Sizzling summer box office numbers, record-breaking video and DVD sales, and an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film; there’s no arguing Shrek’s immense popularity. It’s no surprise TDK Mediactive jumped at the opportunity to secure the video game rights to Shrek, but what is a shock is how poorly they’ve used the license thus far. Shrek for the Xbox was a visual marvel, but behind the beautiful presentation laid a platform game that was too difficult for kids and not engaging enough for adults. It doesn’t get much better in Shrek Swamp Kart Speedway for the Game Boy Advance. In fact, it gets worse, much worse.
Developed by Prolific Publishing, Shrek Swamp Kart Speedway is a racing game in the mold of Mario Kart. It features twelve characters from the film, eight playable racers and four bosses to defeat and unlock. Players choose their favorite character and race their respective kart around sixteen fairytale racetracks en route to winning the Dragon’s treasure. All the ingredients for a thrilling racing recipe are certainly present, but the result is a bit of a disaster.
Visually, Shrek Swamp Kart Speedway is fuzzy and looks dated. The characters are poorly rendered and as a result, you won’t recognize any of them during the actual race. There are sixteen tracks to race around but aside from the various themes, there’s nothing to distinguish one course from another; they’re all practically identical in design. Power-ups are represented by tiny sprites that are difficult to make out and if that wasn’t enough, Shrek Swamp Kart Speedway is incredibly choppy for a game with such low visual quality; the animation is twitchy and awkward.
The audio department isn’t much better. The sound effects are bland, the voice samples are raspy and the music is extremely repetitive. It’s apparent the developers cut corners in the making of this game, especially in terms of presentation. Shrek Swamp Kart Speedway neither looks nor sounds anything like it’s splendid motion picture counterpart.
The aforementioned drawbacks lend to a rough racing experience in Shrek Swamp Kart Speedway and poor collision detection certainly doesn’t help matters much. You can expect your kart to get caught on invisible walls, spill on obstacles you clearly avoided and come to a dead halt when you run into other racers, whether you’re on the giving or receiving end. The game also lacks polish. When you win a race, there’s no victory celebration, and the game doesn’t even keep track of your best race times. Shrek Swamp Kart Speedway supports multiplayer via a link cable but other than that, the replay value is relatively absent.
I went into Shrek Swamp Kart Speedway expecting a fun, over-the-top kart racer. What I encountered was a wreck. From the graphics to the sound to the gameplay, every element of this game is lacking considerably. Having just reviewed Mortal Kombat Advance, I didn’t think a Game Boy Advance title could get much worse, but Shrek Swamp Kart Speedway comes in a close second.