Shrek 2 Top Trumps is a game consisting of 30 cards. Each card relates to a character from the 2004 animated film and contains a photograph of that character plus a short piece of information about them. The cards contain a set of data and values in keeping with the spirit of the movie. The six values are gorgeousness, weight, brains, odour, strength and courage. This game is suitable for any number of players.
All the cards are dealt out and each player holds their cards so they can see just the top card. The first player chooses a value, for example 'Strength 400'. Each of the other players must then read out the corresponding value from their top card. The player with the highest value wins all the other cards in that round and places them at the bottom of his/her pile. That player then chooses the next value. If at any time two cards share the same value, another round can be played to decide who wins the cards. The winner is the player who has all the cards at the end.
This game is suitable for children from around age 6 and upwards. It is not a complicated game to grasp and does not require a great amount of skill, although it provides an opportunity for youngsters to study and compare numerical data and to a certain extent it tests memory skills, as players try to recall which cards have the highest scores in particular categories. There is a limited amount of reading involved, but the information printed on the cards encourages young readers to collect the different snippets of trivia about their favourite characters.
The cards are quite sturdy. We have had ours several years and played the game fairly frequently, but the cards have not become bent, torn or in any way damaged. They come in a neat little plastic container, which makes them portable. They take up very little space and are ideal for taking on car journeys or on holiday. It is certainly an advantage that there is no limit to the number of people who can join in with this game, so nobody has to feel left out, unlike with certain board games.
One of the things we like about this game is that there is a good balance between major and minor characters. In a film like Shrek, the minor characters really add to the fairy tale atmosphere and humour, which makes them as popular as the more important characters. We also like the fact that in this set there is a card for both Shrek and Handsome Shrek, for Princess Fiona and Ogress Fiona and for Donkey and Donkey Noble Steed. This means that children can contrast the scores and reflect on the changes experienced by the characters at different stages of the film. They can see how Shrek and Fiona's gorgeousness score increases but their brains and courage scores remain the same - sending out the clear moral message that the kind of person you are is nothing to do with what you look like.
Generally speaking, the cards stay loyal to the original characterisations from the film, but some of the values seem a bit inaccurate. The problem with having a gorgeousness category is that it is so subjective. Prince Charming scores highly for gorgeousness but my children found him quite revolting! They were also surprised that Puss in Boots didn't score higher for gorgeousness, given that he was a very cute cat and voiced by Antonio Banderas. In fact even Captain Hook scores more for gorgeousness than Puss in Boots does. My children also felt that Puss in Boots deserved a much higher courage score because of his swashbuckling antics throughout the film. Ogress Fiona scores zero for gorgeousness, which seems a little mean. As my daughter put it, surely she was reasonably pretty by ogre standards? Were the Three Little Pigs and the Tax Collector really better looking than her and deserving of a higher score? Gorgeousness is a category that can provoke a fair bit of disagreement amongst the players because of its subjective nature. That ties in with the whole message of the film, however, that gorgeousness is in the eye of the beholder and that trying to have hard and fast rules about what it comprises is just asking for trouble.
Odour seems an odd choice for a category. Of course, we all know that ogres are supposed to be stinky, but it isn't an easy value to apply to other characters. The Magic Mirror, for instance, scores 1 for odour. How can a mirror have an odour? My kids thought it was strange how Handsome Shrek's odour score had reduced considerably from that of Shrek. Surely Shrek's old hygiene habits wouldn't have changed so quickly! My children quibbled with the weight category too, pointing out that surely a dragon ought to be heavier than a giant gingerbread man, which isn't the case here. It does seem strange to include both strength and weight as values, because some characters are both heavy and physically strong (such as Dragon, Giant Gingerbread Man, Papa Bear, etc) It might have been more interesting to have had either weight or strength, instead of both, and added another value for greater variety.
Despite some disagreements over the correct scores allocated to particular characters, this is an enjoyable game to play and it brings back memories of a great movie. In addition to playing by the conventional rules, these cards can be enjoyed in other ways. Sometimes my children like to play a variation on the game where lowest value wins, which can be fun as it allows some of the less powerful cards, like Pinocchio or Red Riding Hood to have a bigger part of the action.
Children can use the cards for story-telling activities and memory games. Trying to divide the entire pack into linked pairs or sets of three can be a challenging and a fun way to test your knowledge of the Shrek film as you have to make connections between different characters. Sorting into sets and learning to categorise information is a useful mathematical activity for young children. We have played a homemade version of 'Hedbanz' with these cards, where each player puts a card in their head band (in our case a pair of tights wrapped round your head!) and has to guess who they are by asking questions of the other players. There are lots of possibilities for children to play with this set of cards.
This game can be obtained from sellers at Amazon for the bargain price of £0.01.