Despicable Me: The Game Review
Wii | PSP
Despicable Me: The Game box art
System: Wii, PS2, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Vicious Cycle 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

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.

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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

Screenshots / Images
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