This game has very little in it to be despised.
Despicable Me as a whole can be described succinctly with one word: surprise. The Universal animated film became one of the summer's most surprising critical and commercial successes thanks to a combination of solid performances and a fun story. The video game adaptation by D3Publisher also manages to surpass expectations, even if it still has some flaws that are common among licensed games.
In the game, you play as evil mastermind Gru. Unlike the movie, Gru's mission is to collect the pieces of a rocket so he can take it to the moon and beat his rival and fellow evil mastermind Vector. Despicable Me: The Game is a 2.5D puzzle platformer somewhat similar to The Lost Vikings. While not as intricately designed as The Lost Vikings, Despicable Me manages to impress in its design considering its existence as a licensed game.
Gru's main weapon is a gun that features four elements: wind, ice, electricity, and spider-web. You use this weapon in order to overcome different obstacles. You can use the ice gun to freeze a moving platform, or use the electricity gun to move a platform via magnetism. In addition to his main weapon, Gru can summon his minions in order to solve a puzzle. You use your minions in several manners, such as a bridge in order to get to the side.
This gameplay design succeeds because even though it gets more challenging as the game goes on, it is still very accessible to younger gamers. For example, at the end of each segment of the level is a checkpoint. If you fail a puzzle or die in the process, you return to that checkpoint, eliminating the need to restart the stage. Checkpoints are plentiful in this game, so it lessens some of the frustration that comes in a game like this. In the event that the puzzle or level proves to be too hard for the player, the game will ask if you want to skip the segment or keep trying, very similar to the Super Guide feature in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Doing this, however, does have its consequences. If you decide to skip the level and move onto the next, you will lose the chance to pick up bonus items. Still, this is a welcome addition for younger players while still giving them the option to try on their own.
The game also employs a puzzle guide in the form of maps that you can find scattered throughout the stage. Using these maps will tell you how to solve the puzzle step by step. Some puzzles become tricky to solve later on, often employing some creative use of the minions and your weapon.
In addition, there is some bonus content to be found in Despicable Me: The Game. You can find pictures, unlock the game's cut scenes, and even find costumes for both Gru and the minions. A neat little Easter egg is that you can unlock costumes based on the Universal Monsters franchise. It ties into the fact that Universal distributed the film, so it was neat to find some film history in this game.
Granted, there are still some flaws that put a dent on the game's overall value. I've noticed that Gru will not perform his double jump on occasion, leading the player to lose a jump if it wasn't timed right. This can get annoying considering the game is a platformer. Occasionally, Gru will slip off a ledge for no reason, even if his feet clearly landed. Gru can also only take one hit before he dies, which makes certain sections frustrating. Had it not been for the checkpoints and the ability to skip the puzzle/level, this would have been an exercise in patience.
But perhaps the worst element of the game is the flying stages. In some missions, you are asked to protect your minion's ship until you reach the end of the level. These stages play similarly to Nintendo's Star Fox 64, only they lack the responsive controls that made that title one of the most acclaimed of all. Navigating your ship is very stiff, and at times the game demands that you are quick on your feet in order to survive the stage. Worse, you must stay close to the minion ship. If they get out of sight, it is game over. While this does tie in to the movie's storyline, the flying stages could have been much better.
On the technical side of things, Despicable Me: The Game is a passable effort. The graphics mimic the slick look of the movie very well, and the characters resemble their movie counter parts well despite the obvious lack of detail and resolution. The stages themselves, however, are somewhat forgettable thanks to bland and repetitive elements. Steve Carell reprises his role as Gru in the game, and all of the other characters are voiced by solid sound-alikes.
Overall, Despicable Me: The Game is a solid licensed game that fans of the movie should enjoy. The puzzle platforming design is very clever while never becoming too frustrating for the player. Poor flying stages aside, this is one title proves that just because it's a licensed game doesn't mean it can't feature engaging gameplay.