSOMT
SethSOMT

Feeling a Sin City type vibe from this one. So far so good though.

capitalthoughts
capitalthoughts

Bobzfamily Posted Jan 29, 2009 6:53 pm GMT I just hope that Uwe Boll doesn't turn this into a movie ....Did you even have to bring that up??? I mean...that....wow...you know I am sick to my stomach now even thinking about that. This is like a friend walking up to me on my wedding day and saying...boy, I sure hope your wife doesn't cheat on you...don't even want that terrible thought in my head. Now I will have nightmares tonight....thanks a lot.

McGuire0025
McGuire0025

why did they make it in black in white?

Shayde_Shadow
Shayde_Shadow

I've been watching Madworld for a while now and it is looking awsome. The gory moves, cheesey comentary and plotline, and unique art style will really make this special. Its like Smash T.V for the 21st century.

Bobzfamily
Bobzfamily

I just hope that Uwe Boll doesn't turn this into a movie :(

einstein_13
einstein_13

the game looks great the style is over the top let's wait for the review ;)

capitalthoughts
capitalthoughts

negativeions..you must be new too the wonderful world of video games to think this game is ripping No More Heroes. Us true gamers will remember a small title WAY back in the 90's, I am guessing before you were born, and you would know that this game's biggest inspiration (if it has one) would be Smash T.V. Futuristic game show where people are butchered before a live television audience....almost reminds me of something else....hmmm, oh Running Man, that movie with Arnold about the futuristic game show where it is killed or be killed.. Hmmm, wait, that is just a new idea about the gladiators of ancient Rome a spectator sport with the same idea.....and I have a clue for you, they were ALL violent for the sake of being violent. Madworld is just telling it like it is.

black_ice23
black_ice23

looking forward to this game, any qualtiy non mini game title is welcomed on my Wii

rothkoran
rothkoran

bubblebuss Posted Jan 24, 2009 9:07 pm PT If you want ultra violence, take some kitchen knives and mutilate your grandma. It's cheaper than buying this piece of ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- huh, geee.... 50 bucks on a game or 50 year in prison, wonder which is actually cheaper, really

rothkoran
rothkoran

negativeions Posted Jan 24, 2009 3:07 pm PT Is this a joke? This seems like a rip-off of No more Heroes. Seems like they're being violent just for the sake of violence. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- and what is wrong with that violence is fun... specially if you get to kill people in a bloody way just for the fun of it, and the best thing is you can do it over, and over again, without actually really hurting anyone. THINK IN THE FAMILIES MAN!!! if you discharge all of your violent impulses in a video game the world would be a much better place.

bishopphoto
bishopphoto

AW YEAH! This looks like one part okami (visually stunning), one part no more heroes (violence is fun) and one part sin city the movie. I cannot wait for this to come out in stores already.

JCDenton
JCDenton

This Developer is making Bayonetta for 360, some DS space game, and Madworld for Wii. They're hitting 3 consoles probably to diversify and make money. Ever hear of the phrase, "don't put all of your eggs in one basket"?

shadow_gp
shadow_gp

Finally some blood for our Wiis... we want and we need this kind of games also!!!

gudni
gudni

What the hell is up with some of these retarded comments below, did you guy´s even read the preview. Why the hell would gamespot talk about this game as being unique if it was a ripoff of another game. It´s in the Beat em up genre(violence)! But it has some of the most original and comical way´s of killing your enemy´s most have ever seen. Plus it has visuals that have never been done before, as the developer said - It´s the first generation of consoles powerful enough to do these visuals and the Wii falls under that being 2x more powerful then last gen. Plus the developers also say it has a very deep story and the reasons why our character is in this situation will be explained. PLEASE, read the preview and the other articles about this game before commenting total crap.

bubblebuss
bubblebuss

If you want ultra violence, take some kitchen knives and mutilate your grandma. It's cheaper than buying this piece of sht.

negativeions
negativeions

Is this a joke? This seems like a rip-off of No more Heroes. Seems like they're being violent just for the sake of violence.

