Now that, as film-goers, we're not easily impressed by CGI, it's the voice acting that tends to take centre stage. Kung Fu Panda won plaudits for Jack Black's signature noise-making antics, and Madagascar 2 has an even more high-profile cast, featuring Ben Stiller, Sacha Baron Cohen, legendary stand up Chris Rock and David Schwimmer. Y'know, Ross from Friends.
Unfortunately, little of this can be translated to mobile. In the development process, digitised speech has got about as much chance of surviving as an antelope trapped on an A-road. As such, mobile games of CGI films generally try to hit the mark visually instead.
Madagascar 2 does a fair job of bringing the two playable characters, Alex the Lion and Marty the Zebra, to life considering the dinkiness of the sprites, but stalking around the Africa of this game has little of the charm or humour the film has.
Although ostensibly a platform game, Madagascar 2's gameplay is frequently punctuated by mini-game-like intervals that take over any of your more complicated tasks. You might be walking across a vine where you'll have to balance a ball on a see-saw using the '4' and '6' keys, or aim a coconut at a platform, mortar style.
These moments work in a so-so way on their own, but they're repeated so often that they trample all over the game's platforming core and are so transparently repetitious that they soon become tiresome. If anything though, it's a better tactic than leaving the platforming elements to prove themselves.
The controls are simply too sluggish and unresponsive to deliver any engaging run-and-jump action. Attacking enemies is equally clumsy, with moves only loosely tied to their respective button-presses. Thankfully, these encounters do not make up a large part of the game.
Unfortunately, level design is similarly dismal. Although you move through a few different environments in the game's eight fairly short levels, each quickly deconstructs itself into a series of the transparent sub-mini games and vine-swinging sections too automatic-feeling to really seem part of the platforming action.
Underneath this is a skeletal formation of platforms whose structures have little to do with any sort of context. Thanks to the faulty controls, moving between these isn't much fun, either.
Difficulty is fairly well-pitched considering the source material, though. The young target audience of the film should be able to make their way through the levels fairly easily, and the game's rough following of the film's plot should please fans.
There are also a few boss levels to offer a gust of reasonably fresh air between bouts of traipsing across the African savannah. They're once again tripped-up somewhat by the controls, but the breezy difficulty stops them from being too much of an issue.
Film-to-game conversions never come with the highest expectations attached, and such low expectations are never more present than when looking at a sequel to a kids' film that was already something of an artistic also-ran in the genre. However, having seen much better this year, such as Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is a definite disappointment.