While former Clover devs showed off three games at last night's Platinum/Sega announcement, it was Madworld that hands-down stole the show. The stark, black, white and blood title has gamers playing through a third-person maze of carnage, trying to rack up points for an off-screen audience through over-the-top dismemberment.
Director Shigenori Nishikawa took up the white Wii remote and nunchuk at last night's event to play through a short portion of the game for the audience.
While the attention was most certainly focused on the large screen showing the highly-stylized game, I could still make out some of the controls Nishikawa used to move and perform attacks. It looks like, at least for now, the character, Jack, is controlled by the thumbstick, while attacks are started typically by pressing a button. Some of the attacks, like pounding a person's body into a wall of spikes, or ripping out a heart, were performed with Wii remote motions. The heart ripping specifically, was performed by pressing a button and flicking the remote up.
The enemy AI, this early in the game, didn't really seem to do much to defend itself, though I would assume that would change by the time the game ships. All of the attacks were amazingly gruesome, but the art style helped prevent the game from being grotesque.
Jack's right hand is a chainsaw, and bodies cut vertically in half fell to either side in a splash of vibrant red blood. When a heart was torn from a ribcage, the bad guy would fall back with Jack still clutching the muscle, before crushing it in his hand. Impaled black and white bodies oozed red in great rivulets of blood.
While the bad guys and background are all drawn in bold black and white imagery, the things you can use to decapitate, pulverize and generally kill your enemy all seemed to be marked with small splashes of blood.
The game also appears to have a number of mini-games; one shown last night was called "Man Darts." Jack pulled a giant lever to activate the game, turning a nearby wall into a giant dartboard. Next Jack pulled out a bat and started smacking hapless enemies onto the board. The blood that splashed to mark their impact helped score points for Jack. All the while a team of in-game, but off-screen commentators kept up a line of jokes that included the enthusiastic use of the phrase "man juice."
Madworld has, so far, many of the elements to make it a great game: Amazing art direction and a distinct look, an over-the-top and risky premise and a fun sense of humor, but what will push this game from cherished, but financially unsuccessful, to blow-out success will be how all of these elements come together.
Hopefully, this will turn find a larger audience than cult classic God Hand, another title that reveled in extreme violence but never found the audience it deserved.