NINTENDO DS REVIEW: MADAGASCAR

As of this writing, Madagascar is number one at the box office - pushing Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith into third place. Imagine that? I really don't know what that says about our culture but I'm sure it's further evidence of its decline.

I haven't seen the movie Madagascar nor will I probably ever see it. I do like comedies, and I do like cartoons but I from the trailers and commercials that I've seen of this movie it's obviously directly aimed at young kids that would giggle at the mere mention of the word "fart."

Madagascar the game is not unlike the console version. It's a solid platformer that borrows heavily from the Super Mario NES games of yesteryear. Hey, if you're going to borrow, borrow from the best. With that being the case you won't find much in the way of originality in the gameplay.

It attempts to utilize the characters in interesting ways. There are five playable characters in the game. The story revolves around a group of animals such as a zebra, hippo, lion and giraffe that want to escape from the New York City Zoo to experience the freedom of living in the wild. I could tell you all the characters' names but if you've seen the movie you already know who they are. If you don't - you'll learn them here. They are just to sickeningly cute to relive at the moment.

Each character has different abilities and must be used at specific times in the game. You can't just pick one guy and expect to get through the level. The hippo won't die if she falls into water so she comes in handy for leaps of faith. The Zebra can get into tight places and the lion can double jump and roar at enemies causing them to take off. It's not sufficiently clear why you must use a zebra to charge at some enemies instead of using the lion - other than to make certain that you must use all of the animals throughout the levels. I have no problem using all of the animals, I would just like it to be better balanced and more realistic. It feels too forced this way.

Both the DS and GBA game are identical. There are some very minor concessions for the touch screen, most notably the one-touch switching of characters which is very handy and much more effective than cycling though the list as on the GBA. Other than that there is no advantage to having this game on the DS.

There are some collectibles in the form of coins that you will have to backtrack to collect. For those that just can't put a game down until they find and unlock everything, this will add a few more hours to the gameplay but it really doesn't do anything for me. There's a two-player mode which is equally unexciting, but at least it only requires one cartridge so you won't have spent an extra dime to get something that you won't like. The sprites are large and well animated with some nice ambient music. There are some digital samples which are sloppily thrown into the mix and left to fend for themselves among the din of the soundtrack.

Madagascar is not a bad game by any stretch but it really doesn't have an identity of its own as far as the gameplay is concerned. Young gamers enamoured with the characters may not even notice and as such will have what they consider a great game on their hands. As long as you like it, it doesn't matter what I think.

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System: DS
Dev: Vicarious Visions
Pub: Activision
Release: June 2005
Players: 1
Rreview By Kelly
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.0
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
3.0
MUSIC/FX
2.5
VALUE
1.5