It’s with no little sense of delicious timing that MadWorld arrives in the same week that House Of The Dead: Overkill was confirmed as having broken the world record for use of expletives in a videogame. Of course, the most noteworthy statistic is not this liberal use of swearing (a frankly brilliant 189 uses of the f-word) or MadWorld’s predilection for a bit of the old ultra violence (more on that later), but that both titles are exclusive to the cuddly, family-friendly Wii.
Nintendo’s sales-freak of a console, a veritable money-printing machine, is nothing if not riddled with anomalies: demographics have been skewed, decades-old control system conventions have been upended…two years on even the price is set to increase. Similarly, whereas games like the aforementioned Overkill and MadWorld would be relatively generic in terms of subject matter on any other console, here they certainly stand out, on first impression, as total contrasts to the inclusive, immediate, industry-shaping titles that have otherwise defined Wii.
MadWorld is the brainchild of one PlatinumGames, a Japanese development house founded by former key personnel of Clover Studio (the now dissolved branch of Capcom that birthed the indelible likes of God Hand, Viewtiful Joe and Okami). Similar to its forebears, MadWorld’s charm rests on a gleeful combination of irreverence, pop-cultural sass (the art style and pulp fiction tone is a recognizable nod to Frank Miller’s Sin City) and more than a little wink towards the history of videogaming in general. However all this risks being overlooked by simply focusing on the one reason why MadWorld exists, the one hook that holds the entire crazy experience together: its depiction of violence, the most striking example in videogaming for quite some time.
Much has been made of this violence, with the expected outcries from the expected corners, and to a certain extent MadWorld lives up to the hype. Laid out on paper the charge sheet would indeed make uncomfortable reading for Mr Daily Mail: impaling with signpost, impaling on a wall of spikes, being first impaled with a signpost before being thrown into a wall of spikes… But such a treatment stripped of context would be utterly missing the point. In its way MadWorld is almost on the same side as the dissenters: it agrees that videogaming violence is often ludicrous, unnecessary and glorified, and underlines this by showing us just how ludicrous, unnecessary, glorified – and damn entertaining – violence within the medium can get.
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