Alex the Lion, Melman the Giraffe, Gloria the Hippo and Marty the Zebra, return once again in console form within “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” from DreamWorks and D3Publisher’s. It doesn’t take second guessing that it is primarily aimed at children from three and upwards who are fans of the movie franchise, but as a tie in to the recent movie release even us grown-ups can take some form of entertainment from the comical ‘fun’ approach to a bunch of wild animals running riot across Europe.
The game takes you on a circus adventure as you tour European cities such as Rome, Pisa, Paris and London before heading back to New York just as in the movie, and you get to experience free-roaming the cities, marketing your circus, completing tricks, racing around for supplies, co-operatively working towards search based objectives and dodging the evil Wardens as they follow your trail intent on capturing you for public safety reasons.
As you arrive at each city within the game’s story mode the Penguins of Madagascar – who within the movies are a form of military in their own right, set you objectives and pretty much send you out into the cities on a wild goose chase hunting and searching for various objects needed on the course of your tour. It ranges from ironing boards, cheese, boxes, balloons and decorations in preparation for the finale stunt that you get to perform for your public before leaving each city. It’s a two-character-at-a-time game which means that in order to find your items you must navigate two of the main characters around the cities individually where one will help the other; such as opening doors, one searching higher levels whilst another scouts the ground – alternatively the second character can be played locally in two-player with a second controller. However, without the second player you are required to switch between characters at given times to be able to complete your tasks.
Each character has their own unique talent that helps along the way on your journey – Alex the Lion can roar to scare other animals and double jump to higher platforms, Melman the Giraffe can sneeze to break down boxes and doors, Gloria can hip-bump to smash her way through objects, and finally Marty the Zebra can speed jump across ramps into the air as well as kick his hind legs to break boxes and doorways. Each unique talent is cross combined to successfully allow you to reach your goal, Alex may be required to double jump on to higher platforms to operate switches that will allow Gloria to pass through lower levels. Gloria can hip-bump boxes to destruction that will allow other boxes to form a ledge or show the discovery of items needed for secondary quest’s and tasks within the city aside from the main objective… so you can see how the team work presents itself – it’s a mix and match for one player, but even more fun with two (regardless of age!).
After you have completed all the objectives set by the Penguins of Madagascar they require you at times to race around and collect supplies which is fast-paced and time based, or have you plaster posters across the city to promote the circus within a given time – or simply just race against your other on-screen character to beat a Warden. Performing well in these will unlock many Achievements. It’s very reminiscent of the days when platforming dominated the console market as collecting objects, racing against the clock in big, fun bright crafted worlds is all too familiar if you’re of a ‘certain’ age.
As you head towards the final parts of each city and head towards the main attraction areas – the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the leaning tower in Pisa, London Bridge in London, the Coliseum in Rome which are all detailed to replicate the attraction and surrounding areas, you get to perform stunts and tricks high in the air to the public watching you from below. This involves careful maneuvering across tight ropes as well as timed jumps to moving ledges and dodges across a range of dare-devil tracks set up for you by the Penguins. This section acts as the teaser and marketing for the public to entice them into your circus where you then get to perform even more stunts! Performing well will unlock Achievements and enable you to move on to the next city of the circus tour.
Other options available to you from the main menu consist of Mission Mode and Circus Mode. Each of which allow you to replay their sections individually again once you have completed the part from the main Story. Mission Mode allows you to replay a whole city mission, enter into Free-Roam or replay the Publicity Stunt finale. Circus mode on the other hand will allow you to replay the circus finale sections of each city as well as select each of the tricks separately with the aim of improving your in-game rank. This ranges from Ticket Sales and Snack Toss, quick thinking button pressing to match an on-screen ticket or food item, Cannon in which you will glide through the air to collect ballons, Flaming Rings to perform well timed jumps through hoops of fire, Tight Rope walking and mastering the Trapeze.
Oddly – there seems to be a ‘Promotions’ area within the options that acts as a password to unlock content. It uses images of fruit as a key and randomly playing around with varied combinations I was able to unlock the following.
- Pineapple, Grapes, Pineapple, Banana – unlocks Banana Dash Paris Mini-Game
- Grapes, Apple, Grapes, Strawberry – unlocks Banana Dash Rome Mini Game
It’s not yet known what ‘Promotions’ codes will appear on to be able you to unlock other content, but having a random play around with the images could unlock you even more Mini Games? The Banana Dash games are not present within the Story Mode and seem to show the cities in Free-Roam completely littered with Bananas that you must rally around and collect – it even unlocked an Achievement!
Unfortunately there are no multiplayer or co-operative options available over Xbox LIVE and the two-player feature is only available locally with two controllers, but as it’s right to assume that almost everyone on this game will be children – it’s no big deal. Control wise – it’s very simplistic with on-screen reminders as it’s designed with ‘kids in mind’ – move your character, control the camera if you want to and press the action buttons to jump or perform your talent – simple as that!
Sadly as well presented as the game is both graphically and with excellently detailed characters from the movie in 3d style – it lacks decent narrative and animated cut-scenes that could have made this even more appealing for your kids to re-live the laughter and fun from the movies. If you have ever enjoyed games such as Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon on the last-generation of consoles – you’ll find “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” very similar in gameplay. Ideally this will be a game you’ll kids will just love (assuming they’re under 12) – but as an adult you just won’t be able to help yourself in wanting to play this to completion! It’s fun, bright, funky, and generous on the Achievements too. This game could be completed within around 5-6hrs, but it’s one your kids will enjoy time and time again with their friends or with their parents if you want to allow them a little console time together.
It’s a great game for the kids and every bit as fun as you’d expect for them, even more so if they’re fans of the movie franchise, but it lacks the comedy and animations that you might have expected to be present since it’s a movie tie-in.