App Aims: Rush through three different environments as the lovably maniacal minion Dave from Despicable Me.
With the recent deluge of free endless runners (or infinirunners) available on the App Store, it's refreshing to find one as polished and addictive as Despicable Me: Minion Rush. The game's in-app purchases may be priced outrageously high, but its core gameplay – complete with minigames, powerups, and three gorgeous environments – is well worth the free download.
Minion Rush is fundamentally a laned infinirunner: You control your character (Dave, everyone's favorite minion) by swiping back and forth across the screen, shifting him between parallel lanes that wind their endless way through the game's three environments – Gru's futuristic hideout, the bright and sunny suburbs and El Macho's Aztec-themed lair. Along the way you have to dodge obstacles that block certain lanes, leap over low barriers and duck under obstructions, all while grabbing as many bananas as you can. In a nice divergence from other games in the genre, the lanes in Minion Rush aren't always next to one-another; one might break away from the main track or come to a sudden end, forcing you to dash Dave onto a different lane lest he plummet to his demise.
Beyond the basic endless running mechanics, Minion Rush also sports a number of minigames to keep gameplay interesting. One has you face off against Gru's nemeses from the movies, dodging robotic attackers and hurling their own bombs back at them. Another finds you rocketing into the air on a fluffy unicorn, tilting your device to steer through a deluge of bananas. They're engaging and a nice change of pace, but they reveal one of the game's few flaws: jerky and somewhat unresponsive tilt controls. Swiping Dave from lane to lane is smooth and effortless, but whenever you have to start tilting your iPhone or iPad from side to side, grabbing those extra bananas and avoiding deadly falls can be a bit of a chore.
The real annoyance in Despicable Me: Minion Rush, however, is its expensive in-app purchase model. While easy-to-gather bananas can be used to upgrade some powerups, you have to find or buy the far rarer Gru Tokens if you want to take advantage of many of the game's features, be it a small boost at the start of a run or an instant revival mid-game. You can earn a handful of Gru Tokens a day if you're lucky (or willing to sit through advertisement videos), and can get up to 380 by completing all the game's achievements, but even the cheapest costume upgrade costs 550 tokens. That's over $5 in real-world currency, which can buy a lot on the App Store.
Thankfully, these issues are minor distractions from an otherwise highly entertaining mobile app. You'll find more visual variety and engaging gameplay in the free, non-upgraded version of Minion Rush than most other infinirunners have to offer. And when you add to that its simple but fun story and overall stability, there's very little reason not to try this iPhone game out.
Despicable Me: Minion Rush is an engaging and upbeat endless runner that should delight everyone in the family. You'll want to take care when making in-app purchases, lest you spend a lot of real-world money for very little virtual return, but its beautiful graphics, mostly smooth controls and diversity of gameplay make it an easy recommendation to any fan of the genre.
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