Shrek SuperSlam Hands-On
The big green ogre has a score to settle in this family-friendly beat 'em up.
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The lovable green ogre is back in Shrek SuperSlam, a cute little melee game that looks and plays very much in the vein of previous cartoon fighting games such as Power Stone and Super Smash Bros. We got a chance to check out this madcap melee game during an Activision press event yesterday to see how it's progressed since our last look, back before E3 of this year.
All of the requisite elements you'd expect from a Shrek game seem to be well intact here: the attractive fairytale settings, a full roster of fighters that includes characters from both Shrek movies, and, of course, the winking sense of humor that has made the Shrek movie series such a hit with fans. It's this combination of approachable controls and likeable characters that the folks at Shaba are banking on to make the game attractive both to young gamers and their parents. Based on our time with the game, the developer seems to be on the right track to accomplishing that goal.
In a simple melee match, the rules are simple: You simply beat up your opponents, which can consist of a mix of up to three human players or as many as three CPU-controlled rivals. Offensive moves are simple to pick up--there's the quick strike, the strong attack (which is slightly slower but packs more of a wallop), and a variety of throws. You can toss opponents into objects or other fighters, and you'll also be able to pick up a number of objects found in the environments and use them as either stationary or projectile weapons. For the slightly more advanced set, SuperSlam does support some basic combos that serve to spice the fighting up a bit. By landing blows on your opponent, you'll gradually fill up your "slam" meter which, when full, will let you pull off a devastating special attack on anyone unlucky enough to be in your path.
It doesn't take much to get things moving quickly in SuperSlam--with four opponents onscreen at once, you'll never find yourself with a lack of things to do or a dearth of opponents to lash out at. And, considering the huge amount of realistically destructible objects and architecture found in each level, SuperSlam is full of visual treats and more than a few surprises. In one level, castle walls break apart when you toss enemies into it; meanwhile, over at Shrek's favorite local pub, the Poison Apple, you can break apart the pool table found in the bar once things get a little rough. Yet another level features a gigantic gumball machine which, when destroyed, empties out extra-large gumballs onto the ground that you can pick up and use as weapons against your foes. Each character in the game has their special abilities and, as a result, each will have his or her own advantages--Fiona is a high flyer, for example, while Quasimodo is the only character in the game that can deal damage to a stunned opponent.
SuperSlam will feature a number of different modes in the game--story, mega challenge, melee, and a training mode that will familiarize you with the controls. In story mode, you'll follow around your favorite Shrek character such as Puss-in-Boots, Fiona, and of course, the main man Shrek himself as they face off against one another in a number of matches preceded by cute vignettes that show off that trademark Shrek-style humor. The first mission, for example, pits the hapless Gingerbread Man (armed with candy cane) against the doe-eyed Puss-in-Boots as they face off inside the aforementioned Poison Apple. As you progress through the story mode, you'll unlock new costumes for roster characters (we're particularly fond of Gingerbread Man's unlockable smoking jacket).
Mega challenge mode plays sort of like a huge board game. You start at the beginning of the map, beating a variety of challenges as you go. These minigame challenges run the gamut from brief racing games in which you need to beat an opponent through a number of gates in a set amount of time (and dirty tactics are encouraged) to matches in which the goal is to toss your foe off the side of a cliff and into a lava pit. As you complete each challenge and move through the game map, you'll find branching paths that will let you choose which challenge you wish to take on next. Beating the minigames also awards you points, which you use to access new portions of the map. Finally, in mega challenge mode you can find unlockables, such as new characters and the slamageddon mode, where every blow you land is a special slam attack.
Though SuperSlam will find a home on all three consoles when it's released in early November, don't forget about the handhelds as well. The game is also coming to the Nintendo DS and GBA, and we got a chance to play the DS version of the game yesterday. It still features the same main modes found in the console game--melee, story, mega challenge, and the tutorial, but features a few DS-only twists to spice things up. For one thing, the lower touch screen is put to use. When it comes time to use a weapon you've picked up while battling, simply touch it with your stylus and your character will wield it immediately. You can also zoom in or out of the action by running your stylus along a meter found on the lower screen to give you a better view of the action. Other DS-specific features include wireless melee battles for multiple players and some unique takes on a few of the levels found in the console versions, such as the Potion Factory.
With 16 levels on which to scuffle and 20 popular Shrek characters to control, SuperSlam is poised to do justice to the popular movie franchise as a fun and frantic cartoon melee game. Easy-to-learn controls and an amusing feel will make this kid-friendly fighter one to watch when it's released in early November. We'll have a full review of the game then, so stay tuned.