Penguins of Madagascar: Dr. Blowhole Returns Again is based on the TV show of the same name, which itself is a spin-off of the Madagascar movie series.
As with the movie, the spin-off is quite funny and focuses on the four penguins Skipper, Kowalski, Private and Rico and their ongoing adventures in the Central Park Zoo.
Normally, games based on movies or a TV series tend to be sub-par, only being marketing excuses for their respective movies or TV shows. Does Penguins of Madagascar : Dr. Blowhole Returns Again change the trend?
In the main story mode, we learn that the penguins' nemesis, Dr. Blowhole (who else?), plans to take over the world, and only the penguins can stop him. But before the penguins can stop him, they first have to do a number of fetch quests, serving as the tutorial levels.
In these levels you learn to use the four penguins' different abilities, like Kowalski being able to build gadgets or Rico able to regurgitate explosives. You'll need to use these abilities to solve different puzzles, with the objective being to get all four penguins to the exit of the level.
In addition to the puzzle solving, there are also collectables to find, like snow cones, in hidden areas. These collectables are currency which can used to purchase other modes in the additional mini-games.
There are three mini-games. Ninja Knock Down sees the penguins try to survive wave after wave of enemies, Mort Bowling lets you use the lovable Mort as a bowling ball and finally, there's a rhythm action dance game where you dance with King Julien. All these mini-games are fun, but don't have multiplayer which is a surprising omission considering who the target market is (namely, young kids).
The game is a puzzler first and foremost and doesn't disappoint on this front. The puzzle mechanics are quite enjoyable and well thought out, but revolving the entire game around this makes it repetitive after the two hour mark.
Thankfully, the game is fairly short at just 12 levels. As for the actual license, the game is fairly authentic.
Graphically, the game matches the aesthetics of the show, while the voice cast and dialogue is another excellent match. It's a pity then that the game doesn'tt have more substance to it.
The puzzle mechanic could've worked wonders if the game had the adventure elements or the narrative of games like Jak and Daxter or the Ratchet and Clank games. As it is, it's a good rental for the kids, but not a worthwhile purchase.
Score: 6 out of 10