Despicable Me (Wii) Review

Villany, hilarity, and a lot of player deaths make for a mixed movie tie-in.

By Joshua A. Johnston. Posted 08/12/2010 11:00 2 Comments     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Smooth, if simple, graphics; occasionally witty dialogue; unique strategy/puzzler approach for a licensed title
Poison Mushroom for...
Only tangentially connected to the movie; character deaths too frequent

Despicable Me (Wii) Screenshot

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

Despicable Me is the latest in the seemingly endless stream of Wii games to feed off the licensed title trough.  Based very loosely on the events from its movie namesake, the game boasts the voice of Steve Carrell and trods into some genre territory rarely frequented by licensed titles.  The end result is a game that is unique and generally competent, although it also can be irritating and shallow.

Despicable Me is a side-scrolling, platforming puzzler with light strategy elements.  The storyline broadly deals with building a big rocket to steal the moon, but the human elements of the movie, like the three orphan girls, are completely absent.  Those looking for the emotion of the film will be disappointed; this is more of a chronicle of villainy than the movie’s story of redemption.  The game does salvage matters with some one-liners that can elicit a chuckle.

Gameplay is broken up into roughly a dozen overarching levels, each of which is subdivided into a dozen or more areas.  Most of the game consists of running from area to area as evil mastermind Gru, solving light puzzles and platforming to get to the next area.  A given area may involve leaping over dangers, throwing switches, or manipulating minions to solve puzzles.  One element conspicuously absent is combat, since the game is about clearing obstacles rather than beating foes.

Despicable Me (Wii) Screenshot

Players interact with the world in one of two ways.  Gru himself comes with a small array of weapons to help navigate the various obstacles, such as an air gun that can blow things or an ice gun that can freeze moving objects.  In some locations, Gru also has access to a limited number of minions who can be placed, stacked, or rolled into a ball.  Gru can further use his weapon to manipulate minions, such as using the aforementioned air gun to blow a minion into a switch.  The game supports the lone configuration of Wii Remote and nunchuck, but the only real use of Wii’s capabilities lies in using the IR to place minions.

There are no hit points in the game, because Gru dies with a single hit.  Death takes players back to the start of a given puzzle section, and because Gru is not terribly agile, death happens often.  As a concession to the younger crowd, players can accumulate and use cheat tokens to bypass certain stages.  To make it even easier, too many repeated deaths trigger an offer from the game to skip a specific puzzle.  In theory, it is possible to beat the game by completing few or none of the areas simply by dying repeatedly, although it’s hard to see how rewarding that would be.  That said, players who actually seek to beat each area may find the game aggravating, as some of them are downright difficult.

The game opts for a simple approach to graphics and sound.  Visually, the game has a colorful, clean interface that does as good a job of mimicking the movie as a Wii game could.  Framerates are steady and character movement is fluid.  Aurally, the music (except for the rap-infested menu tune) is orchestrated and comes from the movie.  The voicework, led by Steve Carrell as Gru, is above par and does a great job of selling the game’s funnier moments; as annoying as dying is, it’s still funny to hear the narrator suggest going through the tutorial level again after the fact.

Despicable Me is an okay game insofar as licensed fare goes.  It’s clean, polished, and it sounds good.  It also gets props for staying out of the predictable action adventure patterns most movie tie-ins fall into — the puzzle / platforming / strategy approach certainly sets this game apart.  It’s also is a pretty hard game, and while it compensates for this by allowing players to skip puzzles, this only serves to take away the satisfaction of completing said puzzles.  The younger crowd who would seek out a game like this may find it more trouble than its worth, especially absent some of the more important plot elements of the film.

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