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Black, White and Crimson Swirled- Life Within the MadWorld

MadWorld for the Nintendo Wii. Developer: PlatinumGames Publisher: SEGA

At last Spring’s E3 convention Sega unveiled two upcoming, headline titles: MadWorld and Bayoneta. Both looked derivative and needlessly hyperviolent, as if to mask some gameplay deficiency. To make matters worse, we didn’t get to actually play the two games, but watched a representative walk us through a demonstration. As we left, we overheard another member of the press divisively state, “I liked the games better when they were called Manhunt and Devil May Cry.”

At first glance Madworld, a recent release for the Nintendo Wii has a number of similarities with Rockstar’s Manhunt. Both are framed within a dystopian television show that places its contestants in a kill or be killed challenge. Each game lingers on the violent execution of enemies, ratcheting up the Grand Guignol spectacle with each subsequent level. Whereas Manhunt and its sequel were set in a pseudo-realistic environment, MadWorld wisely strives for a darkly comical tone. This oblique path (with apologies to Robert Frost) has made all the difference.

The game’s narrative seems initially skeletal; terrorists known as the Organizers have sprayed the citizens of Varrigan city with a nasty viral weapon that will kill them within a few hours. The game’s protagonist, Jack, enters the gladiatorial bout with one goal- to slaughter enough enemies necessary to gain an antidote. However, as we played through the seven-hour storyline, we became increasingly interested in the motivations of Jack and those behind the Organizers.

At its core, MadWorld is a well executed brawler, incorporating subtle grappling and wrestling elements. Players move Jack with the nunchuck; the ‘A’ button is used to attack, or if held, to grab a foe or environmental object. The ‘B” button revs the chainsaw mounted on the Jack’s prosthetic arm. Various simple and effective Wiimote gestures offer a variety of blood spilling moves- a vertical slice or horizontal hack slivers enemies accordingly. Players are encouraged to apply excessively brutal combinations of punishment to rack up the required minimal scores for progression. Applying a spare tire to incapacitate an opponent, then throwing them in front of a speeding spiked train is both a typical and elementary execution. MadWorld’s strength lay in its environmental variety- there are turbine jet engines, razor-sharp dumpsters, and spiked dart boards all thirsting for foes.

Despite our hearts racing during ‘bit(s) of the old ultra-violence’, MadWorld has two nagging imperfections. Although players can use the ‘C’ button on the nunchuck to center the game’s camera behind Jack, we occasionally found ourselves viewing the mayhem from an awkward vantage point. Secondly, while boss attacks are pattern-based, being able to discern their behavior introduces a speck of frustration into an otherwise enjoyable romp.

Madworld’s black and white palette is perfectly accented by crimson bloodletting, creating one of the most visually arresting titles of the year. While graphic purists may bemoan the title’s lack of 480P support, the title is engrossing and fluid, we barely noticed the omission. The title’s framerate rarely falters, allowing the player to become immersed in Varrigan City’s brutal splendor. MadWorld’s hip-hop soundtrack, combined with the color commentary of Greg Proops and John DiMaggio, synergistically propels the title. We often couldn’t believe the game’s combination of masturbation jokes that accompanied the annihilation of enemies. 

Along with House of the Dead: Overkill, MadWorld represents Sega offering Wii owners an amazingly violent, and obscenity- crammed thrill ride that gleefully pushes the limits of the ESRBs ‘M’ rating. Pulverizing enemies into red splatters feels shamefully exhilarating. We encourage all Wii owners seeking an adult-oriented diversion to pickup MadWorld. Just don’t let your non-game playing friends behold the on-screen mayhem- they likely won’t understand the draw of such a delightfully sadistic title.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.


  1. First! About time you get to reviewing this!

  2. A- ??? WTF?

    I think you were blinded by the violence. I hear it’s not all that great.

  3. Jesus Murphy. The Road Less Taken, Clockwork Orange, and Grand Guinol. BRAVO!

    Sadly, I’m sure most people will be scratching their heads. I for one, love it.

  4. Awesome review. Ok, I must get this game, now. I’m counting on you, DE, don’t fail me.

  5. Whenever I hear the title of the game, i cant help but think of that Gears of War ad. Good or bad, I don’t know.

  6. Bought it and at first the B&W stuff limited the amount of depth for me. I had to adjust to the game. I still do when I sit down to play it. Anyone else get that?

  7. Some bloodsoaked screenshots there. This site is looking like these days.

  8. You should talk about the game’s pedigree more. it’s from the RE1-4 developer and guys from Clover Studios. (Viewtiful Joe and Okami) so, yeah, it was bound to kick ass.

  9. Anyone having a hard time paying $50 for a game thats mainly black and white?

  10. Great review. But you didn’t mention if the game had an multiplayer in it.

  11. Count me in the what the hell does all that have to do with games bunch.

    KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid!

  12. I’ve been hearing nothing but love for Madworld. I expected it to be one of those super repetitive MK in 3D games.

  13. Better buy it fools, the game needs to sell 2-3 million to make a profit.

    Sorry, Sega.

