â€œGrab your friends and have a brawl!â€ To be sure, itâ€™s a fitting tagline for a game thatâ€™s nothing but frantic battling and slamming mayhem. Shrek Superslam, in its stripped-down form, is a simple self-contained single and multiplayer fight game set within the Dreamworks-created and fairytale-inspired movie world.
There are no pretensions on show here, just plenty of frenetically chargedâ€”and occasionally disorientingâ€”character slamming. Various game options are available, including a brief yet amusing story mode where a selection of well-known Shrek characters battle it out through bedtime story brawls told to Donkeyâ€™s restless offspring. Thereâ€™s nothing especially challenging during the story, and itâ€™s all conquered fairly quickly, but the fight preambles are always fun, and the characterizations never fail to coax a willing smile. Perhaps never more so than the Gingerbread Man vs. G-Nome battle, which is charmingly based on an episode of â€˜MTV Cribs.â€™ Beyond the story distraction, Shrek Superslam also offers an extensive Challenge mode that is perhaps best used to hone the wealth of Slams, special moves, and attack maneuvers assigned to each character. The Challenge mode plays out across a progressive 3D map/game board, which indicates various challenges, bonus challenges, and tournaments. Masses of extra content can be opened during all modes of the game, and this includes unlocking new characters, costumes, and fight arenas.
Gameplay itself is a mixture of free and time-based battles where Slamming is usually the main order of the day when it comes to gaining clear victory, and bouts can be one-on-one, two-on-two, or even maddeningly hard to follow free-for-alls. General attacks, throws, and environmental items used as weapons all build your characterâ€™s Slam meter, and when full, youâ€™re surrounded by a glowing yellow hue that indicates an available Slam. A simple press of the â€˜Yâ€™ button unleashes your Slam ability and any opposing characters caught in the resulting blast explosion, weapon spray, fart cloud, stampede, etc.â€”depending on which Shrek character you choose to play asâ€”will be Slammed headlong into the 3D environment, which breaks, crumples, and explodes with pleasing power. The gameâ€™s Challenge mode offers a little more variety in fight goals, while also helping players to master specific character moves. For example, pressing the right shoulder button creates a defensive shield, and the Challenge mode builds battles where a set amount of nimbly timed shields must be implemented to successfully deflect projectiles back at the opposition. Then there are battles where hurling competing characters into a lava-filled gorge helps acclimatize players with the uses of grabbing and throwing. All the Challenges mode quests are quick and frantic affairsâ€”if not somewhat briefâ€”that help players to grow more familiar with the fighting mechanics.
Shrek Superslamâ€™s presentation is nothing out of the ordinary, but it does have an odd appeal and enduring sense of humor, which always remain faithful to the Shrek aesthetic. Graphically, the character models certainly look like their movie counterparts, and thanks to the relatively ugly origins laid down by the Hollywood iterations, itâ€™s not hard to re-create the general appearance without much need for polish. Thereâ€™s an unusual grimy feel to the environments, considering the bright, child-friendly accessibility of the cartoon inspiration but, beyond that, the characters themselves are all instantly attractive in terms of personality, which certainly makes up for the slightly jaded visuals. The game sound is also overtly cartoon in delivery, and typically over the top where actually bouts of Slamming are concerned. Character voiceovers are provided by some extremely worthy â€˜sound-a-likeâ€™ actors, and only those gamers with expert hearing are likely to discern between them and the original movie talent.
Live multiplayer is not available on Shrek Superslam, and thatâ€™s not surprising considering its rather youthful target audience and limited gameplay longevity. However, there are Melee and King of the Hill modes for up to four players for those gamers who want to Slam friends in the comfort of their own homes.
While itâ€™s lacking somewhat in content and variety, Shrek Superslam offers instant and easy cartoon scraps to those gamers either a little on the young side, or looking for quick fix, bite-size battles. It doesnâ€™t push the boundaries in any particular department, but remains true to the ideal of pure and simple fun. A more enduring Story mode would have been a plusâ€”and one that actually had some sense of evolving narrativeâ€”but the many-layered Challenge mode and wealth of unlockable features provides enough to keep you occupied, albeit not for long.