posted 7/11/2005 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: PC
Ben Franklin once said the only things that are inevitable in life are death and taxes. Ben lived in a time before movies and video games or else he might have added movie-tie in video games to that list. It seems like any time there’s a big movie release there’s usually some kind of video game that will attempt to exploitexpand the audience for the movie by adding a video game that allowed you play through certain portions the movie. It used to be that you would stay away from the games as they were usually poorly produced shovel ware developed by some fourth rate development shop and rushed to shelves to try and exploit gamers. As the gaming industry has matured the tie-in games have gotten much better and now feature much higher production values and have started to include actual game play as play as part of the package.

With this in mind it was with a little trepidation that I installed Madagascar on my PC. Sure the movie was a decent flick that I enjoyed a lot more than the sci-fi train wreck that was War of the Worlds but I really didn’t see a lot in the movie that would lend itself to game play. Fortunately the developers took a slightly different tack to the game and instead of playing scenes from the movie the game play is composed of things that happened outside the scope of the movie. It’s easier to think of them more as deleted scenes that you would find on a DVD than playing the movie itself. For example you help Marty escape from the zoo (something you don’t see on screen) and you get to help the penguins take over the ship (which is only hinted at on screen). The game does deviate from the movie in a few places which might confuse younger gamers but it’s not that bad and it’s nice to see the main story of the game fleshed out a bit.

Throughout the game you’ll play as the various main characters in the game: Alex the lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the Hippo, and the gang of militant penguins. Each character has different abilities and methods of attack. For example Alex can perform doubles jump up while Marty can jump great distances. There isn’t a great deal of variation in the abilities as they are either creature specific attacks or different jump modifiers. You start the game will a basic set of moves but you’ll acquire new moves as the game progresses. This is done by collecting character cards that are scattered around some of the levels, once you collect three of them a new ability is unlocked for that character This really isn’t as exciting as it seems as most of the cards are grouped fairly close together. This is something that’s nice for the children gamers but older gamers might feel a bit put off by this (why not just group them into one power-up)

You’ll use these moves to work your way a variety of puzzles and levels. There’s a decent variety of puzzles and challenges in the game. Besides the puzzles and mini-gamers there are also a few arcade games scattered about the game. These are also a bit of a mixed bag but are a nice addition to the game and you don’t have to play them if you don’t want to. The puzzles aren’t going to strain any one but there are a few where the controls get in the way. The Simon like jumping puzzle in the middle of the game is a bit frustrating as you have to start over if you accidentally hit something out of order but for the most part there’s a solid collection of challenges.
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