Despicable Me: The Game Review for Nintendo Wii

Despicable Me: The Game Review for Nintendo Wii

The main problem with movie games is that because they have to be released along with their films, their developers typically don’t have much time to work. To get around this problem, Vicious Cycle made its game for Despicable Me short, sweet, and simple: it’s just eleven levels that you can complete in a half-hour or so each. The levels are a combination of 2-D platforming and aerial combat, along with some forgettable multiplayer modes. It’s too expensive, and the gameplay can get repetitive, but even experienced gamers will find it surprisingly challenging and rewarding in places.

Despicable Me: The Game screenshot

You take control of Gru, the evil supervillain from the movie. Your goal is to steal the eleven mechanical parts that you need to build a rocket, which you in turn need to steal the moon. At your disposal is a seemingly unlimited supply of minions and some crazy guns. (The children whom Gru adopts in the movie don’t play much of a role here.)

The platforming sections play a little bit like a cross between Mega Man, 2-D Mario, and a puzzle game. While there are few enemies, you’re faced with countless difficult jumps, and you have to use your minions and guns to solve puzzles. Using the Wii-mote, you can deploy your minions in various formations (stacked on top of each other, linked to each other in a circle), and shooting them has various effects. For example, shooting a minion with your air gun inflates him, and he rises to the sky like a helium balloon. You can also shoot a minion with your freeze gun to create a platform. As you work your way through the levels, you unlock new guns, including one that shoots magnetic force.

We were surprised by how tricky some of the sections are. The jumping puzzles often took us a few tries (though if you fail at any task too many times, the game offers you the chance to skip it), and we actually used the game’s built-in hint system to get through some puzzles. Things only get harder as the game progresses. This will be rewarding for older gamers, but the game’s target audience — kids who liked the movie — might find it excessively frustrating. Then again, it’s nowhere near as difficult as the classic NES games that countless young children loved in the 1980s, so who knows?

Despicable Me: The Game screenshot

Unfortunately, at least some of the difficulty comes from the wonky control scheme. You’re given the ability to double-jump, but you have to use your second jump early in the first jump; if you wait too long to jump again, the second jump simply doesn’t happen. This can be annoying. Also, you frequently have to point your gun up and down while standing on small platforms, and if you accidentally move the joystick in a way that is also a little bit to the left or right, your character walks right off the platform. These irritating deaths are made a little less problematic by the frequent checkpoints in each level, however. You never lose more than a minutes worth of work, and you have unlimited lives.

One aspect of the platforming levels that let us down are the “despicable acts.” When you come across various paintings and other valuables, you can command Gru to deface them, but the things he does to them aren’t very amusing. Often, he just paints a picture of a minion on them. This was a great opportunity for the developers to capture the movie’s sense of humor, but they really dropped the ball.

Despicable Me: The Game screenshot

The aerial-combat sections are also surprisingly hard for a kids’ game, but they’re a lot more action-packed. In one mission, you have to follow another airplane that’s filled with your minions, shooting threats out of the sky until you arrive at the boss. These scenes aren’t as inventive as the puzzle-platforming, but they break up the more intellectual sections with some good old-fashioned explosions.

Despicable Me: The Game screenshot

The multiplayer is done well enough that it will entertain small children, but it’s nothing too impressive. All four modes are set in the flying levels instead of the platforming ones. One is a simple dogfight, another is a contest to destroy your enemy’s fortress before he destroys yours, the third entails flying around to pick up minions, and the last one requires you to fly through as many rings as you can before time runs out (flying through your enemy’s rings changes them to your color).

The graphics in this game are, as we reviewers like to say, “not bad . . . for the Wii.” Despicable Me is no Super Mario Galaxy or The Conduit, and it’s certainly no Gears of War 2, but the visual style reminds us of the movie, and each level has a little bit of personality. The cutscenes are too long and not very impressive (it’s usually just someone telling you about the next mission), but they’re skippable, so no harm done.

The sound has its ups and downs. The voice acting isn’t bad, and the music and sound effects capture the spirit of the film, but Gru says obnoxious things all the time (“How could you be so terrible?”) that get old long before you’ve finished the game.

For someone who enjoyed the movie, doesn’t mind slightly difficult gaming, and is willing to put up with a few flaws, Despicable Me would be worth maybe $10㪬. Unfortunately, the asking price here is $40, so we can say without reservation that you shouldn’t drop your hard-earned money on this one — unless you find it in the discount bin. And if there’s one good thing about movie games, it’s that you can almost always find them in the discount bin eventually.

They don’t take full advantage of the Wii’s capabilities, but they look good and give a sense of personality. 3.0 Control
During the platforming sections, wonky controls for double-jumping and aiming your gun up and down can result in unnecessary deaths. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is good, the voice acting is great, and the sound effects capture the vibe of the movie. However, Gru makes obnoxious comments way too often while you’re playing. 2.5

Play Value
Relative to the $40 price tag, there isn’t a whole lot of game here. This would be a solid buy in the $10㪧 range, and an acceptable one at $20.

3.2 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Become Despicable Me’s mastermind, Gru, as he sets off on a series of incredible heists to obtain components for his awesome rocket.
  • Command an army of minions to complete puzzles and missions.
  • Use an arsenal of never-before-seen weapons and gadgets like shrink rays and freeze rays.
  • Master air combat: Fly Gru’s aircraft in daring flight missions against his nemesis, Vector.
  • Play as Gru or Vector in a variety of multiplayer air-combat modes.
  • Based on Universal Pictures’ new 3-D CGI feature, Despicable Me.

  • To top