The Penguins of Madagascar: Dr. Blowhole Returns – Again! Review (PS3)

     Over the last two months, in preparation for the film release of The Penguins of Madagascar, I've been replaying their games.  I'll be starting with this game first, the PS3 version of The Penguins of Madagascar: Dr. Blowhole Returns - Again! because it's been the easily the best of the five games I've played through.

     Our favorite penguin foursome is comprised of Skipper, go-to leader that can make even the most mundane task into an over-elaborate covert ops mission, Kowalski, the scientifically-minded super genius, Private, the young and naive heart of the team, and Rico, the team's explosives expert and oddball that has a curious ability to swallow and hack up items of great use.

     The game is a third person puzzle-platformer and as near as I can tell it's based off of a few of the episodes from the television show.  Since it is target audience is kids, nothing is too challenging to complete.  I had no trouble solving anything, and their really isn't any combat situations to fight through.  You are tasked with assisting the narcissistic lemur King Julien through some levels, forced to outmaneuver evil robot penguins, and eventually escape and confront the clutches of evil Dr. Blowhole, who is voiced by the always amazing Neil Patrick Harris.  He also gets bonus points for pronouncing penguins like I do- pen-gyoo-ins.

     To solve the problems in getting from one place to another the penguins have to work together.  Each has their own special ability.  Skipper can hover, Kowalski can find useful items in trash and assemble scientific contraptions, Rico can puke up projectiles and toss bombs, and Private can charm pigeons and pass through small tunnels or pipes.  Each skill is tied to a color coded item on screen to help kids solve puzzles.  If you need to go through a pipe, it has a yellow glow alerting players to switch to Private.  If you need to dig for parts or build something, it'll glow green for Kowalski.
     There really aren't any difficult puzzles, and this is a very casual game.  If you fall off ledges, you'll lose a few snowcones, but pick up right where you fell.  There are very few spots that might pose an issue for the younger players, when a slightly more deft skill could be used.  In reality though the game is extremely forgiving when it comes to controls.

     Along the way players can collect snowcones as a form of currency to buy mini games from King Julien in the penguins secret hideout.  Increasing the snow cone count is a running sub-story mission of collecting all the chameleons that have escaped through the levels.  There are three in every level, and only a couple are a bit hard to find, because they are blending into the background.

     The three mini-games are pretty decent as well.  In Mort Bowling you play King Julien using Mort as a bowling ball.  The controls are a bit awkward but once you get the hang of it you'll be bowling a near 300 every game.  The second game, King Julien's Dance Party, you play a dancing game pressing buttons and moving the joystick in time with the prompts to the song playing.  It isn't very appealing to me, but I know a few people that thrive on this type of game.  The third game was my favorite.  Ninja-Knockdown is a small game with the 4 penguins in a square formation have to destroy incoming bowling pins dressed as ninjas that gradually come at you in both increasing speed and number.  You can swivel them around to collect power-ups that give each penguin their own specialty move such as destroying all on screen pins, healing the penguins, and score multipliers.  For some reason I really found this particular mini-game to be super addictive.

     When it comes to graphics all the in-game animations are smooth and clean.  Button responses are great, the controls are more responsive than some of the games I've played for adults.  Each penguin's voice is perfectly recorded, although the cut-scenes are a bit lacking with the voices not matching up quite right with the speaking, and the animation feels kind of unpolished compared to the in-game looks.  Strangely enough, Dr. Blowhole's lines seem a little off.  Like the recording was done poorly and the music and effects drown the sound out- making him sound garbled at times and difficult to understand.

     The Penguins of Madagascar: Dr. Blowhole Returns – Again! is a pretty decent game on its own, a tremendous kids game, and as far as the Penguins of Madagascar games go, it's still the best I've played yet.  If you or your kids are fans of the penguins and their show, this game is definitely worth the time.

No comments:

Post a Comment