Like its home console counterpart, Despicable Me: The Game – Minion Mayhem refreshingly constructs an original experience around elements from a film rather than rigidly attempting to follow the source material and fit it to a game framework for which it was never intended. Unfortunately, beyond that it shares the status of subpar with so many of its licensed brethren.
Like Lemmings or Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem, your goal is to click minions to activate them and send them in straight paths along each level – until they hit a wall or another minion and turn around – extending bridges, lowering ladders and moving elevators to get them to the goal. Only the Chief Minion's exit is a must (or, for a few levels, Gru's), and only this character can pick up a specific collectible object that each stage contains, a task that's essential to successfully completing each area. You'll direct other minions as well, each of which has a different power. Some can defeat enemies while others can blast through walls, carry an electrical charge, walk on the ceiling or perform a number of other unique tasks.
Minion Mayhem's biggest crime is its terrible difficulty slope. You'll swap between extremely simple areas and despicably hard ones with very few falling in the middle range and no way to predict which you'll face. Many of the worst come in the final set, Gru's House, in which the supervillain turns things up a notch, and sometimes quite unfairly. Stages that dizzyingly spin or turn can make buttons and switches temporarily unclickable when they go off-screen, and one level has bombs drop without warning onto your minions, potentially putting an unavoidable kink in your meticulously thought-out plan. An added challenge comes with picking up collectible items and winning trophies by scoring highly, but this usually isn't hard to do in the easy levels and only worth trying in the more challenging ones if you're willing to give yourself an even bigger headache than you already got playing them the first time around.
Your most fearsome opponent in this game is its clock. In harder parts, every millisecond counts and one unfortunate bumping-into between two minions can ruin the whole thing. You have absolutely no time to waste here, so your plans must be specific and hammered out well through continuous trial and error. Having to control everything and activate the correct minions and obstacles at the exactly correct times can become a maddening experience, especially when Gru adds his dastardly tricks to the last set of levels.
Besides that, many of the levels are tediously similar. There are never any fun excursions, and any extra implementations only serve to make the tougher levels more difficult. Minions with cool skills are never put to imaginative enough use, and more than half the time they're not required to successfully reach the exit.
Minion Mayhem spans thirty levels spread over six worlds, a relatively short trip. Picking up collectibles and trophies will extend the replay value for those who eke enough enjoyment out of the basic experience to make this an attractive task, but most of what's there to unlock is disappointing: a selection of bonus levels, over half of which are quite simple, though there are some worthy challenges among them.
The game is presented quite well, with charming graphics, cute sound effects and a good variety of very catchy cartoony tunes. The interstitial animations leave something to be desired, taking place within boring blueprint-style illustrations, and the story is extremely barebones, serving only to give Gru an excuse to have you collect objects. This shouldn't become too much of a bother, however, and overall the game looks and sounds very good, albeit often employing too-similar background images.
Spontaneously hopping from maddeningly difficult to mindlessly simple stages and providing a somewhat dull experience all around, Despicable Me: The Game – Minion Mayhem is largely tedious and frustrating, though with some spots of fun and imagination. For the most part it commits no crime besides being very average, and those willing to succumb to a few headaches and eye-rolls will likely enjoy it in spurts.