During its time the Nintendo Wii was an incredible console that grew to include a vast library of terrific games. While the Wii was home to loads of family-friendly properties, there was one title that made for an incredibly un-Nintendo experience: MadWorld. Developed by Platinum Games and published by Sega, MadWorld remains one of the bloodiest, wackiest games ever made. Given yesterday was the title’s 10th anniversary, let’s take a look at the wild ride that was MadWorld.
As the player, you took control of Jack Cayman, a rough dude who happened to have a chainsaw attached to a prosthetic arm of his. The setting of MadWorld was that of a terrorist attack turned deadly battle royale entitled DeathWatch; in the midst of all this, Jack would go through level after level, slaying waves of baddies.
Two features stuck out in MadWorld, one being the animation style. Taking inspiration from such works as Frank Miller’s Sin City, MadWorld adopted a primarily black and white style in visuals; the exception to the color palette was whenever there was blood (then you’d get to see lots of red wash over the screen).
MadWorld’s other major feature was its extreme over-the-top violence. While violent video games have been around for decades, MadWorld was one of the more outrageous takes on violence. There were loads of options for how to inflict brutal damage upon your enemy; see a wall full of spikes? How about tossing a baddy into those spikes? Or maybe you’d want to throw a few punches into their face before tossing them into an oncoming train. What added to these moments was the use of the Wii controls; while the game did not utilize the infrared sensor, there was a variety of movement and button prompts players were able to act out for attacks. And don’t get me started on the gore fest that Jack could create with his chainsaw arm; in the crazy body count one could rack up, the chainsaw offered hours of visceral, bloody experiences. You also had a variety of physical weapons you could use, including a baseball bat with spikes and swords.
Among all the fun to be had, MadWorld’s boss fights were full of exciting combat. Towards the end of each battle, Jack could perform a special kill move that was unique to that particular fight. An example was the fight against Little Eddie (a gigantic guy who had a massive spiked ball and chain). After you drained his HP bar, you knocked him down, picked up the ball and chain, bashing it into his face; you did this multiple times until you swung the ball upwards, slamming it down onto Eddie, crushing his skull.
Along with all of MadWorld’s violence also came a great deal of comedy. There was a game show host who appeared at times and died in many wacky ways (yet kept coming back); he typically died at the hand of the sexy, BDSM clad showgirl who accompanied him. One sequence had him talking away while the showgirl slammed into him with a motorcycle, sending him flying into the air. The violence in MadWorld was so over the top and ridiculousness (like an old fashion cartoon) that there was no way to take it seriously. There were also these commentators the player would hear at times that spoke to what was taking place within DeathWatch; their banter was so goofy and crude, you were bound to laugh out loud many times.
What also made MadWorld all the more interesting was the level of controversy it received. At the time of the game’s release, the director of Mediawatch-UK (an organization that works against violent media) made an effort not to provide a rating for the game, which in turn banned it from being sold within the country. The title was also not released in Germany due to the extreme violent content. One representative at Nintendo defended the release of MadWorld, stating that the Wii was a system for anyone (including adults). MadWorld did not perform well sales-wise but did garner loads of critical praise.
MadWorld is a reminder that from time to time there are always creative ways to present action. A significant portion of games today have some level of violence in them, but rarely do we see a title explore violence in such different and stylistic ways. MadWorld‘s blend of violence and humor made it a truly unique and memorable experience. Thinking how it has been ten years since the game’s debut, it would be incredible to see it come back on modern consoles. In its stellar visuals and adrenaline-fueled violence, MadWorld continues to be a cult classic in gaming history.