Shrekâ€”DreamWorksâ€™ lovable green ogreâ€”has been the source material for, and direct cause of, many Shrek videogames seeing the light of day. Until now, almost all of these Shrek-based titles have been action adventure games. But Activision and Shaba Games now bring Shrek SuperSlam to the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox. And, in a break from the norm, itâ€™s a fighting game similar to Super Smash Bros. (Nintendo).
Shrek SuperSlam is one of those games designed with multiplayer in mind; though this doesnâ€™t mean that SuperSlam lacks a solidâ€”if somewhat shortâ€”single-player mode. In the Story mode, Donkey invites his friends over to watch some TV, but his little foals wonâ€™t go to sleep. So, Shrek, Donkey, Fiona, Puss in Boots, Gingerbread Man, Prince Charming, and Pinocchio decide to create bedtime stories to get the little ones off to bedâ€”and thatâ€™s pretty much all the Story mode in Shrek SuperSlam is. Each chapter is a short tale, which eventually leads to a fight where players must take on one or multiple opponents to bring the story to a happy end.
The Story mode can be played through quite quickly, but thereâ€™s another single-player mode called Mega Challenge that extends the single-player experience significantly. In Mega Challenge mode, players are presented with a virtual game board where a â€˜Shrek pawnâ€™ must be moved along, completing challenges at each progressive point on the board. Each of the 45 Mega Challenges are pretty original and fun to play, varying from Slamming Charming a certain amount of times to throwing Gingerbread Men in the oven. Each Challenge lasts only about a minute or so, but Shrek SuperSlam is all about quick bursts of action.
Shrek SuperSlamâ€™s controls are fairly simple; the â€˜Xâ€™ button is used for jumping, the Square and Triangle buttons perform various attacks and combos, and the Circle button picks up enemies to throw them shortly afterward. Blocking is initiated with â€˜L1â€™ and spawns a blue shield around the player to protect them from incoming attacks. Shrek SuperSlam has a simple yet effective combo system where various buttons must be pressed after each other to ultimately unleash a special attack for extra damage. The Triangle button can be held to power-up an attack and wreak even more havoc.
As the title suggests, Shrek SuperSlam is all about â€˜Slamsâ€™, which form the condition for winning a match as well. During fights, a SLAM meter fills up at the bottom of the screen, and as soon as itâ€™s full, players can unleash a Slam attack with the Triangle button. Successfully slamming an opponent awards the player with one point, whereas getting slammed deducts points. The player with the most points when the timer runs out wins the match. An easy enough concept, but itâ€™s hard to keep track of how many times youâ€™ve been slammed, thanks to the lack of an on-screen counter during fights.
The arenas where the actual fighting takes place are all designed to fit the Shrek movies very well. The arenas are destructible, which makes them more interesting. Various useable power-ups spawn from time to time, such as bazookas, balls, and big pieces of ham to bash opponents with. Items lying around the arena can also be picked up with the Circle button and then thrown at enemies for greater damage. Players can Slam opponents inside buildings, off cliffs, and whatever other creative ways they can think of.
Shrek SuperSlam offers 16 arenas and 20+ playable characters, which are all from the hit movies. And not only the main characters such as Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey, but characters like The Black Knight and Pinocchio are also well represented in the game. The biggest draw to these types of games should be the multiplayer mode, which to be quite honest, in SuperSlamâ€™s case, is quite addictive and fun. The only setback during multiplayer fights is that the frame rate takes a hit whenever three or four players brawl simultaneously. In comparison to top games such as Power Stone or Super Smash Bros., Shrek SuperSlam certainly leaves noticeable room for improvement in terms of character response and gameplay physics. The characters move sluggishly around the arenas and donâ€™t automatically turn around when an opponent is behind themâ€”which can certainly lead to player frustration.
The graphics in Shrek SuperSlam are good enough for a game of this type, especially since graphics are never a central focus in the melee fighting genre. The textures can seem a little low in quality when viewed up close, but most of the in-game action unfolds at a reasonable distance, eliminating this problem swiftly. The original cast of Shrek and Shrek 2 were used for the voiceover work, and the music fits the theme well enough to keep things just the right side of interesting.
Shrek SuperSlam has its issues, but remains a wonderfully entertaining fighting game for younger gamers. To inspire any future attraction from older gamers, the developers must consider making adjustments to the gameâ€™s response system and also the overall action speedâ€”even though Slamming Charming into the castle never gets old.