Madagascar 3: The Video Game was released June 5th, just before the Dreamworks animated film Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted on June 8th. The game’s handheld version, for the Nintendo DS and 3DS, is different than the console version, for the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. This review is for the console version. Madagascar 3: The Video Game lets players control Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo and Melman the Giraffe while navigating through colorful reproductions of European cities.
Madagascar 3 offers both a story mode and minigames. In Story Mode, the protagonists join a traveling circus in an attempt to finally return home to the Central Park Zoo. The circus makes its way through Rome, Pisa, Paris and London. In order to put on the circus in each city, the player must first complete several missions.
Kids are assigned two characters per mission, and they’ll have to rotate between them to advance through the stage. (A second player can join, which adds to the fun and, more importantly, make the longer missions somewhat easier.) Each character has multiple special abilities that you’ll need to utilize strategically. For instance, Gloria is the only character who can swim, Marty can be shot out of a cannon and Alex is good at “landing on small things,” as the Skipper puts it. Alex can also double jump, but it doesn’t always work well when it’s needed.
Skipper, the crafty leader of the movies’ famous penguin troupe, gives players their missions in each city. Two or three objectives are given at a time, so there’s always something to do. While fun at first, many missions are copies of earlier missions, without getting much more challenging. When evading animal control officers, particularly their leader, Capitan DuBois, it’s strangely more effective to pose as a “statue” on a small pedestal than to press the “disguise” button (which produces a pair of sunglasses).
Once the circus is set up, kids play circus-based minigames entailing everything from selling tickets to performing on the tightrope. These are the same minigames featured in Circus Mode, outside Story Mode. It’s tedious to have to play every single circus minigame in every single city during Story Mode, so while Circus Mode is a fun diversion, the player may already be tired of the minigames. Depending on kids’ attention spans, they’ll either grow bored of the minigames quickly, or delight in playing them over and over.
Graphics and Sound
The game’s graphics are subpar. It’s easy to get lost in the sprawling, confusing cities when trying to complete missions or objectives, and the minimap in the corner of the screen isn’t always helpful. The camera is slow and often chooses to shoot at random, unhelpful angles. All of the London missions are set at nighttime, making it too hard to see what you’re doing. To survive London without frustration, I advise you turn your TV’s brightness settings as high as they can go.
I chose to play the Nintendo Wii version of the game to see if the developers made good use of the Wii Remote’s capabilities. Disappointingly, they did not. Why not have the players balance the Wii Remote in their hands as Gloria or Melman crosses a tightrope, rather than moving the control stick as with a regular console controller?
The background music gets repetitive, but provides a nice backdrop for your characters’ shenanigans. The voice acting provided by the Madagascar stars is as good as in the movies. The characters often engage in dialogue during gameplay, which can be funnier than you’d expect. The humor is aimed at a young demographic, of course, but I did laugh at many of the less-punny jokes the characters made.
This game won’t take most kids long to beat. If they enjoy the minigames, they’ll keep coming back for more; otherwise, they’ll be looking for something else to do very soon.
Let’s Be Honest
Let’s be honest: an E-rated game does not necessarily denote a game everyone will enjoy. While it has its flaws, Madagascar 3 is worth purchasing; for children, and for fans of the franchise, young and old, hours of amusement are in store.