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Minions


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Rating: 4.7/5 (102 votes)
| Comments (25) | Views (139)

PsychotronicMinionsBack at the beginning of 2007, David Scott made history by taking a handful of Warcraft III custom maps, and adapting their gameplay into Flash. The result was Flash Element TD, and along with Paul Preece's Desktop Tower Defense, it pretty much altered the course of free online strategy games. Fast forward nearly two years, and Scott and Preece are once again tapping into the rich vein of Warcraft III maps for inspiration. Specifically, Minions is a Flash version of the ridiculously popular Defense of the Ancients mod, but instead of medieval fantasy warriors, you control little tank-bots with powerful weaponry and big muppet-like googly eyes.

Minions is a strictly multi-player team-based real-time strategy game. You control a single member of a squadron of robots, your mission to destroy a gun turret at the heart of the opposing team's base. Control your 'bot by clicking on a patch of ground you'd like to travel toward, or on an enemy you'd like to engage. You accumulate experience as the match wears on. Each time you gain a level, you can upgrade one of three special abilities, which can be activated by clicking on them, or with hotkeys [1], [2], and [3].

Emphasis is on teamwork — at the beginning of a match, you choose your robot's class from a list of eight charming weaponeers, each with its own advantages and weaknesses. Few of these can sustain a battle on their own. A strong team requires a smart mix of character classes, although for your first few games, it might be hard to understand how you fit into a winning strategy.

For instance, the dual-cannon wielding Basher can quickly dish out frightening amounts of damage, but has no defensive abilities whatsoever. If you have a Doc on your team, however, he can heal you while you pummel, multiplying your effectiveness. Alternatively, you could team up with a Stinger, who can stun your enemies long enough for you to unleash capital levels of fury upon them. Meanwhile, the Stinger and the Doc need heavy-hitters like the Basher, since they are unlikely to win many firefights on their own.

MinionsAnalysis: So will Minions follow in Flash Element TD's footsteps, spawning dozens upon dozens of imitators? I doubt it somehow, because for one, Minions is only available to play at the Casual Collective (the dedicated but relatively obscure home of Buggle Stars and Flash Element TD 2), and for two, it feels a little clunky. Some of the robots are speedier than others, but all of them take their sweet time while rotating. It's too easy for your squat cube of a battle-bot to get hung up on a team-mate who ventured a pixel too close, and then you have to wait while both robots slowly turn and disengage.

My other complaints concern the inherent problems that come with anonymous multi-player gaming: quitters, griefers, rudeness, incompetence, and lack of compassion for my own incompetence. The worst of these is the quitters: the balance of power goes way out of whack with one team a minion down. It would be nice if the game could take over the abandoned chassis and have it fight in some rudimentary way.

Regardless, I found myself sucked into game after game, because despite the creeping play speed, Minions works extremely well as a strategy game. You won't be dazzling anyone with your tricky tactical maneuvers, but all of your choices have a profound long-term effect on the battle. It's exhilarating to coordinate an attack on an enemy turret with your team-mates, everyone pitching in with the correct abilities at the perfect time. A typical game of Minions is a slow motion avalanche of heroic moments and gut-wrenching errors. Even when one side seems to have crushing inevitability in its favor, it's often possible to pull the match out with a last-minute raid.

A brief note on the pricing. You don't have to register to play Minions, but by paying the Casual Collective a monthly fee, you gain access to a couple of extra character classes and the ability to host games with improved connection speed. In my experience, the game runs reasonably well at either connection speed. And those two bonus characters are the hardest to play of the bunch, so you'll likely be a Minions expert before you need to consider paying for them. On the other hand, Scott and Preece are trying to support themselves with this site, and the longer they continue to receive donations, the more cool games they'll be able to churn out before they finally have to get real jobs. I figure that's worth a couple of bucks.

Play Minions

25 Comments

Super Twichy Author Profile Page November 30, 2008 4:36 PM

This is a fun game!

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I really didn't get this game. I found it to be as simple as picking the minion with the highest attack and rushing them. Also the mini-minions seemed like they were there just to clutter the field, and there's actually 3 minions you can't use. This game is just too rudementary to enjoy.

