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Despicable Me’s Minion Rush is addictive fun but runs into nothing-new territory

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Despicable Me: Minion Rush[/caption]

Bright yellow creatures and gibberish in the air can only mean one thing: The irresistible minions from Despicable Me for iOS star in the new free-to-play game, Despicable Me: Minion Rush. Ever since Temple Run experienced an explosion of popularity in 2011, endless runner games have seen an exponential growth in numbers as well. But does Minion Rush stand out from the other endless runners? Not really. But is it addictive? Definitely.

Gameloft announced that the title got more than 50 million downloads on iOS and Google Play in one month. And it reached No. 1 on the top free apps charts in more than 100 countries on iOS.

As Gru’s faithful followers, these little minions are always determined to outshine their peers for the kind-hearted villain’s attention. In this simple game, you play the minion Dave, whose objective is to nab the employee of the year honor. The gameplay is, like all endless runners, simple and pretty easy to master. You run on a three-lane production belt and can swipe left or right to switch lanes or up or down to jump or duck-and-roll. While you run, you encounter a series of obstacles, from a range of metal rockets to glass transportation tubes for the minions. If you hit an obstacle, Dave will promptly take a spill of some sort–though in a decidedly less violent way than seen in Temple Run. The overall objective is to compete against yourself (or your Facebook friends as well, if you choose to) to get the highest Despicable Score possible. In order to continue to beat your highest score, you must drive your multiplier higher and higher. You gain higher multipliers by doing Despicable Acts—which are typically bad deeds (as the title suggests) such as running over other minions or destroying objects while using a power-ups. You must complete the three goals that Gru, Dr. Navario, and Gru’s daughters provide in order to advance to a higher starting multiplier.

Make sure to collect as many bananas as you can, for they serve as a form of currency in the game. You can use these bananas to unlock the available power-ups. The Freeze Ray (which freezes and smashes obstacles apart), the Banana Vacuum (which attracts bananas straight to Dave), and the Mega Minion (which makes Dave grow and step on other minions) are just a few of the power-ups you may find while running. Once you unlock a certain power-up, you may also upgrade it to make it last longer or have a greater effect. Bananas can also unlock different costumes for your minion; each costume also has its own special ability. So there really is a lot you can get for the bananas you collect. Tokens are the other currency, and these are much harder to come by. On average you can find about five tokens a day. The scarcity of these tokens seems like a not-so-subtle nudge toward the in-game purchases, considering some costumes cost thousands of tokens.

Minion Rush does try its best to put a fresh spin on the tired endless runner genre of mobile games. There are some different environments throughout your run. The viewpoint switches to a front view when you encounter a Mega Minion power-up and a side view when you go onto a one lane track. It even throws in a boss fight here and there. And the graphics are vibrant. The minions are a vivid yellow, and the track and its obstacles are crisp and three-dimensional. However, sometimes they were literally dizzying and overwhelming. When you hop on the neon green slide, the pattern is hard to look at for long. The minions are just as quirky and violent as they are in the movies, which adds a little fun to a game which doesn’t otherwise bring anything new to endless runners.

One disappointing thing about Minion Rush is how much focus it has on its social networking aspects. If you choose not to connect the game to your Facebook account, there is no way you can complete the goals necessary to unlock the next highest multiplier. Unless, of course, you fork over a sizable amount of rare tokens to skip the mission. Thus, there is not only a lot of pressure for you to hook up your Facebook account to the game but also lot of pressure to make in-game purchases.

The Despicable Me take on the endless runner game got me hooked. The minions of the Despicable Me franchise entertained as usual with their gibberish-filled antics. But I felt like Minion Rush was just another typical example an exhausted genre of mobile games.


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