Shrek: Reekin' Havoc Review

In fairy tales and movies, you just can't keep a bad man down.  In the case of Shrek: Reekin Havoc the bad man is Lord Farquaad, who despite being thoroughly dead continues to cause trouble for Shrek and friends.  His ghost is now making its way across the land and is possessing famous fairy tale characters and causing them to do great harm.  For instance, the people of Candyland are literally being eaten out of house and home by rats called up from the sewers by a possessed Pied Piper.  It is up to our heroes Fiona and Shrek to put an end to the pandemonium by literally beating the ghost out of each possessed character and smashing any of Farquaad's minions standing in their way.

Shrek Reekin Havoc is a classic side-scrolling platform game.  As Shrek or Fiona you must fight and jump your way through the game's six levels, defeat a mini-boss midway through the level, and then confront the level's boss in the form of a possessed fairy tale character.  Both Shrek and Fiona have basic punch attacks, a few jump attack type combos, and a special power attack.  One or two hits will dispatch most enemies - although enemies can be imaginative, such as the little walking and cannon-firing eggs sent forth by Humpty Dumpty, they won't give you too much trouble.  Defeating enemies causes them to drop coins, health-restoring hearts, or power-ups for your power meter.  The power meter is used to energize your power attack, which both makes you invulnerable and gives you a powerful attack for a short period of time.

The possessed fairy tale character bosses provide a lot more challenge than the standard enemies, and it is in fighting them that you'll lose most of your lives.  As is typical of platform games they each of a pattern of attacks, but recognizing the pattern will not guarantee instant success.  There aren't usually any safe spots or easy shots, so you'll need to keep moving and fighting during the entire battle while making minimal mistakes to win.  If you die and must face the boss again, you start out with an empty power meter making the next try all that more difficult.  The increased challenge of the boss fights will be appreciated by platform gamers, but little kids just looking to play as Shrek may find it frustrating.

The levels all look great at first, with plenty of imaginative touches and atmosphere.  Unfortunately the care that went into the look of the levels did not also go into their layout and design. There is a lot of repetition in the levels, giving you a sense of deja vu as you make your way through one similar looking stretch after another.  Your movement through the levels is strictly 2D, with occasional points at which you can press the up or down arrow to transition to another similar looking stretch of the level.  These branch points are used as a way to make the levels appear less linear than they actually are and to make you feel that you are actually working to find the end level boss.  While there are some dead-end paths, there aren't very many of them so you won't feel like you're making your way through a maze.  The levels are also nearly devoid of puzzles and secrets. You'll encounter an occasional "push the rock so that you can reach the ledge" type of puzzle, but that's about it for the game's puzzle factor.  The end result of all this is that you have nice looking levels that are more interesting to look at when you start out, but quickly become repetitive.