Shrek is love and Shrek is life, but Shrek Super Slam, in this instance, amounts to a surprisingly deep fighting game that still draws fans to this day. Is it one of the best of all time? No. However, the developer Shaba Games alongside Crash 4 team Toys For Bob evidently put a lot of effort into what could have been a quick cash grab.
Shrek Super Slam plays a lot like Capcom’s Power Stone. Up to four players fight in a whacky interactable arena as items spawn all over. As you beat up your opponents, your meter gets higher and you’ll unleash a slam attack when it reaches its full capacity. Similar to Super Smash Bros’ final smash attacks, these slam finishers throw your opponents off the stage into destructible environments. The aim of the game is to get the most finishers than your foes. While the concept is simple, it’s well implemented as each finisher feels impactful as with each hit, they destroy a part of the map When you reach the end of a match, the once immaculate location is turned into a wasteland with broken bits and bobs strewn all over.
The combat system is surprisingly deep
Surprisingly, the combat of Shrek Super Slam is fairly deep for a movie license game. Each character has a list of easy to implement combos that can help you set up the slam finisher or can deal a decent amount of damage when input correctly. There’s also a block, a roll, a throw, air cancels that let you drop faster from the ground, and combo cancels. You can tell there’s a lot of inspiration from Nintendo’s crossover Super Smash Bros. series, and the developer Shaba Games did a great job of transferring those ideas over. While some animations and combos feel icky to control at points, Shrek Super Slam can make for a slamming time with three other players.
This gameplay style reflects the Shrek license perfectly. While, yes, we won’t see Shrek punching up Fiona (yikes) or Donkey in the movies anytime soon, the bonkers nature of the combat simulates the Dulac fight in the original movie. Shrek and Donkey tear up the knights with wrestling moves and the breakage of a large tank of beer in the competition space, creating a comedic action scene. The ogre and the cast of the film also have a laissez-faire attitude towards their environments in the flicks. One particular scene in the first film had Shrek and Fiona make blow-up balloons out of living animals, and once they were done with them, they just let them fly up in the air. Another instance has the newly married Fiona throw the mermaid Ariel, like a shotput into the water in Shrek 2. That same energy is carried through into Shrek Super Slam‘s combat and story campaign.
However, there are some disappointing factors to the gameplay system. First, the slam attacks are hard to avoid as they either last a ridiculously long time or they’re hard to avoid due to the large area of effect. Unless you’ve played this game for countless hours like those in this game’s competitive scene, the slam attack is close to a guaranteed hit. At this point, it just becomes a game of who gets the most meter first as the dodge and shield are next to powerless to these ultimate moves. In addition, Shrek Super Slam tends to repeat these slam moves for multiple characters. Both the Gingerbread Man and Fiona have a projectile slam attack that have subtle aesthetic changes from a candy cane to throwing stars. Donkey and Pinocchio also have similar charging attacks.
One of the most important elements of a fighting game is how it feels, and unfortunately, Shrek Super Slam isn’t the greatest most of the time. The radius of your punches and kicks have little range as you desperately try to land an attack. Each hit as well isn’t impactful enough thon e opponent to make you feel like you’re dealing damage and nailing the combo. The jumping is floaty, and the throwing feels awkward as some levels in the challenge mode force you to implement the move in a specific direction; the game is not that precise, leading to much frustration. What doesn’t help is the shaky frame rate that drops every once in a while during a hectic fight. There’s so much potential within Shrek’s fighting game foray, but it fails on almost every level with how it controls.
A humorous story mode
Shaba Games went the extra mile for a movie license game with the variety of modes that are available in Super Slam. It has a one hour story campaign that has the main cast of Shrek trying to tell a bedtime story to Donkey and Dragon’s kids. They all have imaginative stories that lend well to the fighting game concept. Shrek Super Slam shows its age in a charming way as many of the scenarios spoof old TV shows. One memorable instance is when the Gingerbread Man in some swagger clothing is showing off his house (obviously gingerbread) with adorned sweets and icing as the game spoofs Cribs. As a kid, I remember laughing at this scene as a garden gnome runs his car straight into his house, and the Gingerbread Man says “I’m going to knock you out.” The cutscenes give a great set up to each stage and reflect the over-the-top humor of the Shrek series. You’ll be chuckling a few times by how whacky it gets.
In addition to the relatively short campaign, there is a challenge mode that will unlock new characters, stages, and costumes for each character. However, this mode is where the game falters. The repetitive nature of the simple combat system draws its ugly head. Over and over again, you’ll face three to five match tournaments The mini-games help soothe that dull sensation, but there are frustrating situations in which three opponents are fighting against you as one team. For example, as Quasimodo (a new character for the game), you’re tasked to take out 25 ice sculptures of Shrek, but your main obstacle are three Gingerbread Men who keep grabbing you. How they swarm you and keep delaying as the time goes down gets very frustrating, and occasions like this do come up in the challenge mode.
the Stages live and breathe shrek in the best way
If you’re going to copy Super Smash Bros. in some form, then you’ll need the stages to back it up. Thankfully, this game delivers that in spades. It’s quite surprising how inventive the developers get. When you slam Quasimodo in the cathedral, he hits every bell to create a different recognizable song every time. Gepetto’s Workshop has a giant, looming, and creepy marionette looking over the fight. The thunderous weather in the background and the horror-style objects on the stage make it look straight from Frankenstein. Shaba Games could have picked locations from the movie like Shrek’s Swamp and call it a day, but it went the extra mile to make its own stamp on the Shrek franchise. Also, just a note. There’s a super catchy tune in the Fat Boy stage that won’t leave your head for the rest of the day.
Shrek Super Slam is a decent party game that will give you a few hours of entertainment, especially with friends. Underneath its shoddy controls lies an entertaining concept as characters from the franchise beat the heck out of each other in comedic fashion. The stages are well made, the gameplay systems are surprisingly deep, and the story mode is a decent distraction. It just needed more polish with its controls and better AI for its challenge mode. The search continues for the best movie game as Shrek Super Slam is no where near close.