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Jack/Jack/He's a psycho maniac/that's right/it's death on sight/don't matter who's wrong or right.
It's a Mad, Mad World, and you caught in the game/You put yo life on the line/I put a HOLE IN YO BRAIN!
This Comic Book-style tale follows Jack Cayman, a chainsaw-wielding contestant in the world's goriest game show: Death Watch. Contestants, sponsored by, well, sponsors, compete in a vicious bloodbath to see who will emerge as the victor. The show has temporarily taken over a Manhattan-like metropolis island, leaving authorities in a panic. Jack is one of the contestants under the hand of sponsor "XIII," and his boss has high hopes for him. There's more to Jack than there appears on the surface, however...A notable feature is the game's distinctive graphical style, which utilizes cel-shading and features only three colors (black for shadows, white for anything that's not shadowed, and red for the tons and tons of blood). This game was made by Platinum Games, which includes some of the developers from the now-defunct Clover Studios, creators of Viewtiful Joe, Ōkami, and God Hand. The story writer was Yasumi Matsuno, of Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story fame.Has a Shout Out page.For those interested, there's another Platinum Games game, for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, called Anarchy Reigns (Max Anarchy in Japan), featuring Jack and a few other characters from this game, in which they show their true colors.
This game provides examples of:
Absurdly Sharp Blade: Jack's chainsaw. So sharp as to slice cleanly through flatbed train cars and military vehicles. Shipping containers too. And bones. So many bones.
Acrofatic: Yee Fung, who is almost perfectly round yet is one of the quickest and most agile mini bosses.
Action Survivor: Kreese, if anything he says is to be believed. In some cases he technically did not survive.
Action Commands: Counter moves and many of the finishing moves. Also for "power struggles", similar to counter moves. The ending even gives you one last Action Command in order to kill Leo.
All The Worlds Are A Stage: The first level of the final area features a lot of returning set pieces and traps from earlier levels in the game.
Alliterative Name: The commentators are named Howard "Buckshot" Holmes and Kreese Kreeley.
The Black Baron is a title example, since his real name is unknown.
Ambiguously Gay: The second boss, Jude the Dude, a Dual Wielding, kung-fu kicking, rollerblade wearing killseeker in cowboy costume, is referred to by the commentators as "the Ambiguously Gay cowboy" and "the Brokest Back in the West." There are also posters with the latter moniker scattered on the walls of Jude the Dude's arena, both before and after the boss challenge.
A deleted execution of Jude involves sodomizing him with his own pistols.
Kreese: (refering to Jude the Dude) Howard, I hate that prick. When we fought, that dirty bastard kicked me with his spurs and tore my scrotum.
Kreese: You know, my nuts unraveled like two balls of yarn - you know how fuckin' long two balls of yarn is?
Ancient Conspiracy: Deathwatch had its origins in Aztec-era power struggles in Mexico, where people decided to stop wasting huge armies when they could just get the best of the best to slap each other silly over power struggles. Since then, it's often been used to settle wars, feuds, and other such stuff.
Announcer Chatter: The commentators talk over everything you do, act as a sort of subtle Exposition Fairy by offering you hints as to score more points, but mostly make crude yet hilarious comments that act as a Crowning Soundtrack of Funny.
Anti-Hero: Jack doesn't help people. He kills them. Jack never smiles or displays genuine satisfaction in his work, and even left Deathwatch after he got tired of the killing. He doesn't target civilians, excusing it away that he came here to kill people who actually put up a fight. He's disgusted at Deathwatch's latest choice of venue – and how they acquired it (murdering all the civilians with a lethal virus and letting the psychos do the rest, while also promising a cure to the civilians on the condition that they become participants themselves).
The second point is debatable, if you consider Soul to be, like most of the songs in the game, sung from Jack's point of view.
Aristocrats Are Evil: The upper class of Varrigan City bribed Deathwatch to not only keep them safe during the madness, but to also give them front row seats and simulate a Distressed Damsel plot for their entertainment. Furthermore, one of these seemingly innocent upper class, Leo, is the main reason Deathwatch even took place in the city, just so his family could regain losses of money; they even helped place the death traps.
Lord Gesser was an avid supporter of Death Watch prior to the game, and he isn't working to stop it because of moral qualms about wiping Varrigan City, as he's in full support of the rich abusing their power; the only thing that bothers him is seeing Deathwatch reduced to a contest for gambling. He wants to see the clash, and destruction, of ideals and ideologies.
