- Buy the Game
Reviewed by Jason Thompson
f you happen to be part of a family that likes to play video games together, you probably know that it’s often hard to find games that the entire group can enjoy. The games geared to older players can often be too hard for the youngsters, and the kids’ games can be too easy for the folks. And when it comes to video games for the younger crowd that are part of animated movie tie-ins, you can usually bet that the end result will be an unsatisfying quickie cash-in, with no staying power that even the kids will tire of pretty fast. Well, here’s some good news for the family gamers: “Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa” is fun not only for the kids but the adults too, and it doesn’t suck at all. In fact, I personally had a blast playing through its entirety and really didn’t play anything else until I was finished.
Like the movie the game is based on, this title features Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippo, Melman the giraffe, the wily bunch of penguins, and King Julian and his crew. They suddenly crash land in middle of Africa after their plane’s engines cut out on the way back to New York City. Players will get to enjoy controlling each of these characters, as well as egotistical hippo Moto Moto in a bunch of fun-filled adventures that run the gamut from classic platform gaming to racing to even a rhythm-based dance game. That each of these different parts works so well, and is equally fun, is a testament to just how good this game really is.
Alex, of course, finds himself reunited with his father, and so along with helping out with other tasks, his main quest is to complete the challenges to become an official member of the lions’ pride. Unlike the movie, Alex is made to participate in a dizzying array of tasks from playing dodge ball and musical chairs to scaling mountain walls and running through obstacle courses (complete with zip lines). On the other hand, Gloria’s missions revolve around collecting underwater pearls and battling crocodiles for Moto Moto. She also gets to do some really cool high dive stunts, and bash all sorts of boulders obstructing hidden items and areas after she eats jalapeno peppers.
Perhaps one of the most difficult parts (that will take a few attempts for any gamer) is Melman’s hilarious trip down the side of a mountain while balanced on a huge rock. The giraffe also gets to play doctor and cure other ailing giraffes, as well as employ his wacky helicopter technique where he basically propels himself from great heights while spinning his body wildly. Only Marty seems to get the short shrift here, as his main portions of the game include kicking luggage into the plane before leaving Madagascar in the game’s prologue, and then participating in a zebra race once the gang lands in Africa.
However, the most fun gamers will have while playing the one-player portion of the game is participating in anything regarding the penguins. The Jeep races are hilarious, as are the stealth missions. There is also a lot of fun to be had during the fishing games, be it when the penguins are literally fishing for fish, or trying to steal supplies from a junkyard using a fishing pole. Then there are the missions where gamers will have to chuck soda cans at humans while the penguins try to change four tires on a Jeep to escape. It’s all good, and it’s all fun.
But it doesn’t end there. After the main game is completed, players can take various King Julian coins they have collected during the game and spend them to purchase mini games, which can then be played as separate entities or as a group. These include a couple holes of mini golf, a chess game, songs to dance to in the rhythm game as first discovered by Gloria in the one-player game, and more. All of these games are a lot of fun and really extend the game’s life. Activision has put so much to do in this title that it’s hard to find fault with anything, really.
Of the minor things that are a little annoying, probably the most noticeable is the camera behavior at times. Usually it gets a little wonky during Gloria’s trips through the underwater caves, and a few times during Alex’s missions. The graphics could have been a little smoother in places as well, and mouth animations could have been synced somewhat better in spots. And anyone who’s hoping that Ben Stiller and the gang lent their voices to the game will be disappointed, as they did not. But it doesn’t matter at all, as the writing is really wonderful, and there will be many moments where you’ll find yourself laughing out loud at both the situations and the dialogue presented.
“Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa” is a solidly entertaining game that’s fun for the whole family, with plenty of challenges for everyone. If you’re not a game snob, and can appreciate a good game as a good game, then you’ll have a great time with it as well. It’s nice to finally see a game that is tied in with a movie that is this much fun. If they could only be this engaging, then there might be a whole new avenue of gaming to enjoy. This one is definitely worth a rental, and certainly would make a super purchase for someone on your holiday list who’s looking to have some good fun, a few laughs, and a game they can enjoy with the rest of the family.