The Penguins of Madagascar: Dr. Blowhole Returns Again!

Game review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
The Penguins of Madagascar: Dr. Blowhole Returns Again! Game Poster Image
Very active game makes great use of Kinect motion controls.

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The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

As goofy as the penguins are, they always work remarkably well as a team, and they treat you (their new recruit) as a full member of that team. Everybody, no matter how strange they may seem, has an important skill that can be useful to the group. The game itself is also very active and will provide a bit of exercise.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The penguins are great at teamwork, they are quick to help out any other animals in need, and they are very accepting of those that are different.

Ease of Play

The game is controlled by moving your whole body around -- leaning, jumping, ducking, kicking, throwing, etc. -- and the Kinect sensor does an excellent job of reading your motions. While the non-stop pace of the game gives it an element of challenge, the motions themselves (which are depicted in a box on screen) are easy enough for young kids to pull off.

Violence & Scariness

One penguin's special power is regurgitating random trash (like old boots). In several sequences, you will shoot these pieces of garbage at enemy animals (pigeons, crabs) or objects that need to be destroyed. However, no enemy animals appear to be injured.


The game is a tie-in to the animated series, Penguins of Madagascar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Penguins of Madagascar: Dr. Blowhole Returns is a story-based adventure game based on the cartoon series, The Penguins of Madagascar. Gameplay in this Kinect version is very active, requiring players to sway, lean, jump, kick, etc. You will be almost constantly in motion, working up a nice sweat. These motions are simple enough for young kids to handle. While some of the characters in the story can be arrogant or insulting at moments, the penguins are great exemplars of teamwork and acceptance.

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What's it about?

The plot of THE PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR: DR. BLOWHOLE RETURNS follows a team of penguins (you play their newest recruit) in their efforts to retrieve a stolen artifact from a megalomaniacal dolphin named Dr. Blowhole. With your fellow penguins, you will dash around zoos, sewers, supervillain headquarters, and the like, snatching up snowcones, hidden chameleons, and other bonus items. The movement is almost non-stop, and you need to bob, weave, duck, jump, and dive in order to avoid obstacles and grab the good stuff. There is also a bonus dance-off game in which you need to match the poses of the lemur King Julien.

Is it any good?

The Penguins of Madagascar: Dr. Blowhole Returns uses the full-body motion controls of the Kinect system to great advantage. None of the movements or poses that you need to perform are complicated, so the Kinect sensor reads them all very easily and there are very few mistaken motions. But you need to keep moving, switching from one motion to the next at a breakneck pace. As a result, the game is a blast. Few Kinect games have felt so well-suited to the technology.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it means to be the new person in a situation where everybody else already knows one another. Several animals at the zoo question you as the newest penguin, but the other penguins always defend you and back you up. How does it make you feel when the other animals say you are strange? How does it make you feel when the penguins stand up for you?

  • This is a very active game that can make you work up a sweat. Do you enjoy playing active games? Do you like Kinect games like this one more than regular video games where you sit still to play?

Game details

  • Platforms: Xbox 360
  • Price: $49.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: THQ
  • Release date: September 12, 2011
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Topics: Superheroes
  • ESRB rating: E for Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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