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Video Game / Madagascar

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A series of three tie-in games set in the world of Dreamworks' Madagascar. Unlike the Shrek tie-ins , which had several spin-offs in different game genres, this was restricted to the Action-Adventure games with modest connections to the plot of the films. A notable feature was the extensive focus on various minigames (Escape 2 Africa had around two dozen for instance, which were rarely repeated) and the ability to control a large number of characters. Besides the four protagonists of the films, Escape to Africa had sequences giving player control of the penguins, The first game had attained mildly positive reviews due to these features, but as the gameplay has failed to significantly improve over time, the review scores went down, and Madagascar 3: The Video Game had received largely negative reviews.

Madagascar: The Game features the following tropes:

  • Absurdly High Level Cap: You get an extra life every time you collect ten tikis. There are no limits on tiki spawns. The levels cap at 99. You can still collect tikis all you want, but the counter can go no higher than 99 lives.
  • Acme Products: The boxes which Skipper can hide himself under in Penguin Mutiny are labeled, "ACME Bowling Pins".
  • Adaptational Badass: In the film, the fossa were terrified of Alex. In this game, they will fight him.
  • Adaptational Intelligence: Downplayed with Mort. He's still quite dimwitted, but is slightly smarter than he was in the movies, helping the player out at times and teaching the Tiki Minigolf mini-game.
  • Adaptation Expansion: To allow for more levels, the game goes into detail about events the movie glossed over (Marty's escape from the zoo and Marty's quest to find Alex after he goes feral) and also adds in some new story elements (how the New Yorkers helped the lemurs set up their party, Marty, Gloria and Melman finding objects to reconstruct the liberty statue) in the process.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The level Penguin Mutiny has you playing as Skipper the penguin rather than Alex, Marty, Gloria or Melman. This is the only level where you play as him.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Each of the four main characters has two accessories they can wear once they're purchased at the Souvenir Shop: Alex gets a crown and a foam hand, Marty gets sunglasses and a straw hat, Gloria gets flowers and a starfish bikini and Melman gets the NYC clock and tissue box shoes.
  • Arc Villain:
    • Levels two and four feature an antagonist called the Zoohunter, who Marty has to beat to get outside the zoo, and the Penguins have to beat to take over the bridge.
    • Level nine introduces the albino crocodile, who Marty has to fight for one of the beacon pieces. He comes back with a vengeance in level ten, holding Mort hostage near the end of the level to race Marty down a waterslide.
  • Bare-Fisted Monk: The penguins attack with karate chops. Bare-Flippered Monk, perhaps.
  • Big Bad: While the fossa were on their own in the movie, here they are led by the fossa king, a muscular, more anthropomorphic-looking male fossa with a crown on his head who acts as the game's final boss.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The "baobab worms" which appear in Coming of Age are enormous pink caterpillars. Given their size compared to Melman, they're as large as a human.
  • Big Damn Heroes: At the start of the final battle against the fossa and their king, Alex looks to be in danger; his roar won't do anything, there aren't any mangos to throw, and he's surrounded on all sides by the fossa. Cue the penguins arriving with the power cards for Alex's claw ability.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • All four characters regularly do this when left alone for a modest period of time, complaining directly to the player. The amount of phrases you can get is hilarious. Gloria's in particular are hilarious.
    Gloria: No, no. You are not just going to play for a minute and then leave me here.
    • Melman has some choice words for the player if they keep trying to make him go into the mud slides scattered around Jungle Banquet:
    Ummm... why don't you get someone else to do this?
    How many times are you going to try? I'm not going in there!
    • In King of New York, you can have Marty run on the treadmill in his pen. If you leave him there idle, he goes from subtly nudging the player to stop by telling the player that they should maybe check out the rest of the zoo, to declaring "animal abuse", to outright yelling for Alex to help him. He will eventually bribe the player with three gold monkey coins that appear near the treadmill, worth 30 total. You're actually required to do this to 100% the level.
    • The same level has Alex tell Marty that "we're up to speed on jumping" when Marty tries to teach Alex on how to jump, effectively saying he already knows how and doesn't need a tutorial to tell him that.
