2010 has been a brilliant year for videogames that have been based on big Hollywood movies. First the tremendous Toy Story 3 movie got an equally superb game adaptation released alongside it back in July, and a bit more recently the big-budget blockbuster The Last Airbender got a really terrific Wii game too. This new trend doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of stopping, because now the new animated Steve Carell comedy Despicable Me has a new tie-in game, and it’s just as good as the movie.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, it’s a very funny comedy about a nasty piece of work called Gru (played by Carell) who, for reasons that are too complicated to go into here, ends up adopting three young sisters, on his way to stealing the moon from the sky. As you can tell (even from that brief story outline) the plot is completely off the wall and occasionally downright bizarre, and the game has that same air of oddball lunacy about it.
After you take part in the tutorial (sorry, Gru-torial) designed to show you the ropes, you’re briefed on your first mission by Gru himself – voiced as he is in the movie, by Steve Carell. So often in these games the acting talent that contributed to the movie don’t end up contributing to the game as well, so this is really refreshing. Carell’s weird Gru voice is naturally funny, but neither he nor the game’s script writers skimp on the good jokes either.
Every time you die onscreen Carell will bark something at you, and not only are there are a surprisingly large number of these comments, almost all of them are funny too. Some of them are crude, some of them are much funnier if you’ve already seen the Despicable Me movie, and some of them are genuinely clever. Our favourite involved Gru having a pop at “that fat plumber guy” who also likes to leap around the place, collecting coins and jumping on moving platforms. No prizes for guessing!
So the Despicable Me Wii game looks like a simple platform game, very much in the style of some of the earlier Mario titles. But it’s actually much more of a puzzler, and the majority of the levels involve Gru having to figure out how to get from point A to point B. Some of these levels involve having to be good at jumping, some of them need you to be particularly fast on your feet, but the very best ones force you to utilise Gru’s smiling army of bright yellow minions to assist him.
And this is where the game gets clever. Gru’s minions can be used in a variety of different ways, either by freezing them into ice cubes and using them to trigger switches, inflating them and using them as balloons, using a small group of them as a rope-bridge, and so on. You can fire the minions to specific places on the screen by pointing the Wii remote exactly where you want them to go, but you can only use a set amount for each level. So if you encounter a puzzle that requires 8 minions and you only have access to five, you’ll have to find another way of solving that puzzle.
These parts of the game are extremely enjoyable to solve (especially with friends and family around to lend a helping hand) but if you get stuck, there is a very helpful system in place to assist you. Throughout the course of the game, you will find little shiny tokens that can be used to help you in solving a difficult puzzle. If you get stuck, simply access one of the tokens in the appropriate menu, and a series of small blue diagrams will appear onscreen, showing you exactly what you need to do.
So it’s a perfect game for youngsters, and anyone who happens to be in the room at the same time is certain to get sucked in too. The game is challenging from the very beginning but never gets too hard (and there are save points every few seconds) and you are never too far away from an amusing joke or two. Excellent stuff, and a perfect companion piece to the new movie.