Despicable Me: Minion Mania HD is a cute strategy game for the iPad, based on the movie of the same name. The Namco developed game, which plays similarly to the classic Lemmings, features twenty unique levels where you’re tasked with guiding one of the alien-looking “Minions” to the exit.
The in-game tutorial in Despicable Me works capably to get you acclimated to the controls. Tap on a minion to control it, then tap where you want it to go. Often, you’ll need to pick up various weaponry and tools—to destroy breakable barriers or to scale otherwise-insurmountable walls; controlling these tools is similarly straightforward: tap to activate the weapon, tap to aim, and tap to fire.
You’ll encounter all sorts of obstacles as you attempt to guide the Minions to victory—and doing so will require careful teamwork between the various creatures under your control. One Minion will need to stand on top of the button that makes a wall retract while you guide another one past it, for example.
As the levels progress—adding more obstacles and more Minions—the complexity ratchets up pretty quickly. Even after you’ve figured out the necessary approach to complete a level, mastering the timing to avoid certain speedy machinations intent on killing your minions can remain a challenge.
While you will likely get better at determining the right exit strategies in Despicable Me, later levels will still likely stump you for a while. Fortunately, the game is very accepting—and forgiving—when you need to take your time. First off, the soundtrack is impressively not painfully repetitive. Even better, when a Minion dies, he’s instantly regenerated, but you have to redo any steps he had previously taken within the level.
Unfortunately, though, needing to attempt and re-attempt various challenges on more difficult levels can get tiresome fast. I know that I quickly tired of repeating a Rube Goldberg-esque sequence of tasks involving multiple Minions to handle just the first part of a given level. There’s a fine line between challenging and annoying, and sometimes Despicable Me finds itself on the wrong side.
One other annoyance is with the game’s straightforward and simple controls. Most of the time, they work great. You tap on a Minion and tap where you want it to go, and it responds enthusiastically (e.g., “You got it!”). But since you pan around the screen with the same single finger you use to guide Minions, I occasionally would end up moving the camera instead of a character, which was annoying. And sometimes I found that Minions needed a little prodding to do as they were told, when the game seemingly ignored my first tap(s).
That said, there’s plenty to like in Despicable Me. You can replay levels to improve upon your best times, or to ensure you collect all the coins scattered throughout each one. And those coins can be redeemed to deck out the various Minions with fancy outfits and accessories, too.
All told, it’s a cute game offering plenty of fun—in small doses. Play (or replay) for too long, and you’re bound to encounter some frustrations. On the whole, Despicable Me is an entertaining and well-executed game—despite its flaws.
[Lex Friedman’s fingers didn’t successfully type “Despicable” on the first try once throughout the writing of this entire review.]