    Marty: Press the jump button to -
    Alex: -interrupts- I think by now we're up to speed on jumping there, Evel Knievel!
    • Even the Zoohunter gets in on this at the end of the second level. He remarks to Marty that he kept telling the security guards at the zoo to tighten up security, but "they had a budget". He promptly calls three security guards into formation to correct this.
    Zoohunter: How many times have I told those sissy boys to tighten up the security around that zoo, but noooooooo, they had a budget! Get in formation men!
    • In the second-to-last level, Marty questions why Mort suddenly went from being right beside him to the end of a cave. Mort's response is that "the plot called for it".
  • Breath Weapon: The fossa king can let out a concentrated beam of stinky breath from his mouth after eating huge durians delivered to him by his vulture henchmen. A rather gross example indeed.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: The final section of Mysterious Jungle is a swamp that Alex must traverse. Already in a foul mood, Alex begins ranting as he passes through. You can also spot Melman rushing through at points, and the ensuing cutscene reveals he panicked after feeling something brush his head.
  • Canon Foreigner: The Zoohunter, Wilbur, and the fossa king.
  • Convenient Item Placement: Mangoes happen to be Alex's ranged weapon, and they just so happen to be on the ground everywhere in the wild. Same happens with jalapenos, which Gloria needs to perform her charges. Both also apply in the sequel.
  • Day in the Life: The first level, King of NY, shows a typical day in the NYC Zoo from Marty's perspective as he interacts with Alex, Gloria, Melman, and the penguins.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • At one point in NY Street Chase, Gloria has to collect power cards to unlock her butt bounce ability and defeat the cops that try to force her to the ground. Normally, you're expected to get all of them as you go along the road, but if you skip the two cards before the right turn by repeatedly jumping and rolling past the obstacles, then those two cards will reappear alongside the third one after the turn.
    • The shuffleboarding poolside map has a polar bear in a rubber ring present in the pool. The bear looks like a non-interactable background element, but it actually has a hitbox and will bounce around the pool if a puck hits it.
    • The Escort Mission segment of Save the Lemurs has different dialogue depending on if Alex saved all the lemurs or not. If he saved all of them, Julien and Maurice will commend him for doing so, but if he only saved some of them, Maurice will mourn the death of Mort's cousin.
  • Disgusting Public Toilet: Invoked in Penguin Mutiny when Skipper flushes all the toilets on the ship, distracting nearby crewmen enough for him to sneak past.
  • Double Jump: Being the most acrobatic of the group, Alex is the only character capable of doing so.
  • Edible Bludgeon:
    • In the levels where Alex is playable post-arriving at Madagascar, Alex can collect mangoes to throw at enemies. Notably, it's the only way he can reach phase 1 of King Fossa in the final battle. The mangoes make a return in the sequel.
    • In Coming of Age, Melman flings coconuts and exploding durians to kill off baobab worms and to destroy their nests.
    • Briefly in Marty to the Rescue, Marty can kick exploding durians at spiders.
    • King Fossa's vulture henchmen sometimes attack Alex with durians in the final battle. The vultures in Coming of Age also do this as a way to stop Melman from throwing coconuts at the worms.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The game was released before the lemurs got their personalities fully established. As such, it can be strange to hear Mort speaking in full sentences and being smarter than how heís usually portrayed.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Alex's claw attack (which allows him to fight the Fossa one-on-one) can only be unlocked in the final level (which fittingly is the eleventh level) of the console versions. As such, it can only be used during the Final Boss.
  • Escort Mission:
    • The final segment of Save the Lemurs tasks Alex with escorting a group of lemurs down The Perfectly Safe Path while protecting them from the attacking fossa. Letting too many lemurs get taken away results in King Julien scolding Alex and forcing you to redo the segment again. The level can actually be completed if only a small number of lemurs get taken, however.
    • The final segment of Coming of Age has Melman carry Mort across varying high platforms, while Alex, driven by hunting instincts into being a Rogue Protagonist, attempts to jump on mushrooms to reach them, also coming onto two platforms himself. Melman will have to start all over if he falls to the ground or touches Alex (triggering a fail cutscene where Alex delights in taking Mort, then snatches him to run away).
