13 Jul, 2005

Madagascar Review

PS2 Review | To Madagascar we go.
Warning: As this review is based on a game of a movie there may be spoilers in the review, we have tried to avoid spoiling any of the movie or game.

Madagascar is based on the DreamWorks movie of the same name. The last Activision title that was based on a DreamWorks movie was Shrek 2 which received a respectable 7.0 from this site. However, as a general rule most videogame to movie conversions are average, so we really didn't know what to expect with Madagascar. So, is the game a poor movie to game conversion or an enjoyable romp for children and adults alike?

In Madagascar players take control of either Alex, Morty, Gloria, Melman and the crazy penguins. The game follows the same storyline of the movie, as the animals try to escape from their zoo to the Isle of Madagascar. However, escaping from the zoo isn't as easy as it would seem. Full motion video (FMV) sequences often help to advance the storyline, but most of the story is progressed with in-game cut-scenes, that look great. However, at times and especially in the beginning the cut-scenes go a bit too long and quickly become a little tiring. Thankfully the cut-scenes are skippable.

Whilst the game is, at its core a 3D platformer the chapters are divided well enough so there are adventure elements, stealth elements and even a mini-golf game. As the game progresses each animal also learns new skills, such as kick, crouch and spin. At the beginning of the game the move set is very limited, but in a short space of time it becomes very extensive. This is a clever way of slowly introducing moves to children.

I'm just lion around

I'm just lion around
The game is set in eleven chapters and players can also access a zoovenir store where they can unlock games and extras, these extras are unlocked through collecting tokens. Some of the extras that can be unlocked are two player mini games and extra health. It's a great way to encourage more collection.

As the missions are consistently different, the game play never borders on boring. The developer, Toys for Bob have done a great job in seamlessly combining all the genres into one kid’s game. In certain areas of the game there are arcade machines and they feature some basic games that pay homage to the past (such as a space invaders type game). We found ourselves getting wrapped up in these little games, Madagascar has a lot of small additions that the game that much more unique and polished. Some of the movie to game conversions we've reviewed lately have felt a little rushed, we're pleased to report that the game feels very polished.

Unfortunately the game can feel a little linear at times, each chapter is unlocked sequentially, so if the player gets stuck then they have no choice but to keep trying. Certain parts of levels won't become available until a small task is completed; finding the objective of the task is never hard as the player is narrated through what is expected of them. We would have appreciated more free-roaming, even if it meant looking for those last few tokens.

Behind Blue Eyes

Behind Blue Eyes
The main complaint we'd have about Madagascar is that it doesn't exactly bring anything new to the platforming genre. There are a lot of game play elements in Madagascar that we've seen before, and we were never really surprised by any of the game, it feels a bit as if the developer were a little wary to try to bring anything unique to the platformer.

The camera can also often get in the way. The camera is adjustable, but the vision of the player will sometimes become blocked, this could be a problem for children, as adjusting the camera could be a little harder and intimidating for children. Sometimes the game also won't let the player adjust the camera. At one point during the game i had to move left and couldn't adjust the camera to see my view, so it was a case of trial and error.

The graphics in Madagascar are generally reliable. Making the transition from movie to game wouldn't have been that difficult as the movie is all cartoon. The characters all look good, but the textures are a little average. Toys for Bob have done a great job in making the levels colourful and lively, making them look very similar to the movie.

The Madagascar movie is quite entertaining and humorous. We really didn't expect that humour to carry through to the game but it has. Some of the character banter is actually really humourous. When standing still the player will be prompted to get moving with comments such as "do you expect this game to play for itself?” There are a lot of voices in he game as well. While the voices are varied they do get repetitive if you do the same parts of a level a few times, if you complete the level in one go then the voicework won't repeat, but if you attempt it a few times then the characters will have the same comments. The background music is also a little repetitive and borders on tedious after a while. The voice work in the game is not done by those who lent their voices to the movie, which is a shame, but the replacement voices are more than competent

Dance baby dance!

Dance baby dance!

Some people would assume that because the game is primarily a kid's game it will be easy. While the game isn't exactly hard it isn't a title that is easily completed in one sitting. Completing the game fully (which includes collecting all the tokens) could take about six to eight hours. A two player mode has also been included, this helps to extend the lifespan - especially for children. PALGN also would have appreciated more unlockable film content, which relates directly to the movie, such as storyboards, a film trailer or a promotional video.

We really didn't expect Madagascar to be anything other than a formulaic 3D platformer based on a popular movie, we can admit the game was completely different to how we had anticipated it would be. Just like the movie, Madagascar appeals to both children and adults. There are a few problems with the game, such as how quickly it can be completed, and it is unfortunately very linear, but a lot of kids games will play down to suit their audience, whereas Madagascar hasn't done this. Enjoyable for adults and children.
The Score
Madagascar is an enjoyable title that can be enjoyed by the young and the young at heart.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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