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Minions #XBLIG VVG Indie Verse Review


VVG Indie Verse Review

“Minions”

By: Mr. Deeke

Thanks for joining us for Vintage Video Games TV’s Indie Verse Reviews. Today we’ll be focusing on an enjoyable and original Xbox Indie title called Minions that incorporates FPS, RTS, and even some RPG elements along with Tower Defense mechanics as well. This combination of many genres into one makes for quite a creative indie gaming experience, and is also developed by Team Turtle Toss who is one of the development teams composed of students at the University of Utah’s EAE Program.

Minions 80 MSP


Minions is quite a fun XBLIG title that surprised me with it’s level of depth in terms of game mechanics, visuals, and replayability. The FPS genre is reflected quite well in this Xbox Indie game, and Minions provides hours of shooting action along with strategic planning and defensive measures. Team Turtle Toss did a fantastic job in this game that seamlessly blends a smorgasboard of genres and game elements that come together to form a memorable and noteworthy Xbox Indie title.

Minions!

  • Developer – Team Turtle Toss
  • Genre – Shooter
  • XBL Marketplace URLMinions
  • Release Date – 5/4/2011
  • Try or Buy?Buy
  • Price – 80 MSP
  • Rating – 4.5/5

“Minions! is a mission-based shooter that can be played from both top-down and third-person perspectives. You create a hero, accompanied by a wide range of different minions to help you complete each mission. As the challenges get tougher, your hero will unlock points to spend on upgrades and customized minions.

–Xbox Live Marketplace Description

I. Story Line

You are a Minion surviving in the age-old battle of Red vs. Blue, and the war isn’t getting any easier. Fighting through multiple stages of enemies who want nothing more than to lay waste to the Blue Army and destroy everything in sight–but you can’t let them, and it is your duty to stop the Reds by any means possible. Shooting your way through militias and squadrons of Red soldiers, you must push onward and use tactical strategy as well as brute force and expert aim to eliminate all enemies.

You’ll have allies to back you up–other Blue soldiers rallied for the cause and often sacrificing their lives so you can prevail. Avenge your fallen comrades and take down the enemy forces using a variety of in-game weapons: slash, shoot, and explode your way through the levels and take on challenging bosses in this action-packed Xbox Indie title.

Do you have what it takes to destroy the Reds, or will the Blue army fall and be crushed by the opposing forces?

Image from Minions!

II. Game Mechanics

Minions makes good use of many different types of game genres and elements in gameplay, but at it’s core it is a tactical shooter that requires focus and reflex skills to conquer. Hordes of oncoming Red soldiers pour from spawn points and players must do what they can to eliminate these enemies by any means possible–either with blade or gun, it’s your duty to get the job done.

The controls in Minions are straight forward and quite easy to use, and there are actually two views to switch from–third person view, and first person view. In each of the views the shooting mechanics are different, for example in third person view players merely press the right analog stick in the direction they’d like to shoot, whereas in first person view players must aim with the right stick and fire with RT.

As far as the FPS mechanics go, Minions utilizes an accurate and pretty decent interface for an Xbox Indie title. With an easy to use aiming crosshair, this game makes it possible for veteran FPS gamers to make efficient use of each shot, yet skill isn’t necessary to mow down multiple foes in this game.

In third-person mode the game itself feels almost like an RTS game with elements of Tower Defense as players are not only attacking multiple enemies, but they are aided by allies and their own personal in-game minions that can follow them in battle. With the squadron of followers, or minions, players can strategically plan their moves similar to an RTS title, using tactics and wits rather than brute force to reign victorious.

Image from Minions!

There are both Shields and Health in this game–Shields regenerate over time whereas Health doesn’t and is only replenish-able with Health Packs. It’s important for players to try not let their Shields get below zero if possible and retain as much Health, as when all Hp is gone it’s Game Over.

Players can also take advantage of the Back button to show a full in-game HUD (Heads Up Display) featuring a Map screen and the current completed and pending Objectives, which are the requirements for victory and moving on to the next level. These parameters are quite useful at times and are essential to identifying current in-game objectives.

Saving is something that isn’t straight forward and takes a bit of investigating to find–players must press Start to see that the Save function is actually in the pause menu itself. There are ample slots for multiple save files so players can experiment with different characters with alternate attributes and minion statistics.

III. Weapons/Items

There are two different types of weapon in Minions: Primary Weapons such as Pistols and Assault rifles and Secondary Weapons, such as Machetes, Grenades, and Land Mines. Players can cycle through previous and next Primary Weapons using LB and RB, and can switch Secondaries by using Up and Down on the D-Pad. Also it’s important to note that players can detonate Land Mines by pressing in the right analog stick.

Image from Minions!

Successfully using the myriad of weapons found in Minions is essential to both survival and victory, however there’s no one way to defeat enemies and it is up to players to mix and match different strategies and tactics while fighting enemies. Experimenting with different combinations of weaponry is encouraged, however one can’t go wrong with a Pistol or Assault Rifle, and Grenades can sometimes be rather tricky to use as enemies are mobile throughout battle.

Fallen enemies drop items such as Gold, which is used to buy extra Minion soldiers in the Minion Creator menu, and health packs which can heal players during combat.

IV. Unique Features

This game makes use of an interesting game mechanic called the Minion Creator which is mainly used to supplement players in battle and help them fend off the overwhelming assault from the Read Team. Players have the option in upgrading their own personal minion and customizing their visual appearance as well as the combat style–what weapons they make use of, etc. Players can also choose if they’d like the minion to follow gamers during battle, and having multiple minions makes for excellent defense in the later and more difficult stages.

The EXP progression system is an aspect that is not usually seen in shooter type games, but in RPG’s, and it is quite a surprise to see character level progression in this game. As players gain levels, they are awarded a certain number of attribute points which can be spent in various upgrade skills. These skills are passive in nature, and can affect overall Weapon Damage, Shield Regeneration Rate, Max HP and Shields, Movement Speed, Gold Drop rate, and a few other skills that enhance gameplay in various ways.

Image from Minions!

V. Critique

The Good

The Graphics and Visuals. For an Xbox Live Indie Game release, Minions has excellent graphics–full 3-D and decently polished, the graphics themselves are appealing and likable. The visuals are seamless and quite fluid, and the animations themselves are very well implemented in both frenetic battles and calm moments. The environments are all splendid and the character art matches the same quality as the rest of the game.

In-Game Concepts and Mechanics. Whether you’re a player who likes fast-paced FPS action and shooting up screenfulls of enemies or you’re enjoy slow, tactical gameplay where strategy is rewarded, Minions can accommodate both of these gameplay styles quite well. With impressive features like 3D mechanics, two different in-game views that each offer different controls, and both action-oriented and strategic gameplay, Minions has fantastic concepts that aren’t usually seen combined in a single Xbox Indie title.

RPG Elements and Character Progression. The EXP level system is quite dynamic and offers players many different possibilities in terms of character progression–players can choose to be the resilient and slow tank role or the fast and intrepid rogue that mows down his enemies with mighty gunfire. This level of character customization is impressive and is an element that isn’t seen in many FPS games, and adds a new level of enjoyment to the game itself.

Appealing and Humorous Style. The almost whimsical style of the characters of both Red and Blue Team are quite humorous in that all characters are lacking arms and hands–the weapons seem to be floating next to the soldiers. I personally find the style to be a quirky addition to the game, making it more fun and amusing rather than grim and violent.

The Bad

It’s Challenging. Some players who run in and expect to destroy everything with strength and braun might be disappointed with a few levels in this game, as players who use strategy and care are rewarded. Some levels require gamers to plan their moves and actions, especially the later levels, and the objectives can become quite difficult if players don’t utilize the necessary tactics to achieve victory.

Only 1-Player. Personally I’d really like to see some sort of multiplayer in this game–even if it were only Local split-screen play. Co-Operative play would be best, in my opinion, although the option for one-on-one play would be enjoyable for competitive gamers out there. If this game were to have Online Multiplayer, I’d say that it would be one of the best XBLIG shooters on the market today.

VI. Wrap-Up

Overall, Minions is a great title that incorporates many different genres of gaming in a seamless blend of action, combat, and strategy to deliver an enjoyable gaming experience. Using features like full 3-D graphics, first-person and third-person shooter elements, as well as an impressive RPG-like level-up system that provides for character customization, Minions is quite an expansive Xbox Indie that’s available for the low cost of 80 MSP.

Highly recommended for gamers out there who enjoy FPS games, and although it has a whimsical style and humorous characters, it’s one of the more entertaining Xbox Indie shooters on the market today.

For more information on Minions and the XNA team the developed it, Team Turtle Toss, please visit their official website or Follow them on Twitter for instant updates.

Other Xbox Live Indie Game titles from the students at the University of Utah’s XNA development class:

The Last Pod Fighter     Mr. Gravity

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