The movie presentation of Madagascar may have been filled with humor that adults could enjoy, but there’s none of that to be found here. With its simple, cartoony graphics, Madagascar the videogame is aimed squarely at young children, and that’s something it does it very well. But if you’re a steady gamer and don’t have any kids, feel free to click away from this review now. This game just won’t be for you.
The initial tutorial teaches players how to master moves one button at a time, showing youngsters the ropes in a very friendly way. Throughout its many little levels, though, the gameplay mechanics change so often that it seems like you never actually leave the tutorial at all.
Ironically, this variety in gameplay is Madagascar’s biggest strength, what truly raises it above other movie-licensed kids’ games. Sure there are platforming levels, just like all the other games of this nature, but they constantly have players doing different things. Fishing, running a crane, shooting a dart gun in first-person mode, running and jumping through oncoming traffic, protecting mushrooms, leading other creatures around … the diversity is really quite astonishing. The game even makes a light attempt at stealth, with players hiding under cardboard boxes, although the AI is so dumb that it’s easy to overlook this aspect.
Each of the game’s characters has special abilities and movements. The lion roars things away, apparently taking them out with his bad breath, and he’s also the jumper, the character most-used in the platforming elements. The hypochondriac zebra kicks things with its hind legs or uses a spin move to knock people out or hover through the air, but it can also crawl through stealth levels and reach hard-to-find areas. The hippo, meanwhile, can run and ram into things, or she can performs a wrestling move in which she takes an enemy into the air and slams down on top of them with her butt. The penguins roll on their stomachs across the ground and can whack someone with their fins, but they shouldn’t be underestimated, because, just like the movie, the penguins will provide many youngsters’ favorite moments in the game.
The simple combat and controls make it easy to fly through the game quickly, but ignoring its own short length, Madagascar has lots of autosaves and arrows on the ground to keep the pace up. There’s also nothing in the game to artificially extend its longevity, a fact that many gamers will appreciate. Madagascar also has unlockable levels if you play through certain levels again, all of which are indicated by little trails on the level map, and there are unlockable minigames as well, but none of these do much to extend the game’s short life.
The characters in Madagascar are represented nicely by stand-in voice actors who do an admirable job impersonating their famous movie counterparts, but older players will notice right away that it’s not the real deal. The rest of the audio experience is acceptable, although the main characters do have a tendency to repeat their lines a little too often.
If you’ve got a child between the ages of five and eight who loves Madagascar the movie, you can rest assured that Madagascar the videogame will be a good purchase. It’s a short game, to be sure, but the developers have done nothing to hide that fact, and young children will take much longer to get through it anyway.
- Gameplay: 8.5
- They do a good job of mixing it up. Short, but good.
- Graphics: 7
- In spite of its PS1-looking engine, the little cutscenes strung throughout the game are well animated and give the game a nice progression.
- Sound: 7
- Good voice acting, but the audio is mostly forgettable.
- Replay: ??
- It really depends on the skill level and age of the person playing it. Young beginners will play it a lot and have fun.
- Overall: 7.9
- It has its bad camera angles and glitches, but the good work put into the game makes it more than your average movie tie-in.