- Can be fun for fans of the films
- Funny in places
- Much more fun in co-op
- Where is all the content?
- Mini-games lack creativity and imagination
- AI in single player is frustrating
With the third Madagascar film about to march its way into cinemas across the UK, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted released to both critical and commercial success in the US back in June and is the highest grossing movie in the series yet. The film continues on from where Madagascar 2 left off, with Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, and Gloria the Hippo joining a travelling circus with the hope of getting back to their New York Zoo home. As always expected with such movies, a game is soon to follow. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is no different and is due to arrive alongside the film on Xbox 360, Nintendo DS/3DS, PS3 and Nintendo Wii.
The game’s story based mission mode loosely follows the same plot of the movie, with you taking control of Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria as they tour Europe to get ready to put on the show of their lives and get back to New York. Starting off in Rome, then moving onto other cities such as Pisa, Paris and London, you’re given missions by the penguins to collect and gather a number of items from each location. The platform style exploring and collecting is interspersed with a number of circus style mini-games that mostly centre around timed button presses.
Each city is a child sized sandbox world that will keep most 7 to 11 year olds occupied for a while as they search for a way to reach their objective. Younger ones may need a little assistance, as navigation and finding a way up onto the rooftops can be a challenge at times. Lucky enough, Madagascar 3 features full co-op gameplay so parents, siblings or friends can join in with younger ones to offer a helping hand.
Playing single player means you have to switch between two characters, a bit like the LEGO games, to solve problems by using each character’s unique ability; for example, Gloria can do a hip bump, Melman sneezes and can walk on tight ropes, Alex can roar and jump and perch on poles, and Marty kicks. The downside is that in single player the character you’re not playing as will often wander off, get stuck, or just not respond in the way in which you want them to because of poor AI – which can often get frustrating. It’s certainly a much better experience in split screen co-op, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking of picking it up for a child to play on their own.
Obviously, wandering around a busy city as an animal in search of various items is going to cause a certain amount of panic among the populace. To prevent being recognised, each character can quickly put on a disguise and fit in with the locals who won’t know any difference – although the disguise is pretty comical to say the least. Also roaming the city streets are Animal Control Officers who work for the film and game’s nasty villain, Captain DuBois. Avoiding these guys should be priority, since failing to do so will result in you having to start the entire mission again. When spotted, simply outrunning them and staying out of site with your disguise on should do the trick.
Circus mode is a collection of six mini-games that see you pressing certain buttons as fast as possible, or guiding one of the characters through the air after being shot out of a cannon for example. Each of the games award you with a star rating depending on how well you do, with the objective being to get five stars in each game. Starting off in Rome, proceedings are on the simple side – it is a kids game after all. Moving onto the next city, Pisa, the same six mini-games repeat themselves but slightly increase in difficulty. Most of the games are enjoyable to play, with just a couple bordering on the slightly annoying side.
Repeating the same six games for each of the five cities feels a bit on the lazy side. Considering the extra development time the game has had since the movie’s release in the US, it would of been nice to have seen a much more varied selection of games. The upside is that at least each of the games and cities are unlocked from the very beginning without the need to play the story or complete the previous game to unlock them.
Visually, Madagascar 3 doesn’t look bad and is pretty much what you would expect from a title such as this. Most of the work has clearly gone into animating the main characters and their new circus friends from the third movie; such as Vitaly the tiger, Gia the jaguar and Stefano the sea lion. Each character moves and acts exactly like they do in the films, which will no doubt thrill younger ones. The humour throughout the story is also pretty good, with plenty of laugh out loud moments for us “kidults” too. But the great humour and character animation doesn’t make up for the lazy game design that constantly rears its head throughout.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is far from a bad game and will keep any kid that enjoys the movies busy for a couple of hours at least. There’s also the co-op which is great for parents that want to join in on the fun with their children. The problem is, it just feels like half of the game is missing – maybe it’s looking for its way back to New York too!