I’m not usually one for mobile gaming, but since getting a Nexus 4 I’ve found myself fiddling around with games more… and I’ve been genuinely surprised at some of the quality titles that are available.
This review will be the start of a new series of articles called “Games You Should Play“. I’ll be doing reviews of new and old games, predominantly for Android, but I’ll make sure we include some iOS titles too. First up, it’s Despicable Me: Minion Rush.
As the name suggests this title is a tie-in to the movies of the same name, featuring the adorable yet mischievous minions. There’s no in-depth story here… in brief in centers around the minions competing for the “Minion of the Year” award. Developed by Gameloft, Minion Rush is a free title for both Android and iOS, and has rocketed to the top of the free apps category in the Play Store trouncing even the official Facebook app.
What the game boils down to is simply a Temple Run clone, but with a few tweaks here and there… thankfully for the better. These tweaks provide a break from the usual gameplay and help to keep things fresh. The aim of the game is as you’d expect – run as far as you can, but collect as many bananas as possible. You’ll also come across boss fights on your travels – one familiar, one new.
Graphically the game is great – it looks spot on, although I find at the beginning of a run as you’re catapulted over the house, or using the minion swing that the framerate drops a touch. The sound is perfect too, with the minions sounding as you’d expect talking the bizarre gobbledegook you’re used to… however the voice acting for Gru in the opening cinematic is disappointingly not a great soundalike. The music however fits with the game’s tone and aesthetic perfectly.
The controls are simple – there are 3 lanes of traffic, and you swipe from left to right to change lanes. Swiping up makes your minion jump over obstacles, and swiping down makes him roll under obstacles. When going down slides, tilting from side to side directs your little yellow buddy, and this works too for the unicorn and mega minion minigames, but I’ll tell you more about that later.
The controls work really well, and are suitably responsive on my Nexus 4 as well as when I tested on my old iPhone 4. You can even swipe to the left and right to change direction mid-air, and sometimes you’ll need to.
The gameplay starts off slow and easy, though it’s still surprisingly easy to slip up. Starting in Gru’s lab, as you progress you’ll get faster and faster, and the obstacles get more and more perilous – from bombs that you have to jump over or tube obstacles to jump over, to rolling stacks of bombs that come towards you and clouds of fart gun gas. The fart gun is kind of entertaining actually – if you inadvertently run through the noxious fumes your screen will start to distort and discolour… in what I can only describe as a Wayne’s World-esque flashback wibbly sequence. (Pictured above)
Aside from the standard Temple Run gameplay, you also have a Doodle Jump-tyle minigame where you tilt your device left and right to ride on a unicorn and collect bananas going vertically upwards. As long as you keep hitting the stream of bananas, you won’t fall. This section of the game is activated by running into the unicorn power up – and speaking of power ups, there are several that have varying effects. These include a banana vacuum, a Freeze Ray, a banana splitter (makes all bananas worth 2), Gru’s Rocket (that propels you a good way forward) and my personal favourite – the mega minion. This last one makes you super-sized, allowing you to trash cars as well as stomp on your genetically-identical compadres.
This leads me to Despicable point multipliers… after all what’s the point of being a supervillain’s minion if you can’t be despicable? Whenever you see a fellow minion on the track, if you run into them you smack them off the track onto the side of the screen – these are called Despicable Actions – the more you do, the more your points multiplier increases. However be careful – it’s easy to aim to smack a minion, and inadvertently run into a bus or some other strategically-placed hazard.
While you’re running around you’ll also see little side-tracks that you can take, allowing you to experience bonus areas – this includes the minions’ party area in Gru’s lab, where you’re prettymuch constantly equipped with banana vacuums. So keep your eyes peeled for nice little turns and jumps you can take to uncover the little hidden areas.
Last but not least comes the icing on the cake that sets this game apart from all the other Temple Run clones – boss fights. These aren’t particularly complicated or hard, but nevertheless it’s a fun break from the usual gameplay. You can fight Vector from the first movie, or Meena – a new villain created especially for this game (No she’s not in Despicable Me 2).
These fights consist of avoiding baddies fired at you (like stolen cookie robots for example), and using an explosive weapon fired at you against the baddie in question. Like I said – it’s not complicated, and I think I’ve been knocked out once by a boss, and that’s because I was distracted by something else.
Aside from the gameplay there are a plethora of other unlocks and options to fiddle with – you can purchase power ups and costumes – the costumes have different effects from increasing your despicable point multiplier to boosting your banana intake. Other purchasable upgrades come in the form of making your mega minion last longer, or the unicorn minigame last longer etc.
At the start of each run, you also get other options that can be purchasable – using the minion launcher to get a head start for example… this is just a large cannon that your minion gets dumped into, and fired out of. My only gripe is that some of the upgrades and costumes you can only get with Gru tokens, and these crop up very rarely… but of course you can purchase these with real money if you want to. However if, like me, you’re a bit on the skint side, it’s going to take you a long, long time to unlock these particular goodies.
The inclusion of Facebook integration keeps the game going with leaderboards and the ability to challenge your friends – there are also achievements within the game too… like busting through several frozen obstacles that you’ve used the freeze ray on, or falling off ledges a certain number of times etc.
In general, I love this game. It’s fun, quick, and easy to pick up and play for a bit while you wait for a bus or if you’re trying to kill a little time. I did find that the graphic-heavy game saps my battery somewhat, but that’s to be expected from a game that runs this well, and looks this good. I urge you to grab if from your respective app store and give the little twinkies with legs a try.