Publisher: TDK Mediactive
Release Date: July 30, 2003
Shrek: Reekin’ Havoc is a straightforward side-scrolling platformer that adamant fans of the source material will easily enjoy. But it’s also a very repetitive uninspired experience that fans of the genre can easily and justifiably scoff at in favor of other, more original and unlicensed GBA platformers. Which camp you belong to is more than likely dependant on age.
The story in Reekin’ Havoc is among the more creative yarns. Lord Farquaad, after being defeated in the original movie, has come back to haunt and hypnotize the inhabitants of Fairytale land. The age-old stories that we all grew up with are now completely off-kilter and it’s up to Shrek and Fiona to set things right. Controlling these two characters you’ll be tasked to put an end to Pinocchio’s infernal spear-like nose, free the three little pigs from a Big Bad Wolf hostage situation, and stop the plague of rats in Gingerbread town, among other wild and crazy scenarios. There are six unique worlds to explore in Reekin’ Havoc. Unfortunately, as creative as the storyline is it’s quite disappointing that the only way to deal with them is with your feet and fists, slugging away at repetitive enemies with generic combos and mundane combat dynamics.
To put it simply, Shrek: Reekin’ Havoc is a standard issue beat-em-up with lots of repetitive exploration elements that get very old very quickly. The number of attacks at Shrek and Fiona’s disposal are quite limited. A few different combat combos can be achieved by tapping different combinations of the A and B buttons. The enemies are easily taken care of with only a couple hits. Occasionally enemies will leave behind items when defeated such as health units, rage items, or money. The rage items, which take the form of leaves, will give Shrek or Fiona an addition rage unit and once their rage meter is full you can hit the R trigger to activate a powerful ogre state.
One nice touch to the otherwise ho-hum experience is the addition of environmental weapons, though this is far less interesting than it sounds. You’ll sometimes come across a branch or other item that can be picked up and swung as an alternative to using your standard assortment of punches and kicks to dispose of baddies. Each world in the game can be traversed backwards and forwards, and there are many paths and doors that lead to different areas. The problem is that the levels pretty much look the same regardless of location. You’ll need to backtrack frequently and memorize the tiny differences in each area to know where you’re going or where you’ve been.
To put it bluntly, this leads to frustration. You’ll spend far too much time wandering around the multi-pathed worlds, fighting off the same enemies over and over again until the illogical lay of the land is committed to memory – or, by pure happenstance, you fumble upon the three hostages that must be rescued before you are able to fight the world’s boss. The game could probably be beaten in under an hour if you knew exactly which paths to take through the game’s mazelike corridors of a level. It’s just too obvious the game’s just being drawn out simply for the sake of emulating a longer lifespan.
Once you make it to a boss the action does heat up somewhat. You’ll need to memorize their patterns and act accordingly. This isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do since their patterns are very basic but it is interesting to see characters like Pinocchio extend his phallic-ey nose in an attempt to lance your character.
Once you complete the game there isn’t anything more to see. You can go back to previous levels and try to best your previous time and rating but that’s about it. It would have been nice see some additional incentive to playing the game outside of its fundamental side-scrolling mechanic. A multiplayer mode, bonus stages, mini-games, just anything at all really would have helped the game’s bleak chance at being anything more than a novelty children’s toy.
Visually, Shrek: Reekin’ Havoc is sharp and colorful and upon first impressions may indicate you’d be in for quite a graphical treat. Upon further examination, however, the subject shows signs of less and less attractive characters and environments with each viewing’s revolution. Again, the bosses are the exception as they seemed to receive the most attention in terms of detail and animation. Had the levels in the game been more interspersed and brief the fairy tale inspired visages would have been considerably more interesting. The soundtrack is lighthearted and fits the whimsical motif of the source material nicely, but like everything else in the game they tend to be annoyingly repetitive.
Overall, Shrek: Reekin’ Havoc should offer up enough simple running and jumping and punching and kicking to satisfy those younger gamers out there who want nothing more than to hopelessly rekindle the experience of watching the film on their GBA, but that’s not who you are and that’s not who I am, so I feel confident in saying you’ll want to steer clear. The reputation of licensed Shrek games isn’t exactly the fairest comparison in all the land, but it’s a pretty good indication of what to expect from Reekin’ Havoc.