Most videogame adaptations of blockbuster movies tend to suck. It's just an accepted fact in this industry. So when publisher Activision announced a game based on the animated flick Madagascar, there was much reason to fear. Game journalists the world over cowered under their desks in frightful anticipation of bad cameras, poor level design and insipid gameplay. And hey, who could really blame them. Thankfully, a good many of these doubts were unfounded. Developer Toys for Bob delivers a solid platformer with its release of Madagascar.
It's certainly geared toward a younger audience. Most game veterans won't have a problem plowing through the entire game in six hours, for example. But younger kids (and even diehard platform fans craving a fix) will find a lot to like here. To start, Madagascar does a good job of recreating the humor of its big-screen sibling. Much of the dialogue is pretty entertaining, as is the voice acting. It's decidedly corny, of course, so whether you like it or not is a matter of taste. But it's undeniably better than what's in most kid-centric videogames.
Madagascar also features clips from the movie, which only helps tie the two products together. Interestingly enough, while the game follows the plot of the movie closely, most of the in-game cut scenes use the game engine and not real clips. Somewhat unfortunate, really. The game adaptation of The Incredibles used scenes from the movie to great effect. Alas - moving on. Fans of the movie know everything there is to know about the plight of Marty and his furry friends, but here's a recap for those who don't.
Madagascar chronicles the adventures of four animals from the Central Park Zoo in New York. There's Marty, the Zebra, who grows tired of life behind bars and conspires to bust free. Then there's Gloria, the girl's girl hippo, Melman, the hypochondriac giraffe and Alex, the headstrong Lion. Once Marty breaks out of his pen and leaves the Zoo, he decides to rush through downtown New York to catch a train at Grand Central Station. The point being to reach "the wild." Of course, this "wild" is in fact Connecticut, but Marty doesn't know that.
After Marty's loyal friends discover he's missing (on his birthday no less,) they decide to bust out themselves to find him. As previously stated, the game mirrors the plot of the movie, but there's obviously more to the game. For starters, Marty's escape from the Zoo is a relatively quick affair in the movie but a lengthy sequence in the game. It serves to note before the main game actually begins, Madagascar forces you through a quick tutorial where you assume the roles of each character and learn basic skills. You can read earlier coverage right over herefor more details on this chunk of the game.