Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

I've mentioned a bunch of times in this blog that even at 6 years old, Aaron is obsessed with movies. He loves to watch them and knows almost everything about them, including when they came out in the theaters and when they are coming onto DVD. He's almost obsessive about owning movies as soon as they are released to DVD and has a collection that I will call ridiculous for a 6 year old. Or for anyone, for that matter. As he's getting older, he's also getting more interested in all of the licensed things that tend to come out right along with the movie - the character figures, books, soundtracks, clothing, pajamas and now, video games. So when we were selected to be a part of Mom Central's blog tour for the release of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, I knew that Aaron would make sure that we played the game about, um, a bazillion times.

The idea behind the game is shown in a little clip as soon as you turn the game on, so you're good even if you haven't seen either of the movies yet. The clip explains that the characters from the first Madagascar movie were left marooned on the distant shores of Madagascar and have hatched a plan to get themselves off the island. The penguins sort of repair an old crashed plane, which, in the midst of their flight winds up crashing into the African plains. Having been raised in a zoo, all of the animals that we know from the movie are now encountering species of their own kind for the very first time. To get through the game, the player must go through specific tasks and complete them before moving on to another task.

When we received the Wii version of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, I was a little nervous because Aaron has not yet mastered the coordination needed to play most Wii games, and this game required the use of both the controller and the nunchuck at the same time. The night before Thanksgiving, we sat down to play it together and we both were happy that it was a great game!

On the pro side, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa kept Aaron's interest for a significant amount of time (around 45 minutes), something that's proving to be pretty challenging for us with many video games - the level of frustration he encounters due to of not having all of the coordination necessary for many of the Wii games gives us usually about 10 minutes on a game before he decides he doesn't want to play anymore. Part of the reason he was into this game was because of the characters - he knew them all from the movies, online and all of the other paraphernalia that he has collected. All of his favorite characters were there - Marty, Alex, Gloria, Melman - and he loved being able to make them all do funny things - Alex could roar and do crazy jumps, Marty could run really fast and kick, Gloria could do a butt bounce (pretty funny to a 6 year old). The graphics on the game were awesome and Melman, who served mostly as the narrator, was pretty funny. Some of the humor might have gone over Aaron's head, but it was entertaining for me. Another plus is that you can play the game either alone or in multi-player mode, which allows you to play against others. Always fun in a game that involves racing, and of course, butt-bounces.

A review is not a review without some cons, but these aren't awful for sure. One thing that bothered me a little bit was that you weren't able to move on to another task without completing the first. Some of the tasks were a little bit confusing and although Aaron and I were playing it together, even I wasn't sure how to accomplish it. As the narrator, Melman was sometimes a little difficult to understand, and at some points in the game we lost him. We couldn't find him on the screen and wound up with our character wandering aimlessly around the desert, mostly because we didn't know what we were supposed to do. Some of the tasks were on the difficult side and we had trouble completing them - at one point I had to have my husband come in and get us through one of the tasks just so we could get to what came next.

All in all, I'm glad that we were able to be a part of this blog tour with Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Aaron and I have played numerous times since Thanksgiving, and it's something that is alot of fun for us to do together. If your child is the type who wants to play their video games on their own, I think that this would be a great game for the 8 - 12 year old range. Younger than that, it's a great game for parents and kids to play together.

This post was cross-posted to LIParentSource.com, an online guide centralizing resources for families on Long Island, NY.

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