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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: Minions! (XBLA Indie Game)

What is the value of a dollar? Truthfully it’s not very much, and this is the reason unused Microsoft Points sit unused in most people’s accounts. Xbox Live Arcade's Indie Games section is a perfect remedy for those unused points with some games costing only a dollar, and this is right where Minions find its place in the gaming world.

I'd buy that for a dollar (for people born later than Robocop, watch this movie. Now)



Developed by Turtle Toss Studios – a team of students from the University of Utah’s Entertainment and Engineering program – Minions is a shooter at heart. The game features an interesting formula that enables the game to be played in a top-down perspective or third-person. When playing in the top-down perspective the game is a dual-analogue shooter where one stick moves the character and the other fires the weapons in the direction of the stick press. The third-person perspective is standard fare for the genre, with the exception that there is an auto-aim that targets enemies when the onscreen reticule nears an enemy. Both perspectives work, but the top-down perspectives camera is panned too close to the player and makes it difficult to see enemies that aren’t in the immediate vicinity, and the third-person perspective is preferred.

Graphically the game looks like a title from the N64 era of gaming, with mostly solid coloured low-res environments, and the character models look similar to bubbly nutcrackers. The game is a war game of red vs. blue, with the handful of maps offering varied objectives that range from destroying the enemies base to distracting a heavily armoured tanks fire upon you to give friendly turrets a fighting chance of destroying the tank before it reaches your base. To give the game replay value there is an RPG-lite levelling system that allows the soldiers stats to improve – which is necessary to complete the difficult final levels – from experience gained from defeating enemies and completing levels. Speaking of the difficult final levels, they are a blast to play through and one even features a giant turret that can be used to blast down hundreds of approaching enemies and tanks.

You know what? I miss the days of these primitive 3D visuals. Primitive, but soulful

The game's name, Minions, is derived from the ability to create and purchase powerful minions to help turn the tide of battle. Throughout the game a few different minions can be created and each can be created a bit more powerful than the last, but make sure to create them to your liking because once created they can’t be modified. In game the enemies drop money and once enough is acquired these minions can be purchased and will appear from the base to pursue the enemy. Friendly, weaker minions are always charging from the base to fight off the oncoming enemies and deploying these powerful minions will push the enemy waves back to allow you to charge toward the maps objectives easier. Using minions isn’t entirely necessary, but considering that the money earned in a map doesn’t carry over, there isn’t a reason not to.

While the graphics are a bit bland, the music is the complete opposite. Featuring a mix of techno and hip-hop, the multiple tracks are used to set the mood for each level and we had the music blaring the entire time we were blasting down the hordes of evil red guys. A few one-liner voice overs are quite poor quality, but somehow fit the games odd style perfectly. Overall the soundtrack alone was worth the price of admission.

My minion is bigger than your minion. Haw haw

Walking into a convenience store and grabbing a candy bar for a dollar might bring a few minutes of enjoyment, but for the same amount of money Minions can bring hours of simple shooter fun. The game doesn’t do anything new or particularly outstanding, but this cheap little Indie title is still a good way to spend those forgotten Microsoft points that are likely sitting in your account right now.

- Chris I 



Review: Minions! (XBLA Indie Game)
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