|System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PS2, DS, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Amaze||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
Im not really big on the animated movie scene these days, but I watch the local news enough to know when a big family film comes around. Madagascar 2 has done well at the box office, and with a popular movie a partner game is pretty much a no-brainer. Madagascar 2 might be a good movie, but the tie-in DS game Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is not a good game.
There are so many problems with Escape 2 Africa that its hard to know exactly where to begin. Escape 2 Africa is plagued my just about every problem a licensed game could have. From a weak story to boring gameplay and horrendous level design, its tough to find anything good about this title.
I suppose that Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa was designed with those who are familiar with the series very much in mind. Why do I say this? Because the plot is horribly confusing -- and this is a kids game were talking about. Actually, the story isnt so much confusing as its just nonexistent. Theres a short cutscene at the beginning of the game about a crazy monkey king, some weird penguins, and a broken plane that needs to be fixed. And with that scant background, youre off on a typically boring fetch-quest adventure.
The structure of Escape 2 Africa is very simple; the game is divided up into worlds, which in turn consist of a few different levels. Most levels have you controlling one of four characters: Marty the Zebra, Alex the Lion, Melman the Giraffe, and Gloria the Hippo, each with their own distinct set of attacks and jumping abilities. For example, Marty can double-jump, while Melman can hover in the air for short periods of time after jumping.
Potentially, this mild difference in skills could have given rise to at least a little bit of variation in Escape 2 Africa. For example, being able to select the character to use on each stage would be really neat, because then youd have to pick based on what obstacles you find in the level. It still would have been pretty shallow, but its better than the actual situation, in which each level is custom-tailored to the character that youre required to use.
Attacks are even worse, because theres literally no variety. Sure, the animations that appear on-screen vary a little bit from character to character, but tapping the X button is literally all you need to do to take out all of the pathetically weak enemies youll encounter throughout the game. Theres no need for special timing or stringing together combos with other buttons. Its a ridiculously boring system and even in a game thats geared toward children, theres no real excuse for this crazy lack of intricacy.
The individual levels themselves only contribute to the problems. Escape 2 Africa is essentially a side-scrolling 3D game, where the path might wind a bit and the camera keeps up. The fact that the levels are so linear, however, is a big drawback. There are no real secrets or hidden areas to these levels, and youll just traipse through collecting coins and beating up enemies -- from little hedgehogs to humans with cameras. Its not fun, and because all the levels feel so similar, this game gets very old very quickly.