In a time when bullying is said to be at crisis levels in UK schools, and where people are mercilessly abused just for being a bit different, it’s refreshing to see that videogames are producing role models that kids can aspire to.
Like Pinocchio for instance: a poor puppet with sinus problems who wants to be a real boy, but is constantly getting jip from a Black Knight. Until one day when he’s had enough and anger surges through his timber frame – and he beats the Dark Knight senseless with a large ham! That’s how you deal with a bully.
Now, life lessons apart, what you get with Super Slam is a beat-‘em-up using the template defined by Power Stone all those years back, but with 20 characters from the Shrek films. Sounds like a lazy, licensed rip off, but it’s actually very playable and very, very funny.
Rather than being a classic beat-’em-up, Super Slam allows the characters to bounce around the arena, picking up weapons, power-ups or just pieces of the scenery to chuck at each other. If that doesn’t work they can just pile in and slug it out toe-to-toe. It’s not a particularly complicated set-up but it’s tightly put together, so all the moves are responsive and it’s never frustrating to play. After that it’s all about the Shrek magic.
The Shrek universe is full of really daft characters that never fail to entertain – the Gingerbread Man, Pinnochio, the Gnomes – and just watching them beat the crap out of each other is very amusing, mainly as they all seem to take it so seriously. Also, the special moves are superb, from Puss’s eerie hypnotic giant cat face to Shrek’s apocalyptic fart.
Unfortunately the Story mode, with its great cut scenes, is ridiculously short, but there’s a 45 level Mega Challenge mode that’s strangely inventive. For instance, in one level you’re asked to keep a big Pinnochio head away from the wooden boy for 25 seconds. Weird.
While each Tekken and Virtua Fighter become less memorable, it’s the licensed beat-‘em-ups that seem more exciting – such as this and Dragon Ball Z. Now we’re not suggesting that Shrek is a more sophisticated game, but perhaps taking a bit more time on creating characters you care about might pay dividends.
Well, game developers better wise up or they’ll be getting a candy cane right where it hurts.