The action platformer may be 11 years old, but it's a welcome addition to WiiWare.
Scroll down to the bottom for a video review.
Shiny Entertainment, makers of Earthworm Jim, created the first MDK almost 15 years ago. The sequel, which debuted on PC and Dreamcast in 2000, was developed by a then–little-known company called BioWare. Eleven years later, Interplay and Beamdog teamed up to give MDK2 another chance to shine. While the game’s graphics have certainly aged, the gameplay for this third-person action platformer is not only still strong, but enhanced by utilizing an extremely effective Wii Remote and Nunchuk control scheme.
The plot of MDK2 is rather silly. Earth is under the threat of destruction by aliens, and the only people who can save it are the crazy scientist Dr. Fluke Hawkins, his janitor Kurt Hectic, and Max the robotic cigar-smoking dog. Many of the extraterrestrial foes have major flatulence, and the entire cast of heroes and foes will keep you amused with humorous quips and strange situations.
Using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to move around and aim works wonderfully. Anybody who has played a first-person shooter on Wii will be extremely comfortable with the controls. The default controls seemed fine to me, but players can tweak the sensitivity of turning and looking around. The game does not support the Classic Controller, but you probably won’t miss it.
Offering great variety, each of the playable heroes has specially designed levels with their own unique gameplay experiences. Levels for Kurt take full advantage of his coil-suit, which is equipped with a sniper rifle and a ribbon-parachute that is great for gliding and floating up on air currents. The sniper rifle is in constant use by Kurt, allowing him to easily break glass barriers and hit an assortment of switches (some which bounce crazily around a room and must be chased).
Dr. Hawkins levels play more like an adventure game with numerous puzzles to solve. The good doctor can combine the items he gathers to create weapons and other useful tools. Whether it’s creating a makeshift ladder or shooting radioactive bread from a toaster, his levels are creative and challenging.
Finally, Max has the most action-packed levels. He is able to equip up-to-four guns at once and spends the majority of his stages blasting enemies to death. During the course of the game, Max also acquires a jet pack, which leads to some fun platforming and air combat.
MDK2 exhibits old-school game design in a number of ways. There is definitely no hand-holding or Super Guide to be found here. Certain puzzles are confusing and make you want to immediately jump on GameFAQs. There is also quite a bit of difficult platforming in the game. Dr. Hawkin’s stages in particular feature very narrow platforms that can be extremely frustrating, especially when you fall to the very bottom of a spiraling mountain. Thankfully, the game allows you to save your progress at any time, and will restore you to the exact spot you saved at. You don’t even need to go to a menu, as hitting the 1 button initiates a quick save, while hitting the 2 button loads your last save. Unlike the Dreamcast version, which featured some relatively hefty load times, stages on the Wii load super quick. It is recommended to save often because there is no automatic saving, and a surprise death can lead to a lot of lost progress.
It is obvious that the game is over 10 years old. Character and enemy models are noticeably low polygon, and the textures seem muddy and N64-like at times. Character shadows that were present on Dreamcast have been sacrificed to allow the game to run at a smooth 60 frames-per-second. The graphics may be a bit dated, but there are still moments where a gigantic boss battle or a huge open area will leave you impressed. The game runs in progressive scan, and sticks to the 4:3 aspect ratio that it was originally designed for. In addition, the soundtrack does a wonderful job at creating a strong atmosphere.
MDK2 is a well-designed action platformer that will take quite a bit of time to get through its 10 levels. Varied play mechanics keep the shooter fresh and the humorous story should occasionally put a smile on your face. It can be challenging and at times frustrating, but overall, it is a fun romp. It’s a fine addition to the WiiWare library that is easily worth recommending.