Despicable Me: Minion Rush proves there’s still some personality left in licensed endless runner games.
Same as every dog picks up a case of fleas sometime in its life, those of us that play video games on a regular basis have been burned by licensed games at least once. There are no exceptions. As a result, we immediately assume the worst about licensed fare, sometimes prodding at it with a tissue when interaction is necessary. But one benefit to approaching licensed games on the defensive is that it makes the decent games that much easier to appreciate. Despicable Me: Minion Rush, for example, is an endless running game that’s well-polished and surprisingly charming.
The action in Despicable Me: Minion Rush revolves around the “minions” from the animated Despicable Me movie series by Universal Pictures. These lemon-yellow, pill-shaped critters are devoted servants of Gru, the series’ main bad guy. Gru may be a villain, but he’s not a heartless boss. Each of his innumerable minions has a chance to win the coveted title of Employee of the Month. All they have to do is race for it. The minion that you control in the game is likewise eager to prove himself to his superior.
But this is no ordinary race. As you’d expect from an endless runner, Despicable Me: Minion Rush throws plenty of obstacles and pitfalls in your way. As your minion charges forward, you swipe left or right to help him dodge objects and cliffs. You can also swipe up to make him jump, or down to make him slide under laser-beam traps. There are hazards and narrow pathways galore, so your reflexes need to be sharp or else you’ll wind up with a sad minion.
Despicable Me: Minion Rush has a few small surprises that help distinguish it from the ocean of endless runners on the app store. For starters, its graphics are fantastic. The minions are so expressive and well-animated that it’s hard to believe they didn’t jump straight off the movie screen and onto your iOS device. They’re amusing to watch, even when they fail.
Despicable Me: Minion Rush doesn’t offer a straight, simple dash, either. The camera angle changes often, sometimes forcing you to adjust to a side view of the track. Thankfully, these changes are seamless and keep you on your toes. There are also sliding segments that you control by tilting your iOS device left or right, though these are a little more difficult to adjust to.
There are even boss battles to contend with. Every so often, Gru’s rival, Vector, will show up in his battle-mech and toss smaller robots at you. You need to tap on these robots to send them flying back at him, which requires tricky timing. Younger players might need to turn to an older sibling or a parent to help them best the gangly super-villain.
Like any product of a dark mind, Despicable Me: Minion Rush has a nasty trait or two. More specifically, purchasing many of the power-ups require gobs of the game’s soft currency (bananas), and there are frequent reminders about the items and power-ups that can be purchased with hard currency. Parents, lock down your credit cards. Once that’s done, you can be assured that your youngster will love running this race—and chances are good you’ll want to run it yourself when they’ve turned in for the day.