The best thing about Sega's "MadWorld" is it's potentially Wii-best graphics, but now that I've played it, I can finally say something about its controls and gameplay.
I first saw "MadWorld" last spring during a May showcase of Sega games that introduced the collaboration between Sega and Platinum Games. Back then, the game's director, Shigenori Nishikawa, told me that game was inspired from comic book series Sin City and the slapstick violence of Tom & Jerry cartoons.
Yesterday, I got to play it.
Like many Wii action games, "MadWorld" is meant to be controlled with small shakes of the hand. The game's hero has a chainsaw-arm and a brutal disposition. So, with the nunchuk in my left hand to control walking, I could make him throw an uppercut with a wiggle of the Wii remote. I grabbed enemies with a press of the A button and then chucked them. I hurled men into sharp propellers. I held down the remote's B trigger and swiped my hand to saw enemies with the chainsaw-arm. Horizontal swipes triggered horizontal cuts. Vertical slashes sawed enemies down the middle.
Remember, the game's supposed to be funny, if you find hyper-violence funny. The whole set-up involves being trapped in a demented kill-crazy game show. But the Sega event I attended was too noisy, and I couldn't hear the play-by-play.
I was thrown into the level I played yesterday, unsure of any goal other than to kill. So I chopped enemies up, threw them into dumpsters lined with razor-edges and tossed some guys onto spikes. Every action induced red blood splatter and yellow or orange comic-book illustrated sound effects.
Nothing I did felt as violent as my actions in the Wii's M-rated "Manhunt 2," because that game, unlike "Madworld" was designed to map the player's gestures to the character's actions. With "MadWorld," my gestures had some of the energy of the crazy combat on the screen but none of the vibe that I was acting out the kills.
I didn't know what to do in the game besides kill every enemy who ran at me. Maybe there aren't any other goals. The game has a "Grand Theft Auto"-style mini-map. Icons appear on the map indicating newly spawned weapons (shears, a bat covered in spikes, etc.), health items (shaped like red balloons), and bonus "Bloodbath Challenges." When I walked to the Bloodbath Challenge I triggered a score-based contest requiring me to toss enemies under a spiked ceiling that then lowered and pulverized the enemies caught under it. I carelessly wandered my guy under it a couple of times, got spiked, but quickly re-spawned each time.
During the end of my 10 minutes with the game I did something that activated the arrival of a fat man with a double-bladed chainsaw. Thankfully I had also done something that had spawned a bat covered in spikes. I could hold down a button and make big swipes with the bat. The fat man fell quickly and the bat burned a single flat shade of crimson.
When an enemy dropped a barrel or tire around my guy, icons prompted me to shake the Wii remote and nunchuk to get it off. I'm told that when I can perform finishing moves, icons will show me how to swing the controllers to commit those actions. But what I played yesterday involved basic actions. This game may well shock people with both how good it looks and how gory it is.
But it doesn't quite make its player gesture like a butcher. It's another Wii game of small shakes. It plays well in small moments. So far, so smooth.
Now let's find out whether the game is interesting in long sessions.
"MadWorld" will be out for the Wii this March.