Despicable Me 2 is set to storm the box office upon its global release which is great news for Universal as well as fans of the original film. If youíre not a fan of the first film, at the very least, youíve fallen in love with the minions. If you havenít, then Iím afraid we canít be friends.
Just look at them!
Not to mention they have a weird fascination with bananas that is incredibly endearing.
Whatís not to love?
Now that youíve joined the minion fanclub (because duh, course you have. Look at them!), letís obsess about the latest project theyíre in - the mobile game, Minion Rush. Itís available on iPad, iPhone and Android devices, and for free too, which means that you have absolutely no reason not to download it now. Just do it.
Itís not revolutionary by any means. The gameplay borrows a lot from (read Ďis a carbon copy ofí) other games like Temple Run and Subway Surfer. While the runner game may not be anything new, thereís nothing wrong with doing something old hat so long as you do it well. Which these minions do. Very well.
A quirky little intro video will play the first time you open the game (and subsequently every time you start it, but youíll have the option to skip if you like) telling you the gameís premise and character lead - you get to play as Dave, a go-getter minion who has his eyes set on the highly coveted Minion of the Week trophy.
The clip in and of itself is a cute little treat for minion lovers, even if it isnít on par with the hilarious shorts from the DVD/Blu-Ray special features. Still, itís quirky and launches you right into the story, which again isnít very original, but who cares? More minions please.
Once the clip is over, the game will load up. The first time you do this can take a fair while, even longer if youíre on an older, slower machine. Iíve played the game on both iPhone 5 and an iPad 2 and it did take a minute or so longer on the older Apple iDevice. That said, itís a couple of minutes wait, max, so no biggie.
The game runs through Gamecenter or Facebook, or both. If you want to sign in to Facebook, you have the option to allow access from the app and then a secondary access option asking if you want to let the app post on your behalf. If you want to add any of your Facebook friends to the game (itís actually got quite a nice social system in place, so I would recommend you do - but more on that in a while), you can do so without pelting your wall (and your friendsí feeds) with ĎJohn Doe just scored a bajillion points in Minion Rush!í type posts.
Minion Rush makes its money by utilising a freemium framework, like a lot of other games these days. You can use real world money to purchase in-game tokens that can get you costumes with special abilities or power ups. Alternatively, you can collect the other in-game currency, bananas. These are abundant in the game and not too hard to collect but your purchase options with them are quite limited; all the special event and better costumes are token-purchase only.
A nifty little feature that sets this app apart is the reward system. Completing achievements will earn you achievements which you can claim. Doing so will give you tokens. Still, the rewards are quite small and wonít put a dent in the often 1K + token costs of the better buyable items like costumes. Still, itís nice that you can play the game without it being dependant on you using your real world cash.
The missions in the game arenít the achievements - theyíre in game challenges that largely dictate the Ďstoryí of the game. They arenít all that difficult and youíll likely achieve most of them just through casual gameplay - at least, early on. I havenít found any incredibly difficult ones yet, but I am sure they exist further into the game.
Again, as with most of the games in this style, there is an ongoing Ďbonusí or score multiplier in effect throughout that rises as you complete certain actions. In this game, those actions are Ďdespicableí, but more on that in a bit. This multiplier rises permanently as your Ďlevelí grows, that is, as you complete missions. This way, the more you play, the better your score will get (theoretically, unless you inexplicably start to play really crappily).
I mentioned the social system of this game in a previous paragraph. Largely, it runs on a Ďboast and beatí sort of format. For those of you unfamiliar with the term (which is all of you, considering I just made it up), it just means that you can Ďboastí about your score by sharing it to Facebook or you can Ďbeatí your friends (or be beaten by them) by issuing challenges. I love the challenges because theyíre single game based (ie. you send your friend a challenge and they have to beat it that turn otherwise you win) and have specific goal sets which you specify, from banana count, score or distance.
I would like to see the specific goals in challenges become even more granular like the missions are. For example, I would love to be able to challenge my friends to knock over as many minions as they can in a single run. Unfortunately, you only have those three options though.
Oh, right, I havenít told you about knocking over minions yet. Ooops. I mentioned the gameís Ďdespicableí actions - thatís what I meant. Itís really only the one action that you can do to up your multiplier, aside from levelling up or buying power ups and costumes. As you run through the course, other minions will be running about too, fixing rockets, manning the suckerpunch gloves, you know, minion stuff. While theyíre being useful and carrying out actual work, you get to run around, sliding under laser beams, dodging giant rotary saw and broken fire hydrants. As youíre running, simply bump into another minion and your score will multiply. Because itís not enough to shirk your duties and spend your day running around the lab, you have to actively prevent others from doing their jobs too. How despicable.
