Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC | Wii | PS2 | DS
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa box art
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
Escape…From this Game
by Joseph Catalanotto

I’m 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.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa screenshot

There are so many problems with Escape 2 Africa that it’s 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, it’s 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 kid’s game we’re talking about. Actually, the story isn’t so much confusing as it’s just nonexistent. There’s 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, you’re off on a typically boring fetch-quest adventure.

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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.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa screenshot

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 you’d have to pick based on what obstacles you find in the level. It still would have been pretty shallow, but it’s better than the actual situation, in which each level is custom-tailored to the character that you’re required to use.

Attacks are even worse, because there’s 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 you’ll encounter throughout the game. There’s no need for special timing or stringing together combos with other buttons. It’s a ridiculously boring system and even in a game that’s geared toward children, there’s no real excuse for this crazy lack of intricacy.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa screenshot

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 you’ll just traipse through collecting coins and beating up enemies -- from little hedgehogs to humans with cameras. It’s not fun, and because all the levels feel so similar, this game gets very old very quickly.

Screenshots / Images
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa screenshot - click to enlarge Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa screenshot - click to enlarge Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa screenshot - click to enlarge

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