Despicable Me: Minion Rush is the latest game tie-in from acclaimed mobile developer Gameloft. In this endless runner you take the role of one of Gru’s Minions who is aiming to be crowned the Minion of the Year. In order to reach this lofty goal you must run as far as you can, collecting bananas and defeating your colleges in the process. The game captures a lot of the charm of the film series, but offers nothing new to the endless-runner genre.
Gameloft worked with the film’s production company; Illumination Entertainment to provide a story that would not only fit in with the Despicable Me universe, but also capture the feel, humour and heart of the series and the lovable, yet hopeless Minions. For what its work, this is pulled off nicely, and even comes with an opening cinematic to introduce you to the game.
The collaboration with Illumination has allowed for the chaotic feel of the Minions to be captured perfectly. There are also a few eEaster Eggs for fans of the series, that appear as nothing more than gameplay elements unless you have seen the films (and in some instances the animated shorts). One of these is the fact that the primary form of currency in the game is Bananas, which as shown in “Despicable Me: Banana” is a food that the Minions love above almost all others, and would fight each other tooth and nail to have. These little nods to the fans are definitely are a welcome addition and show the care that Gameloft and Illumination have put into the title.
Despicable Me: Minion Rush is an endless runner. The game plays almost identically to Subway Surfers, and sadly doesn’t add much to this formula aside from one or two truly distinct powerups. Your Minion runs through a “three lane” path, and you can swipe each direction to make them move into the lanes and avoid some obstacles, while sliding under and leaping over others.
There are pickups you can collect which help you in various ways from automatically collecting bananas, through to Gru’s infamous freeze-ray which nullifies all obstacles for a short time. These all feel like standard fare for this type of game though, and even though they are all decidedly Descpiable Me-ish, aside from the Giant Minion or the Fluffy Unicorn (It’s so fluffy! I’m gonna die!) they don’t feel fresh or new.
In this game, your Minion runs through two different and distinct areas. These areas are Gru’s Lab and the Residential Area. Both offer slightly different obstacles and ways to avoid them. They each play just differently enough to not feel like simple re-skins. In addition, the game also offers segments where the camera angle can change, and you go from a third-person view to a side-scrolling one. I have always found that endless runner games can sometimes grow monotonous, but the two areas and alternating camera angles do enough to break it up.
Each of the game’s two areas has its own boss encounter. Gru’s Lab has you facing off against Vector from the original film, while the Residential Area introduces us to Meena, who was designed specifically for this game, yet still feels like she belongs in the Despicable Me universe (I actually had to stop and check that I hadn’t missed an animated short that introduced her). The boss encounters have you dodging robots large robots, while flicking smaller ones back at their masters.
The game occasionally suffers from frame-rate issues and noticeable slowdown. In a game like this, where staying alive as long as possible is the primary goal, having a random slowdown can really detract from the enjoyment.
Like most games of its type, Despicable Me offers goals to be accomplished in order to level up your character. These work well in theory but I reached a point relatively early on, where all three of my available goals required friends to also be playing Minion Rush. Since I currently don’t know anyone else playing the game, my Minion’s level up progress was completely halted unless I paid to skip the objective with tokens.
Speaking of the Tokens, Minion Rush has a decidedly “pay to win” feel. There are two types of currency in the game; bananas and tokens. Bananas are readily available through the levels, but tokens are much, much rarer. Not only are they rarer, but three of the game’s unlockable Minions require them. You need 9500 tokens to unlock the available costumes, and you only start the game with 50 (100 if you connect to facebook). In addition, Tokens are used to revive yourself should you fail a level, so if you don’t have a steady supply and you make a stupid mistake it is game over for you. It is a tried and true system on the app store to operate this way, however many games give you their currency just often enough that you don’t feel like you are being forced to buy them. Minion Rush doesn’t offer this amnesty.
To end the gameplay section on a positive note, is also a little Gift Code password feature included in this game which allows you to unlock some bonuses for the game. As a bonus to our readers, I have gone through all the possible combinations to find the unlockables. In the picture below you will see the five different combinations you can use.
Despicable Me: Minion Rush manages to capture the look and feel of the films, and their ever so lovable Minions. Everything is brightly coloured and just looks like it is part of the series. Scattered through Gru’s Lab there are even pictures of the other cast members. As mentioned before, the two environments are very different from one another and each offers their own quirks, obstacles to avoid and secret paths so that they don’t appear as the same areas with different coats of paint.
Through the Despicable Me films, the Minions have always had their distinct garbled language, and that is something that carries through to Minion Rush. Your Minion, as well as any others that you pass by will all speak hurriedly in their own language.
The background noises are all chaotic and add to the game’s “rush” feel. Car horns beep as you get near, downed power lines sound like discharging electricity and windows shatter as you jump through them. There can sometimes be a lot of noise happening at once, and while it can sometimes be distracting, and even downright annoying, it is what the Minions are all about so it can be easily forgiven.
Despicable Me: Minion Rush is a charming tie-in to the Despicable Me universe, but doesn’t add too much to the endless runner formula. It captures the feel of the movie and its Minions, and is simple enough to master that everyone can play and have a good time. A few technical issues like framerates can grow frustrating quickly, and the game has a definite “pay to win” feel, but still remains a fun way to kill a couple of hours. At the $0.00 price point it is hard to not recommend this game, especially if you have kids who love the films.
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