Shrek the Third for the Nintendo DS isn't an action adventure game in the traditional sense. Instead of jumping between platforms and hacking away at enemies with one character, you have to jockey control between three different characters and put their individual skills to use to help all three characters reach the exit at the end of each level. Alternatively, you can convince two of your friends to buy the game and play through it with each of you controlling one character. The levels tend to recycle the same enemies and obstacles, but managing the characters as if they were pieces in a puzzle game is strangely pleasant. The game also displays some attractive 3D graphics and makes good use of the system's touch screen and microphone features.
Characters can move as a group, but you'll usually have to split them up to put their individual abilities to use.
Each level is basically a giant puzzle that you gradually guide the characters through. As you walk along, you'll encounter doors that need to be unlocked, rickety elevators that need to be activated, and any number of switches and levers placed in spots that only a specific character can reach. You'll also run across knights, witches, demonic trees, and other monsters that you can dispatch using any of the characters' attacks. Shrek can smash through walls and floors, Puss can jump and crawl, and Artie can throw his shield at switches or use it to float across rivers. Meanwhile, Donkey is holed up in Merlin's shack watching the action unfold through a crystal ball. He contributes help from afar in the form of magic that you can call on to disarm enemies and levitate objects. The general idea is to keep your life and magic meters from draining completely as you guide the individual characters past their intended obstacles and through the different parts of the level, joining together as a group only until the next fork splits the characters up or when you eventually bring everyone to the exit.
Movement is handled with the directional pad or buttons. All other actions are initiated by interacting with the touch screen or blowing into the microphone. You can target enemies on the lower screen simply by tapping them, control the angle of Puss' jumps and Artie's shield tosses by flicking the stylus across the touch screen, and use Donkey's wind spell to attack airborne enemies or propel Artie across the water by blowing into the microphone. The game will occasionally misinterpret your input, but not so frequently that you'd want to trade the flexibility the touch screen and microphone give you for button-based controls that wouldn't give you as much control over the characters' abilities.