  • Fowl-Mouthed Parrot: Alex encounters one of these early on in "Mysterious Jungle", a parrot who sends him to get some pearls (despite having a whole pile of them already) in exchange for the information on where his friends went, and after doing so, initially tells him to scram before saying they went over by the waterfall. Identical looking parrots appear in the seventh and ninth levels as a generic enemy who peck the playable characters to inflict damage on them. He gets chased by a swarm of bees in the credits.
  • Giant Mook: On the Penguin Mutiny level, there are several larger crewmen, named Big Louie, wielding wrenches which can't be taken down by the player directly, requiring other objects such as a crane or bowling ball. Big Louie is also playable in the shuffleboard minigame.
  • Giant Spider: One of the enemies which appears on Madagascar. They sometimes drop suddenly from above.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: The Shuffleboarding minigame allows Alex, Marty, Gloria and Melman to play with Big Louie, Crocky and the Foosa King, all of whom are enemies fought throughout the game.
  • Ground Pound: Pressing the jump button again in midair allows Gloria to do this, called "Butt Bounce".
  • Gusty Glade: At one point in Save the Lemurs, Marty must help the lemurs traverse the "Trail of Excessive Wind", which, as the name implies, has wind on-and-off blowing so strongly that not hiding behind a rock in time blows you all the way back to the start of the area.
  • Hammerspace: In all games, Alex is capable of carrying up to 20 mangoes on him with a complete lack of pockets or anything of a kind.
  • Heli-Critter:
    • Melman can glide in midair by outstretching his legs and spinning his body like a helicopter.
    • During the boss battle with him in Back to the Beach, the albino crocodile gets back on his feet after being knocked down by hovering with his tail in this fashion.
  • Helium Speech: Marty can obtain this during King of New York by popping at least 6 balloons.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: All of the characters have this to varying degrees in the GBA port, but Melman has the most blatant examples. Only his body is interactive with the environment and enemies, and his head is only used as a weapon during his sneeze attack. However, his neck doesn't have any collision at all, allowing enemies to damage him if they're between his head and his body.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: In all games, Gloria can perform a charge powerful enough to smash through objects like walls and boulders for a few seconds after eating a jalapeno pepper.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The worst offender of this in the game has got to be the "No Chance of Survival Trail". Other instances include "Tarantula Town", and the "Trail of Excessive Wind".
  • Ironic Name: "The Perfectly Safe Path" appearing in the Save the Lemurs level is anything but, because it is in fact fossa-infested.
  • Messy Pig: Wilbur the Warthog is a very smelly warthog with a crush on Gloria. Melman lampshades this if you go near Wilbur as him.
  • Mighty Roar: In all games, Alexís primary attack is to roar at his enemies, which scares some larger enemies (like other lions) away and kills smaller critters, possibly by causing them heart attacks.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: The second boss of the game is an albino crocodile who fights with martial arts and speaks with a Japanese accent for some reason.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Levels where Melman needs to stick to higher ground will have cutscenes should he land on the ground naturally. If he touches the ground in the third level, he panics as a car comes driving towards him. Touching the lower ground or colliding with Alex in Coming of Age results in the now-feral lion stealing Mort from Melman and running off to eat him.
  • Not Quite Flight: In all games (except for the GBA and DS versions of the first game and the DS version of the second game), if he jumps off a high enough spot, Melman can temporarily drift by spinning his legs like a helicopter.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Mort somehow made it all the way to the end of a cave in Marty to the Rescue despite having been right next to Marty when they entered together.
    Marty: Mort! How'd you get all the way over there? We were literally standing right next to each other!
    Mort: Well, the plot called for it. Don't come apart on me now, Marty.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: At one point in Penguin Mutiny, Skipper can hide under a cardboard box to walk by the sailors without them noticing him. Even if he walks while under the cardboard box in the sailors' plain sight, they will somehow never notice him.
