By Gareth Von Kallenbach and Genevieve Mc Bride
Skewed & Reviewed thanks Donna Woo, Associate Producer at Activision Publishing, Inc.’s for answering a few questions about Shrek Forever After, due out May 18 on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PC and Nintendo DS.
What is the background and setting for the game and how closely does it follow the events of the film?
Matching the movie, the Shrek Forever After video game story starts with Shrek signing a pact with the smooth-talking dealmaker, Rumpelstiltskin. Shrek suddenly finds himself in a twisted, alternate version of Far Far Away, where ogres are hunted, Rumpelstiltskin is king, and Shrek and Fiona have never met. Now it’s up to Shrek (with the help of Fiona, Donkey, and Puss In Boots) to undo all he’s done in the hopes of saving his friends, restoring his world and reclaiming his one True Love. The friends must work cooperatively to solve challenging puzzles and battle new enemies while traveling between Shrek’s normal world and his alternate reality with the ultimate goal of conquering the crafty Rumpelstiltskin.
What are some of the locales and missions gamers will see in the game?
Players will have a chance to play and relive the adventures they will see in the upcoming film and past Shrek films, as well as brand new adventures created specifically for the game. Players will venture through familiar areas such as the Swamp and Dragon’s Keep, environments from the upcoming film such as Ogre Camp and Rumpelstiltskin’s Palace, as well as all-new settings created just for the game.
What have been some of the biggest challenges and rewards in crafting the game?
The biggest challenge is recreating what is loved about the film and capturing the characters’ personalities in a game with compelling gameplay. The most rewarding thing has been seeing the game come together after everyone’s hard work. Another plus has been watching the kids have fun while they play together to solve puzzles and defeat enemies with their friends!
What sort of enemies and heroes will players face and will there be boss battles?
While traveling the lands of Far Far Away, players will encounter a wide variety of enemies from witches, Merry Men, evil trees, pirates, angry villagers, knights and exploding pumpkins. Players will also encounter boss battles, where they will face off with some powerful and well-known characters from the Shrek universe, eventually confronting Rumpelstiltskin himself.
How do non-playing characters figure in the game?
The game will have both friendly and enemy NPCs. The friendly NPCs in the game offer all kinds of help. The Three Little Pigs give the player tutorials. Upgrades and more advanced skills can be purchased from Cookie the ogre in her store in Ogre Camp. The Three Blind Mice offer tips and hints for the puzzles… for a small fee! Players may also be surprised by seeing other loved Fairy Tale Creatures from the Shrek world that show up throughout the game to give side missions.
Will any of the films stars be providing voices in the game?
We are ecstatic to have Walt Dohrn reprise his movie role as Rumpelstiltskin in the game. No other actor would be able to capture the unique and eccentric personality of what could possibly be the greatest Shrek villian. Another feature film star you’ll hear in the game is Craig Robinson, who voices Cookie, a new Ogre character introduced in the upcoming movie. Also, many of the Fairy Tale Creatures from the feature film lend their voices to the game. Among these voices you’ll recognize loveable characters such as Pinocchio, Gingy, the Three Little Pigs, the Three Blind Mice, and the Magic Mirror.
What sort of missions will players have and is there a co-op mode?
Gameplay is a fun mix of exploration, combat, and puzzling. Players can journey through the game in single player, or have up to 3 of their friends join in for 4-player drop-in/drop-out co-op. In addition to Shrek, gamers will be able to play as the alternate reality versions of their favorite characters – Fiona, Puss In Boots, and Donkey – as seen in the upcoming film. Each character has its own special skills and abilities.
What are some of the enemies in games and their abilities?
The game has a variety of enemy types. Each enemy has his own attacks, and the player will have to figure out which character’s moves are most effective. Power-ups open up another level of attack options, as each character will have their own unique combat moves. New and upgraded powerups are available to the player through Cookie’s store in the Ogre Camp. As the player progresses further into the game, he will be able to return to the store and see what new items have unlocked for purchase.
How do players gain new skills and abilities in the game?
Each playable character has its own personalized skills and abilities. As players advance through the game, they unlock more powerful skills. New upgrades and power-ups become available in Cookie’s store in the Ogre Camp. Purchasing power-ups in the store make them available as pick-ups in combat gameplay. These power-ups allow the characters to perform new cool and powerful moves. Upgrading these power-ups gives the characters more muscle against even the toughest enemies.
How do you balance action, story, and puzzle solving in a game like this and is there a temptation to prioritize one over the other?
In creating the game, we worked to ensure that the player was spending as much time puzzling as in combat. A great support cast of Fairy Tale Creatures provide players with a variety of side quests and mini games. All the characters need to help solve the puzzles – using their unique abilities to do so. To ensure that these puzzles were fun and on target, we held focus test sessions, inviting kids to play the game and allowing the team a chance to see kids actually play the game and hear their valuable feedback on the puzzles they encountered. This feedback was one of the most helpful resources in improving the gameplay.
While the game play balance is important, it is also important to have strong story to drive the players through the game. The team has worked hard to create an interesting and entertaining story for the game that follows similarly to that of the film plot, while still offering a new and exciting experience for fans who have watched the movie.