Developer: Toys for Bob
Release Date: May 24, 2005
Let's face it. Games which are modeled after movies generally aren't game of the year material. As a matter of fact, in most cases, they're downright bad. So faced with the fact that DreamWorks' new game Madagascar is not only modeled after a movie, but a kid's animation, you'd tend to think playing this would be more painful than running headfirst into a wall. However, after playing this game for several minutes, it becomes clear that this is not the case. Surprisingly, Madagascar, while still primarily a kid's game, is actually not too bad.
The game basically follows the movie's plot, allowing the player to complete certain locations to proceed onward with the story. As the story starts, it's Marty the zebra's 10th birthday, but something is wrong! He just doesn't feel right in his home at the zoo. Tired of his monotonous life, Marty craves the freedom of living in the wild. When several of his friends help him escape, Marty undertakes a grand adventure, along with his friends Alex the lion, Melman the giraffe, and Gloria the hippo. Throughout their journey, they'll visit exotic locations such as New York City and Madagascar, and make new friends in their new habitat.
Throughout the game, players will be able to control each of the four main characters: Marty, Alex, Melman, and Gloria. They will have to use each character's special abilities and skills in order to progress forward with the plot. One of the many features of Madagascar is the ability to collect "power cards." Collect three of these power cards, and you will learn a new move. These moves are crucial to surviving in the wilderness, so it is essential that you learn each one. They range from Alex's roar (scares opponents), to Melman's helicopter glide, to the penguin's ability to call up fellow penguins. Overall, the special abilities that each character must learn make the game interesting, and are also fairly easy to execute, as they are always only a one- or two-button combination.
While the main goal is always to reach the end of the level and progress onwards with the storyline, there are many items you can collect along the way that will make your journey a little easier. For example, you can collect Life Tikis which will replenish your health, and monkey money which can be used to buy things at the Zoovenir shop. In addition, some items (such as chili peppers and coconuts) make characters run faster, roar louder, or access certain areas they normally couldn't access.
One of the interesting aspects of Madagascar is the addition of mini-games. I think this was really a smart move by the developers because it adds a little bit of variety to the title and allows you to work towards something other than finishing the game's plot. Some of these mini-games include Tiki Mini-Golf (up to a six-player golf game), Shuffleboard, and Lemur Rave (dance the night away!).
Overall, the gameplay is quite simple. However, due to the comedy cut scenes and the variation of mission objectives, Madagascar succeeds in actually being a fairly solid game.
Graphically, this game had quite a lot to live up to. With the recent release of the animation Madagascar, it is quite clear that our graphics capabilities are increasing dramatically. The smooth animations and perfectly rendered graphics from the movie are amazing, and make many of our jaws drop in awe. However, there really are no jaw-dropping graphics in the game. This is understandable, as the Xbox clearly could not support graphics or animations as advanced as in the movie. While the graphics on the Xbox are still fairly nice looking, they could have definitely been tweaked a little more to enhance certain details.
The sound is one area of the game that was actually done pretty well. Sound-alike actors were employed to act as each of the main characters from the movie, and they seem to pull off just the trick. It will surely please fans of the movie to know that all of their favorite characters still sound relatively the same and speak with the same mannerisms and style. The scriptwriters for Madagascar did an excellent job improvising new situations for the characters to become involved in, as well as representing the characters pretty well. The humor is also blended in throughout the game, making the player occasionally feel as if he is actually in the movie. Any fan will appreciate the unique situations the animals find themselves in, as it will feel like an extension of the movie.
Madagascar actually serves as a fairly fun multiplayer game as well. The mini-games all reflect a child-like party atmosphere, perfect for keeping multiple kids occupied at once. Several of the games can even support up to six players (on the same controller), so the possibilities are endless.
One of Madagascar few pitfalls is that it's pretty much designed for children or fans of the movie. Everything, from the simple structure of the game to the humor, suggests that adults will probably not enjoy this game as much as their kids will. For example, many of the missions involve jumping through hoops, solving simple puzzles, or using simple attacks to defeat enemies. This game really appears to cater to the mind of a child, but this shouldn't hold anyone back from at least giving it a try. After all, what could be more relaxing after a hard day at the office than jumping through a few hoops and listening to talking animals tell humorous stories?
The stage is set for one wild, wacky adventure. While it may be quite a simple adventure at that, it should definitely be checked out by any fan of the movie, as Madagascar will undoubtedly prove to be a humorous game to help you relax and pass the time.
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