Sega recently announced that the release of Anarchy Reigns—a multiplayer-centric brawler developed by the fine folks at Platinum Games (MadWorld, Bayonetta)—will be delayed in North America until the first quarter of 2013. That puts it way off the previously listed worldwide release of July 2012, which it’s still scheduled to hit in Japan. It puts it even further away from previous release dates, and that’s too bad, because the demo is available now in Japan and it looks like Platinum could have another over-the-top winner on their hands.
The demo for Anarchy Reigns can be played with the relatively small amount of effort required to set up a Japanese Hotmail account, and a new Xbox Live Silver account. No cost to the user, and the world of Japanese Xbox 360 demos is now but a few clicks away. Titled Max Anarchy in Japan, Anarchy Reigns follows the beat ’em up formula pretty closely in concept. As one of many selectable characters you’ve got an arsenal of hand-to-hand combat moves, a special weapon that shreds, whacks, or incinerates foes, and a variety of found objects that can be chucked right at the enemy waves.
Anarchy Reigns‘ bread and butter, however, is its multiplayer. While you’ll need another Gold account to play against people in Japan, you can just as easily play the demo under your normal Xbox Live account and compete against like-minded locals who have also gone through the trouble to download it. Matches support up to eight players, but I had a hard time finding that many at once to throw down with. Instead, I jumped into a couple of four-player free-for-alls that had us going wild in a refinery, racking up kill after kill through exaggerated combos, explosive projectiles, and devastating special weapons.
Controls don’t take long to adjust to, so the playing field leveled out fairly quickly. The winner at the end is determined via the sum of various outstanding achievements, including kill-to-death ratio, and after a match you’re booted back to the main menu. Though it would have been nice to have the option to keep cycling through lobbies, it’s just a demo, and it offers plenty of reason to try out the other available modes.
In addition to multiplayer, the Anarchy Reigns demo also lets players sample a thorough tutorial and two areas from the single-player campaign, the Dark Side and the White Side. While the latter gives the best idea of what to expect from the free-roaming, mission-based single-player, the Dark Side mission pushes someone very familiar to the forefront. As Jack, the chainsaw-wielding protagonist from MadWorld (2009, Nintendo Wii), you’re thrown into a boss battle against Black Baron, also from MadWorld. Jack’s special weapon is, of course, the chainsaw, and the Gears of War-like satisfaction of sawing right down someone’s chest remains potent.
The best part about the demo? It includes English options for menus, subtitles, and even dialogue. That makes Sega’s decision to push Anarchy Reigns into 2013 all the more puzzling. Let’s hope it’s the last delay for the game, because what’s on sample here is a blast, and should provide plenty of multiplayer madness when it drops next year.