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The paranoid part of our brains thinks this is how all games based on Dreamworks movies are created, and we doubt we’re too far from the truth. There’s nothing unique or even note-worthy about Madagascar Kartz – it’s a basic, by-the-numbers and crushingly dull version of Mario Kart, but with all the ‘funny’ talking animals from the ‘funny’ films replacing any characters with personality or charm. There are three different Championships, as well as Time Trials and offline multiplayer for four, but there’s no proper battle mode, and nothing much to unlock if you have the steel to stick with it and win.
With a paltry nine tracks (three per Championship) it only took us about an hour to unlock and play them all. Obviously, multiplayer is supposed to extend the game further, but we can’t see anyone, of any age, sticking with the game for long. From the first to the last, track design is unimaginative, lacking the inventive fun of the average Mario Kart circuit, and with far too many stretches of empty space. The sole Shrek stage is dull, while the space-ship from Monsters vs Aliens may as well be a paperclip factory. All you do is drive through some tubes and dodge a few laser-spewing robots.
Mario Kart has a range of iconic power-ups, but the Madagascar equivalents are nowhere near as effective. Sure, we can understand firing a coconut, or dropping bananas on the track, but what’s the advantage of turning into a box? Or, for that matter, accelerating at rocket-speed, so fast you can’t actually see what’s going on?
There is a simple stunt system, which lets you do a spinny trick with the d-pad after making a jump, but it feels bolted on – and it’s obviously stolen from Disney’s vastly more entertaining Pure. If you find this soulless, derivative guff in your stocking this Christmas, cancel the festive period.
Nov 11, 2009