There’s a certain stereotype about games based on film releases that they’re of poor quality and often rushed for development, with the exception of a small few. Unfortunately, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is not in the minority.
Based on the film of the same name, the latest instalment sees Alex (a lion), Marty (a zebra), Gloria (a hippo) and Melman (a giraffe) once again attempting to get back to their New York zoo. Their journey takes them through Europe where they come across a traveling circus, which they reinvent - Madagascar style.
Each of the game’s characters has certain abilities. Alex can double jump, land on lampposts, trapeze and roar (to scare pigeons); Gloria can hip bump, swim underwater and tightrope; Marty has the ability to long jump, power kick and run off ramps; while Melman can turn cranks, sneeze (to scare pigeons), stomp (to knock down objects) and tightrope. Players have to use each of the characters’ abilities in order to progress through the game.
Furthermore, as the thought of zoo animals walking round the streets is a terrifying thought, each character can also go incognito - making them invisible to surrounding people, though this only allows them to walk. Quite humorously, when the characters are incognito, they simply wear glasses, though the ability itself is quite pointless as scaring humans doesn’t come as a disadvantage.
The single player campaign has the animals working for Skipper the penguin, whose objectives require players to obtain an item, which involves two of the four main characters working together. There are also numerous items to be collected for King Julien, depending on the location (for example: teapots in London and pizzas in Pisa).
Sadly, the objectives themselves are quite repetitive. Having to fetch an item via the same methods level after level quickly becomes tedious. On top of that and further adding to the repetitive nature, each of the game’s characters have additional collectibles that are scattered throughout each of the game’s levels. Alex collects stars, Gloria collects Roses, Marty collects balloons and Melman collects thermometers.
While completing the objectives and gathering the collectibles, the only real cause for concern in the game is pest control, led by Chantale DubOis. If players stay still long enough around them, they will be temporarily captured. In order to escape, players repeatedly tap the A button. Not doing this quick enough results in them having to restart the level. Nevertheless, avoiding pest control isn’t much of a challenge and therefore they aren’t much of an obstacle.
As well as the main single player campaign, Madagascar 3 contains circus mini-games, which has the animals pressing the corresponding buttons as they appear on screen, throwing food to the audience, jumping through rings of fire, being fired out of cannons, tightrope walking and swinging on the trapeze. The poor design of these mini-games makes them more frustrating than enjoyable, though it is a welcome change to the repetitive campaign.
Another problem with Madagascar 3’s gameplay is that the A.I. is poor. A lot of the time the accompanying character will simply stand still, rather than following the player around. This means that players have to spend extra time moving each of the characters, which can be quite infuriating. Thankfully, the game supports two player local co-operative play, splitting the screen to allow for multiplayer in both the single player campaign and the circus mini-games.
Nevertheless, it’s not all doom and gloom as the game manages to capture the humour the Madagascar films are best known for. Most of this humour is evident in the main story, which is told by chimpanzee, Phil, along with lemur, King Julien. It may sound like an odd combination, but the two work great as a double act. Moreover, the one-liners said by the game’s main characters also provide a couple of laughs.
Graphically, the character models are fairly well done, though to make matters worse, is let down by poor, repetitive and dull background environments. As for the audio, the sound-a-likes aren’t convincing enough and the weak sound effects and background music are enough to get gamers pressing mute on their television remotes.
Overall, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is a poorly developed video game. Despite having the potential with a great set of characters and interesting storyline, the repetitiveness of the title and the lack of variety make it a tedious game to play, that’s only saved by the occasional moment of humour. This is definitely one to avoid.
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