I’m quite happy to admit that I really enjoyed the latest cinematic Madagascar outing for Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, Melman the giraffe and Marty the Zebra – it was a sign that lightning does indeed strike three times in a row.
So, I was kind of bemused to see if the small screen game tie in would offer the same level of zaniness and originality that made the time in the cinema a lot of fun.
Sad to say that Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted The Video Game doesn’t really hit the bar of the same level – unless you’re a child or 2 children playing together in a co-operative. (I should have probably known when it said for ages 3 and upwards on the front cover.)
The platformer is still quite cartoony and follows roughly the same kind of script as the film – the gang has to avoid animal control – but adds in a few newer layers.
Initially though in Story Mode, you have to complete some basic levels and get used to the various controls and ideas which permeate this title. After the same level of lunacy in the story telling as pervades the movie, you’re into the game – but not before King Julien’s interrupted the Penguins who are trying to tell you what to do. It’s here that Madagascar The Video Game really captures the madcap spirit of the movies and begins to amuse you.
Sadly though, that laughter was lost when the actual gameplay began to fully roll out.
The theme here is co-operation with each of the animals bringing their own skillset to the table – and you needing to wise up quickly to take advantage of these skills to achieve what’s expected of you. For example, Gloria can side bump boxes but you’ll need Marty’s kicking skills to send them exactly where you need to get to. It’s with this move that the game really comes more alive for a couple of kids wanting to sit down and play a little together, as a Billy-No-Mates one player has to keep switching between characters to get the job done. There’s nothing wrong with that but it certainly does slow down what are essentially mini-games and occasionally interrupts the flow of it all. Add into that mix, a level of repetition and wandering around which becomes tiresome after all and the story mode is somewhat difficult to fully immerse yourself in.
Circus mode for the game is perhaps a bit more fun – well, if you fancy a bit more of a mini bitesize mood to the game. Taking the roles of different characters in the circus, you get to do a variety of games by tapping the circle, square, cross and triangle buttons – it’s a fairly predictable way of doing it but with the games proffering up such gems as hurling bananas or peach at a baying crowd, guiding Vitaly the tiger through hoops or taking Gloria on the tightrope, it’s a fairly disposable fun way to spend a bit of time.
Graphically, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted The Video Game does well at capturing the likeness of its lead characters but they do little other than exist on the screen – that’s not to say that they don’t leap out at you, but even with the talent reprising their voices, it’s still unremarkable if loyal work. That’s actually perhaps the best thing about this game – the voices; it’s great to have a tie in with ties to the movie.
But the problem with this release is that it doesn’t tend to offer a long gaming session on the PS3 – it’s more about bitesize gaming and challenges and as such would perhaps be better suited to a portable system to keep the kids happy in the back of the car for an hour. It’s certainly colourful and respectful of the tone of the movies in general, but it’s lacking a real reason to engage with it for prolonged amounts of time.
All in all, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted The Video Game will keep the kids amused more than anything; it’s a childish platformer which clearly skews younger in terms of demographic and certainly won’t be loved by adults forced to play it thanks to repetitive gaming and a real lack of anything other than momentary entertainment.