Madworld Updated Hands-On

We get some quality time with Platinum Games' chiaroscurist bloodbath for the Nintendo Wii.

The last time we got some hands-on time with Platinum Games' chiaroscurist bloodbath Madworld, we got a brief sampling of one area in the game. It was a nice and gory treat, but it left us hungry for more. Fortunately we recently got a look at a near-final version of the game and were able to clock in a good chunk of time to see if Madworld lives up to its promise. Our answer so far? It looks like it.

Besides being able to explore Madworld's gameplay, we were able to get a handle on the game's story. While bits and pieces have been revealed in the past few months, there's no substitute for letting the game tell its story. Madworld's narrative unfolds via still images--some of which are laid out in comic-book panel style--as well as via animated sequences that are rendered in the game's striking noir art style. The opening sequence fills you in on the plight of Jefferson Island, an island that has become isolated because of some evildoers who have blown up all the bridges leading on and off the island. Local law enforcement is warned to stay away, and citizens are terrorized. To make matters worse, local security cameras are co-opted and used to broadcast Death Watch, the reality show from hell that focuses on people killing their way up a ranked list. Those who make it to the top will be able to escape the island. Yes, this all sounds a little Lord of the Flies, but in the absence of law enforcement and general order, what are you going to do?

What's black and white and red all over? Madworld.

Madworld's hero, Jack, walks into this powder keg at the start of the game and punches his way up the rankings by taking out a prospective contestant while they're chatting to the mysterious XIII, the representative of one of Shock TV's sponsors. XIII taps Jack to participate in the competition, and the game kicks off. The story unfolds as you play, revealing some surprising layers and plot twists that keep things interesting. While Jack is participating in Death Watch, you come to discover that he has a different agenda than the other participants. One special point of interest is that Madworld's story was developed with help from Yasumi Matsuno (the game designer behind Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy XII), who, it turns out, was chosen by his friend Atsushi Inaba of Platinum to work on the game's scenarios. Given all the experience at Platinum, as well as the experience that Matsuno brings to the table, we're anxious to see how this craziness is going to play out.

Interesting background aside, we've been anxious to really dig in to Madworld to see how all the random craziness we've admired over the past few months fits together. The game tasks you with beating your way to the top of the Death Watch list as well as dealing with Jack's own personal business. Each of your Death Watch targets is hanging out in a different part of the city, which requires you to make your way to different districts. Apparently, before all the chaos, the city was pretty extensively wired up with security cameras, which helps make the Death Watch broadcast possible. All told, it's like Escape From New York meets Running Man meets Manhunt, which, when you think about it, isn't that bad of a combination.

Our run in the demo took us through three separate districts in the Varrigan City and Asian Town areas. Each district featured a unique boss that was worth a bump in Jack's Death Watch ranking. Most of the boss runs played out the same, with Jack entering a level and murdering everything. The killing spree nets you points that unlock bonus weapons, minigame challenges, and eventually the ability to take on the boss. The slight variation on the formula we played, Redline Way, had Jack riding a motorcycle and dealing with foes on the road.

While we don't want to give away too many specifics on the bosses, we do want to call out their sheer awesomeness. Platinum seems to have taken a kitchen-sink approach with the bosses, drawing on comics, horror kung fu, and the Mad Max movies to create a totally random assortment of scum and villainy to hack up. We defy you to find a game in 2009 that will pit you against a massive slow-witted mutant, a cowboy, a German cyborg that makes tornados, and assorted ninja movie archetypes in its first two hours.

Jack may be outnumbered, but he's never helpless.

But Platinum didn't save all the fun for the bosses; Jack has some pretty great moments himself. The assorted finishing moves he executes, each bloodier than the last, the unlockable weapons, and the profoundly demented minigames are all pretty choice. We told you about "man darts" in our last preview, but believe us when we tell you there's better stuff later on. We'll try not to offer too much detail since their introduction is pretty funny. But with that said, if the thought of launching enemies at billboards of scantily clad ladies with strategically placed impaling spikes or force-feeding enemies cola and launching them at walls or cramming enemies into explosive barrels that shoot them up like fireworks sounds appealing, then this is your game. On top of the single-player experience, Madworld features a modest multiplayer mode that lets you and a friend have split-screen minigame compeitions. While it's not anything too robust, it's a nice touch.

