Madagascar Review

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Graphics: 6.5
Sound : 7.5
Gameplay : 8.0
Multiplayer : 8.0
Overall : 7.6
Review by Alex D.
Madagascar is a rather brief but fulfilling platformer that coincides with the movie’s storyline and is geared toward the younger audience. Playing as one of a handful of characters from the animated blockbuster, you will follow the adventure of a group of animals lost on the island of Madagascar. While the overall production quality is far from superb, Madagascar is filled with enough comic moments and fun mini-games to make this title rather enjoyable.

From the game’s opening levels at the New York Zoo, you will slowly grow accustomed to the different characters and their unique abilities. As your journey continues, you will find that using a certain character to get through obstacles in a level is quite easy if you utilize their special powers quickly. For instance, ‘Melman the giraffe’ can perform his special helicopter spin to hover over dangerous objects, while ‘Marty the zebra’ can kick back his hind legs to bust open gates and knock over enemies. In most cases you will only use predestined characters for each mission but, in the latter part of the game, you will have to decide which character should be used to complete different tasks. Each level is usually very straightforward; you will either have to collect a certain number of one particular item or successfully make it across a series of hazardous obstructions. Not too much lateral thinking is required, which the kids will be sure to appreciate. Some of the more difficult moments involve tricky platform jumps, and most of the game’s challenge comes from dealing with the insufferable camera angles. Frequently new challenges will occur, such as an incoming wave of rival creatures or just a general request from a nearby animal. The entire game is filled with little odd jobs that help develop the plot along the same lines as the movie. Even gamers who haven’t viewed Madagascar in theaters will still be able to appreciate the rich character development and the occasional punch line.

Different gaming elements are commonly changed to help avoid the repetitiveness that will have you ready to throw your controller against the wall. Such variations include stealth missions, where you must avoid local security guards, and racing missions, where you can challenge an alligator to a battle downstream. Also, it is vital to keep on the lookout for power-up coins if you want to make it past the first few levels. These coins will be scattered throughout the game world, and by collecting enough you will earn new powers for each character. Other coins—which are the common currency amongst animals—can be used to purchase items at the prestigious Zoovenir shop. A plethora of unlockables are available here, including special apparel for each of the characters, helpful power-ups that will aid you during the heat of battle, and even some multiplayer mini-games. Health pickups can also be found sparsely, but you usually won’t encounter too many enemies so watching your health meter will be the least of your worries. For the most part, you can expect a very straightforward single-player campaign that is fun for all ages.

Visually, you shouldn’t expect to push your Xbox to the limit with Madagascar. The developers merely set out to capture the essence of each character and the surrounding environments, and they did a good job at accomplishing this. Each character is clearly identifiable and, aside from low texture resolutions, they look almost identical to their big-screen counterparts. Each environment has a distinct feel, which compliments the gameplay nicely. Instances, such as creeping through the jungle at night or rushing through the rapid rivers, add drama to what would normally be an average mission. Generally speaking, you can expect the visual aspects to be basically complete, but there is still much left to be desired.

Likewise, the audio department’s voice talent closely resembles the movie characters, but there is still room for improvement. While the Hollywood actors weren’t available for the creation of the videogame, the ‘sound-a-like’ voice actors still manage to capture the personality of each character; from Alex’s courage to Marty’s goofy disposition, kids will likely keel over laughing at the constant use of humor throughout the game. Most of the sound effects are disappointingly bland, but the individual animals are usually offering up their incessant catchphrases, so you probably won’t even notice. The soundtrack consists of your typical tribal beats that give Madagascar a strong jungle feeling. For the most part, the audio performance is satisfactory, but stronger sound effects could have enhanced the gameplay.

By collecting coins throughout the single-player missions, you can purchase multiplayer mini-games at the Zoovenir shop. These mini-games, ranging from mini-golf, shuffleboard, and a collection of other fun activities, will offer a few hours of entertainment for you and a friend. The games are all very easy to learn and generally involve more strategy than fast-paced action. Nonetheless, the vast selection of mini-games is sufficient for a few hours of mindless fun.

In conclusion, Madagascar for the Xbox is a surprisingly pleasant game based on the corresponding hit movie. While the audio and visual departments could have benefited from some polishing, the gameplay is more than adequate for the average gamer. Whether you are a hard-core fan of the blockbuster movie or you are just looking to try something new, Madagascar will prove itself to be a rather enjoyable platformer.