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April 11, 2005
Madagascar - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Anticipation Players Price
16/6/2005ActivisionToys for Bob1$79.95

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Time for some mime...
Oh look, it's another game based on an upcoming movie. If you haven't heard Madagascar is the latest movie from Dreamworks, the creators of Shrek, and it looks every bit as funny from the trailers. Activision was pretty quick to snap up the rights to create a game based on the movie, and it's nearing completion. While the developer may not be instantly recognisable - Toys For Boys - they have created a couple of pretty good titles in the past. Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure on PS2 was well received by press and public alike while their two Star Control titles on PC were also well liked. Madagascar is quite a different game to both those titles however the company seems to have a knack for making very solid titles no matter the genre.

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Lemurs are pretty cool.
The video game Madagascar lets players enter the world of four Central Park Zoo animals Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo. Players must master each animal’s skill as they traverse through the city of New York and then the island of Madagascar. Not only will the game include moments from the movie but the developers are creating new tasks to complete and enemies to encounter in your travels.

In terms of skills each animal will learn new ones as they progress. You can help Alex maximize the power of his claws, roar and pounce; pumping up Marty’s jump, back kick and stealth crawl; learning Gloria’s butt smash and running barrel move; and perfecting Melman’s helicopter spin and ammo-throwing neck fling, which he uses to launch coconuts and lemurs.

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Freeze!
In all the developers of Madagascar are including some 11 levels to complete including “Marty’s Escape” from the Central Park Zoo, “Penguin Mutiny” on board a giant cargo ship, and “Lemur Rave” with the exotic animals in the jungles of Madagascar. As you can see some of these levels, including Penguin Mutiny" look like deviating away from the four main characters of the movie (and this game) - a good move to keep younger gamers entertained. It has to be said that the penguins from what we have seen, and from what early reviews have said about the movie, are an absolutely highlight. Replaying the levels after completion allows gamers to unlock character-specific bonuses and cheats.

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Cartoony Graphics - like the movie!
The movie has got some big name voice talent attached to it including Ben Stiller (Alex the Lion), Chris Rock (Marty the Zebra), David Schwimmer (Melman the Giraffe), and Jada Pinkett Smith (Gloria the Hippo). What really impresses by that list is that the developers haven't gone for the biggest names (as was the case with the rather dismal Shark Tale) but rather picked voices that suit the characters and should provide some wildly funny moments. Perhaps even more exciting are the people providing the voices for the second tier characters with actors such as Cedric the Entertainer and Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Ali G). Sensational line-up isn't. So why then are Activision apparently not using a single one of them but rather stand-in voice actors. Shame.

Madagascar is certainly a title aimed a kids - the same target audience as the movie - and for all intents and purposes this game looks like fitting into the market nicely. One question not answered yet is how many players the game will cater for. It's not going to be award winning, nor genre molding in terms of the games industry but looks like extending the entertainment from the movie nicely.