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I'm not sure if you guys noticed it, but games like these came out on Starcraft well before Warcraft. I can remember playing this one in particular a lot. It's a pretty good game and brings back some memories as well.

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GREAT GAME... lots of fun.
the review picks up on a few important criticisms (e.g. the quitter problem, which needs to be solved somehow), so I'm a bit surprised this game seems to be getting noticeably stricter reviewing than many other, less well-done games I've seen on here. Perhaps there's been a change of general policy?

The game *desperately* needs more (and more interestingly designed/presented) maps and a user map editor - the developers should have waited and launched with these, really. AI bots would take longer to program but surely the maps can be sorted out fast?
Still, great fun and highly recommended
(I know the game might seem a bit slow for those used to extremely rapid play on Command & Conquer/ Age of Empires/ Warcraft type RTS's, but I actually prefer the slower, more thoughtful pace. As for "clunky", they're robots aren't they?

I'm not sure what the above commenter zzbob means by there are 3 minions robots you can't use. As the review says, there are 2 that are only accessible to paying subscribers, the other 6 are perfectly accessible to anyone. (also, simply choosing the bot with the highest attack and rushing might work in a 1v1 match (there are some bot choices that just wont be competitive in 1v1) or against a team newbie players, but you are going to get destroyed easily against a team with competent players.

Mini-minions are a genius addition... they are more than just mobile obstacles.... they provide moving cover for the big minions --- and sometimes can even pose a real threat to weak big minions. Think of them as infantry for your tanks

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although i can see where you are coming from, JIGuest, i believe that the game is not very good. it just seems like it could be a much better game if the interface and design(i.e. maps and bots) were better designed.

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different JIGuest November 30, 2008 7:20 PM

> "not very good", "better designed"

You're not saying much, if anything, at all. In fact, I have no idea what you're saying.

If you're going to offer criticism, Gibel, back it up with examples to support your argument, please.

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Nice game, but yet again this is another game ruined by the inability to disable the music.

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same commenter as the one with the length post above beginning "GREAT GAME" here.

There is one simple thing that the designers could do to address some of the complaints about the interface: MAKE IT ABSOLUTELY CLEAR AND EMPHASIZE THAT THE BEST WAY TO CONTROL YOUR SPECIAL ABILITIES IS TO USE THE KEYBOARD NUMBER BUTTONS 1, 2 AND 3. There should be a button shortcut for upgrade too really.

This is a LOT easier than using the mouse and it took me a while to discover

Also, the cursor could be visible (its a bit too small and in a difficult to see color sometimes)....

Also, instructions need to be clear that you really only need to destroy the base to win, not the base and towers....

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Kris: check out this screenshot for the position of the sound (and separate music) mute buttons...

http://images.jayisgames.com/casualcollective_mutebutton.jpg

It's in the same place for every game.

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Regrettably, all FlashElement versions including, Minions, are far too 1st generation: no spontaneous interaction, lo res images and clumsy strategies. Vector TD and then Orcs came to the top with modern hi res imaging and fantastic interaction. Hurrah to FE for the ground work, but you're still way back there.

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I think that it's very convenient for a multiplayer game. You don't need to sign up, etc. I live in a college dorm, so I can spread the word around my hall and we can all play this game together because it's so simple.

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Funky McAwesome November 30, 2008 10:42 PM

This game seems broken to me, you can destroy the enemy's final tower solo if you pick a basher and don't mind respawning a few times, and you don't even have to worry about the other towers as they can't hit you if you hug the far right or left sides.

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I have just tried the above supposed "can't fail" strategy suggested by Funky McAwesome in a 2vs2 game against semi-competent opponents with 1 basher, 1 sneaky (2 hardhitting bots) on both sides (I played basher - the bot with the highest damage rating....my teammate was not informed of my strategy and generally did his own thing). I am a fairly experienced minions player who often comes in the top 4 in 8 to 12 player games.

