Shrek and his band of merry misfits have been a staple in Hollywood animation for a few years now. Packed full with more jokes for the parents than the kids the movie pretends to be geared towards, Shrek has become somewhat of a cashcow for Dreamworks Animation Studios. With that said, it came as no surprise that Dreamworks had a 3rd feature length film based on the loveable orge and everyone’s favorite donkey.
Coinciding with the theatrical release of Shrek the Third comes a game by the same name headed to all the major gaming platforms. In past years, a multi-platform release really meant a game was ported between the major systems with little to no difference. With consoles like the Wii and the DS having very unique controller options available to them, developers are actually tailoring these multi release games to take advantage of these unique features. Activision has done just that with Shrek the Third.
The DS version of Shrek the Third is a far cry different from its console brethren. Instead of a story mode, multiplayer mode, and minigames you get Story Mode and wireless Co-Op with up to 2 other gamers. In addition to that, the fundamental gameplay is totally different and refreshing.
The story in this version of the game is ever so slightly different than the others. In this game, Shrek, Artie, Donkey, and Puss in Boots have been shipwrecked in the middle of nowhere while Prince Charming has taken over the castle. Their only hope is to locate Merlin, an old wizard, which is not as simple as it seems. With Donkey accidentally turned into a talking parfait, and you know he loves his parfaits, our heroes must collect Golden Faries to undo the spell. At every corner, Charming’s minions are there to try and capture you and your friends.
From the get go, your party is comprised of Shrek, Puss in Boots (PiB), and Artie. Using the D-Pad, or the buttons if you are a leftie, you will navigate each level looking for the hidden Faries. Switching between characters is as simple as touching the screen with your stylus. Characters can be moved as a group, by clicking the screen to link them, or as individuals.
Attack moves are performed by tapping on enemies. Each character also has special moves that can be performed by drawing a line up, down, or at an angle. For example, PiB can slide under obstacles, Artie can throw his shield, and Shrek can break through walls and floors. These moves are necessary to progress through the levels. Check the manual for all the moves available to each character.
Another key element to the game is the use of Merlin’s magic wand. By pressing and holding the left or right shoulder buttons you enter “Spell Mode/Donkey Mode”, whose name is based on the fact that Donkey is helping out from Merlin’s house. In this mode, you can control certain elements of the game. Your magic abilities include removing the shields of enemies, raising magic platforms, and moving Artie along the water on his shield (which you do by blowing into the mic).
Despite the lackluster quality of its console counterparts, I am finding the DS version of Shrek the Third to be quite an enjoyable game. The control scheme is fun and quirky and the game lends itself very well to being played on the DS. My initial reaction was to let the problems of the console versions bleed over to my opinions of this version of the game, but in retrospect I think this version is actually the best of the bunch and deserves at least a chance.