Film adaptations – ptchaw! There’s been a few howlers inmy time. Do you remember the computer game they made to accompany the release of ‘Platoon’? What the licensers had been drinking to think that was a good idea doesn’t bear thinking about.
Some films however lend themselves quite nicely to conversion to the small yet interactive screen, and ‘Despicable Me’ is one such film.
The film itself features the voice talents of Steven Carell (he of ‘The American Office’ fame) and Russell Brand (he of the… oh, come on, the man’s virtually everywhere) and tells the heartwarming tale of an ageing supervillain, Gru, who adopts three young girls to aid him in a dastardly plot but actually ends up quite liking them… whilst still retaining his evil persona. Oh, and it has minions in it – little yellow men who do their evil masters bidding in a haphazard way. Though the orphan girls don’t make it to the game, the minions do… in a big way.
Tackling the core plot theme of stealing the moon through the medium of platform adventure, ‘Despicable Me’ breaks down into two kinds of puzzles: jumping puzzles with gadgets and puzzle rooms with minions.
The jumping puzzles can be quite unforgiving for a game designed for the younger player – platforms have to be frozen/webbed/magnetised to the second and the effect is temporary – use the wrong ‘ray’ and you could be in serious trouble. Get too stuck on a section and the computer will helpfully offer you a pass, and a temporary break from Gru’s frustrated mocking. These sections are, as mentioned, quite challenging, anddo give you that sense of ‘ha beaten you!’ ness once completed, but are nothing particularly new.
The puzzle rooms are, however, a different kettle of minions. Requiring the strategic postioning of minions to activate buttons, bounce bombs and build bridges (you change their properties using your various ‘rays’), each room must be solved in a certain way, invoking the likes of games such as ‘The Lost Vikings’ and ‘Lemmings’, especially the latter considering the cutesy nature of your minions. Solutions can be bought with clue tokens, but it is more fun to think your way through these clever little conundrums. The only criticism I can make of them is that there should be more of them.
There are also a couple of flying levels, where you take a third person perspective of Gru’s ship and lend air support to your minion carrying ship. This paves the way for at least one end of level baddy, but they could have thrown in a couple more – these are supervillains we’re talking about.
There are unlockable costumes and a two-player option, but the core of the game is eleven small but perfectly formed levels. It could have benefited from a few more levels, Gru’s constant haranguing does start to wear and it definitely could have handled a bit more minion action, but as adaptations go this is one of the gru… I mean good ones.