I constantly ran along the far edges to reach the base and repeated when I was destroyed by base guns and regenerated. I got the base down to about 25% when the enemy team sneaky woke up and started to defend the base (for a more experienced enemy team, they would have realized that I was making repeat edge attacks and defended the base sooner). As the sneaky had been engaged in battles with towers and miniminions and the my teammate, the enemny sneaky was much more experienced with higher level upgrades. Together, the enemy team had already made a big dent in my defenses and was easily defeating my teammate.I found it difficult to get past him. After several failed attempts to reach the enemy base on my part, the enemy basher (Also more experienced than me now) had destroyed my base and my team had lost the game. in the final results table, my "can't fail strategy" basher came in dead last.

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ZinVertigo December 1, 2008 1:47 AM

A lot of people are putting googly eyes on their tank-bots now-a-days. I think it's because tank-bots are dangerous.

You need to know where you stand with them at all times, and the only way to know where you stand with someone is to look them in the eyes.

Winston Churchill once said: "The eyes are the windows of your face."

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Funky McAwesome December 1, 2008 3:26 AM

-JIGuest
sorry, should have made it clearer from the beginning, i only started doing this after leveling up a bit first and throwing a few points into damage and shot speed. and if my base was under attack i would put defence first.

I used this strategy in a 4 v 3 (they had 1 more tank than us) game when we only had 1 tower left while they still had all of theirs standing and we won. at very least this will force some of the enemy team to hang back to defend their base.

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The concept is nice, and the balance is a little questionable but unit variety seems to win out over individual strengths with enough players. The mini-minions would make things more interesting if they did a bit more damage (might also help if, say, the number of them was inversely proportionate to the player count). There also seems to be a bit of a pathfinding issue where you can get stuck on walls and other players pretty badly... and on that note, controlling only the one unit, it would make sense to have keyboard movement as an option.

These are deal-breakers though:
- Targeted powers seem to have some interface issues, in the sense of not always going off properly, also in that you can't really cancel out of using them that I can see.
- Being able to pay for an edge over other players ruins any game. Here it's especially annoying since with randomly formed teams, buckling down and coughing up cash yourself won't necessarily level the playing field. Having an option somewhere to play with only the basic unit selection, or the expanded selection, would help.
- Between the random matchmaking and connection drop-offs, it's entirely too easy to end up with a severely unbalanced game. There isn't really a quick fix here, but if you wanted to go the extra mile, you could add in some more complex match-making/stat tracking options, the ability to boot trolling/unresponsive team-mates, and some rudimentary AI-takeover for dropped players (even if it just made constant suicide runs down the middle, it would help keep the playing field at least marginally even.

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In my experience, the targeted powers can be canceled by hitting the hotkey a second time, before you choose a target.

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Super Twichy Author Profile Page December 1, 2008 11:49 AM

I keep playing it over and over and over and over

and over, etc.

its a very addcting game!

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Super Twichy Author Profile Page December 1, 2008 11:50 AM

it was 4 against me once and i still won!

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sorry i couldn't respond earlier different JIGuest, i was going to elaborate on my post when i had to study. It seems that A.Alaalas and googleshng have effectively portrayed my points though.

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I don't know if those who have played and even the reviewer really know too much about the game. Unless this is a new feature there is balance of power when someone quits. I find I actually do much better if my teammates quit. It gives my team a pretty good size boost.

In a 6vs6 if I have 2 quitters on my team (now 6vs4)- expect my team to get records like 8:1 12:2, etc.

2nd of all there is a lot more skill than meets the eye, actually. sure it's get experience, use special, and attack. But there is strategy in team work and ganging up on 1-2 minions then retreated. letting them chases. Etc. Using each minion as a support for the others.

I find Mirror balances the teams out for a much more strategy based game.

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Its a good game, but i'm thinking of quitting just after 3 days discovering the game cause the people at casual collective are cocky and arrogant. they bash on people that don't play well and call each other "idiot" and "loser" at the end of each game.

wonderful game, worst company ever.

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anybody July 25, 2009 5:44 PM

sneaking through the edge of the map and trying to kill the main tower is a poor strategy for which your tower is less defended from enemy minions.

sneaking is also called soloing (poor strategy)

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I have 1 of 3 un useable tanks XP

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Anonymous March 24, 2011 8:52 PM

The link now leads to an error page as the game has been removed from the site. They sadly switched to a different method of games.

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