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MadWorld (Wii) artwork

MadWorld (Wii) review


"It's easy to understand why many players think MadWorld is a badass beat 'em up when playing through it for the first time. An exaggerated cross between Escape from New York and The Running Man, MadWorld throws you into a black and white, noir-style, comic book setting, expecting you to pummel opponents in the most gruesome ways possible. A typical stage places your character, Jack, a 40-something with a chainsaw attached to his arm, in a closed section of the island city, and is t..."



It's easy to understand why many players think MadWorld is a badass beat 'em up when playing through it for the first time. An exaggerated cross between Escape from New York and The Running Man, MadWorld throws you into a black and white, noir-style, comic book setting, expecting you to pummel opponents in the most gruesome ways possible. A typical stage places your character, Jack, a 40-something with a chainsaw attached to his arm, in a closed section of the island city, and is tasked with racking up enough points to gain access to the boss fight. You do this by killing. You can simply combo punch people to death, but that's not gonna give you the big points.

Be demented.

Pick up a barrel and shove a guy inside, then take a street sign poll and thrust it through his face, then pick him up and throw him into a spiked wall. Or down a toilet. Or on a hook. Or toss him at a speeding train. Take your pick. To help with gathering points, you'll also be awarded weapons, like a spiked baseball bat and a gravity gun, that can be used on various punks, ninjas, zombies, and robots that get in your way.

You'll also have the opportunity to participate in crazy mini-games, called Bloodbath Challenges, that pop up after you've achieved a set number of points; from a challenge asking to toss opponents into a functioning jet engine, to another that makes you knock people's heads off with a golf club and watch them fly through hoops, there's definitely variety and imagination. And at the start of every mini-game, you'll get a description of the event from the Black Baron, a pimped out... pimp, which always ends with him getting murdered by his woman, only to reappear in the next Bloodbath Challenge just fine.

Completing the whole package is rap music tailor-made just for the game, and a pair of raunchy hosts that constantly ramble on, telling vulgar and corny jokes in the process.

My opinion on all this? Honestly, I think it's cute. MadWorld is so over-the-top with its depiction of ultra violence, that I can't take any of it seriously. It really feels more like a lighthearted, feel good game, thanks to how absurd everything comes off being. What really helps cement this fact is how, except for one, faceless man, not one innocent person gets killed on-screen. All that's presented are a bunch of macho idiots that deserve to die horrific deaths.

What's more ironic is, despite the game going for a "hardcore" look, it feels like a very casual beat 'em up experience. You're constantly surrounded by goons almost everywhere you go, but it's like a Bruce Lee film: they usually take you on one at a time. The AI does get a tad difficult later, but not by much. The only real times I failed against these gangs is when I was confused, trying to figure what to do next. Though, I guess if I were to nitpick, the lack of a counter or real dodge move makes combat a bit rough. Whenever an enemy attacks, your options are to either take it like a man or run away. You do have a backflip move, but it's pretty time-consuming, which makes running off a better, quicker alternative.

At least the red shirts seem tougher than boss fights... They're visual feasts, though, like having to battle a towering Frankenstein that can electrocute you in the water, or that-one-dude-whose-name-escapes-me that summons tornadoes while fighting on a bridge littered with damaged cars. However, most bosses have very simple attack patterns, shoot, half the boss fights consist of avoiding giant arms being flailed around. There was even one boss I defeated mostly by moving my motorcycle in circles, and that was by accident; I didn't think my opponent would constantly crash into it like an idiot. The bosses aren't completely inept, since you will receive a good amount of damage if they make contact with a powerful hit. Unfortunately, though, you'll mostly never fear losing a fight and restart the whole stage.

The fact is, the biggest blow to MadWorld in terms of difficulty is that you have too many lives, with the ability to gain an extra one within each stage. If Platinum Games had given a lower life count, or none really, fighting bosses would have had more weight to them.

Even so, I was willing to accept MadWorld as a casual title and be done with the issue.

But then I completed the game.

Upon returning to the save data screen to try out the goodies I got for beating MadWorld, I saw something shocking: I was now given the ability to play the game on a harder difficulty. Thinking there wasn't going to be a huge difference, I went for a test run. The normal opponents were actually on a level of aggression they were at in Normal difficulty's end, and when I got deeper into the first stage, I noticed something more shocking... I had zero lives. I should have been delighted by this turn of events, but I wasn't.

Instead, it boggled my mind why a standard difficulty setting (not Extreme Super Killer Maniac style difficulties) has to be unlocked by beating the game. I don't know when this practice started, but it's not a very good one and a poor substitute for extending replay. To be fair, it works in some games, like adventures, but not in a mindless beat 'em up like MadWorld. Platinum Games really shot themselves in the foot by not giving any indication that there was a hard mode, leaving players with the assumption that what they're seeing for the first time is all there is. What if a player quits halfway through, thinking there's nothing more to offer? That's a really big risk Platinum Games took with this decision. It always amazes me how different a game can turn out, how different its perception from gamers could be from the get-go with only some minor adjustments. In MadWorld's case, it would have been simply to give players the ability to pick difficulty settings from the start, being able to fiddle with the life count, and have harder bosses with more than two noticeable attack patterns.

Granted, that last one requires a bit more work, but it would have been worth the trouble. It may sound like I'm being harsh on the game, but it's only because I believe it could have been a much better title. I like MadWorld, and that's why I'm disappointed the finished product turned out the way it did.

Rating: 7/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (July 11, 2010)

After reviews about Gradius, Salamander, Parodius, and Otomedius games, PickHut attempted a Scramble review. The idea never materialized into writing...

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zippdementia posted July 11, 2010:

That's an interesting thing to be annoyed at, though I agree whole heartedly with your sentiment. I hate having to unlock harder difficulties. It doesn't make any damn sense.
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pickhut posted July 11, 2010:

I do find it really annoying, because sometimes I would play games on a harder difficulty setting when playing them for the first time.

Thanks for reading the review, too.
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Suskie posted July 11, 2010:

Yeah, odd thing to complain about. I can't say I agree with you (MadWorld's hard difficulty is absolute hell and there is no way I'd want to tackle that first), but that's why they invented vanilla and chocolate ice cream, as they say.

I like this paragraph:

My opinion on all this? Honestly, I think it's cute. MadWorld is so over-the-top with its depiction of ultra violence, that I can't take any of it seriously. It really feels more like a lighthearted, feel good game, thanks to how absurd everything comes off being. What really helps cement this fact is how, except for one, faceless man, not one innocent person gets killed on-screen. All that's presented are a bunch of macho idiots that deserve to die horrific deaths.

Yeah, I'm amazed that so many people accuse MadWorld of "trying too hard" or whatever, because there is no way this game is taking itself seriously. I thought it was pretty brilliant that the game served as kind of a satire of the modern gaming industry while still giving you that same "rush" that a lot of big, macho action games try to lay on you. That was my reaction, anyway.
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pickhut posted July 11, 2010:

Yeah, what I enjoyed the most from Platinum Games' MadWorld and Bayonetta is that they're just fun games that don't take themselves too seriously. Though, their upcoming game, Vanquish, seems a bit serious. Hopefully it'll still be a fun game too.
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zippdementia posted July 12, 2010:

I happen to be one of those guys who likes an insane challenge. People keep telling me I need to play Demon Soul (I would've bought it, but I picked up Alpha Protocol instead).

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