Madagascar 3: The Video Game (PS3)
This kids game might violate the Geneva convention
Parents, finally there is a title that prepares your child for frustration and confusion, and gives them a slight heads up for what will finally hit them in our hypertension filled adult world.
Movie adaptations of games are usually horrendous, shocking, and downright dismal. Monkey Bar Games have unfortunately produced an all-time classic movie-to-game flop. Dare I say an overbearing, overachieving fail…
Usually these titles do have their upsides, such as one or two quirky things that make you think, “Hey, I can actually bear playing this title for more than 20 minutes”; one distant glimmer of hope in the form of an interesting gameplay mechanic, or stunning landscape, or even something shiny to chase after.
I don’t enjoy ripping apart other people’s work; I know it requires a great amount of time, effort, and perseverance to develop a game. I can only imagine that it is almost impossible to try and produce something playable when you have the all-powerful movie studio heads, your publisher, and your best developers in the kitchen, all trying to cook, clean, and conquer at the same time.
So forgive me if I don’t whip out the cynical stick and start beating a game that’s clearly lying on the ground bleeding to death. That said some mistakes are just unforgivable.
You get to play as all four of the main characters, namely Melman the hypochondriac Giraffe, Alex the dancing Lion, Marty the smart-assed jungle-longing Zebra, and Gloria the voluptuous outspoken hippo from the block.
Apparently you are trying to cross Europe whilst erecting a circus to entertain the locals. In order to achieve this you have to walk around different towns, cities, and other locations collecting pieces of wood, balloons, paint brushes, roses, and other completely arbitrary items. I can only optimistically assume that in later levels you ramble around collecting other items, because that’s all I could pick up for the five hours that I played this game.
Five hours was all I could muster; five hours of my life that I’m never getting back. I came away gutted because in those torturous hours, all I could finish was a grand total of two levels.
I have conquered my fair share of difficult titles: Metal Gear Solid; Tomb Raider, God of War; Gears of War; and the odd Resident Evil title here and there. All of those titles required multiple retries to pass a certain level or complete a certain task in a certain way. However, when the game sees you fail time after time after time, any decent designer gives you some sort of visual cue to say “hey jackass, it’s over here”.
Madagascar 3: The Video Game does not give you any form of visual aid; it leaves you in the dark with only your irritating AI team-mates’ broken-record like pleas to give you any form of help. On the pleasure-scale, I imagine it’s down there with playing Marco Polo in a vinegar pool full of broken glass.
The total lack of visual communication is epitomized by the level of frustration achieved in the main menu. You wander around in what I think is a circus tent, helplessly trying to figure out where to go. There are ZERO visual cues, aides or guidelines – and this title is meant for 7 year-olds.
I propped my 19 year-old cousin in front of the main menu, he too is a videogame veteran, can solve a Rubik’s Cube in just over a minute, and is a chemical engineering student. It took him 12 minutes to get into one of the levels. To call the user interface a clumsy abomination is being kind.
Visually, Madagascar 3: The Video Game destroys all of the hard work done by Dreamworks Animation Studios. At times it looked as if I were playing on a PS2.
The models are poorly rendered, and the level environments are clumsily designed (fortunately the levels are never large enough for drawing distance to become a problem).
I find this very annoying; when backed by Dreamworks Animation one would expect the developers to produce something that at least resembles the films Mr. John Lasseter and his Pixar crew produced almost 30 years ago – but sadly it was as if they just didn’t care.
As for the music, voice acting, and sound effects – well, they’re right up there with the visuals and gameplay in the fail department. Repetitive, irritating, and pathetic. Apparently not even the creative license to develop a game for a successful animated film franchise will get you the privilege using the official voice-actors. The poor quality of this low-budget cash-in shines through.
With a non existent story, the most frustrating user interface ever, and the complete lack of effort, I would advise that you never play this game and only use it as a form of torture. If you do go the torture root, at least have the decency to leave your victim with a one-shot pistol.