Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Spring 2009 Video Games
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Price: $49.99
Gaming System: Xbox 360
Review:
The "2" in the title is the tipoff this game is based on the sequel to Dreamwork's popular feature-length animated Madagascar flick. And that means the graphics and animation borrowed from the big screen is good stuff, especially for anyone who adores those movies.

But, like so many licensed videogames that draw from the films, this one's a mixed bag. It is primarily a standard platformer game sharing the main characters from its big screen cousin- Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, Marty the Zebra and Melman the Giraffe. With minimal storyline reflecting the movie, the game cobbles together a bunch of mini-games where doing well enough advances characters to the next task until they reach the broken-down airplane to fly back home to New York.

While there are 12 environments, including the Watering Hole, the African Jungle and Savannah, the Hippo Mud Pit and the Volcano, and a wide variety of mini-games that will appeal to players with competitive personalities, lots of this game gets redundant. One task had Melman kicking suitcases at moving openings in a wall-and not only was it hard, it got old fast. Same for Gloria whipping mangoes at crocodiles.

The tasks are mostly simple and short-lived-a game of musical chairs, a stinky sticky fruit variation of hot potato, a take on dodge ball, lots of neat zip-wire rides collecting needed coins and hoops, and a plenty of mountain climbing and platform jumping along the way. In all, characters swim, drive, fly helicopters, race jeeps, play soccer, play a slot machine, shoot photos and do a lot of other things.

Ten multi-player mini-games are set apart from the main mission game. The miniature golf game was exasperating, the chess game oversimplified and nothing new, and Melman's Clinic where you dowse bug and butterfly infections with meds was less than successful.

The cartoon violence warned about on the packaging is harmless - Alex's roar blows the feathers off birds, that sort of thing. Younger kids who love the Madagascar movies and its colorful characters will probably get a kick out of this game. More savvy game players won't.

Don Oldenburg   ©2009 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Activision, Inc.
http://www.activision.com
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers

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