The game's visuals are an outstanding mix of style and tech. We understand that the look and the color palette may not be for everyone, what with the buckets of blood, but there's no ignoring the fact that Madworld has an impressive style you don't see every day. The black and white visuals help make the dramatic red flashes of blood stand out all the more as you gore your way to victory. The boss design is especially inspired, thanks to the smorgasbord approach taken in creating them. The various movie and comic influences we noted earlier really gel in the bosses and the surreal atmosphere. While most of your attention is on your enemies and the specific spots where you can use your surroundings to kill them, we have to say we were impressed by the level of detail packed into the environments we've seen. Beyond the technical prowess on display, Madworld is a showcase for Platinum's twisted sense of humor. You'll see everything from cheesy signs and displays that are groan-inducing, to genuinely funny and downright cool things like certain hazard signs or a building with a dragon motif.

The visuals are complemented perfectly by the goofy audio. The voice acting nails the unsettling but funny tone that is core to Madworld's appeal. We'll offer shout-outs to Greg Proops and John DiMaggio for their outstanding announcer work. There is some repetition, but their hilarious--and outrageously offensive--banter is one of the high points in a game loaded with great moments.

You won't find anything else like Madworld on the Wii--or on any other console, for that matter.

It looks like Madworld is going to deliver on what we were hoping for. The action is over the top, and the story seems to take some interesting turns. The camera isn't perfect and the monochromatic art style isn't for everyone, but there really is an infectious sense of fun when it comes to messing around with all the different executions. If you're looking to give your Wii library some edge, you'd do well to keep an eye out for Madworld when it ships next month. There's nothing quite like it on the Wii, or on any other platform, so definitely give it a shot if you're curious. Just be sure you have a strong constitution, because the action is pretty much a meat grinder. Until then, enjoy a unique look at the game in our latest video preview.

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Discussion

86 comments
birthofastar
birthofastar

This game will be the biggest failure of 2009. It's failed status will be legendary. not to mention it's brought to you by Sega. A company that has failed more times than an airplane made out of cement bricks.

lordmasterrof
lordmasterrof

lol Hayabusa - this game is another one of those hyped games, that is gonna have a weak single-player mode, but a fun multiplayer mode for sure! but you can't reach a 10 with only a good multiplayer - unless it's ment to be a mulitplayer only.

djr1118
djr1118

@ birthofastar: they have brawl and mario to go with wat u named but after that theres nothing. nintendos success depends on 4 characters/games mario, link, samus and pokemon..

triforced3
triforced3

nope, and they wont until the next Zelda, Metroid or RE4

birthofastar
birthofastar

This game will be another dissapointment. Has Nintendo released anything worth playing After Zelda and Metroid and RE4?

Nafe
Nafe

What are we playing a 1980 Monochrome game?

noah10
noah10

Looks preaty cool.

f1r2a3n4k5
f1r2a3n4k5

This game looks like it's trying to paint a familiar concept a different color, or no color at all actually. I doubt it will break any new ground. By the way, color impaired people (the correct term for color blindness) can still see colors, they just see them differently. Complete color blindness (black and white) is absurdly rare.

Hayabusa-Chaff
Hayabusa-Chaff

any one who says that its black and white so it sucks, is a loser. What about the colourblind people? all games are in black and white for them. And what happens if you get lost you ask? follow the red bloodtrail

NearlyPrescient
NearlyPrescient

I'm not sure where all the hype for this suddenly exploded from, but I remember one day randomly seeing that this was the game everyone wanted for the Wii. Personally, I think the lack of color will make it hard to tell what's going on. There's only so much you can easily discern from staring at a black and white and grey scene, especially one that's moving.

RandomWarrior69
RandomWarrior69

Looks awesome, but the graphics look really cheap, the game looks like its made out of paper....

bishopphoto
bishopphoto

AW YEAH. I think I just found the first game that can wean me off of my 460 back onto my Wii. This game looks AMAZING. It reminds me of part Afro Samurai part Kurosawa movie, with Tarantino on blood detail. What more would anyone want in a game?

SmartGhost
SmartGhost

This game gonna be NUTZ I WANT THIS and No MOre HEros 2

capitalthoughts
capitalthoughts

First off, anyone who thinks this looks like it will be hard on the eyes, well, I have seen a trailer on House of the Dead overkill, and it looks beautiful on a big screen T.V. and none of it is confusing to look at. Second, they were really smart to give it a comic book edge. The violence in this game is so depraved that if it was realistic looking, you can bet it would have been censored the same way Manhunt 2 was. Third...can't describe the love for Viewtiful Joe, so any product of those minds is probably going to be stellar and outshine many games this year. Anyone who is planning on getting this game, you must find a way to play Smash T.V and see Arnold in the Running Man. That will get you pumped.

1425678786655
1425678786655

first good game for the wii this year. i hope this does really good so it convinces more companies to make better quality games. looks sick!

Smithers2286
Smithers2286

This game looks fantastic! I can't to purchase when it comes out. This will be in the top 5 releases this year easy. Wii hardcore this is your call to get out there and purchase if you want to prove to third parties that you exist.

master_30
master_30

Looks graet cant wait to get it!!!!

snake15545
snake15545

Looks good, if wii gets more games like this, i might consider picking up a wii.

sensfanVone
sensfanVone

Looks fun, definitely picking it up.

Memoryitis
Memoryitis

The only people that are actually old enough to buy this game is me and the troll that lives in my basement

TheBlackSpeed
TheBlackSpeed

Can not wait for this game. Reserved it months ago. Finally, the Wii can be seen for its obvious potential. I hope '09 continues to be this good to the Wii.

f1rst_effect
f1rst_effect

If I were to ever purchase a Wii, it would be for this game.

Nintendoood
Nintendoood

Can't wait for this game cuz it looks awesome. Hope it does really well and i'll definately be getting this. Getting Overkill and Chrono Trigger Tomorrow! YES!

burn6
burn6

a sight for sore eyes

-Squirrel-
-Squirrel-

I'm counting the days till Madworld. I've already bought and paid full for my copy, so on Madworld day all I have to do is turn in my slip. Until then House of the Dead, Deadly Creatures, and Shaun White Snowboarding will have to keep me busy.

Nomad0404
Nomad0404

hmmmmm interesting still waiting for the reviews.

Shadowflame291
Shadowflame291

Looks pretty good. I might buy a Wii for this game.

THE_DRUGGIE
THE_DRUGGIE

Hmm, its kinda hard to make out what's what in those shots. Everything seems to melt into the same object and I can't see what exactly is going on...Kind of like those ink blot tests... Meh, at least its a little less confusing in motion.

tidyspidey
tidyspidey

Looking good.... The Wii lineup looks to be having it's needed turn around already..... Deadly Creatures and Madworld are two great stepping stones at improving the lineup to cater for the more seasoned gamer. I hope they keep coming now.... the Wii is a great console and deserves more quality titles.

xrydersx
xrydersx

welll it looks great but will it be coming for the ps3 or xbox systems...

MatrixSpidey92
MatrixSpidey92

I wish the explosive effects were orange, red, and yellow so we atleast know what we are making explode, it would add more visual style and appeal in my opinion, because its already hard to see with all that black and white. Atleast add alittle more color than just red blood. Either way, im so excited about this. Cant wait!!!

blankshore
blankshore

I like the art style, but it just looks too violent for my taste.

genzer128
genzer128

definitely a rental, I don't see how this game could hold my interest past the first stage or two, it is very nice looking though. since this is SEGA and cel shaded graphics, how about a new Jet Set Radio for the wii? can you imagine using the wiimote to spraypaint an online city, you can set up crews, tag over other peoples stuff, that would be awesome...

Black_Kill3r
Black_Kill3r

the game looks nice but the color scheme is kinda confusing

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

I like how people thumbed down my comment because I said that "watching the game caused my eyes to ache". Really considerate there guys.

red_sovereign
red_sovereign

wii surely delivers some unique titles. first deadly creatures, now this. im geeked!!!

hassy94
hassy94

Looks great, but I don't know what it is, when I look at the pictures my eyes hurt a little.

remixbaby44
remixbaby44

i cant wait to toss a dude into a giant spinning fan

Glade_Gnarr
Glade_Gnarr

They say there's nothing like it, but this game reminds a lot of No More Heroes, except better. Not complaining since NMH was awesome.

Jak_Napier
Jak_Napier

i think that this game definetly suits the Wii.