JMCDS45
JMCDS45

Hellboy + Sin City = Madworld

Maddaus
Maddaus

Censorship sucks. I sadly parted ways with my Wii due to the people up in the darkened booth watching too closely.

canx12
canx12

is it always black and white or just on special places :D

linkyshinks
linkyshinks

Omnipresence, it passed here and in Oz uncut. MA15 in Oz!, and a 18 here!

countdouku1
countdouku1

the dude in it looks like the dude in hell boy

bgres077
bgres077

Looks like a pretty solid game, I will definitely be looking into this game more.

Omnipresence
Omnipresence

Yaaay! Another awesome looking, ultra-violent Wii game for the useless damn BBFC to censor through the floor.

SmartGhost
SmartGhost

neat...its just like no more heros which by the way kicked ass

teh-pwns-the
teh-pwns-the

Uhm well i do think itll be much easier to see when everything is in motion kinda like it was in NMH oh and @ starcraft, go out and buy yourself brawl best multiplayer in any game this gen, and as to your 8 year old problem.... get older friends?? and this doesnt seem the multiplayer type of game anyways, kinda like zelda, some games just arent made for multiplayer as to all of the questions of why bother with the wii, well they probably realize since wii is the most sold console that they are likely to get more sales on it, even with the varying audience age, thus the power of having the leading console

maxxehdood
maxxehdood

Hahaha Karjah I think you'll find yourself being ignorant here. Looking at your profile it seems you are prodominately related to Wii games. Thanks for being a hypocrite. I DO play all the systems, I also own all the last gen systems, and half the systems from the gen before that. I play games on everything, and consider myself to be a 'hardcore gamer' as much as I hate the term. I was merely saying, for a game so focused on looks, I'm surprised they went for the least capable system when it comes to graphics. I have read many people in this comment section complain about how things are hard to make out. And like I said, The wii's piexlated look isn't helping. I don't care what system a game comes out on, if its good I'll get it. I'm just trying to show my opinion on the choice.

thunderhorse55
thunderhorse55

it will really exhagerate the blood because that will be the only thing you can see. idk, maybe it will be easier to see on the actual game. and it is probably in black and white because it will so flipping gory.

Starcraft012694
Starcraft012694

please add real multiplayer to the wii, right now the system is just awful with no real games with real multiplayer, (no mario doesn't count as playing with obnoxious 8 year olds gets annoying, fast).

Divine-Gamer
Divine-Gamer

this looks like a good game ill keep an eye out for it. But the black and white scheme makes things a bit hard to see. (at least thats my opinion).

Karjah
Karjah

because maxxehdood not all of us are bash systems we don't own. The wii may not be an xbox 360 but it's downright ignorant to make those kind of statements. I'm more about playing games with a bit of you know style to them. Madworld fits the bill. Frankly a real gamer plays all the systems.

Sunrie
Sunrie

Well...I'm glad this is getting good reviews. I've been keeping my eyes on it

maxxehdood
maxxehdood

jaggy wii pixels surely cant help a game this hard on the eyes? why bother with the wii when you're developing such an interesting look for a game?

J0dyBr33z3
J0dyBr33z3

finally another great looking hardcore Wii game

jfvert
jfvert

Game looks like a lot of fun.

rb2610
rb2610

It's not just black and white, it's black, white and red :P

Tri-Enforcer
Tri-Enforcer

This game seems to have potential. I hope it's not short and continues to offer more variety. I don't know why people say they can't make out certain things due to the black and white color scheme, I see things just fine--but that's me though. It's been a long time since I played a nice beat 'em up. I read three positive hand-on impressions so far (IGN, Gamespot (surprising), and even GoNintendo).

satanscabanaboy
satanscabanaboy

Let's hear it for a little bit of the ultra-violence!!