I was excited about this Mom Central blog tour letting you all know that the new Madagascar: Back 2 Africa video game is available.
We tested out the Wii version--it's also available on Xbox 360 and PS3 for the same price (49.99), and for the Nintendo DS (29.99) and PC (19.99).
I was excited to get a chance to play Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa with my kids, because I know that Dreamworks always does a great job with the productions of their games. The graphics are lavish, the settings lush, and the characters are true to the movies.
And that's all true with this game.
I think that the characters and setting (oh, and the music!) are the best part of the game, as kids will immediately recognize all their favorites from the popular Madagascar movies. I would put that high on the 'pro' side of my list for the game.
Additionally, there are tasks for every character, so that your child will certainly get a chance to play their favorite--butt bumps from Gloria, Alex roaring, sprinting as Marty, Melman spinning--kids can even play as the crafty penguins, or the all-new Moto Moto the Hippo character!
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa also has expanded multi-player tournaments, which is where learning the tasks comes in handy, as your family (or your children and their friends) can all challenge each other in soccer, racing, etc., using all those skills they learned. Playing with, and against, others is the most fun part of the game.
Another pro is that the game makes a point of stressing the importance of Conservation eforts, weaving that message right into the gameplay and the tasks your child completes.
I do have a 'con' list also, unfortunately.
Most of the game play in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is very repetitive, as the player (which means your child) is required to repeat the same moves over and over to accomplish each task.
This was fine when the task was racing as Marty, the zebra, and sprinting super fast after eating carrots, which even big-old-adult Me found fun.
But we found some of the tasks tedious. For example, kicking the soccer ball over and over, or tying knots in a rope (which requires, by the way, that your child be able to read and understand the letters of the alphabet). Most kids don't get excited, in my experience, from tying their shoelaces.
At one point, the Rhino was getting so frustrated with the repetition in the knot-tying section that when the task, "Find the rope," came up on his screen, he cried out gleefully, "Maybe it's HERE!"
And then he jumped off a cliff. Deliberately.
We watched as his character, Alex the lion, fell (in a beautifully-illustrated spiral) to his inevitable demise. This being a Dreamworks game, he simply *poofed* into non-existence, but you get the idea.
Fortunately, the next task--propelling Melman, the giraffe, on a huge boulder down a steep, twisty path, while fighting to keep his balance on the rolling rock--was a lot more fun.
Melman's dialog is funny, too, though little kids might worry about him: after head-banging and spinning moles away from their holes in an attempt to thwart a "mole attack," Melman complains that he has a headache and feels dizzy. Of course, if they watch the movies, kids will remember that Melman worries about his health all the time, and hopefully they won't think he is actually hurt. But, since I am soft-hearted, I found the way the other animals seemed to give Melman the "dirty work" all the time a little off-putting.
Another con is just simply a gripe of my own, as the parent: as I watched the Rhino play, I found King Julian, whose role was explaining all the tasks and how to do them, tiresome. There were just, like I said, a LOT of tasks, and we often skipped through the dialog (tip for weary Moms: just push the A button!).
So, summing up: all in all, the characters and music are great and true to the movies and the message behind the game is good. The single player options are too repetitive, and there is too much dialog, but the multi-player tournaments are fun for the whole family.
I would recommend the Madagascar: Back 2 Africa game to children of around 6-10, as kids need to be old enough to read, at least the letters A, X, Y and Z, while still young enough to enjoy a cartoon.
Not surprisingly, kids who love the animated characters from the Madagascar movies are most likely to really appreciate the videogame, too!