How’s this for an award-winning premise for a game? Shrek and The Gingerbread Man seeing who can hold their breath the longest… Donkey showing up with the Fairy Godmother’s magic wand… Donkey waving the wand around and – you guessed it – summoning up a swamp beast, a Cinderella-esque kart and a giant cupcake on wheels. Just the kind of respectful swansong the poor old GameCube deserves for its final game.
Shrek: Smash n’ Crash Racing features a whopping line-up of four film characters you pick from – Shrek, The Gingerbread Man, Fiona and Eddie Murphy – with eight more waiting for anyone who has the patience to unlock them. Races are as generic as they come – but with two important changes. One: none of Mario Kart ’s gratifying powersliding. Who needs that? Two: magical purple sparkles on the track that instantly and unavoidably send your kart catapulting in the air. Hit these at any other angle than head-on, and you’ll fly at roughly 134 degrees away from where you want to go – or land in an inescapable pit. It’s liquid gameplay.
Smash n’ Crash Racing also has the requisite speed boosts – these actually add a little shiver of excitement, as Shrek and co. end up pelting along the ceiling of roller-coaster loops and along the walls of narrow tunnels. But the pitifully dull track designs work hard to wipe any half-smiles off faces. The “weapons” are typified by the inexplicable Swamp Gas – a smokescreen that your AI opponents will happily drive through without batting an eyelid.