There’s no point in beating about the bush here – in Madworld you’ve got a chainsaw for an arm. A frickin’ chainsaw! It’s the natural evolution of the fighting genre into something so awesome that humanity will eventually end all wars just to play it – and wouldn’t that be a mad world? Taking a dash of Smash TV (ask your dad), a pinch of Comix Zone (ask a Sega loyalist) and smoosh them together with the visuals from Sin City (ask your helpful and charming local librarian), MadWorld’s a stark and relentlessly funny beat-’em-up with old-school sensibilities.
MadWorld’s storyline comes straight from any beginner’s guide to dystopia. In a future city, the Organization (big capital letters to emphasize they’re evil) takes over and turns the place into a death-bowl gameshow, where to live all ya gotta do is kill. Kill enough people in any given arena and a boss appears – kill them to move to another location. There are echoes of Manhunt throughout, but it’s an excellent plot because it’s two lines long and sets up lots of lovely violence with the minimum of fuss.
At its helm are Platinum Games, hallowed be thy name, who were responsible for the eye-poppingly brilliant Viewtiful Joe and the lunatic violence of God Hand. Both of these seem to have had an influence on MadWorld – the former in terms of its visual panache and score-attack combat, the latter in the madcap combinations and bizarre humour. We couldn’t pry the controller from the vice-like grip of Platinum Games’ Atsushi Inaba to try lopping off a few limbs ourselves, but it was clear how the controls work. Much like No More Heroes, most moves are mapped to the buttons, with a deadly remote waggle reserved for finishers. There seems to be a lot more depth in the combat here though, with enemies’ positions and specific combinations all having an impact on how Jack goes about his handiwork.
Jack? Well, Jack’s a chainsaw-totin’ maniac, but he’s our chainsaw-totin’ maniac. The blade in place of his right forearm is the game’s default weapon, but there are apparently all sorts of oversized kitchen utensils that he can stick on his stump to create carnage. There are also conveniently placed spiky and bludgeoning props scattered about the arenas, which can either be picked up for some hands-on whacking or triggered for a showy kill when an enemy gets too close. Inaba demonstrated the context attacks by hauling an unfortunate thug into one of the spiked walls, his impalement greeted with a sneering “d’ya think he gets the point?” from the yankee commentators as a gaudy carnival sign pops up bearing the name of the move: Rose Bush.