|System: PS2, Wii, DS, X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Idol Minds Digital Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Pete Richards
Generally, licensed video games come with somewhat of a stigma in the minds of gamers who automatically expect them to suck. Thats because, quite frankly, a lot of them do, souring the reputation of quality titles attached to large film franchises. In the case of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, the game offers a lot of variety for those looking for a lighthearted childrens title while still seeming like somewhat of a cash-grab in the process. Though children probably wont care about its negative aspects, grown-ups looking for a kids game with fun and lighthearted objectives may not be so keen on Escape 2 Africa.
The game boasts a party spirit with upbeat tribal music and a bright aesthetic to keep things festive as you navigate through menus. While playing the story mode and other various mini-games, youll find yourself in exotic locations controlling cute-voiced characters from the film. While none of the actual cast members lend their voices to the game, characters sound a lot like who theyre supposed to. The game stars Julien the lemur who narrates the story mode and instructs you on all of the tasks youll have to complete playing as the main characters from the movie. Hes voiced by someone who sounds almost identical to Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), and Marty the zebra is voiced by ex-Mad TV comedian Phil Lamarr who does his best Chris Rock impersonation. The result is some excellent voiceover work that will keep the kiddies entertained and may even cause a chuckle or two from even desensitized, mature game-lovers such as myself. The script is well written and comments from Julien as you navigate through menus and complete tasks in story mode add lightheartedness to this party game that certainly doesnt take itself too seriously.
On the surface, Escape 2 Africa does a good job of bringing the family-friendly aesthetics and party spirit of the Wii to the PS2. Africa Arcade is definitely Wii-oriented with ten mini-games including soccer, musical chairs, mini-golf, jungle chess, and such. Though party games have been wildly popularized by the Wii in recent years, the appeal has spread to other consoles and this is where Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa bites itself in the big, fluffy behind.
With a game so obviously intended for the Wii, unfortunately, things dont always translate well to other consoles, and more specifically, the PS2. The large targets for your menu selections are obviously intended for those using a Wii-mote and the game boasts graphics equivalent to what you would expect from the Wii. But the biggest factor that hurts this title is the fact that many of the objectives simply arent fun when completing them on the PS2. While the story mode will have you carrying out a wide variety of objectives, puzzles, and problems, many tasks involve flinging items and hitting targets that simply isnt as functional with the PS2. In fact, the game is transitioned so loosely to this console that it doesnt even utilize rumbling at all. Though the game features ten mini-games in the Africa Arcade, you probably wont find much use for them. The mechanics in games such as Soccer are absolutely atrocious, and games such as Hot Durian (hot potato) are simply not fun, as you repeatedly tap one button to pass the object back to your partner. If it cant hold an adults attention long enough to last more than one try, I doubt it could hold the attention of a child, no matter how much he or she loves the Madagascar gang.