Ass Kicks You: "Looks like Little Eddie's turning the other cheek!"
Back for the Finale: Every min- boss except for Death Blade and the Cyber Slashers return in the final level for one last go at Jack. Big Long Driller is a notable example, appearing in the first stage of the final world after making his debut two worlds ago and being un-killable back then.
Badass: Paging Jack. Jack to the black-and-white courtesy phone, please.
Badass Biker: Jack is a motorcycle enthusiast and even carries a few wrenches with him.
Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: In the ending, Noa orders some gun-toting mooks to off Jack after the latter has won the games. However, the gunshot belongs to none of the mooks. Instead, it was Leo's pistol that shot through Noa's head. Played with in that A) Jack was too badass to shiver at the shot, and B) Leo was one of the actual villains all along.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Well, one of the female bosses is simply kicked out a window to her death. The other is crushed to death by a giant mascot via eating... Yeah.
Black and Gray Morality: Almost everyone in the game is a horrible person in some way, even Leo. Jack is only barely better than most of the people surrounding him.
Black Face: Black Baron is hinted to be a white man in blackface makeup by the commentators. Due to this, his appearance in Anarchy Reigns is called "Blacker Baron" in reference to actually being a black man rather than a man in blackface.
Bloody Hilarious: Some of the deaths, such as the swirly of doom, really must be seen to be believed. And laughed at. Unfortunately, many of the more ludicrous methods are only available in one or (if you're lucky) two stages (the pirahnas, the catapault, the swirlie mentioned above, flash-frying, flash freezing, gong ringing, firecracker snacking, soda gouging...)
Howard: Jack lobs those losers like they were like my ex-wife tossing my belongings out the second story window of our house! ...Without even so much as a warning. I asked her why, but all I got was the same old "I want to be treated like a woman!" and "You never put the lid down on the toilet!"
Kreese: Aaannnddd we're back! From the sad epic that is Howard's life to rejoin Death Watch!"
Howard: "Why can't you get it up like your brother?"
Kreese: Shut yer trap!
When "The Strip" stage is first shown, the camera begins with a shot of Jack riding his motorcycle down a typical neon-lit casino street, then pans out to reveal more casino-themed decorations such as pinball bumpers, flashing lights on attractions, and... a wall of bloodied spikes.
Butt Monkey: The Black Baron (stop staring), main host of Death Watch, is constantly thrown into his own death traps by his girlfriend. Even when it turns out he's the final boss, every time he recovers from a power struggle down to the end of the battle, it's still pretty hilarious.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Leo, supplying a virus to Deathwatch that allowed it wipe out the civilians in Varrigan City, planning for the fear to drive up sales for his pharmaceutical company selling a cure.
Crapsack World: A world where not only can Deathwatch be set up on a kidnapped island by one pharmaceutical company, but a world where apparently this has been going on for centuries.
On the other hand, this has apparently taken the place of war, so take from that what you will.
Creative Closing Credits: After spending the entire game mocking and insulting the characters in the game, Howard and Kreese turn their wrath to the developers.
Cross Counter: The Action Commands in the final boss fight has Jack do this at the end of a series of Pummel Duels (with a variety of punches, including an uppercut, and a headbutt), though it arguably hurts the other guy even more since Jack's using his mechanical arm.
Cruel and Unusual Death: Oh ho ho, yeeeees. It is practically the spirit of Madworld, seeing as giving mooks a horrible end nets Jack more points. The bosses are no exception to the rule, and arguably get worse then the Killseekers. It starts with Little Eddie getting his face beaten in with his own mace and then smashing his entire head into his neck as a coup-de-grace, and it only gets worse from there. Comes with an actual in-story reason for the sadism; the fans want a show, and getting their adulation earns Jack more support from Sponsor XIII.
Death World: Inverted. Everything in the environment is out to kill, yes. However, most of it is there to kill the opponent. Most of the stuff involved doesn't actually hurt you.
Deconstruction: Of the very type of entertainment it displays. The people that enjoy watching it are shown to be cruel and almost outright amoral the closest thing to an exception is Lord Gesser, and it's only because the Death Watch has become a spectator sport for gambling, not because of the innocent people that die to set it up, and the cutscenes outside the plot keep reminding the player just how horrific the events that had to take place to set up Death Watch were and how terrible the people setting it up were.
Kreese:(when the "Frame Designers" credit comes up) Frame designers? These guys couldn't frame Howard for sex crimes!
Howard: Wow, they must really suck!