  • Pass Through the Rings: Alex does this in the beginning of the game as an exercise. Said rings reappear in every stage Alex is playable in, barring Final Battle - collecting all the rings in a level gives out a coin bonus.
  • Penguins Are Ducks: The penguins don't actually act this way, but the Zoohunter in the first game and many humans in the second game do refer to them as ducks (the sailors in the first game instead call them kitties), and Skipper takes offense to this.
    Zoohunter: Now hold on there! This is the end of the line for you ducks!
    Skipper: Did he call us ducks? Get him!
  • Pesky Pigeons: The characters hate pigeons in the Manhattan levels. You can scare the pigeons off, but they leave behind poop.
  • Power-Up Food:
    • The chili peppers Gloria eats makes her go faster and bash into heavy objects.
    • There is a plant that Alex can occasionally find that grants him with a Super-Roar which kills all surrounding enemies.
  • Precision F-Strike: Both subverted and played straight at separate times; it's subverted in Marty to the Rescue and Penguin Mutiny when after Wilbur pushes a boulder out of the way, Marty says he's about to "lay a can of whoopa-butt on you, Warthog!", and whenever the Zoohunter catches Skipper in his cabin or just before the last tranquilizer shoot em up in the bridge (since he already knows the penguins are there in the latter, just walking up to him or leaping onto the desks will trigger this), in the resulting fail cutscene he shouts "What the duck!" before emitting an Evil Laugh (or saying "I won't let you get away this time!") and tranquilizing him, and played straight in New York Street Chase when an NPC says Manhattan's "full of freakin' animals!".
  • Rogue Protagonist: Alex's hunting instincts drive him to become this in the last segment of the eighth level "Coming of Age", and Melman has to carry Mort across the higher reaches of the level to avoid Alex. Touch Alex or the floor, and it triggers a fail cutscene where he snatches Mort and runs off. He's his normal self by the eleventh and last level of the game.
    Alex: At last! Playtime!
    Alex: I just love having guests for dinner!
    Alex: Ooh-la-la! Mort-tar-tar!
  • Rolling Attack: This is Gloria's main attack. The GBA and DS versions of the first game instead have her stomping the ground.
  • The Scream: Melman sometimes does a rather exaggerated scream when an enemy hurts him.
  • "Simon Says" Mini-Game: In Jungle Banquet, Alex must complete a variation of this. In a cave, there are four giant mushrooms which each play a different sound. The player must memorize the tune and bounce on them in the correct order to repeat it.
  • Skewed Priorities: When the foursome (Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman) are caught outside Grand Central Station and get taken out one by one with tranquilizer darts, Melman worries that the needles aren't sterilized. Marty replies (just before a dart hits him himself) that it's probably the least of their worries.
  • Spin Attack: In both games, Melman has an attack where he spins his legs on the ground.
  • Springy Spores:
    • The giant mushrooms in Jungle Banquet and are the focus of one segment to obtain one of the dishes.
    • The following level, Coming of Age, sees Alex, at that point a Rogue Protagonist, jumping up on many mushrooms to try to catch Melman and Mort.
    • There is a minigame segment in Marty to the Rescue where Mort must bounce on mushrooms to collect fruit for Wilbur.
  • Stealth Expert: In Marty's Escape, which temporarily turns the game into a Stealth-Based Game, Marty gains the ability to sneak, allowing him to crouch down as well as crawl into small spaces. Starting in "Save The Lemurs!" and then all the levels where Marty is playable afterwards, Marty is also able to slide while sneaking if the button is pressed while he is moving. For some reason, this isn't acknowledged by the game.
  • Terrified of Germs: Melman's germaphobia in the films becomes a major game mechanic in the level Jungle Banquet, where if he walks or glides into mud or mudslides, the game cuts to black then resumes gameplay with his back facing the source of the mud and him complaining about the mud.
    Melman: Ahhhhh, mud!
    Melman: I'll catch leptospirosis in there!
    Melman: Mud, again? No way!
  • Toilet Humour:
    • One scene in the NY Street Chase has Alex, Melman, and Gloria tracking Marty down after finding his poop in an alleyway. The poop is very detailed and even gets a close-up, and Alex is shown clutching his foot giving the impression he may have stepped in it.
