Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem Review
Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Way Forward Technologies 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: D3Publisher of America 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: July 6, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
The Tricky Business of Turning Film to Game
by Kyle B. Stiff

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem is a despicable film tie-in in which you play as Professor Gru (sort-of) in his attempt to cause mayhem with his legion of buffoonish, mindless minions. It is a puzzle game in which you control various mechanisms lying around each stage (elevators, drawbridges, springboards, etc.) in such a way that your minions, who are not directly under your control, can safely achieve their goals. Playing Despicable Me is a bottom-of-the-barrel experience and has been one of the lowlights of my life as a career gamer.

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem screenshot

Gameplay is reminiscent of the classic Lemmings games, in which you play from a god’s-eye view and manipulate the environment while your forces walk from one place to another until they encounter an obstacle. Gru’s minions are a little more specialized than the Lemmings, though. For instance, some of them can toss enemies off the board, some come equipped with obstacle-busting rockets, others can walk through fire, and so on. Unfortunately, there’s no sense of power from your god’s-eye view, or even a feeling that you can cause a lot of fun-filled chaos. Manipulating switches and knobs is the best that you can do.

While Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem seems to be marketed towards children, the challenge level ramps up quickly. I can’t imagine any child being able to contain the frustration inherent in trying to shepherd a gang of lackwits through a hazardous maze before the timer runs out. No child who is anything less than Ender Wiggin, the tactical genius from Ender’s Game, could be expected to complete Minion Mayhem. In fact, it’s not even a bold claim to state that the only people who have seen Minion Mayhem to completion are twenty- or thirty-something game reviewers who have played games for so long that they know how to channel rage and frustration into a burning desire to beat any game that dares cross their path. That means that I seriously doubt that the game can be completed in the spirit of actually enjoying overcoming obstacles.

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem screenshot

Here’s an example of gameplay. At the beginning of each stage, you are given a roster of minions who will operate for the current mission. You can’t select different minions and then complete the stage as you see fit, the roster is simply there to let you know your limits. After some trifling text that feebly attempts to tie the mission in with the overall “story” of Despicable Me, the stage opens for play. There are platforms, ladders, shuffling enemies, elevators, deadly pitfalls, flamethrowers, you know the drill. As soon as you click on a minion, he sets off. If he encounters an obstacle, he will turn around and continue walking until something kills him. Once you have multiple minions moving at once, things can become very chaotic indeed. They will all be bumping into one another, turning one another around, climbing random ladders, and going God knows where, and all the while, a timer is ticking down. All of this is happening without any effort on your part. So, what’s your job? You use the stylus to hit buttons that will do things like extend or withdraw bridges, raise and lower elevators, and open or close doors. So you can’t control your own minions, but you somehow have control over the facilities that they are infiltrating. How does that work?

Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem screenshot

Screenshots / Images

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