It’s hard to dislike a game when it’s filled with adorable, quirky little yellow creatures who only want a banana and some fun. Despicable Me: Minion Rush invites you in with the colorful characters, who you may or may not know from the movie Despicable Me and its upcoming sequel, but knowing these characters’ filmography isn’t a prerequisite for playing. In fact, the game surprisingly relies on good design instead of familiar characters to keep you playing.
The game is modeled after the popular endless runner genre of games, Temple Run in particular. You control a single Minion running through a dangerous world filled with obstacles, and you watch this Minion run from a 3D, third-person perspective. To move your Minion, you can swipe left or right. Doing so causes him to move to another track, thereby dodging a road block. You can also swipe up to jump over a hurdle or down to slide underneath an overhead obstacle. Hitting a single obstacle spells game over.
The goal here is to run for as long as possible, hopefully surpassing your last distance. There are also power-ups littered along your path, which you can collect to improve your distance. Some power-ups shield you from damage, while others jump you across a distance. You should also try to collect the bananas that almost cover the levels.
Bananas are the game’s primary currency, and you can use them to unlock power-ups or purchase costumes for your Minion. There are also Tokens, which are used to purchase the extra special items. During your run, if you hit an obstacle, you are offered the chance to spend tokens to revive your Minion and continue your run. Tokens are difficult to earn in-game, but you can purchase them with actual cash if you’d like.
What delighted me most was the world’s environment. At the start of the game, you run through Gru’s lab, which is filled with crazy science-fiction devices and even a lurking bad guy. As the game goes on and your distance improves, you can move to other locations for some fresh air. Each one is uniquely built and makes you feel like you’re in the movies.
Minion Rush has appeal on a few levels. First, it’s a great runner for a mobile platform. It’s nice to play in short bursts, but the desire to earn more bananas and reach a little bit farther will keep you motivated. Second, it’s a film-based movie that doesn’t rely on its pop culture cachet. Sure, it’s nice to play in a world with these characters, but the game can stand on its own. Third, the game has a great sense of humor. Minion Rush may not be the most original game, but it’s a surprise summer delight.