The Penguins of Madagascar



Goofy penguins star in a very smart strategy puzzler.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Teamwork is the main message here. If the four penguins don't work well together, they won't get anything done. One of the penguins is an inventor and he constantly talks about the power and benefits of science.

Positive role models

These goofy penguins are good role models in the sense that they work well together as a team. They are incredibly well disciplined and orderly workers. They each have their own special talent and the others respect them for it.

Ease of play

The puzzles start off incredibly easy and grow gradually more challenging as you move along in the game. The controls are quite simple, and if you make a mistake and your penguin falls off a ledge, he simply rises back to where he left off -- no harm done.

Violence & scariness

One of the penguins, Rico, is a demolitions expert, meaning he can regurgitate explosives and use them to blow up barriers and obstacles. No living creatures are hurt by his bombs. In a mini-game, the penguins use karate moves to fend off bowling pins tossed at them.

Not applicable

The game is a tie-in to the cartoon series of the same name, which is in itself a spin-off from the animated Madagascar movies. The packaging contains an ad for a new comic book based on the same characters.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Penguins of Madagascar is an amuzing puzzler starring the scene-stealing schemers of the original Madagascar movie. While the penguins use explosives for destroying obstacles, they are otherwise relatively nonviolent. It is, in essence, a strategy puzzle game that will make kids use their brains quite a bit. If you have a DSi, you can have the wisecracking lemur character, King Julien, from the cartoon, critique the photos you take with your DSi camera. He will sometimes insult them in silly ways.

What's it about?

THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR is a strategy puzzle game that features the popular penguin characters from the Madagascar movies and their own animated series. The four penguins, who live at a zoo, embark on missions to help their fellow animals, such as setting up a birthday party for the lemur, King Julien, or locating a friend who has gone missing. These missions are played out in a series of maze-like puzzles that require players to control all four penguins (each of whom has a special, obstacle-clearing skill) and guide them to a designated exit point. One of the penguins uses items he picks up along the way to create inventions, which the player will have to piece together in a puzzle mini-game.

Is it any good?


The strategic puzzle-solving format is a fantastic way to bring The Penguins of Madagascar into the video game world. It was a pleasantly unexpected choice on the part of the developers, and such a better one than if they'd simply given us a game about penguins waddling along and smacking enemies. Kids will really have to put on their thinking caps for these fun, brain-teasing levels -- but remembering that the audience here will be younger kids, the developers didn't go crazy with any way-too-difficult challenges. They're all fun, but do-able -- which is great. And the invention-creating mini-games break things up nicely (although you will have to put together the same darn bridge way too many times). Along the way, you can collect snow cones that can be used to purchase mini-games, which also provides a nice break from the strategic planning.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about synergistic marketing. The penguins appear in this game, in other Madagascar games, in their own TV show, in the Madagascar movies, and in a comic book. Can you be a fan without purchasing all of the various media in which these characters appear? How do companies use synergistic marketing to make money?

  • The penguin Kowalski is a scientist. Does his enthusiasm for science make you interested in science yourself? How have you used science in your real life?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo DS, Nintendo DSi
Available online?Not available online
Release date:November 2, 2010
ESRB rating:E for Comic Mischief

This review of The Penguins of Madagascar was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written bygino56 January 19, 2011
Educator Written bymmcgrego December 8, 2014

don't bother

We took a group of kids to see this and the 8 year olds and older seemed fine with it, but most of the younger kids were disturbed by the fast-paced non-stop action scenes containing violence and mean words. I took two of the 6 year olds out of the movie when one started crying after the captured penguins (in jail) asked "are you going to kill us" and the villain responded with "i'm not going to kill you, what i'm going to do to you is WORSE than killing you." There were lots of explosions and fighting, along with non-stop mean banter. Not much redeeming in this one, at least for the younger crowd. The adults didn't think the story was worth watching either.
What other families should know
Too much violence


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Star Wars Guide