Destination Defenestration: Jack can do this to mooks, limited mainly by there being few areas with windows available for it. More notable is the finishing blow against Elise, where Jack sends her through a high-up, stained glass window by spanking her.
Dissimile: When Jack shoves an oil can over a mook and impales him with a signpole:
Howard: Like shooting fish in a barrel! Kreese: Actually, stabbing a signpost through fish in a barrel, and instead of fish, it's a dude. note Howard: Have you tried thinking? Kreese: No.
Distressed Damsel: Straight on with the three Geishas. Subverted with Naomi. She was never in any danger at all, and the whole thing was only set up as entertainment for her and her friends. When Jack finds out, he not only pimp slaps the girl, but actually regrets not killing her.
Little Eddie is easily several times Jack's size, wields a spiked ball bigger than his head, and is gigantically muscular, but from his behavior it's clear that he's borderline retarded. Little Eddie loves his big bada-booms!
While the prefight intro text describes Frank as "brainy" in addition to brawny, this proves an Informed Ability; Kreese specifically points out that he's really, really, really stupid but really, really, really strong. He may even be dumber than Little Eddie — at least Eddie could put together complete sentences.
Kreese seems to be a case, being a former Death Watch contestant for the muscle part, with not getting Little Eddie's nickname being ironic (or understanding the word ironic, even). He occasionally complains about Howard using big words (most of which aren't very complicated at all) and usually responds to him doing so with threats.
Early-Bird Cameo/Trailers Always Spoil. One of the later bosses in the game is Jack's "evil" counterpart, Kojack. Why does he look familiar? He's Jack's opponent in the multiplayer matches, which are unlocked after the very first Bloodbath Challenge. Also, he's on the back cover of the game.
Epic Flail: Little Eddie's weapon of choice is a gargantuan spiked ball with a chain on it.
In a later stage, if Jack smashes a spiked ball over a guy's head, Kreese will accuse him of stealing that move from Little Eddie.
Even Evil Has Standards: Despite being a foul-mouthed violence-loving psycho, Kreese Kreeley makes it clear in several lines that some of "Buckshot's" quirks and kinks disgust even him:
Kreese: When those wankers wobble you can do any fucked up shit you want to 'em.
Howard: Same principle as roofies!
Kreese: You're a sick puppy.
Jack, while certainly not that evil, isn't fond of Deathwatch massacring a civilian population for their latest game this time.
Also, Lord Gesser was disgusted by the fact that rather than actually deciding the fate of the known world, the current Deathwatch games were merely meaningless slaughter for fun and profit. As such, he helps Jack take down the games.
Evil Counterpart: Kojack only has one line, but he makes it clear that he's more crude than Jack. And Jack's barely even the good guy himself!
For the Evulz: The reason that Leo set up the Deathwatch games despite the fact that there were probably more practical ways of advertising his family's cure is because he wanted to personally experience the games for himself.
Free Floor Fighting: There are boss fights that are as simple as a plane, and others that are as complex as the entire castle of the last level you just played.
Fun with Flushing: One of the ways your enemies can be defeated is by stuffing or throwing them in the toilet. They get flushed seconds later, grinding them into a bloody mess.
Gang of Hats: Yes. Varrigan City is home to a bunch of gangs. The stages in the first area consist of punks and thugs, Asian Town (mishmash with Japanese and Chinese cultures) is home to guys in martial artist gear and ninjas, Mad Castle is a full on Monster Mash (zombies, psycho killers, and grim reapers), Area 66 has soldiers, robots, and aliens, and almost all of them appear again at different intervals at Casino Land.
Genre Savvy: Jack. He fully understands how much power would need to be in play to cover up the current Deathwatch, and when Leo tells him that he sneaked into the tower where the last fight of Deathwatch is held after killing Noa and his men, Jack sees right through it.
Giant Mook: In every area: the thugs with motorcycle helmets, spiked armor and chainsaws; the firebreathers; the masked ninjas; the gardeners; the mohawked guards. Slightly harder to take care of than the usual enemy, but still nothing a solid chainsaw swing won't fix - though unlike normal baddies, these guys tend to block often.
Goggles Do Nothing: Averted. Jack uses his goggles while riding his bike during the road rage levels, probably to see through all that blood splattering at high speeds.
If you thought Manhunt was bad... The sole reason why MadWorld got away with what Manhunt couldn't is because the former is Refuge in Audacity while the latter is fairly realistic in its extreme violence.
