Movie to game adaptations have had bad rap over the years, with developers wanting to rake in the pounds by making badly rushed games to feed off the success of the films they are supposed to represent.
However, the best of the bunch are the animated variety. Developers Monkey Bar Games and publishers D3 jump on the movie-to-game bandwagon with their latest instalment of the Madagascar franchise, aptly named Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.
Alex the lion and his friends join a circus to help find their way home to New York while trying to escape from Captain Chantel DuBois. Players play as all their favourite characters from the Madagascar movies, taking part in missions to help their journey progress. Players that have watched the movie will know what’s what right from the start and will instantly recognise the assortment of locales, ripped right from the movie. They will also find everything is faithful to the game’s silver screen counterpart. Being aimed at a younger audience, the story is very easy to understand, pulled along by brief cut scenes narrated by Mason and Phil, the two Chimpanzees.
The movies have simple character models with little details and that characteristic follows on to the video game. The characters, whilst full of personality, don’t do a lot to bring life to the overall experience with their lack of texture. Their bright colours are pleasing to the younger set of eyes but for adult gamers, you will find that the child-focussed graphics are just a huge colourful curtain trying to cover up the god awful gameplay.
The movements of the cast are one thing I can’t fault. Everyone moves just as they do in the movies, which is exactly what I expected considering the simplicity of the character templates. The locations are nice to look at, representing many locations around Europe such as Italy, France and of course London. Each feature in the levels gives every location visited their own unique feel, which is helped along by randomly placed citizen models just walking around aimlessly. You won’t care about them though as the game solely focuses on the main characters. The whole look of the game was constantly spoiled by the blurry textures which are less noticeable from far away but up close it’s just downright ugly.
The gameplay is where the game falls short sadly, with the stiff control scheme. Each character has their own unique skill set although these are nothing unexpected as they correspond to the particular animal you are controlling and these are catered for within the locations. The skills are very different amongst the characters. Alex can double jump, Melman can sneeze away obstacles and Gloria can swim underwater. The game is mission-based, which mainly consist of fetching and collecting quests whilst utilizing each character’s skill.
Each character controls terribly, especially the larger ones like Gloria and Melman, You also find yourself wondering why can that character only pull levers when that one has arms too? It’s utterly frustrating. Each mission has you controlling one of two characters in single player mode or if you have a friend, the two of you can cooperatively complete the missions; I would say this works best and makes the game a lot more fun overall. The control scheme is simple, one button for jump, one for special ability and move with the control stick; it’s that easy, making it accessible to younger players. There are also mini games spread throughout the campaign that help take your mind from collecting and fetching and bring a degree of variety to the game but then it soon takes you back to the grind after a very short time.
One of the game’s biggest problems is the lack of direction in the missions. I often found myself wandering around a level wondering where to go or what to do. This brought the pacing of the game down significantly and even frustrated me as I just wanted to proceed onward. Constantly switching from one character to the other, running around trying to find that one signal to allow me to progress.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted has a lot of frustrations which bring the pacing to a grinding halt, impacting the overall experience. It’s not hard to see that this game is aimed at the younger players and fans of the films with its colourful characters and locations ripped from the movie; however the lack of detail and texture makes things up-close look ugly. Each character however retains their personalities and the humorous dialogue is a delight to listen to but it’s not enough to keep your average gamer hooked. For kids and fans only.
Madagascar: Europe’s most wanted
Developers: Monkey bar games
Publishers: D3 Publishing
Release Date 12th October 2012
Story – 3/5
Graphics - 2.5/5
Gameplay – 2.5/5
Overall – 2.5/5