Although it is far from the greatest piece of work from Dreamworks, Madagascar’s bunch of eccentric zoo animal creatures seem to resonate with the younger crowd making a sequel all but inevitable. With Alex the Lion, and his sidekick zebra Marty, it’s really the perfect fodder for a mobile game too. Unfortunately in this case, it might have been too perfect because other than taking the premise of the game and adapting it into a platform title with the Madagascar gang of characters, there really isn’t much more in terms of creativity here.
Escape 2 Africa has you starting off with Alex as he jumps, punches and swings his way on vines across a map. Like most platform titles, the environmental obstacles are introduced gradually. First you have the tree you have to knock over as a bridge. Then you have to jump on a series of trampolines and slide down a hill. Then you have the banana which you have to throw to a monkey so it can swing you across the chasm. These little obstacles pepper each level with the occasional monkey fodder thrown in for Alex to beat up. The toughest of these obstacles is a little mini game where you have to balance a ball on a see saw that continuously tilts one way. This is used for sequences where you’re balancing your character on a log over water. It’s made more difficult if you’re on some kind of moving vehicle (subway, train, etc.) but not impossible.
Unfortunately, that’s about as creative as the level design gets. For the subsequent stages, what happens is the level designers seem to have punched in a formula such as: I want a log balance here, then a trampoline, then a monkey vine, then another trampoline, followed by a tree that falls down as a bridge. The next level would involve another random mix of all these and the major issue it even looks like a mix of what you saw in the previous level including the exact spacing of the obstacles and enemies in the game. Yes, you end up sliding down a hill towards the back of an enemy but you’ll see the same sequence further down the road and you’ll find yourself sliding to the exact same spot because someone probably pressed copy and paste on the game level designer. Remarkably, after stage 4, you start working through the levels from right to left instead of left to right. Yes – I noticed that because it was one of the most noteworthy changes.
Escape 2 Africa is faithful to it source material when it comes to visuals. Everything animates nicely and the African landscape is colorful and vibrant. For the audio, Escape 2 Africa is a serious disappointment. The only sound you get if you choose to turn the sound on is a little tune to celebrate the end of a level and a tune to signal game over. What about things like sound effects? Couldn’t we at least get some of those going? What about voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and others? If it weren’t for these two tunes, I might as well have selected no sound.
Ultimately, Escape 2 Africa is a derivative platform game of which the only thing you could say it draws successfully on is the visual aspect of the movie. In terms of audio, level design, and compelling gameplay, this game falls far short of the mark. There are simply better platform games out there even ones that involve zoo animals.