The Greys: In the fourth area. They're perhaps the only enemies in the game who aren't necessarily hostile towards Jack, but only because they're running away from the stage's normal enemies. One of them is hostile to Jack, however. The last boss of Area 66 is a Grey that's piloting a giant robot.
Hidden Depths: It's implied that Kreese Kreeley likes to play golf when he's not taking part in Deathwatch.
Horny Devils: Elise, the boss of the Castle level, though it's more heavily implied she's actually a vampire rather than a succubus, what with the Vampirella outfit, swarms of bats, coffin hiding places, mentions of blood-drinking, and the note in the level description about a bat spirit that attacked and devoured a woman who used to come to this chapel to pray. The main reason she's speculated to be a succubus is because she's got demonic horns. Awesomerack on her,though!
Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: How many variants of spike traps can one think of? Answer: PLENTY. And for extra fun, enemies killed by spike traps leave their corpses behind, letting Jack take up a second career as an extremely morbid decorator.
Informed Attribute: While "Buckshot" appears to be Howard Holmes's nickname, neither he nor Kreese bring it up outside of introductions.
It's implied in dialogue by the two announcers that the Black Baron slaps Mathilda about, rather than the other way around. Other than a single ambiguous line heard during the first of his boss themes, there's not a shred of evidence suggesting this in game.
Intimate Healing: Saving the geishas will reward Jack a kiss from them that instantly maxes his health bar.
Jerkass: The commentators of the Deathwatch games usually make some pretty rude gestures and remarks while Jack tears apart as many enemies as possible. The best example of their jerkassery is in the credits of the game where they tear apart many of the game designers.
Jigsaw Plot: The whole background behind Deathwatch, why Jack is there, and how the current Deathwatch was put into place.
Knight of Cerebus: Noa, the CEO of the organizers of Death Watch. Any time he shows up, the game's usual Black Comedy stops completely. The first the player even sees of him is when he pulls a Do Not Adjust Your Set on Jefferson Island as he gleefully informs its citizens of their fate.
Long Song, Short Scene: "Crimson Rain" only plays during the fairly short entrance to the Elise boss battle. A player probably wouldn't even hear half of it going through at full speed.
Lost Forever: According to the producers, if you die during the La Lusty Geisha Bistro level, the geisha can die... and stay dead for the rest of the save file. The only way to save them is to start the game over.
Made of Iron: While enemies can survive metal poles to the face...
Mini-Boss: Several different ones for different areas; Big Bull Crocker, Yee Fung, Tengu, Death Blade, Big Long Driller, and the Cyber Slashers in order of appearance. They have surprisingly high health, a variety of attacks, and the ability to get into Power Struggles with Jack. Naturally, you tangle with nearly all of them in the stage leading up to the final boss (Death Blade and the Cyber Slashers, for whatever reason, weren't in on that action). In that stage, the Quirky Mini-Boss Rush turns Yee Fung into a Mook Maker, has Tengu flanked by dozens of ninjas, and finally has two Bulls and a Driller.
Mini-Game: Done in the form of completely over-the-top "Bloodbath Challenges" which task you will killing as many mooks as possible in hilariously gory ways. Can also be played as multiplayer once unlocked.
Mirror Boss: Kojack, the 10th boss of the game, who rides a motorcycle and has a chainsaw-arm like you. Given that he appears in the sci-fi themed area, he might actually be a clone.
A fact lampshaded throughout the fight by the commentators, who liken the battle to Jack beating up himself. Made funnier by the fact that Kreese is actually rooting for Kojack instead of Jack:
Kreese: C'mon Kojack! You gonna take that?!
Howard: Sounds like someone's pulling for Kojack!
Kreese: Hell yeah! Kojack is just evil Jack - and evil makes everything BETTER!
Kreese continues to insist that Kojack will win even after Jack kills him.
Their comments over the Kojack fight provide the trope's page quote.
Monster Mash: The whole theme of the castle chapter. Along with zombies, mummies, and psychotic drill men. The bosses consist of a pack of werewolves, a Frankenstein's monster, and a vampire.
Mooks: "It's like those guys exist only to be killed by Jack!"
Mook Chivalry: Played straight somewhat and subverted. Enemies will take their time to attack on at least the earlier levels during Normal mode (mainly area 1 and 2). Averted with Hard mode, as even simple enemies like the street punks will do huge damage and will actually coordinate their attacks. Sometimes they will let one of their own be killed so they can trap Jack and pummel the crap outta him. This is also played straight when in a powerstruggle with the levels' Mini-Boss (with the exception of Death Blade). It's justified, considering the mini-bosses are huge guys and Jack is well... Jack.
