Review: Madagascar

GC Review

Personally, I'm quite a fan of CGI films. The writers behind Shrek, Monsters Inc et al manage to create some of the most perfect 'family films', and the concepts always manage to be fun and inventive. Given the current state of most platformers on the market today, though, I wasn't filled with confidence prior to receiving my copy of Madagascar. When was last time you played a truly decent platformer, let alone movie tie-in...?

Things start off with you playing the part of Marty in the wilderness of his resident Zoo, doing nothing in particular. Straight away, though, the clichés roll in thick and fast, your first task is to collect some nonsensical objects (this time 'power cards') in order to gain a new ability (cliché #1), then after making your way though a gate, you meet up with your lion friend who must jump though floating rings (cliché #2), collect coins (cliché #3) and search out his power cards in order to earn a much-needed double jump (cliché #4). It's all very by-the-numbers stuff. Anyone who's played any other platformer in their lives will know exactly what to do; and won't have trouble doing it either.

What's worse than Madagascar doing everything by the books that it does it so badly as well. Things start off alright; bar some very loose controls and an often erratic camera, from the off it seems like a fun enough game. As time goes by, you get tired of kicking and roaring at nearby humans visiting the Zoo (which, it must be said, is tremendous fun for a whole 5 seconds), collision detection glitches mount up, more attacks bring their own unique problems. It grates on you. That is if you notice the game at all though; playing through it is so dull it may completely pass you by.

More problems come in form of the level design. Don't be expecting huge junglescapes of Banjo-like proportions; this is as linear as it gets. The closest you get to adventuring is kicking over statues and rocks to get coins. There are a couple of levels which require you to collect various objects scattered throughout the area (which, unsurprisingly, are the highlights of the game). Even then, though, the levels are so small that you'd be hard pressed to come unstuck at any point. There's just something about the game that really annoys me; this represents all that is wrong about current-age platformers. Any film or TV series that is mildly popular is accompanied by their own platformer to drain people of their wallets, especially unknowing parents ignorant of the dire quality within. What's worse, though, is that this actually has potential. Yes, it was probably doomed from the start, but the actual storyline is perfect for a game. Take the initial stages escaping from the Zoo for example; if done properly it could have been great fun, but because of having to tie in with the film it was obviously rushed and crammed into one completely uninspiring level, with it's very own James Pond rip-off too, just to rub it in our faces.

And it's like that throughout the entire game, situations come up that could make for great fun, but the reality just doesn't live up to the concept. It's a shame that we should expect every platformer to be complete horse rear; Spider-Man last year proved that franchise tie-ins don't have to be cash-ins, and so did Goldeneye all those years ago on the N64. Madagascar helps pull down the good work done by titles like these.

To its credit, fun does come in very small doses in Madagascar. Forget the main levels, just look out for the various mini-games, which can be accessed via Arcade machines littered around a few of the levels, and those which can be purchased from the Zoovania shop. They're simple, arcadey and often very messy, but ultimately ten times more fun that the rest of the game. And there's a monkey shopkeeper. Score!

One minor upside to playing through the game, though, is the script. With the help of a manic hypochondriac Giraffe and a witty, cool-as-hell Zebra, there are some truly funny moments tucked away here, on more that one occasion there'll have a grin on your face, unless, like me, you can't due the tremendous pain from ripping you intestines out through your nostrils due of state the actual game content...ahem...

Aesthetically, again Madagascar is nothing special. The visuals are just above N64 standard at best, and the soundtracks and sound effects are completely typical and nothing special. The voiceovers are great, although will incite anger after being repeated for the millionth time as you progress through each level as any one of the lovable animals you can play as.

With a multitude of superior platformers available, there is really no incentive to purchase Madagascar, unless you're a big fan. Look at Tak for an example of a fun and fresh platformer, and proof that the 'good platformer' isn't dead quite just yet.

And you should all be outraged by the blatant James Pond rip-off, too.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Do yourself a favour and invest your hard-earned thirty pounds elsewhere. Beyond the movie tie-in and odd bit of fun you'll have with the mini-games, this should be avoided. You can buy a whole business in some small country for £30. Probably.

  • Gameplay2
  • Playability2
  • Visuals1
  • Audio1
  • Lifespan2
Final Score



Arcade minigames


Just about everything

© Copyright 2024 - Independent Nintendo Coverage Back to the Top