When Clover studios was disbanded by Capcom in 2006, It seemed like a death knell to one of Japans most innovative and top quality development studios. Thankfully for everyone, the team quickly regrouped, and started anew as independent developer Platinum Games. Wisely seeing the talent involved SEGA quickly signed up as publisher to their games and after a year of teasing, the fruits of Platinum Games first labor is ready.
Born from the mind of the lead designer of Resident Evil 4, Shigenori Nishikawa, Mad World is combination of Nishikawa and his teams desire to create fun and original content, offer the Wii something unique, and go wild with all the crazy sequences that would be out of place normally in most video games. The game is penned by one time Final Fantasy 12 director Yasumi Matsuno, and what many may not be aware of, Mad World actually has an engaging story that is reminiscent of some of the famous works of comic author Danny O'Neil. The game plays as a sort of combination of past Production Studio 4 and Clover games such as Devil May Cry, and God Hand. What makes the game unique more so then its visual style is its completely tailored Wii controls, that truly enhance the genre experience.
The first thing anyone will notice with Mad World is the graphics, in there stark black and cream colored white. This is intentional as not only are artistic abilities exhibited and the Wii's lack of horsepower hidden, but the graphic novel look was made to attract gamers to it. More then just simply making the game black and white with red blood, Mad World actually has a lighting system that will change the shade the characters are depicted in when standing in shadows. It is hard to see with screens and even video, but the game is actually very impressive with its effects. Platinum Games also made sure that each section of the city is totally unique and avoids feeling repetitive. Mad World is truly a game that looks good regardless of system specs.
The soundtrack is just as unique as the graphics. Almost all the tracks are from up and coming hip hop artists. Unlike the EA and Ubisoft sports games, these are not simply a selection of the latest popular songs they could afford put on random for the whole game. These songs were written for the game, are tailored to a specific level, and can not be heard anywhere else besides the game currently. Even if your not a fan, its easy to see and appreciate the music for actually working very well within the game and setting the right mood for each level.
While Mad World probably wont redefine the action genre, it will redefine how its played on the Wii and has already set an impossibly high bar for any company to try to reach. The basic controls are somewhat simple. Use the nunchuck to move, the Z button to jump, the C button to center camera or lock on to someone and shake the nunchuck to dodge. The Wii remote handles all the fighting with A being your basic melee attacks, hold it down to grab an enemy. Holding the B trigger will cause Jack to unleash his chainsaw. Swinging the remote horizontally and vertically has different attacks and the use of the chainsaw also requires vertical and horizontal swinging while the B trigger is held pressed. the D pad picks up items and the minus button pauses. Everything else in the game is context sensitive to the on screen directions that appear in a bold yellow comic book style font and drawings of the remote and/or nunchuck. Where Mad World succeeds even beyond similar games of its type on Wii is the implantation and accuracy in which the Wii remote actions work. Rarely do you ever feel like your fighting the remote or its not picking up movements. Mad World is probably the best use of the Wii remote yet. While its true other games have used a part of the remote well, or enhanced a port with a specific function, Mad World is the first title to completely succeed on the promise of creating a more visceral and fun gameplay experience on the system. The game uses no IR, since there are no shooting weapons in the game, however its use of the motion is clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the game library.
Mad World is not a terribly long game, nor is it crammed up its asshole with stat building, item mixing or other random bits of artificial game length extensions. There is a hard mode that is unlocked that will really bust your balls, as well as various new weapons upon completion. There is also a multiplayer mode that is a competitive take on the games blood bath challenge mini games. The replayability of which, will be determined by the individuals like or dislike of them. That shouldn't discourage gamers though, as the main game is exceptionally well done. The boss fights range from hilarious, to bad ass, to fucking EPIC. With some of the most stylish cinematic flair, putting even the great boss fight moments of Resident Evil 4 and consequently 5, to shame. The cherry on adult sundae is the in game commentary from Greg Proops and John DiMaggio. Both probably need no introduction, however here these two comedians are totally cut loose and do not shy away from any subject. Besides being flat out vulgar, the commentators are the digital embodiment of your buddies playing the game with you. They say almost the same exact smart ass couch commentary your friends would be echoing while watching the game. Even if the thought of more juvenile humor disturbs you, you will be hard pressed not to laugh throughout the game. The end credits in particular, are without a doubt the best ending credits seen in any game yet.
Despite being a whole barrel of awesome, Mad World does have its faults. The camera control is a little to restrictive, and a more manual controlled camera would have been a god send. The game also tends to have a lot of trouble with locking on to an enemy, and in some instances breaking a lock. Another slight disappointment is the fact there are only two motorcycle levels, which are both pretty similar. While the game never shies away from showcasing a variety of ways to kill your opponents, more gameplay switch ups like the motorcycle would be welcome in a sequel, especially if they are spruced up more. Nitpicks aside, Platinum Games have lost absolutely nothing in their transfer from Capcom, and are still the same brilliant and innovative developer they were before. People tend to say all Nintendo games have a sort of unique feel to them, I would venture to say that Clover games had their own stamp as well and its very much alive here with Platinum Games and Mad World. Capcom's lose has just become SEGA's huge gain.
Final Verdict - 9/10
Mad World is bloody, vulgar, and a ridiculous amount of fun. The game will put a smile on your face and make you laugh out more then once. Platinum Games have proven their credibility as one of the very best developers in Japan with this title. They have also created the best use of Wii motion controls in a game yet and set the bar so high, its likely only Platinum Games themselves will be able to surpass it. If your 17 or older you owe it to yourself to buy this game as its one of the best showcase titles for the Wii.