All Features


  PlayStation 3
  PlayStation 4
  Wii U
  Xbox 360
  Xbox One


Despicable Me

Score: 65%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: D3
Developer: Monkey Bar Games
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Platformer (2D)/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

At its base level, Despicable Me is an interesting design idea. Building on the relationship between evil mastermind Gru and his loyal minions, gameplay revolves around platforming and minion-based puzzles. The idea is really neat, but is half-baked.

Visuals aren't particularly stunning, but manage to capture the look and feel of the film. The design behind Gru and his minions is already strong, which helps when translating the characters for the Wii. There are a few sharp edges, but overall, everything looks exactly the way it should. Minions are distinct and varied (well, as varied as they are in the movie). Of course, most of the time you see minions on the screen they are frozen, inflated or locked into some odd formation, but the thought counts.

Sound is hit or miss. Some of the background tunes are nice, though forgettable the moment you quit playing. The only memorable audio aspects are Gru's comments, though they tend to grate on the nerves after a while. I liked the meta-dialogue and how Gru would make comments on your play style, but only to a point. It's cute and fits the film's sense of humor. However, after repeated deaths, Gru's commentary is borderline insulting.


Despicable Me is a combination puzzle/ platform game. Playing as the villainous Gru, your goal is to collect rocket parts in order to steal the Moon. Platforming sections are similar to Mega Man, both in their layout and complexity. Intricately timed jumps and one-hit death traps are all on the menu and will press your skills (and patience) to the brink. I hate to pigeonhole, but this is something for younger kids and its surprising how tricky gameplay can get.

"Despicable Acts" are a missed opportunity. At some point in each level, Gru can deface paintings or statutes. Most of the time, he'll just paint a minion's face on a painting, which isn't very funny. This is a missed opportunity to let some of the movie's humor shine through, or at least offer some relief from frustration.

Puzzles revolve around Gru's gun and minions. Gru can summon minions and use his gun to either freeze or inflate them to solve puzzles. For example, hit a minion with a blast of air and it will float to the top of the screen. Minions can enter formations, such as a ring or tower, adding more ways to tackle puzzles. Gru can summon a minion ring and, with a blast from his air gun, create a wind tunnel. The general idea is great, though like the platforming, a little too hard for the target audience. Some of the solutions are real mindbenders.

Flying modes are likely Despicable Me's worst element. Handling is way off and doesn't mesh with the quick-reflexes the gameplay seems to require. It's like taking a 747 into a dogfight.


When a game allows you to skip entire puzzles after multiple failures, something is seriously wrong. Trying to pinpoint the reason behind Despicable Me's difficulty is as hard as making it through a level without deaths in the double digits. Though some can be attributed to silly technical things, most are simply a design issue.

I was able to figure out a handful of puzzles just by playing around, but was disappointed by how much I needed to rely on the in-game help system. Then again, after seeing some of the solutions, I don't think I would have thought to even try half the things I saw.

Were a kid-friendly license not attached to the game, it would likely be on its way to cult status amongst players who worship incredibly difficult games. However, it has a license attached, so concessions need to be made. I'm not advocating dumbing anything down, just a better job of suggesting the number of ways mechanics can interact.

Game Mechanics:

Platforming is an issue, though the reason is purely technical. Most jumps require near-expert timing. When a normal jump is in order, things are fine. Double jumps, on the other hand, are practically broken. When double jumping, the second button press needs to come in almost immediately, forcing you to commit early. Wait too long and it won't work. This is a major problem, particularly when faced with moving platforms and other deathtraps. Fail too many times and you're given the option to skip the section, but then you're cheated out of the play experience.

The logic behind the control scheme is just as baffling as some of the design decisions. For whatever reason, Gru's movements and aiming are both mapped to the Analog Stick. If you try to aim, there's a really good chance you'll end up moving Gru rather than hitting the target. Looking at some of the puzzles, I can see the logic behind the move, but why not use the controller as a pointer? The functionality is already built into the game when launching minions and its not like it would get in the way of anything. It's a silly idea and serves to further spoil the game.

Despicable Me is a great example of why movie games rarely work out. The idea is great, but lacks polish. If it wasn't going up against a movie-release deadline, I'm sure a number of problems could have been worked out. Unfortunately, the dev team wasn't afforded the luxury. Older players who revel in difficult games might want to pick up Despicable Me on the cheap just for the challenge. Parents with kids should completely skip it.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Related Links:

Windows Caelum Nintendo DS Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies

Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated