Experienced Points

Experienced Points
Little Big MadWorld

Shamus Young | 19 Jun 2009 17:43
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I'm up on the roof in Chinatown. (Which in this context is called "Great Wall Street".) You can tell it's Chinatown because there are gongs and kung-fu guys all over the place, just like in real Chinatown. Lurid letters appear on screen: MONEY SHOT. A two-story cutout of a naked woman looms large overhead with bullseyes over her NSFW zones. Each target has a big meaty spike jutting out of the center.

A caricature of an exaggeration of a stereotypical pimp struts into view and begins a self-aggrandizing explanation of how the game works. He uses the word motherf***ing as a wildcard noun / adjective replacement like he's playing a round of Mad Libs with Samuel L. Jackson. Apparently the goal of this part of the game is to beat enemies senseless and then - in a needlessly complex and preposterous misuse of carbonation - propel my foes onto the woman's spikes in order to score points. Halfway through his profane tutorial the pimp is interrupted by a lass in a tight outfit who cuts short the lesson with a straightforward demonstration. The pimp ends up impaled on a naughty spike and and dribbles a stream of red gore all over the buxom billboard. The cheeky girl saunters off.

The tutorial thus complete, it's time for me to start murdering dudes while the announcers make jokes about gay group sex. The game I'm playing is MadWorld, from Sega.

The shocking thing about this scene isn't the exhaustive and comprehensive attempt to offend anyone that might might see, hear, or momentarily play the game. (I can't wait until the people who protested Mass Effect get a full ocular and aural dose of this thing.) The shocking thing isn't the perpetually looping soundtrack, which sounds like a standard slice of the "shooting bitches and hos in the face" genre of rap that is now far beyond the reach of even the most cunning parodist. The shocking thing isn't even the chunky splatters of blood splashed all over the screen. No, the shocking thing is that this is a Wii game. Using the Wiimote to dismember someone with a chainsaw is diabolically subversive, like building gallows out of Duplo blocks.

The last time I suffered from this level of console identity confusion was when I played the unconventional and whimsical LittleBigPlanet on the PS3. My first thought was, "Is this game lost? How the heck did a game about puppets collecting stickers end up on Sony's high-priced technology slab for hardcore gamers and videophiles?" How did we end up in bizzaro world with adorable and playful on the PS3 and blood and tits on the Wii? I think I speak for a lot of gamers when I say to Sony and Nintendo: It's about freakin' time, guys.

There are few things I hate in gaming (and believe me, the list of things I hate is lengthy, diverse, and disturbingly intense) more than this attempt to pigeonhole consoles into game genres. In the past I've switched freely between Animal Crossing and Fallout, and I'd like to be able to buy a gaming console that can do the same.

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