What do you call a dark ride without ride vehicles? Villain-Con Minion Blast.
Universal Studios Florida's new interactive attraction places visitors on the show floor of the latest Villain-Con, now back in Orlando after that 1968 gathering depicted in the first Minions movie. But instead of sitting riders in buggies, cars, mini Gru-mobiles or any other expensive conveyance that theme parks typically employ to carry their guests past the waiting targets, Universal here opted to make us stand on a moving walkway.
Frankly, while blasting away, I didn't notice that I was standing rather than sitting for this adventure. If anything, standing around fits with the trade-show setting for this contest, where we supposedly are aiming (pun intended) to become the next member of the Vicious 6 - the gang of super-villains that Gru longed to join.
Villain-Con's pre-show area creates that show floor in amazing detail, immersing visitors in displays from companies looking to sell all sorts of contraptions to super-villains and would-be super-villains, including us. But before you get into the preshow area, use your time in the outdoor queue to set up the Universal Orlando app, which synchs with the E-Liminator X guns that you will be using on the Minion Blast course.
And while you are in the queue, and throughout the Minion Land in fact, you can score points in the app by scanning V6 icons on walls on the show floor and other Minion Land locations. Victor Lugo, Director of Immersive Experiences for Universal Creative, explains how to use the app on Villain-Con Minion Blast in our preshow walk-through video.
As someone who's been using the Universal Studios Hollywood app to track score and complete tasks in Super Nintendo World, this was nothing new to me. But if you've not been to Hollywood or Japan since Nintendo opened, this is going to be something new to you. (At least, as I said when Nintendo opened in California, Universal built this gameplay into its existing park apps instead of requiring you to download and use another app *cough* like Play Disney Parks *cough*.)
That said, the complexity of options available in the app reveals what I thought to be the weakness of Villain-Con Minion Blast's gameplay for first-time visitors - it's overwhelming. The E-Liminator X is one of the bulkiest shooters that I have used on an interactive attraction. It's a two-hander for sure, if for no other reason than this gun has two triggers. Fortunately, it's relatively light in weight, so my hands never cramped nor felt tired while playing.
My eyes, however? Yi, yi, yi, my eyes. Like Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Villain-Con Minion Blasts revels in visual overload. Good luck picking out which of the countless targets on screen you ought to be aiming for here. Just spray fire wherever and learn from there.
Villain-Con Minion Blast plays on multiple screens, including some visual shout-outs to sights around the Universal Orlando Resort. I especially appreciated the call-back to the Orca, the boat used hunt the shark in the original "Jaws" (RIP). My score improved on my second try, as I found making visual sense of the gameplay easier with another go. Universal has designed Villain-Con Minion Blast for the long-haul, creating an experience that rewards loyal and frequent players, even at the risk of overwhelming some people at first.
Would I have appreciated the opportunity to sit down while playing this game? Sure. But how may first-person shooter games play with characters who are sitting down? A super-villain needs to think, scheme and shoot on their feet, so consider this appropriate training for your evil future career.
And if you don't make it into the Vicious 6... hey, at least the inside is well air-conditioned. And blasting away is always fun. So strap up and enjoy.
For a look at everything else in Universal's newly designated Minion Land, please read my previous post, Let's tour Universal Studios Florida's new Minion Land.
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