This game is boring in 2D and in 3D!
Zach Miller and Neal Ronaghan both played this game on 3DS and DS respectively. It is, by all accounts, the same game on each system with minor differences. So, we pooled our efforts into one review.
Zach: So, Madagascar 3 is a movie that came out recently. It's also a video game released on every console imaginable. It even got a DS game that was ported to the 3DS, which is pretty clear from playing it. The game puts you in the shoes (hooves?) of the film's four main protagonists as they travel the globe and explore exotic cities in a quest to hang posters, find food, hang more posters, find even more food, hang still more posters, find some runaway monkeys, and yes, you guessed it—hang even more posters. The whole game boils down to one activity: select a chore from a list, go to the corresponding location, and do that chore by pressing the A button next to whatever you're supposed to find. Rinse and repeat, forever. Well, OK, there is also the circus aspect. Take it away, Neal!
Neal: Yeah, sometimes you have to perform for a circus. It apparently ties into the plot of the movie. These exercises bear little resemblance to acrobatic circus activities, as it is mostly just a simple side-scrolling obstacle course. Your goal is to build up your circus' notoriety, and then move on to the next region on your quest to get back to the United States, by way of Italy and England. The game features a good deal of content, but, as Zach said, it's just the same actions over and over again in new environments. The game dabbles a bit in Lost Vikings-esque character switching, but the traversal never gets interesting and the puzzles aren't really there.
Make no mistake: Madagascar 3 is a kids game. My issue is that it tries to be both a simple kids game and a good licensed game with some depth, but fails at both. There is no real depth, and the gameplay seems to miss the mark on what makes a good kids game. It's all based around collecting miscellanea and exploring bland environments. The whole game looks drab and all the locations in an area run together, so you never know which stage you're revisiting. In this Angry Birds world, that kind of slow pace won't cut it for most kids, even if they love the characters. I could be wrong; once my four-year-old niece gets her hands on Madagascar 3, I'll be able to give you a solidified judgment on my theory.
Zach: One thing I forgot to mention earlier: each character can buy new moves by collecting (and spending) tickets scattered throughout each stage. The lion can buy a double-jump and a roar, for example. Roaring stuns the policemen who patrol each area; you otherwise have to jump on their heads. The promise of upgrading leads to the expectation of deeper gameplay, but that’s not the case. Interestingly, the 3DS version only has 3D effects in the slideshow cut scenes, which are incredibly rare. These pictures do have "pop," but the rest of the game doesn't look any better in 3D than in 2D. Even though it's a fixed 2D camera, nobody bothered to put different background objects on different planes.
Madagascar 3 is almost 100 percent chore-boy errand running, which is not fun. The circus obstacle courses are more fun, but they're still pretty dull. If I have to hang one more freakin' poster, I'm going to throw the game out the window. I'd avoid it. Go see the movie instead.