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Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem Review

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Fiendish fun with the yellow terrors

★★★★★

Normally when reviewing the inevitable console spin-off from a big budget kids’ flick, the main criticism is that it’s just too damned easy, and that no-one aside from an easily-pleased, controller-prodding five year-old will get any joy from it. But in the case of this portable spin-off from Despicable Me, the flawed, puzzle-crunching action will test even the most seasoned gamer.

Riffing on the classic puzzler Lemmings, the game sees players herding Gru’s army of loyal minions through ever more complex levels laden with traps, pitfalls and blocked pathways. But while success depends on helping your colourful squad find their way safely through the clever 2D obstacle courses, players have no direct control over the minions, and instead must manipulate the environment to lower bridges, trigger trampolines, open doors and unleash the unique abilities gifted minions hold in reserve for special occasions.

But while it’s hugely encouraging to see a developer taking an imaginative approach to a movie licence rather than cranking out yet another half-arsed platformer, success in Minion Mayhem depends on pixel-perfect planning and superhuman coordination, which will alienate any young players hoping to relive the gentle thrills of the movie. The humdrum presentation of the game – which uses text and static images to tell the story, rather than more endearing footage from the film – will also disappoint preteen fans of the Hollywood romp, while occasionally unresponsive controls and an in-game camera with a mind of its own will irk even the most experienced gamer.

A step in the right direction for film tie-ins in general, Despicable Me shows that developers don’t need to follow a lazy template to create a crowd-pleaser, but that they need to think twice about who’ll actually play the game before embarking on the epic development process.

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