    Alex: Ew! Smells like zebra!
    Melman: Could be any zebra.
    • During the Penguin Mutiny level, Skipper has to cause a distraction by overloading some toilets, causing them to spray waste everywhere.
  • Tranquilizer Dart: The Zoohunter carries a large one as his main weapon. In level four, Skipper grabs another one to get past sailors in the mess hall and on the bridge to face the Zoohunter.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The first level is primarily based on exploration and platforming, but also features a fishing segment with the penguins at one point.
  • Use Your Head: In both games, one of Melmanís attacks is a headbutt, courtesy of his long neck. When assembling the plane in Escape 2 Africa, he is even asked to hammer the nails in for several sections.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • Marty can kick people outside the enclosures in King of New York, which causes them to run away in terror. You can also do this by roaring at them as Alex during his section of the level. Marty can also kick the ostriches that Gloria races against in her section, which Gloria calls him out for doing.
    • There is a bonus with ten coins awarded in the New York City Street Chase for destroying 30 cars with Gloria's moves.
    • Additionally, and what might be most cruel, is in the level Penguin Mutiny, there are a couple points where you must eliminate sailors by using the ship's crane to drop them into an cage, trapping them. However, you could instead drop them overboard the ship to drown them. In the second crane segment, in addition to having to get rid of sailors you also need to pick up and drop large crates that are in the way, to smash them. You could kill two birds with one stone by dropping the crates onto the sailors which leaves them collapsed on the ground, all but explicitly dead.
      • Also in that level, at one point the penguins cause a distraction by overloading some toilets and causing three of the sailors to enter the bathroom to investigate. If youíre feeling really, really nasty, you can lock them inside the bathroom.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Several of the power cards allow the characters to learn abilities they should logically already know how to do, like kicking and crawling for Marty.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa features the following tropes:

  • Artistic License Ė Biology: Did you know that giraffes get actual butterflies flying in their stomachs? As well as fish and even whole colonies of mushrooms? (not fungus, but regular, stem-and-cap mushrooms) Play this game and youíll be delighted.
  • Battering Ram: In the final showdown with the tourist village, the plane-mounted chimp-chain hammer acts like this, easily smashing the huts and later used to break through the dam.
  • Berserk Button: Moto Moto does not like being followed around and photographed constantly (the one time Alex had to take his picture he wasn't angry about since he wasn't having to follow him repeatedly), and will mercilessly kick King Julian, a lemur several times smaller than him, several feet back if he catches him photographing him, also often telling him to get lost when just seeing him nearby.
    Moto Moto: Hey! No pictures!
    Moto Moto: No cameras!
    Moto Moto: No paparazzi!
  • Bottomless Magazines:
    • Rico stores an infinite amount of soda cans in one shoot-out against the tourists trying to steal the tires from the jeep.
    • Similarly, Marty gets infinite supplies of soccer balls when heís fighting against the Granny's durian explosives.
  • Butt-Monkey: Melman is treated like this in the gameís early stages, often getting some of the scrappiest levels and mechanics.
  • Car Chase: There are two, both involving the penguins. The first is where the penguins attack a convoy for supplies. The second is where the penguins chase after the four tourist jeeps in order to disable them and get the monkeys they carry. It is surprisingly hard and likely to be That One Level.
  • Collection Sidequest: There are 100 monkeys to collect once you reach Africa. The monkeys can be obtained by finding them in the levels or during specific minigames.
  • David vs. Goliath: One of the minigames is the so-called Chess Jungle, where filmís characters are split into characters from Madagascar itself and characters from Africa, with power ratings from 1 to 7. Who can defeat level 7 badasses like Moto Moto and Gloria? Why, itís Mort and the lion cub!
  • A Day in the Limelight: Just about every character in the film gets a role in the game and can be controlled. Even ones as minor as Mort, Julian and Maurice get a small playable role (and for Mort, his own chapter).
