Just for clarity, this is a review on Madagascar 3: The Game. If you’re looking for the film review, it can be found here.
Movie games are notoriously bad, due to the fact that they are generally made to cash in on the film’s popularity. By pushing out a quickly made game, they can leech money off of the poor parents whose kids love the film. There are some exceptions to movie games, but these are few and far between; the rest are damned to the bargain bins and boxes in your basement. These games end up being hollow husks of the corresponding movie, with very few redeeming qualities. Madagascar 3: The Game is one of these husks. My God, is it ever one of these husks.
The plot of Madagascar 3: The Game begins about halfway into the movie’s plotline, picking up right after the main characters purchase a travelling circus. Forgoing any attempt at storyline or showing the character development from the movie, the game simply focuses entirely on going from circus performance to circus performance. There is virtually no plot to speak of, other than travelling between the cities. What little shreds of story that you pick up from the in-game dialogue are mostly things that you already know, such as Melman and Gloria having a relationship. Now, I get that this game is geared towards kids, but that doesn’t mean it has to be vapid and pointless.
Honestly, I’m having a difficult time trying to explain the plot, because there isn’t much to explain. It loosely follows the main events of the film, but the entire content of the game has nothing to do with what was seen on the silver screen.
The gameplay of Madagascar 3: The Game (M3:TG) is something similar to platforming. There are only five “levels”, each being a city in the world. Each city consists of making you complete around ten challenges, such as: collecting one valuable item, collecting several common items, collecting items while on a time limit, collecting items while racing an opponent, or putting up posters. As someone who absolutely hates collectables in video games, this game was a special form of torture. Not only are these menial tasks painfully boring to complete, but they are rehashed in every new city. You end up having to do about ten of these “challenges” per city, before performing at the circus. You have to explore portions of the city, looking for every little collectable.
Also, while roaming the streets, there are animal control agents out looking for you. Unfortunately, these enemies don’t spice anything up. You cannot attack them, only evade – but your base running speed is faster than theirs. There’s virtually no reason why you should ever get caught by these guys. Even if you do get caught, they only force you to tap, “A” to break free. If you evade them long enough, they’ll call in “DuBois”. She is the only thing that can end your level, by shooting you with a net. While it is a little harsh for her only attack to end your level with one hit, she is still as slow as the other enemies. But, for God’s sake, if I’m playing as a lion, why should I have to run in fear of a patrolling agent?! I’m a lion.
After completing all of these objectives, you begin performing the circus. These circus sequences are underwhelming, to say the least. They consist of four mini-games, repeated in the same order at every circus you play. There is a Pilotwings style game where you shoot Marty or Stefano out of a canon and steer them through rings, jumping Vitaly through rings, tight-rope walking with Gloria and Melman, and a trapeze act with Alex and Gia. These mini-games do offer a small amount of fun the first time you play them, but that fun quickly fades once you realize that you’re going to play the same challenges in every circus. They become marginally more difficult as you progress through the game, but it never takes much of your attention.
M3:TG is built for constant two-player co-op, even though there are four main characters. Each challenge is played in pairs, usually focused on the special abilities of your characters. Gloria is able to walk tight ropes and swim, Marty can long jump and be shot out of canons, Alex can double-jump and roar away pigeons, and Melman is able to annoy the ever living God out of you and get stuck in every portion of the map. In all of my days gaming, I’ve never encountered such a horrible character as Melman. See, Melman is a giraffe, so his neck blocks him from maneuvering anywhere. I hate you, Melman. Anyway, you have to use these special abilities to get to your objective, but they are the exact same animations each time you use them. The lack of any original gameplay or variety really makes this game into a chore to play.
If you’re a friendless hermit, such as myself, M3:TG will pair you with an AI partner. As I’m sure you’ll be shocked to find out, the AI in this game is atrocious. You’re able to switch between the two characters on the fly with the “Bumper” buttons, which you’ll do quite a bit. Your partner will generally follow you around like a puppy, but they contribute absolutely no help. Another problem is that a lot of the gameplay requires you to move one character ahead to remove obstacles for the other character, but it is impossible to make your partner stay put. So, you switch to the other character to move ahead, but your partner is already scrambling to get back to you; these little goof-ups can completely ruin your day. (I know that all of these problems could be solved by making a friend, but that would require going out into the sun. So, that’s ruled out.) Luckily, your partner isn’t the only idiot in this game. All of the enemies and NPCs walking around are completely useless. The enemies are outwitted if you can jump up onto a box or car. After you get up on something, they are stunned that you’ve vanished like Houdini and walk away. The NPCs aren’t so bad, except that if they see you, they crouch into the fetal position and start screaming their heads off. It wouldn’t be so bad, if they didn’t take up the same space crouching as standing. They become this immobile blockade in the streets.
Overall, the graphics are pretty poor in M3:TG. The playable characters look passable, but everything else looks like it clawed its way out of the Playstation 2’s grave. Not to mention, the game simply isn’t finished. There are portions of walls missing, leaving gaps in corners and frustrating invisible walls sporadically placed throughout the levels. M3:TG feels so paper thin, making it clear that the game was created in about twenty minutes to make some easy cash. Though I knew it was a movie game, I always hope that games like this will be decent. Even the Adventures of Tin Tin game was pretty fun, because someone actually cared while making it. M3:TG had no such care or love put into it, just greed.
They really stepped up their efforts to make you kill yourself with the sounds of M3:TG. The music is a generic, droning little song that just loops over and over. Even if you go into the options and silence the music, you have to contend with the voice acting. Naturally, they didn’t get any of the main cast to do voice work for this, so you’ll be treated to some of the worst sound-alikes I’ve heard. Do you know what’s more annoying than listening to David Schwimmer whine for hours on end? Listening to somebody try to sound like David Schwimmer whining for hours. Honestly, I just muted the television after the first hour.
Now, usually I’ll list some redeeming qualities and aspects that make the game a little better, but not this time. M3:TG has no redeeming qualities. It does, however, have a consolation prize for you playing the game. While you can’t get every achievement without spending countless hours on it, you can net a pretty easy 800/1,000 with a single playthrough. Listen up, Achievement Hounds! This game was not worth playing for 800 Gamerscore. Seriously, think long and hard before picking this up to boost your score, because I don’t recommend it.
Madagascar 3: The Game is the perfect example of what is wrong with movie games: they simply rush out a half-assed “game” and then force the parents to pay $60 for this dreadful product. I genuinely don’t think that kids would enjoy this game, assuming they’re old enough to comprehend video games. While this game is utter trash, I don’t think it warrants an “Epic Fail” rating. Don’t misunderstand, I hate this game. But, (for the most part) it functions properly; I guess you have to give the developers some credit for that.
I Give Madagascar 3: The Game 1 “Upset Melman” out of 5
By Blake Edwards