A decent movie tie-in game hindered by its clunky controls.
Once upon a time, videogames created around a beloved cartoon or movie character were generally received with anticipation. However, as the years have gone by, movie games generally have a big "Avoid at All Costs" label on them. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much as an adult playing a game clearly geared towards children, but then something strange happened: I found myself having a decent amount of fun.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is a sequel which, like its predecessor, maintains the same plot as the movie it's based on. Escape 2 Africa follows the characters through their journey from Africa back to New York. Featuring the full cast of characters from the movie along with superb voice acting, it will surely charm any fan of the feature film.
A collection of mini-games and basic platforming comprise the majority of this game, as well as collecting and discovering hidden paths. The game is paced slowly for the younger crowd and plays more like an interactive movie, following a pattern of completing a challenge and then watching a cutscene. Players must find ways to access levels and acquire items in order to broaden the in-game world and allow for less limited exploration. Using the four main characters - Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the hippo, and Melman the giraffe - players will be able to leverage each of their unique abilities in order to thoroughly explore the entire world.
Regardless of the character currently under the player's control, completion of a number of minigames is required in order to progress. The mini-games are all very simple, and while at times clunky to control, are not unplayable. They range from a game of soccer to a Katamari Damacy-like challenge in which the player must roll up scrap metal. Interestingly, a number of these minigames can be purchased by collecting coins in the platforming segments, and are made available in the game's multiplayer mode.
Controlling the game tends to be very erratic. While platforming, doing the exact same thing two separate times will often produce two different results. As one can imagine, this grows extremely frustrating, forcing the player to redo an area multiple times. Awkward camera angles and poor depth perception also dampen the experience. Fortunately, most of the minigames control well and typically only require one button. Players are also given the option of gesture-based input, which also works well.
Graphically, Madagascar 2 leaves quite a bit to be desired. While the animation itself is smooth and transitions well, the graphics themselves are hideous. People often talk about the lack of visual power of the Wii, but there's no excuse here. Pixelated textures, terribly jagged edges, and water that looks like a blue grid are just the beginning. While the visuals never truly interfere with actual gameplay, they are distracting and off-putting, especially considering the source material.
Even in light of the game's many flaws, it is still decent and even fun at times; however, a bit more time and effort would have made this game very good. While most adults may have a hard time finding enjoyment, the game's character and goofy nature makes for a great experience for the younger demographic.