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • While still a playable character, Marty is much less important than he was in the first game. In the first game he had two levels to himself and was the most used of the main four, while here he's only relevant for two races using his only new ability, a carrot-fueled sprint, and has lost several abilities he used to have. In particular, his kick ability only appears in select circumstances where he has to aim items. Averted in the DS version where he's one of two main playable characters, alongside Alex.
    • The original game gave Skipper a single level featuring him as the main playable character, while here his role is taken by Private and he is relegated to an NPC. The DS version brings him back to prominence in the exclusive Penguin levels.
  • Eat the Bomb: The only way to defeat a crocodile boss as Mort is by performing combat rolls to knock poison mushrooms into his maw when he opens his mouth.
  • Hot Potato: Used during Alexís initiation. This being Serengeti, "potato" is replaced with durian.
  • Improbable Weapon User: When underwater in the console versions, Gloria attacks by blowing bubbles. On land, Alex is the only character possessing a ranged attack due to his most hand-like paws. Instead of, say, rocks, he throws mangoes, which turn up surprisingly often as a result.
  • I Let You Win: Ends up being subverted with Moto Moto, who, after being beaten by Melman in a dance battle inside a volcano, claims that he was going easy on him, even though he lost two rounds in a row against Melman.
  • Lighter and Softer: All of the issues with the zoosters are gone compared to the movie. Alexís hat of shame is played for laughs, Marty doesnít go through an existential crisis, Gloria doesnít struggle with romance as much, and Melman is never told he has two days to live.
  • Joke Character: Mort who's exclusive to the console version. Whereas other characters have two to four abilities, he can only perform a weak roll. He canít even attack normally with it: in order to defeat the lizards and the croc, he is forced to knock the poison mushrooms into their maws with it.
  • Oxygen Meter: Gloria has one when sheís underwater in the console versions. Much like Sonic, she can refill it by breathing in bubbles.
  • Permanently Missable Content: If you enable the "monkeys are everywhere" feature at Julian's store, some monkeys will turn up inside giraffes when you heal them at Melman's clinic. Some of those won't.
  • Playable Epilogue: Itís possible to keep playing the game after the campaign ends, though itís difficult to do so otherwise.
  • Simon Says Minigame: Plenty of examples. The straightest is probably one during the volcano segment, when Julian must enter a dance-off to avoid being sacrificed before the shark falls in there.
  • Sterility Plague: During the healing minigame as Melman, you get Julianís red medicine that instantly destroys any kind of infestation in its area. If you use it three times, Julian will run out of it and give you the black one, which doesnít kill anything, but instead prevents all the creatures present inside the patient from multiplying for a good period of time.
  • Stomach of Holding: Penguin Rico specializes in this: it even gets lampshaded during the game on one occasion.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Everyone besides Gloria dies as soon as they touch the water's surface.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Zig-zagged. Gloria still needs to get air on occasion underwater except in the DS version where she swims on the surface, similar to a real hippo (though real hippos do not need to get air as frequently as the game portrays), but she and Moto Moto are somehow able to talk underwater, which the game lampshades to point out how it shouldn't be possible.
  • There Was a Door: An especially annoying example is used in the crashlanding level, where Melman is asked to clear a path for the group by riding on a boulder. It is a very frustrating mechanic as the boulder frequently rolls back at every obstacle, and once youíre done, you find out that everyone has already found the alternative entrance.
  • Tight Rope Walking: Alex can do this amongst his other skills.
  • Timed Mission: The race for Marty against other zebras is obviously timed, as are all the other race-like missions. Melman's healing practice also has a set time limit.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can feed monkeys you've collected bananas.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • If you're feeling particularly cruel, you can throw bananas directly at the monkeys you've collected to make them dizzy.
    • During the butterfly catching segment in the first level, Alex can choose to catch King Julien in his net instead of the butterflies he's supposed to be catching. Julien will naturally get angry at him.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The various minigames/setpieces are so frequent it would be too difficult to list them all, especially since many are foreshadowed in the prologue on the actual Madagascar island. One notable example is when as the penguins, youíre asked with fishing out items from the touristsí shack with the fishing rod.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Mort and the penguins employ those. Unlike typical FPS usage, here itís done offensively, being Mortís only means of attack.