Publisher: Activision Inc.
Developer: Vicarious Visions
N Amer - 05/14/2007
Shrek The Third Review
Before it’s released in theaters, Shrek the Third will make its way to game consoles all across the country. From Xbox 360 to the Nintendo DS, there’s one for every player.
The Game Boy Advance version is the 2D, 16-bit style edition of the bunch. Shrek, our favorite over-sized ogre, is back and ready to stomp on enemies (and hefty door switches). Puss in Boots, the comical, wide-eyed kitty introduced in Shrek 2, has come to the third game with a sword attack that’s sure to leave enemies with a long-lasting sting. The dragon-loving Donkey is ready for more kick-action, but don’t expect to hear him pop his lips this time around. Artie, the fourth playable character, is somewhat of a question mark. He’ll likely play a major role in the new movie, but I’m staying away from spoilers. He carries a shield and looks like the Prince. Hmm.
Shrek the Third looks like any Game Boy Advance title. You see sprite-based characters, platforms, flat backgrounds, etc. But what the screens don’t reveal is that this game is one of search and discovery. Nearly every stage in the game follows the same few rules: (1) find a locked door, (2) locate the switch that opens the door, (3) find as many fairies as possible, and (4) locate the exit. The collection of fairies is not required. But as with most adventure games, you’ll find yourself looking for them whether you want to or not. It drives me nuts when I’ve exited a stage only to learn that I missed a fairy or some other key (but optional) item.
In the stages where multiple characters are used, you must move the entire party to the exit before the stage can be completed. You’ll see that this is necessary as soon as you reach the end with a character. One arrow sign will adjust, pointing toward the next area. The other will remain pointed away from the exit, indicating that your comrade is needed.
Once you get into the flow of the game, you’ll learn to switch back and forth between characters often. You switch by tapping the shoulder buttons. The action goes through pretty quickly for a GBA title, leaving no time for boredom as the game changes.
If there’s anything Shrek the Third does really well, it’s that it doesn’t force you to use multiple characters for no reason. Shrek is only there when a strong wall needs to be penetrated. Artie’s shield is great for knocking spiders off of vines. Puss in Boots can climb walls, giving him the edge in levels with high platforms. He can also crawl through narrow areas, jump higher than his furry friend, and attack with his sword.
Donkey’s hind legs don’t do much except hold him up. But if you’re on the receiving end of his front-leg kick, you’ll feel the burn (and bruises!). Donkey can also pick up dangerous fruit and use it as a weapon, which is ironic – don’t most kids think that vegetables are the food that’s dangerous?
There’s no question that Shrek the Third is more impressive on the Game Boy Advance than it is on PlayStation 2. However, this game is not for everyone. There are more locked doors, platforms, and switches than enemies. The result is a game that’s less combative than it is puzzling. This game is not a puzzle-based adventure. But when you’re spending more time opening doors than fighting enemies, that’s what it starts to feel like. Kids prefer action. While I raved about Pikmin at GameCube’s release, my cousin (who was nine-years-old at the time) wanted to play Cel Damage and NHL Hitz.
That being the case, I can’t recommend this game to the average kid gamer – just to those who have a ton of patience. If you or your kid meets that criteria, go for it – add Shrek the Third to your collection. But don’t buy it just because it has a lovable ogre on the box.
Review Scoring Details for Shrek the Third
Here’s something you don’t hear everyday – this game has hours of door-opening action. For the kind of game that it is, Shrek the Third is a decent action/adventure. But the majority of your journey will be spent pushing switches to open doors and trigger moving platforms. Action, unfortunately, is secondary.
Though not on par with the GBA version of Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third’s animations are pretty accurate when compared with the film’s characters. The sprite-based images look good but the backgrounds aren’t very attractive.
Like a tape recorder that’s been run over, put back together, and run over again.
The hardest part is having the patience to continue playing when the game doesn’t respond how you’d expect. Example: Artie’s shield can only be thrown while standing still, a decision that will have every Rygar fan in tears. The levels, objectives, etc., however, are very easy.
An interesting use of multi-character gameplay…that’s been done before and in superior forms.
For kids with patience of steel. Shrek the Third isn’t as mainstream as other recent GBA hits (such as Ghost Rider), nor is it as family-friendly as Spider-Man 3. The content isn’t violent, but “family-friendly” also means that the game can be enjoyed by “all ages.” That’s not the case here. Only a select few will be repeatedly occupied by Shrek the Third’s search-based gameplay. The rest of you will beat it once and may never have the desire to return.