From the moment I load up Madagascar 3: The Video Game and it asks which language I speak before I even see a splash screen, I already feel that I know it's going to be one of those games. You know, the ones that don't even try to hide that they aren't anything more than a quick buck. Turning the events and world of the franchise into nothing more than a collect-a-thon, this game is a throwback to the things that turned off many from platformers as a whole.
Starring a hippo, a giraffe, a lion, and a zebra who have been taken to Europe to star in a circus, the four animals simply want to get home. Players must use the animal's unique abilities to gather supplies to escape Europe and eventually make their way back home to Madagascar.
Madagascar 3's gameplay is similar to LEGO Star Wars, where two-player co-op is available at all times, although aside from maybe the setting, nothing else is different. Each character has specific abilities, and each ability must be used in a specific order before objectives can be completed. This is not a puzzle game, although there are plenty of obvious solutions and ways to reach objectives that are prevented in strange ways, forcing the game to be linear. For instance, in the training level, the penguin narrator tells me to use the lion to balance on a pole in order to hop on the roof of a building and scare a group of pigeons on a tight rope, so that the giraffe can crossover; however, the lion himself isn't able to cross the tightrope. This may sound alright on paper, but there are two things that make no sense about this situation, even from a game based on a cartoon: the giraffe is able to scare the pigeons right before he hops on the other side of the tightrope through his sneezing ability, and the game just established that the lion is able to balance himself on objects.
After a set of levels, a set of mini-games that take place in a circus become available, featuring characters from the movies. These games are played in succession, with about 5 or so in a row, and they can be hit or miss. Some are enjoyable, such as one where your character is shot out of a cannon and flies through hoops, while others, such as one where the lions must trapeze through the air to hit balloons, have too much going on. A big problem between the main game and the mini-games is expecting the players to want to listen to a voice over before playing a section, not giving players another way to see those instructions when in the game. There were plenty of times I had to restart a level at the beginning of the game, because I forgot how to do a particular skill.
The graphics in Madagascar 3: The Video Game look very last gen, possibly held back by the multi-platform nature of the title. The textures on the buildings and the Lion's mane look pretty good, but characters themselves look low-res. There are also collision problems, with characters not even properly standing on objects in the levels. The voice-overs sound pretty much like the stars of the movie somewhat, and there is voice pretty much all throughout the game. Sadly, there seems to only be one background instrumental going on throughout each level.
Madagascar 3: The Video Game works on a functional level, as there are no game-breaking glitches. Unfortunately, the game is very archaic and does nothing that screams "buy me". Even when thinking about other games on the market for children, there are plenty of other titles available at the same price that will give them more fulfilling enjoyment.
GameDynamo's Score for Madagascar 3: The Video Game (Wii)
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