No gaming platform is complete without at least one decent 'kart' racing game. Get some friends together, and go at it - race using your favorite characters, play some dirty tricks on each other, and have a good time.
With Mario Kart Wii
being strictly a Nintendo affair, some of the newer platforms (Xbox 360 and PS3) have been a bit neglected in the 'light family affair' multi-player arena, and certainly in the kart game arena. Enter
Madagascar Kartz - a multi-platform release from Activision. I had some high hopes for this one - releases on all the major platforms, the silly and popular world of Dreamworks' Madagascar, and we should be all set for a wild time. Unfortunately, the game doesn't live up to those hopes for the one kart game to rule them all...
While this review is based on the Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS editions, the gameplay is the same across all of the systems,
meaning it's a standard Kart affair. You select your character from the Madagascar characters, each with different strengths and weaknesses. You then select a track. You race, trying to master the track layout to get those turns just right, but also while catching and using power-ups and items that you can use against your opponents. The computer AI in this game is no slouch - you'll definitely need some practice even when playing by yourself. As you complete tracks and win races, you unlock more characters and power-ups.
Playing the computer is of limited fun, so you can invite up to four friends to race against you. Here's where my first hopes were smashed against the rocks. All multiplayer is local only - you can play up to 4 player multiplayer locally on your Wii, 360, or PS3, and on the DS you can play 4 player using WiFi (multi-cart, so all players must own the game). There is no online component of any kind. It's really a shame that there isn't a better mechanism for this, because let's face it, you're going to get more multiplayer action by meeting up online.
There are a few other nicks against this title. First, there are a very few tracks to choose from, and they're all quite similar in look and feel. Next, the attacks you can use are basically instant-effect, so there's no real chance to dodge or counter-attack as you'll see in other kart games.
Visually, Madagascar Kartz looks about like you'd expect - cartoony.
But it's well animated, colorful, and very true to the films' look and feel. The
music is quite repetitive (I'm still humming 'I like to move it, move it'...),
and the sound effects and little vocal touches are basic and reused frequently.
The controls are fluid, though sensitive and take some getting used to.
Its worth noting that the Wii version does come with its own version of the Wii
Wheel, with a special jungle-themed design that should appeal to fans of the
As a whole, Madagascar Kartz isn't really a bad effort for a
budget-priced game. Fans of the popular movies should find their favorite
characters playable here, and there are worse ways to spend a little quality
gaming time with the family. But with zero online multiplayer and
simplistic gameplay, this would actually be a slam-dunk $10 downloadable title
for either the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, but for a shrink-wrapped release on
those powerful consoles, it does come up a bit short. Likewise, on the Wii and
the DS, there are much better options if you're looking to scratch the Kart