Thereís also a weekly contest that measures an aspect of the game, like distance or multiplier, and pits you against the world. Youíll be able to see how you rank globally and even get rewards tokens if you fall into the top 1000 or better. There are also stepped reward tiers for reaching lower-level milestones within the weekly challenge, like getting a multiplier of 9, 12 or 15, which will reward you with bananas.
The game may seem simple - dodge the obstacles, hurt the other minions and collect bananas - but itís the details that make it so great. The mechanics and even the graphics arenít all that astounding, or rather they arenít all that far ahead of Subway Surfers and Temple Run 2. The real gold of the game comes from how lovable the minions are and how well their personality has transitioned into the app.
One of the most obvious ways this is carried out is in the sheer amount of creative ways your minion can be stopped.
Youíve got your standard falling off the track, running into a set of drawers or hitting laser beams that you failed to slide under, as well as running head first into some poorly placed rockets. Add to this a whole slew of quirky death scenes, like narrowly avoiding a fallen missile, getting buried under luggage, getting blown up by mine drones, shocked by exposed wiring, hit full force by a water hydrant or getting hit by a bus.
The minions are adorable and I just want to squeeze and hug them till pop but seeing them get thrown around and blown up speaks to me on a whole other level. Iím a sadist, what I can say?
The minions may be the stars of the game (Minion Rush), but some other characters make cameo appearances in the game too, like Vector as a Ďbossí. Other characters are new, like the other game Ďbossí, Meena.
What I really like about the game is how diverse and rich it all is. While most of these runner games can get very repetitious, I find new things each time I play Minion Rush. Sometimes itís a cute little detail in the background that I missed or a new animation I havenít seen before, other times itís unexplored areas of the course that I never thought to go through (like houses, you can go through doors without smashing into them which I discovered largely by accident). Youíll see the familiar lab as well as the streets of Gruís hometown, but youíll also be able to find new places like the labís disco room.
The course shifts each time you play, also like the gameís competitors, so one round youíll be sliding around (controlled by the accelerometer controls of the device youíre playing on) on a halfpipe with gaps (watch out!) and the next youíll be jumping around using strategically placed launch pads and narrowly avoiding falling off tubes.
I keep saying one thing is what I like the most and then trumping myself with another feature, but I just really like this game. A large part of why is the power ups. The banana vacuum is quite standard, although I do crack up imagining a real banana vacuum because that would be silly and likely cause a squishy disaster, Mega Minion mode and the Plush Unicorn mini game are helpful and interesting power ups too.
As a Mega Minion, you grow huge (likely the result of some mad potion Dr. Nefario cooked up in one of his more Ö lucid moments) and stomp around, smashing all the lesser minions around you. Itís a great way to boost your multiplier. Very despicable though.
The unicorn mode is purely for banana gathering. You ride through the sky on a (itís so) fluffy (I could die), pink unicorn powered by a rainbow picking up bananas. If you lose momentum and fail to collect bananas, you lose your rainbow fuel and start falling, but there are generally a fair few bananas so youíll be hard pressed to fall too far.
Gruís Rocket isnít spectacular as all it does is zoom you through the course, which is fantastic if you want to power through the course and cover a huge distance. The shield is pretty standard fare in that itíll last until it runs out (which is dependant on how many upgrades youíve purchased for it) or until you hit something.
Youíve also got these little quirks in the game that affect gameplay like how the camera will sometimes change perspective randomly or some of your fellow minions letting out noxious gas that turns your screen all cloudy (this effect looks different on the iPad and is a bit easier to manage there in my opinion).
Oh, and one last note: there is a little known gift code area where you can input minion combinations to get perks like the Referee costume or 5 banana splitters. Simply go to the Menu > Options > Gift Code and reap the rewards. To save you some time trying all the combinations (and there 343 of them, so that would take a fair while) or even having to Google for them (ugh, itís such a chore!), Iíve listed them here. Without further ado, the secret Minion Rush combination codes are: *drumroll*
I love this game to bits. Iím not very good at it - my highscore is a pitiful 70K - but I keep playing anyway. Itís a testament to the characters that have been created, the franchise that is being developed and the power of mobile game apps as a cross promotional tool that I love the minions even more than I did before - no small feat, I tell you!
Download the game, play it and add me on Gamecenter (kelzvieira) - I am hopeless so at the very least youíll likely complete the Ďbeat a friendí mission with me. If you donít want something that committed, follow me on twitter or check out some of the other stuff I have written over at Finder.com.au. I also try to keep my Linkedin profile up to date with some of my work.