This game is suitable for little gamers.
With Madgascar 3 set to the cinemas this week, it is also time for the movie tie-in game to hit shop shelves. Movie tie-in games are a strange breed, normally they fall short in providing the action, excitement or even the actual story of the Film version. Luckily with computer generated animations taking longer to develop than normal film, it increases the developers time to create a game worthy of its license.
Madagascar 3 certainly does all of the above. Taking up the story from the film, it sees the animal quartet from previous two films trying to return to New York. Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Gloria the Hippo and Melman the giraffe are joined by the Penguins and King Julian in a quest to make a rundown travelling circus into a worldwide sensation. The game starts in Rome and travels to Pisa, Paris and London.
The game starts with a series of free roaming missions. These are typically collect the something missions, although these are varied by the characters available to the player. Alex is an acrobat and can perform skillful jumps and leaps. Marty can jump boost over ramps and use canons to fly through the air. Gloria can walk tightropes and swim underwater. Melman can walk tightropes and er... sneeze down walls.
Every level can be played with one player switching between two characters or with two players co-op. At the start of the mission you are told what it is you need to collect and also what else to keep an eye for as extra collectibles. The cities on the circus tour are split into three areas. You will have to jump, balance and avoid the animal catchers in order to collect your main goal. The animal catchers introduce a disguise feature where each character dons a disguise (sunglasses) and instantly stops frightening the locals wandering around the level. All this extra mechanic does is slow down a game- play pace that is already pretty sedentary.
Other types of missions require you to race another player in collecting supplies before reaching the end of a time limit, escape the head animal catcher in a fixed circuit race and see who can put as many posters before the time runs out. Each city area ends with a publicity stunt, a large platforming section where two characters need to to progress to the centre of the level where they release a banner for the circus. These levels can be frustrating to little gamers as the controls can be a little bit sensitive.
Once this is done it is on to the Circus. The circus is a series of mini games the show the circus experience. You can expect to sell tickets, throw snacks, fired from a cannon to collect balloons for extra points and bounce off safety nets, tightrope walk, jump through a series of flaming hoops and trapeze to collect bonus balloons. These games are good fun and they are kept simple enough so that little gamers can easily get on with them and enjoy playing them.
Once the circus is finished it is on to the next town and the next series of free roam collecting missions. Each city and circus ramps up the difficulty slightly, but not in a way to put little gamers of from playing. Although the City missions are a bit limited, my little gamers loved the circus section and these games are accessible straight from the main menu's "Circus Mode". This lets you access all the circus games from all of the cities and provide a lot of fun for everyone.
Madagascar 3 then, is a nice example of how to do a good movie tie-in for kids. The free roam sections can be slow and repetitive, but the circus mini games are fun and the highlight of the game. I only wish that the multiplayer could of supported up to 4 players and that the Circus games themselves had some form of Kinect control in place to make the experience much better.
Verdict: 7 out of 10
Madagascar 3: The Video Game is out this Friday 12th October on Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii.