Posted by Female Gamers on Jan 19, 2010
Madagascar – Review

Madagascar – Review

Post Rating

Madagascar is an animated movie which contains perfect humour, perfect animation, excellent voice acting and a great story of course. The movie is suitable for young and old folks and it really has put a smile on my face, even when I think back to it. But as this isn’t a movie review we’re going to have a look at the videogame and if it had the same effect on me as the movie did. And I really loved the movie! Is the Madagascar game the interactive version of the marvellous movie? Is it worthy for a gamer who didn’t watch the movie?

Welcome to the New York Central zoo with lots of different animals to see. The main characters are Alex the Lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, Gloria the hippo and the cute little penguins. They’re good friends and give their best performance if the zoo is open for public. Of course the Alex, the king of the “jungle” is the main attraction and really enjoys the attention while performing his tricks. Melman is a kind of psychotic giraffe who is very allergic to dust, mud and other filth. My dear Gloria is kind of fat but still able to run and move in elastic way. And of course there’s Marty, our party animal who just turned ten years old. But he’s not in the mood to celebrate his birthday as he’s no longer happy in the zoo. Although he gets treated in the zoo in a good way with enough food, care and attention, he has the dream to live his life freely in the wild. Can he escape from the luxurious life in the zoo? Are his friends going to help him fulfilling his dream or are other animals going to help him escape? Is Marty going to jump and run in the wild life? Free as a bird … eh zebra?

Although you gain control over Marty in the beginning of the game, you also need to play with the other main characters. With controlling each animal you first get a short description of the typical actions an animal can perform. Marty can kick against fences to open them, Melman can clean up trash, Alex is our jumper and unexpected Gloria is able to run very fast. These are standard beginners’ actions and later in the game you can collect power cards to learn new tricks and actions which are needed to clear a level. To give an example, Melman can use his legs to transform him in some kind of helicopter to stay longer in the air, or Alex can perform a double jump. Anyway, Marty is going to meet some penguins who share the same dream to break out of the zoo and live in their natural environment. But these penguins need his help to break out and Marty needs to collect hidden keys to open the zoo exit door. Zoo animals are going to help him by giving hints, but also his ability to kick comes in place as he needs to deal with the zoo keepers; kicking them unconscious, kicking trash cans and cleaning cars at them, sneaking by without getting noticed, etc. His ability is also helpful to open the fences to gain access to other parts of the level.

As soon as Marty escaped successfully, the other main characters notice that he’s gone and decide to go after him. At that point you take control over another animal and need to guide him through the New York streets. Watch out for that traffic and stay away from the police. It’s actually a kind of frogger race / fly game with a mix of Gloria’s speed ability and Melvin’s helicopter action. In the first levels you learn in a fun way to control the different kind of animals’ abilities. No frustration as the gameplay difficulty is still very easy at this point. Eleven levels are available and in the last three levels you need to switch between characters to achieve certain goals such as searching, collecting different kinds of fruit which is needed for a big party on the island. Every character has to participate in order to get all of the food. Again the collecting of power cards unlocks new actions which are needed to achieve the levels’ goal. While running, flying, jumping, crouching around you can find and collect “Alex Coins”. These can be traded in at the zoovenir shop to purchase various upgrades such as accessories for the animals (bikini for Gloria, crown for Alex, etc). But it also gives you the opportunity to buy mini games. These games can be played if you’re not in a level. They are quite funny to play and even contain multiplayer mode. There’s the shuffle board, mini golf and even a lemur rave available and each can be upgraded several times, but it’s going to cost you!

Of course I compared the game with the movie constantly while playing and although the game starts with the same introduction as the movie it seems that they’ve cut it into pieces (levels) and even left out some really funny parts. I missed the old lady who used her handbag to hit Alex, the party where everybody are having fun and dancing on ” I like to move it, move it”, or what to think of the steak problems Alex is having and seeing every animal as a delicious steak? The story is quite the same as in the movie, but still I’m missing some parts. It’s playing level after level, without having the idea that a real story is behind it. Okay, you’ll start in the zoo, going into the city, being on a ship and eventually land on the island. But even with the in-between animations, it cannot make up for to complete the whole story. Also it was quite disappointing to see that the graphics are in no way comparable to the movie. Alex’s hair doesn’t wave but is one piece, just like a wig with too much hairspray on it. It’s very colorful, but doesn’t have the same quality as the movie.

The sound is quite appealing to everyone, young or old. The songs are quite funny and you could listen to them for a long while before it gets irritating or boring. It’s a shame that the movie voice actors didn’t lend their voice for the game, although the game voice actors did a great job. They give the goofy animals just what they need and combined the humoristic phrases with cool accents. But sometimes I had to concentrate on what they we’re saying as the accents and the fast babbling can be hard for a foreigner to follow. There are no subtitles included and the only hints you get is the controlling of the actions which are visualized on screen for a short period of time.

The graphics are very colorful of course, what else can you expect as it is the game version of an animated movie! The characters are humoristic styled. They’re not quite as perfect animated as in the movie, but the way they perform their actions is also quite funny to see. Very enjoyable! Most of the times you need to change the camera to get a good view of where to go or checking out the environment to see some hidden coins or Power Cards. Therefore a constantly changing / adjusting the camera is a must. On the other hand you also can change the camera in front of the playable character which can be hilarious. Imagine seeing Gloria running in her new bikini (purchased in the Zoovenir shop) as if she’s running towards you. Quick hide, hippo on speed is coming towards you!

Is Gloria the only female character in this game? And does it actually matter that she’s the only one? Not really as all characters are fun to play with. Enough diversity in character control, which result in the fact that you don’t notice it really. Also the fact that you play with animals instead of persons contributes to the non-noticing that Gloria is the only female character. Further on I wouldn’t state that this is a typical cute and therefore excellent suited game for female gamers. I guess anybody who has seen the movie and liked it, wants to play this game.

Although the game has the same atmosphere as the movie,it still is quite different. The jokes, the animation of the characters, the voice acting and of course the story has been twisted in some way. But as it contains so much humor, anybody can appreciate the game, even if you didn’t see the movie before playing the game. The bad thing about it is that you won’t enjoy it for very long as the gameplay is way too easy and in no time you’ve conquered all levels. I finished the game in about 7 hours (intro, animations included). Now that is disappointing isn’t it? Okay, the multiplayer mini games can extend the gameplay enjoyment, but for how long? Believe me not long, especially when you’re a single player and got nobody around to challenge. But if you do have friends over, take it a shot and play the (hopefully up-graded) mini games. The conclusion is that Madagascar is a really fun platform game to keep a gamer happy for a couple of hours.

Review by Wencke
Thumb Bandits European Correspondent & manager of GGU.

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