You’d be forgiven for mistaking the adorable baddies of Minions, the new first-person puzzler from Archetype developer Villain, for the equally-adorable anti-heroes (also called minions) from the hit animated movie Despicable Me. They look and sound almost exactly the same, apart from slight nod to the Angry Birds’ pigs, and given the whole ‘mad scientist’ thing, it’s not difficult to guess where the game takes its inspiration from. But where Archetype was a fairly complex online first-person shooter, Minions is a self-contained, solo first-person shooter that’s way more interested in whimsical survival than endless deathmatch battles.
You’ll race through 8 fairly standard levels to destroy various devices that will continually spawn new Minions until they’re obliterated. Of course, you’ll have to deal with said Minions, too, and popping (I hesitate to use the word ‘killing’) them before they pop you earns you points. At your disposal are the Electro-Gun, Sound Wave blaster, Bird Launcher, and (my favorite) the Melee Hammer, which lets you go all Mario (circa Donkey Kong) on the horde. The Electro-Gun is your default weapon and you’ll be using it quite a bit as ‘ammo’ for the others is quite limited. The allows you to switch between weapons, but you’ll probably just blast every last bit of ammo you’ve got and hope for the best. Occasionally you’ll be able to launch a special proximity-based ‘mind control’ attack to confuse the little buggers; you’ll definitely need it when they start to swarm.
The controls are pretty straightforward, with two virtual analog sticks letting you zip around levels fairly easy, with the second stick doubling as your fire button. There’s no jump, but this isn’t the type of game that requires such a luxury, anyway. The controls are pretty smooth, at least after some tinkering, and should be considering the development team’s expertise in the mobile FPS genre. Still, I’d occasionally get stuck while navigating corners and stairs, and this only helped give my adorable enemies a chance to pummel me silly. I’ve played enough mobile shooters (the touchscreen type) to know my way around, and a few tweaks to tighten things up wouldn’t hurt.
Finishing levels faster and accumulating bigger scores nets you upgrade points where you’ll be able to increase certain attributes like speed, strength, and health, which in turn let you finish levels faster and accumulate bigger scores. Yes, there’s not much to the game once you’ve maxed out all your stats, and the 8 available levels (with three levels of difficulty) can be finished fairly quickly.
As a solo first-person shooter more interested in bopping baddies and finishing levels then deathmatch battles, Minions is pretty fun while it lasts. The creators of Archetype have crafted a whimsical shooter/puzzle hybrid that looks great, controls great, and is smart enough to not take itself all that seriously. It’s a shame there’s not much to distinguish one from another, apart from the increasingly larger and more ferocious hordes of Minions waiting to bippity-bop you dead. Villain promises that more levels are coming in the future, and here’s hoping they add a bit more variety to the original set’s fairly bland, gray corridors. Sure, they may not be the adorable baddies from the animated movie Despicable Me, but these Minions do just fine on their own.
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