In the realm of licensed games no company has seen more success than Activision, especially when it comes to those aimed at a younger demographic. Titles such as Bee Movie, Kung-Fu Panda and Spider-Man Friend or Foe were all solid entries that you could recommend to parents without feeling like you were shoveling them a load of garbage with their child’s favorite character plastered on the front of the box. Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa continues this trend with a comedic platformer that stays true to the source material as well as delivering a solid and enjoyable experience. While it certainly will not set a new standard for the genre, it will deliver an ample amount of entertainment.
The story follows the movie for the most part and picks up directly where the first one left off. Our favorite combo of characters (Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman) are on their way home from Madagascar when suddenly their plane crashes. This leaves our quartet of heroes stuck in the middle of Africa where they will have to learn to adapt to the wild and interact with their own kind outside of the safe confines of their home. As you can imagine hilarity ensues and that is one thing the game captures remarkably well, even if the voices are not performed by the same ones you will find in the movie.
From the outset you will come to realize that Escape 2 Africa is more a collection of mini-games that a traditional paltformer. The developers have given players a chance to assume the role of each of their favorite characters in a variety of games that are just long enough to entertain and not too extensive that they become tedious. In the beginning you will get some basic instruction as to how to control your character, and for a while will be restricted to only using the one the game deems necessary, but once you get so far everything opens up and allows you to experience the world at your own leisure.
The best part about the game is just how much variety there is to be found. You will rarely be doing the same thing for more than five minutes, which really helps keep the game moving at a brisk pace. For instance when you begin the game your job is to find a way to repair the plane. This eventually evolves into finding one hundred monkeys to do it for you. This collect-a-thon has you scouring all sorts of places to find them as well as making it more fun than hunting down one hundred of anything ever has been. This could be said for the majority of the mini-games packed within Escape 2 Africa and it is this kind of design that makes the game so enjoyable.
The developers have also designed the game in a way that using each and every character is both required and fun. Each one possesses their own strengths and weaknesses that will be imperative to finding all of the hidden items as well as discovering every inch of the game. You can also purchase furniture and outfits for your collected monkeys, which is always full of win in my opinion. Later on in the game some of the quests will grow longer and more traditional, but the amount of variety never ceases making this yet another winner when it comes to delivering solid playing games built for a younger demographic.
Visually the game delivers the same style found in the motion picture with the usual downgraded look found in most licensed, multi-platform titles. The game does move at a rock solid frame rate though and the cut scenes are absolutely hilarious and well directed. There is a lot of charm to be found here and parents and kids alike will be laughing together, much like if you were watching the movie. The sounds are good for the most part even though the actors from the film are not reprising their roles. The only sore spot comes from Melman, who feels a bit out of place when compared to his movie counterpart.
When you finish the single-player adventure (which lasts roughly 5-7 hours) there is a multi-player mode that can be a fun diversion. Most of the games here are ripped directly from the single-player, but end up being more hectic and enjoyable when played with others. Some of the games lose their appeal after one or two turns, but with so much variety this is easily one game that could keep the attentions of younger kids for months to come so getting your money’s worth is not an issue.
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is yet another fine example of how to make a game appeal to a younger audience without the expense of good gameplay. The short mini-games keep the pace brisk while the amount of variety keeps it entertaining throughout. If you or your kids love the Madagascar movies there is no reason to pass this title up on whichever platform you own. There is more than enough fun to found here and you might even end up having a little fun yourself.