Shrek SuperSlam is a 3D melee game starring all your favorite characters from DreamWorks' Shrek movies. It also borrows heavily from other games like Super Smash Brothers and Power Stone. SuperSlam is obviously designed for younger audiences, and it succeeds in that regard thanks to its simple controls and gameplay mechanics.
Most of the gameplay in Shrek SuperSlam revolves around short, two-minute battles with up to four participants. The objective of these battles is to "slam" your opponents as many times as possible. You'll fill up a slam gauge after you've landed several attacks. Once that gauge is full you can perform a special slam attack that sends your opponent crashing around the stage in scripted, but entertaining ways. There are 20 characters in all, and each one has a unique slam attack. Shrek farts, Puss in Boots charms enemies with the cute kitty look, Donkey does a running head butt, Fiona the ogre sings (terribly), and so on. Every time you slam an opponent you get a point and they lose a point. The one with the most points at the end of the round wins. In addition to the slam attacks, each character has a light attack and a strong attack. These two attacks can be strung together to form combos. There is a combo for breaking blocks, a super-powerful combo, and a variety of special combos. You can also perform aerial attacks like butt drops, wall attacks, and throws. In addition to the basic melee attacks, you can pick up a variety of weapons and objects in each level. You can pick up a piece of furniture and toss it at your opponents, beat them senseless with a ham hock, fire projectiles from a trombone, and drink various potions to get quick power-ups like an instant slam or invulnerability.
There are three different single-player modes in Shrek SuperSlam. You can just jump into melee mode to start fighting in any of the 16 stages right away, or for a more progressive experience, you can check out story mode or the mega-challenge mode. Story mode is a brief series of straightforward brawls with a short cutscene to provide a bit of context. There are only eight stages in story mode, and you can blow through all of them in 20 minutes or so. In one stage, Gingerbread Man fights Puss in Boots after the cat eats one of the cookie's brethren. In another stage, Donkey has to fight off Prince Charming after offending his noble sensibilities. The stages all have a twisted fairy tale theme, like a parody of MTV's Cribs starring Gingerbread Man and his gingerbread house.
In story mode, all the matches are straightforward fights, but for a change of pace you can check out the mega-challenge mode. This mode is presented as a board game where you can move from space to space to complete a variety of special challenges or participate in tournaments. The challenges are pretty simple and aren't too difficult to complete. For one challenge you simply have to run around a small track faster than an opponent, and for another challenge you have to toss six gingerbread men into an oven. The tournament spaces are equally simplistic, but they're slightly more challenging. Each tournament consists of a handful of battles against one or two opponents, with the objective being to get the most slams. Sometimes there are special rules in these tournaments, like battles where every hit is a slam, but they're still just your basic brawls.
Since it's a melee game, you can bet there are plenty of wild and crazy multiplayer modes, right? Well, actually there are only two multiplayer modes. There's a basic melee mode, and a king of the hill game where you score points for each second you remain in a certain area of the map. You can play with up to four players, but with the limited options and game modes you'll get bored with the multiplayer pretty quickly. While it lasts, though, SuperSlam does provide plenty of mindless fun in short, two-minute pickup rounds.
By default the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and PC versions of Shrek SuperSlam look about the same, although the PC looks best if you crank up the resolution. However, the default PC controls are awkward, since you use WASD to move, and then use the J, K, I, and L keys to attack, jump, and pick stuff up. The Xbox and PlayStation 2 versions both feature easy, intuitive controls. Also, the PC version crashed on us a couple of times during start-up, but other than that it ran smoothly. The stages are all well designed according to their specific themes, and they look like they were taken straight out of the Shrek universe. The characters look fairly detailed as well, and they all have unique and funny animations, like when Donkey picks up an item with his back hooves and balances on his front hooves to use the item. The sound is also well done. Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz didn't voice their respective roles, but the soundalikes deliver respectable imitations. The music is happy and upbeat, just as in the movies. Thankfully, there's no Smash Mouth to be heard, but the tunes have the same sort of ska sound, which fits in well with the light theme of the game.
Shrek SuperSlam is a good game for younger people and fans of the movies. It's simple, easy entertainment that isn't at all demanding or convoluted. The characters retain the same great charm from the movies, and there are even funny moments in some of the cutscenes. The only problem with the game is that it really doesn't have enough depth to sustain it for much more than a few hours, which makes it difficult to recommend at $40. Still, it's worth checking out if you love melee games or the Shrek series, because it does a fairly good job of delivering on both those fronts.