Why MadWorld is Wii-Only: Inaba Interview
At Sega we can create the games the way we like, the PlatinumGames' star developer also mentions.
MadWorld: banned in the developer's home country. That's how much PlatinumGames wants the bloodthirsty west to like this extraordinarily messy action adventure, published by Sega, in which signposts and trash bins become instruments of torture, and former mechanics wielding chainsaw prosthetics carve gallons of ketchup and fat yellow comic-book exclamation marks out of chunky, colourless thugs.
That it's on the family-friendly Wii has distressed the US-based National Institute on Media and the Family, among other righteous sorts; for our part, we're less concerned by the destruction of Nintendo's E for Everyone credentials (MadWorld isn't exactly going to cancel out Wii Sports titanic sales run, anyway) and more with the decision to make it a one-platform experience. Surely a game of this ilk, with its gruelling boss fights and double-digits combos, would suit hardcore Xbox 360 and PS3 audiences down to the ground?
This was the first question we put to Atsushi Inaba, Producer at PlatinumGames, when we spoke to him recently, and the answer is that the developer didn't want to dilute MadWorld by smearing the concept across several platforms. "The main reason is we wanted to create a new title for the Wii specifically, and if we developed for other platforms, we wouldn't be able to develop a new title, new ideas," Inaba told us, adding "we wanted to make something that was easy to pick up and play."
That would be where those motion controls earn their keep, then - pull the nunchuk and remote apart to snap necks, wave them over your head to toss somebody at a jet turbine - but isn't Inaba concerned that PlatinumGames has shut itself off from all those high definition gamers who dig the gore factor but refuse to shell out for a Wii? "No, we don't have any concerns. We've had positive feedback online from users who've said that this is a must-buy, that it's a reason to buy a Wii."
His optimism has certainly been borne out by the first crop of reviews, but we still think it's a little bit ridiculous not to put the obviously-convertible gameplay into the hands of 360 and PS3 gamers, too. For Inaba to have creative freedom is something awesome, but does Sega want to make money or not?
Moving on, we decided to air our otaku tendencies. Does MadWorld owe anything to Battle Royale, the cult novel from Koushun Takami, adapted for the big screen by Kenta Fukasaku in 2000?
Inaba acknowledged that Battle Royale's premise - a group of Japanese school children are transported to a weapon-littered island and forced to murder one another for the cameras - begs comparison with "Death Watch", the reality-TV snuff show of which MadWorld's Jack is the star, but he suggested we play the game through before making any calls.
"If you see Death Watch as just hack and slash, it looks similar to Battle Royale, but when you look at the whole story you'll see the difference." PlatinumGames has no specific inspirations, apparently, but the studio is a big fan of American cartoons in general: there are, perhaps, shades of Tom and Jerry in MadWorld's tapestry of hewed limbs and minced brain matter.
And just how are the 85 men and women who make up PlatinumGames - once among Capcom's most celebrated staff - finding life as independents? Does Inabi miss the security of working for an internal team? He laughed without much rancour. "There were good points and bad points. Resources are tighter, but on the positive side I have much more creative freedom nowadays. Working inside Capcom could be frustrating in this regard, but I am happy with the partnership at Sega because we can create the games the way we like."
What we've seen of PlatinumGames' other projects with Sega - Bayonetta, a positively gorgeous PS3 and Xbox 360 action title featuring a witch with guns on her feet, along with DS spaceship-design-a-thon Infinite Space - suggests that the creativity is in full flow.
As to whether that creativity will produce worthwhile results, only time will tell: for the moment, we're just happy to see the makers of Okami and Viewtiful Joe hogging the limelight. We've been playing MadWorld over the last week or two, so expect our verdict in a few days' time.
MadWorld is out now in North America, on 20th March in Europe and on 26th March in Australia.