Shrek: Reeking Havoc
The Shrek games for the GBA keep on comin’. One of the things I was most worried about when the little console first came out was that too many of the games would be licensed material, leaving the innovative stuff out of the equation. For the most part my fears were unfounded. Sure there are a lot of licensed games out there but some of them ended up being pretty decent, at least for a train trip or two. Shrek: Reekin Havoc is no classic by any stretch of the imagination. But it is fun at times and worth a gander if you can get a good deal.
S:RH is a side scroller where you play the part of Shrek or Princess Fiona (in her comely human form, of course). There are six reasonably sized levels to work your way through. In Reekin, this means a lot of fighting and wandering and puzzle-solving and wandering and wandering. The game’s story takes place after the film we know and love. Lord Farquaad has returned to Fairy Land as a ghost and, like any bad guy worth his salt, is still trying to rule all he surveys. With the help of his fellow ghosts and mean fairy tale characters all the land is in chaos. Farquaad has taken possession of some of fairy tale stars (Pinocchio and Humpty Dumpty as examples) and you need to rescue the hostages at the end of each level. That’s the premise behind the design of the entire game.
Good enough. But the six levels in the game are HUGE -- and not in a good way. They seem to go on forever at times with little rhyme or reason. Sure, the settings are pretty and all but c’mon do I really need to wander into every alley to make sure I didn’t miss something? Two details that almost throw some variety into the game are some alternate tasks and a few weak puzzles. These just come off as feeling slapped on. Having said that it takes between two and three hours to finish Reekin; another sign that there just wasn’t much of an attempt to make this a deep game. Nice backgrounds with endless bad guys and some puzzle-jumping do not a good game make. They make for an okay kiddie game I suppose, but the Shrek license isn’t just for kiddies.Yet all is not rotten in the land of myth. I’m just being a Big Bad Wolf©. There are some aspects of the game that deserve some praise. First off, Reekin has a solid combat engine. Fiona and Shrek can be a blast to play in combat, at least for the first couple of levels (then it just starts to get repetitive). One of my favorite touches is when you defeat Farquaad’s cronies you get either treasure or “Rage Points”. Rage Points add up until you push the R trigger which makes you invincible for a spell. It’s one of those fun moments where you just hit everything in sight for the fun of it, just like my teenage years.
Then there are the visuals. The graphics are fun with cartoony versions of the characters from the movie, big heads and all. Seeing little munchkins running around with huge craniums makes the characters easy to see on the small screen and, in some perverse way, makes the fights more satisfying. The backgrounds are well done and reminiscent of the Hollywood effort as well as the Rayman GBA series, which is high praise in my book. Gingerbread houses, thick forest, it’s all here and it’s done well.
The music is quite good too. Catchy tunes are really well done and add to the gameplay. Especially if you play your GBA with powered speakers. The sound effects are also well done. Kudos to the developer for getting it right.
Reekin is not a bomb. But it could have been much better with a little more depth in the level design. If you’re going to make a licensed game you have to give people something to sink their teeth into (imagine a Star Wars game with the Advance Wars game system!) Shrek: Reekin Chaos has good bones but needed a little more care to appeal to most of us gamers. As it stands, you should buy it for a kid cousin or wait for it to drop into the bargain bin.
A perfectly decent side-scrolling fighting adventurer with a licensed character. But add it to all the other licensed games out there and you don't have too much to recommend it past the clever visuals and decent but repetitive fighting.
Rating: 6.8 Mediocre
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Ben Zackheim was born Ben Zackheim sometime before 1980 and after 1960 which characterizes him not at all. He's a writer of reviews, comics and screenplays, but aren't we all? Luxuries like food and shoes mean nothing to him. He's married to the most beautiful woman in the world, Robin, who reads all his reviews before he sends them in and says "Are you really going to write that for the public to read?" But I assure her no one reads my reviews anyway, only Charlie's, so it's kind of like a tree in the forest (without the cute little fuzzy things who smell their own poop - wait, then again there is Charlie...) She's a cross between Gillian Anderson and Hillary Clinton, which is a monster I'd love to play in Monster Rancher Advance 2. Photos are available upon request for a small fee. I'm currently writing this bio but have no plans beyond that. View Profile