  14. That’s just the style of the game, to make it look unique. Besides there is plenty of red in the game too.

  15. As a fan of all those games, I guess I have to buck down and grad this.

    Sales anywhere???

  16. I’s sure it will sell at least a million. Is there a link to someone actually saying that, cause it looks like fanboy speculation.

  17. Actually, I like the reviews here. They always give a bit of history and keep them short. Those three pages views that goes into every detail and spoil the plot are annoying.

  18. You Sega fanboys probably have sex with your Sonic stuffed animals at night.

  19. There’s a reason Sonic’s friend is named ‘Tails” 🙂

  20. Looks like it would be fun for a few hours, then sent to the shelf.

    You guys raved about de Blob. yes it was fun for about 3 or 4 hours, then it got to be the same thing over and over and over.

    I doubt you can make killing guys over and over that interesting. I guess that’s why I like RPGS more.

  21. I’m just happy to see edgy games on the Wii. it gives me a bit of hope that the industry isn’t completely going casual.

  22. Are terrorists in every game?

  23. Sorry, but the soundtrack is garbage. The announcers are ok, though.

  24. Strictly single player.

  25. Hellboy is that you?

  26. Now why would the developers make this for the Wii. It should be on the 360.

  27. I really need to watch Clockwork Orange and 2001. I feel out of the loop.

  28. I hope they make a sequel. This game is the shit.

  29. All game need the ability to impale people on ass spikes. I would make the MGS series so much more interesting.

  30. I thought the same thing when Bayoneta and this were shown. I thought, “they will probably not pull off those wiimote gestures sucessfull”

    Glad we were wrong.

  31. Diner Dash too, with those annoying customers.

  32. you got me at killing guys with masturbation jokes. Hell yes, this sounds like my kind of game.

    One to play with the guys.

  33. No way does this deserve an A-. I’m thinking a C tops.

  34. Awesome review. One of the best I’ve read for this game.

  35. I picked this up at lunch. Can’t wait to get home.

  36. One of the best wii games I have played in a while.

  37. How about giving your copy away to a broke-ass faithful reader?!?!

  38. Great review!!! J

  39. I like the way the B&W graphics make the game look super sharp. I think if they used color it wouldn’t look half as cool.

  40. I can’t wait to get my claws into this.

  41. I’m going to have to get this now. thanks!

  42. Great review, DE! Keep up the great work!

  43. Nice Blog, there!

  44. Giant Bombers gave it a 6/10.

  45. This review really ups my hopes for the ever-falling “hardcore” audience to take a second look at the WII and what it’s capable of. Although the review (and many other) state that it’s a little on the short side, it still seems to be something completely different and refreshing. The comedy blended with the hard action seems to be a good mix. Just what the over 18 WII audience needs right now. Top notch look into the game and hopefully 3rd party companies will notice Madworld and not let it slip under the radar.

  46. I want to try this game, but I’m worried that the violence will be so over the top that I’ll end up tiring of it. I love the dev though, so it’s really just a matter of time before I pick this up.

  47. Great review DEagle, see you on CAG.

  48. Great review, I like that you hinted at it’s faults while also realizing how great the game is. The camera has always been a required annoyance and difficult to do right it seems. I wonder why the omission of 480P though, seems like they could have done it easily.

  49. Awesome review.You really nailed it with this one.

  50. Definitely have my hopes up for this game after reading the review. Despite the length, it sounds like a hell of a good way to spend a night off with my roommate. Thanks for the review!

  51. The black and white really bugs me, and it seems like the Wii is grasping at straws with titles like this and HOTD Overkill (which was meh) to stave off the kiddy image, but maybe this game could be good.

  52. Great article, I’m looking forward to playing this game in the near future. Its great they are finally doing a game for hardcore gameers.

  53. *edit

    i really want to play this game. i hope i can win the madworld contest

  54. I’ve heard lots of good things about this game, good to see another positive score that’s pushing me towards getting it.

  55. Nice review, like the higher level of language you guys use. I am disappointed to hear that people are still blowing off 480P support. I mean, this game doesn’t even use detailed textures and they can’t pull off 480P?

    Hopefully SEGA is finally pulling their head out, and will start making good games again…

  56. I’m just commenting to try and win Madworld.

  57. I enjoyed No More Heroes, so glad to see this is getting good reviews. I may have to consider picking it up.

  58. Definitely looks to be one of the few good Wii action games with substance and with all the positive feedback I hear about it it may warrant a purchase.

  59. We finally have a game for the Irish Spring crowd that looks cool, sounds great, and plays well. I’d add a third item to the list of imperfections – no babe in the storyline.

  60. Is it wrong that I want to play this to hear the commentary of Greg Proops and John DiMaggio? I read somewhere that this was 480i, not available in 480p. If that’s true, props to Sega for making a great looking game without high tech-specs.

  61. This game makes me wanna dust off my Wii.

  62. When I saw the first screenshot, I thought Hellboy was a playable character in the game! I like the art style of the game. It helps to hide the graphical limitations of the Wii compared to the other next gen systems.