Numbers aren’t happy for Platinum Games’ latest Madworld, the artistically gory black-and-white-and-red-all-over chainsaw brawler for the Wii. NPD reports that U.S. sales for the title hit a pathetic 66,000 for the month of March, and this in a period when we’re not seeing a lot of console blockbusters jockeying for attention. It’s a pity, but not unexpected.
Madworld was never for everyone, and rather cool reviews from most critics didn’t help the situation. The real problem lies in the fact that the game’s for the Wii, and when it comes to the Wii, perception is finally catching up with reality. Sales of the hardware have tanked in Japan and are slippery sloping in the west; the attachment rate is near zero, and even the greatest Wii apologists are beginning to see the writing on the wall for the console.
I’ve got nothing against the Wii, and I know there are some great games for it, but truth is Nintendo allowed mountains of bad-to-worse shovelware party games to overrun the system, depending on megahits like Wii Fit to carry on the illusion that it was a successful console.
Technologically the Wii is unable to compete, but that alone isn’t a serious issue; the core technical issue with the Wii is that the vaunted control system is unreliable at best, and game developers haven’t yet come up with a truly intuitive control system for it. That the Wii only registers your move one out of every three or four tries is a bit of a problem for them, I’d imagine.
And there’s the perception issue as well. Wii is seen as a toy for children and grandmothers. The two seriously mature games we’ve seen so far, No More Heroes and now Madworld, both tanked at retail. Not because they’re bad games (review scores suggest both are at least mediumly good), but because no one interested in that kind of game would go looking for it on the Wii.
Platinum Games formed from the shambles of Clover Studio, which gave us Viewtiful Joe, Okami, and God Hand. That’s some pretty artistic stuff, but so far we’re not seeing much of the same from Platinum, which next will be offering up the tawdry Bayonetta. Personally I’d hoped to see Madworld do well, because its visual style – while not original, Vigil: Blood Bitterness did exactly the same thing first – is really cool, and may have encouraged developers to try new things visually. Unfortunately I was expecting a little more intellectualism in the game as well; as a commentary on reality TV and the depths to which we’ll all eventually sink to get entertained, it comes up depressingly short.
While I didn’t get anywhere close to Madworld, I did play the demo of Vigil: Blood Bitterness just to check out the black and white and red and yellow all over art direction. It was a style that grew on me though I suspect a lot of gamers might have been a bit startled by the nearly calligraphic rendering of the game world, though Madworld looks downright lush compared to Blood Bitterness.
Sadly, yes, MadWorld is tanking and for once I can not accuse SEGA of not promoting the game. As Steerpike puts it, probably accurately, majority of the Wii owners couldn’t care less for such a game and those who would like to play a stylish, gory brawler will be looking for games such as this on other systems… What is strange is that No More Heroes managed to ramp up more than 400,000 copies in sales, being by far the most successful game made by Grasshopper, which, modest as it is compared to the real blockbusters, was enough to warrant a sequel. Now, MadWorld is actually a more accessible game than NMH and it sells like bottled diarrhea. Probably just shows that most people gave up on Wii by now. Which is sad as there are quality games coming out for it all the time, why just in the last couple of weeks stuff like Muramasa (Japanese), Metroid Prime remake (Japanese), Phantom Brave remake (Japanese), Final Fantasy CC EOT and awesome Blast Works have come out… And Monster Hunter Tri is around the corner… And that’s ignoring the occassionally excellent WiiWare stuff…
But, yeah, it is loking pretty grim. The Wii Motion Plus addon should help with motionn sensing, but again, I don’t see many games outside sports franchises and Nintendo first party stuff doing much with motion detection… Aside from lightgun games, they are awesome, but, yeah, that is a niche genere in itself I’m afraid… I won’t even go into the fact that in my country getting slightly less famous Wii games in retail is akin to impossible. No More Heroes never made it here. MadWorld and HotD: Overkill never made it here… It’s deppressing. If nothing, this article at least reminded me to check Vigil: Blood Bitterness demo on Steam. Thanks!!!!
I’ve only ever played Wii once and that was a “Mario Kart” game. I’m very happy to know that it was the fact that “game developers haven’t yet come up with a truly intuitive control system for it [and] [t]hat the Wii only registers your move one out of every three or four tries”. This makes me feel much better about having been spanked by a 9 year old.
There are very few Wii owners I know who would be interested in “seriously mature games” who don’t own another system or a PC which is used to play such games. Wii is a system to play with a group of casual gaming friends, your parents, your wife or 9 year olds. If it’s serious gaming you want there are other options and the serious gamers already own them.
My wife talked about getting a Wii for Christmas, Ajax. I considered it, but ultimately decided she was likely to play the $350.00 (including the $90 for Wii Fit, haha) machine for a week and then leave it to collect cat hair. Seriously, I could buy an XBOX 360–a good one, not the XBOX “3Shitty”–for the same price and I would enjoy it for many years.
“Innovative control scheme.” Bah. Just attach a mouse to the damn consoles so we can play games “like God intended” (Steerpike’s quote).
I admit to being more than a little freaked out that Jason can quote me so adroitly.