Shrek: Ogres and Dronkeys (DS) Review
Shrek: Ogres and Dronkeys falls into an ever-growing genre in todays gaming market; that of the non-game. While it may be a paradox in itself, the name refers to simulation titles that dont fit the mould of what would be classed as your typical game; the likes of Nintendogs, Animal Crossing and The Sims are all included under this banner. Despite overwhelming commercial success they prove to be a point of contention among gamers as a love or hate affair. As a player who actually enjoyed Nintendogs, I have no prejudice against the genre, but this game captures everything stereotypically negative about this type of title and somehow squeezes it into a single Nintendo DS game card. Make no mistake, Shrek: Ogres and Dronkeys is a cash-in title of the worst kind.
The principle of the game is simple. As the player you are given the role of babysitting two of the young ogres or dronkeys. Perhaps the first thing I should mention is that despite there being a selection of 8 different children, (3 ogres and 5 dronkeys) there is no noticeable difference between the characters in either the gameplay or visuals. At any rate, youll find yourself starting out at Shreks humble abode in a small room with all the utensils you need to take care of the babies. A bottle, brush and several other items can simply be dragged from the shelf using the stylus and used by rubbing the screen in a specific motion. However, the main crux of your role as a baby sitter is to get the babies to perform specific activities with certain items and toys in order to earn points. Such an activity might be to throw a ball, eat a certain food or pick up a certain item. Accumulated points can be used to purchase new items and toys from the shop and as your total number of items increases, so does the potential for new activities using items in combinations.
Just sit back
It actually sounds like a concept that could possibly be quite fun, especially with the large selection of items that has been included in the game. Unfortunately, its an absolute bore due to the way the whole idea has been executed. The player can select which items to bring out of the chest and into the playroom, but thats about as far as the level of interaction goes. From here onwards the babies will simply do as they wish. Whether they perform the activity you want or not seems entirely random and it is the exception rather than the rule that you are able to use any sorts of control to influence them. I soon found myself in an endless cycle of thrusting items at the children, then sitting back and hoping theyd do what I wanted them to. This is what potentially angers me the most about the game. The involvement of the player is seemingly brushed aside as though the developers thought they’d do you a favour by making the game less about playing and more about waiting.
The few activities that you can actually influence with the touch screen can be used in exploring the outside environment of the house. Item pickups are littered around the area, some of which may be out of reach without a specific technique. Collecting them will result in a character showing up with a new mini-game for you to play. Again its a rather solid concept, yet exploring the outside world isn’t wihtout it’s own problems. For a start, travelling around the area is incredibly slow paced and is clearly a rather obvious ploy to make the tiny environment available to explore seem larger. After finally collecting enough snails and whatnot the mini-games really dont constitute much of a reward. Lacking imagination at the best of times and a complete utter bore at the worst, what should be a nice break from the main game becomes another chore in itself. The bowling mini game is also extremely buggy due to a rushed release.
To widen the scope of the game a little several more areas from the Shrek universe become available as you progress, including the gingerbread mans candy cottage and the dragons castle. However, apart from a change of scenery and a different offering of mini-games they dont really make any sort of exciting contribution. However it is nice to be able to visit some of the other locales from Shrek’s world.
Just like the movies
Shrek: Ogres and Dronkeys bears a lot of resemblance to the latest movie in terms of its visual style. While there isnt anything that really stands out on the cutting edge of graphical design, the game is sure to please fans of the Shrek films with its familiar look. Character models are smooth and well presented, plus the environments are nice and colourful. Concerning sound and music there are a few nice tunes in the game, some of which have their origins on the big screen. All in all, the presentation is appealing to its target audience the franchise has made a relatively successful transition to your DS game screen.
Its no Nintendogs
As the non-game simulation market becomes increasingly larger it seems many developers and publishers want in on the action. Inevitably this leads to games like Shrek: Ogres and Dronkeys, cheap and rushed rip-offs of more popular works that rely heavily on their licensing to sell. The dismal amount of player interaction doesn’t help in putting the game ahead of the competition as you simply sit back and wait for it to essentially complete itself. Shrek fan or not, this game utterly pales in comparison to the Nintendogs and Sims franchises. Its not often that I will actually review a game that I have to force myself to play, but Shrek: Ogres and Dronkeys is one of those special few. However it has to be pointed out that younger players will probably get a lot more enjoyment out of the game, if only for the fact that its simplistic nature makes it an easy game to play.
To be blunt though, theres a whole trove of titles out there that each make a great alternative purchase to this game and with the Nintendo DS platform now being saturated with games from this genre it only makes sense to pick the best and dump the rest, with Shrek: Ogres and Dronkeys definitely being the latter. The charm of the world of Shrek certainly goes a long way, but even so, it lacks the sort of uniqueness to set it apart as anything but Nintendogs with the Shrek license slapped over the top.