Despicable Me: The Game Review
Wii | PSP
Despicable Me: The Game box art
System: PSP, Wii, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Monkey Bar Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: D3 Publisher 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Jul. 6, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Mundane Megalomania
by Steve Haske

Another day, another movie tie-in. Anyone who’s played enough of these things knows why there’s an (obvious) stigma attached to them: they usually suck. The reason for this is because, nearly every time, whatever hapless developer gets saddled with making a licensed movie game isn’t given the proper time, team, or budget to do so.

Despicable Me: The Game screenshot

Deadlines in particular are a problem; since theatrical release dates for the kind of popcorn fodder (also why there won’t be game tie-ins for The Social Network or the new Wall Street) that lends itself to tie-in games, are hard and fast. Developers usually have less than a year to get the game ready to ship by the time people are lining up for its celluloid counterpart at the box office. The result is games that play and are designed like crap, generally. In any case, it’s always good to go into a licensed game with low expectations, since expecting anything above disappointment with such games is almost assuredly an exercise in either tragedy or futility, depending on your penchant for emoting over wasted cash.

This was more or less my thought process going into Despicable Me, a forgettable-looking game based on an equally, despite Steve Carell’s best efforts, forgettable-looking CG kid’s film. Oh boy, time to slog through eight or so hours of poorly designed and shoddily balanced gameplay, I thought. So imagine my surprise when Monkey Bar instead made a game that was only about three hours long!

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I was surprised at Despicable Me’s short length, but I guess that’s as a good a way as any to get around the whole “lack of quality” problem endemic in movie tie-ins. The game is actually a competent, if tedious, puzzle platformer. The game revolves around Gru, Steve Carell’s Russian Bond-esque villain of the film, stealing pieces for a rocket that he plans to use to steal the moon and thus become the most despicable villain of all time. There’s two ways Gru can go about doing this: either taking matters into his own hands during the platforming sections or making use of his minions during the puzzle sections when the would-be master villain inexplicably gets stuck behind a door or laser barrier.

Despicable Me: The Game screenshot

If you’ve played a puzzle-platformer at any time, ever, you know how to play this game. Gru’s various guns (innocuously armed with air, ice, magnetism, and webbing) can interact with level-based objects in various ways, and the minions can be used to reach environs (or more importantly, switches) thus helping Gru get past whatever his present obstacle is. The level design is Klonoa-style 2.5D (parents: if you want to get your kids a great family-friendly platformer, albeit one that’s not much longer, you might want to try that one). Steve Carell breaks the fourth wall to taunt you about how much you suck at video games, you only have so many minions that you can use at once per puzzle, Gru can double jump, you get the idea.

Despicable Me: The Game screenshot

Screenshots / Images

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