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: More like: zombie, punk, robot, grey, soldier, samuari, cowboy, war mech, giant, mutant, sumo, assassin, bounty hunter, pimp, and probably a whole lot more... As with everything else, the boss design quite intentionally lacks subtlety.
Old Gladiator: The Yokozuna from Asian Town's second stage. He's probably the oldest contestant on the current Deathwatch, and seemingly immune to puny things like pain.
Pet the Dog: Jack towards the geishas. He even hugs one of them before the final boss.
Production Foreshadowing: An advertisement for The Gates of Hell can be found in the subway. The game that that appeared in was still in development at the time of this game's release. Said game then made a reference to Madworld in return, when visiting The Gates of Hell, coincidentally. And then in Anarchy Reigns, the stylish witch then meets Jack and the others.
Rollerblade Good: Death Blade is, well, death on wheels. His name is even partially in reference to this (and partially in reference to his Sinister Scythe). Jude the Dude has what appear to be actual ice skates, though.
Running Gag: Howard's commentary always finds a way of circling back to his spectacularly failed marriage.
Howard: "Jack lobs those losers like they were my ex-wife tossing my belongings out the second story window of our house...without even so much as a warning, I mean...I asked her why, but all I got was the same old 'I wanna be treated woman' and 'You never put the lid down on the toilet'..."
Kreese: "...and we're back from the sad epoch that is Howard's life to rejoin Death Watch!"
Howard: "'Why can't you get it up like your brother?'"
Scary Black Man: Subverted, slightly. The Black Baron (stop staring) gets killed so often and is such an over-the-top, comical character that he's not really scary... Except when you fight him... And the trope gets played straight as all hell when he gets pissed off and So Cold starts playing.
The commentators also imply that he isn't even black.
Played with. When you beat the Shogun and it's time to finish him off, he jumps to the top of the roof so that you can dash and slice him to death. Jack knocks him backward onto a conveniently placed spike instead.
A variation of this appears in the Final Boss, where Jack must try and counter The Black Baron with a Cross Counter. If he doesn't, he suffers the hand-to-hand combat version of a Diagonal Cut.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Averted. Not a lot of people thought upbeat hip-hop would mesh well with a beat em' up. Turns out it does! Though it's not all upbeat, especially when it comes to the Castle.
Spiritual Successor: The game is made by a bunch of ex-Clover Studio developers and takes a lot of influence from its "parent" God Hand, featuring shout-outs around every corner. Notable mentions include the finisher for the Horny Devil boss and the entire final boss fight, which references the Devil Hand fights like crazy.
The Theme Park Version: In-game, Asiantown was made by throwing together a bunch of different Asian motifs, icons, and sterotypes, and is heavily lampshaded. This being a Japanese game made exclusively for Western audiences makes you wonder who is ribbing who?
This Is a Drill: Wielded by a giant miniboss with an elephant mask, no less. They call him the Big Long Driller. "He used to have one of those old timey hand drills, but his victims would never stay down long enough for him to really get drillin'."
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The commentators don't seem particularly surprised by the aliens being stored in the secret underground military base beneath Varrigan City. They (Kreese, at least) have seen them before.
Kreese: Go on, Jack! Show us the color of their insides!
Howard: What color is that?
Kreese: I don't know, but it sure ain't red. Fucking aliens!
Vicious Cycle: According to Agent XIII, Death Watch has been going on for quite some time. In prior games, it was used as a less bloody substitute for war between nations. The main reason XIII wants the games destroyed is because the most recent incarnation is for nothing but carnage and profit.
Victoria's Secret Compartment: In the final boss fight, the three geishas pull health items from their cleavage and toss them to Jack if he's running low.
X-Ray Sparks: Rin-Rin's blocky skeleton can be seen whenever she gets thrown into the electric signs or video monitor during her boss battle. It also happens to just about everyone who gets thrown into electric signs, not just her.
Jack also receives this when he is hit with an electric attack. For some odd reason, there is a blank space in his mechanical arm, instead of showing the mechanical parts inside it.
You Kill It, You Bought It: How you rank up. Luckily, unlike No More Heroes, you don't have to kill first and only the next rank: you get the rank of whoever you kill as long as it's higher than your current one. Since you start ranked 256th, this is a godsend; then again, beating the very first boss propels you to rank 198.