Being left-handed, you quickly realise controller configurations aren’t designed for our dominant hand. Right-handed people will take for granted the fact that the right trigger is used for pretty much everything nowadays in gaming, and as the name suggests, is on the right-hand side. The dominant thumbstick is therefore on the left side of the controller, which does help balance things out somewhat. In the case of Mina & Michi though, even this acts like a disadvantage.
Much like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, you’ll need to be pretty dextrous to control Mina & Michi as each character is controlled by one of the thumbsticks. The left thumbstick controls Mina, and the right one Michi. Michi acts like Mina’s bodyguard; he is invincible, powerful and the exact opposite to Mina. The latter is far more vulnerable and cannot afford to take too many hits from enemies and the deadly obstacles in her way.
Mina loves to explore her 2D world in all seasons, towing her muscle Michi behind her as she continues adventuring with reckless abandon. In this retro-looking puzzle platformer, Mina & Michi explore a world full of jelly monsters, collecting gems and keys for the sole reason to get out and have some fun. There isn’t some overlord trying to take over their world or some impending doom coming that only they can stop; they simply want to go out and enjoy themselves.
Mina & Michi takes place in one big world where each area is connected to each other. It’s almost metroidvania-like in its level design, as there are puzzles to solve and keys to find to open up otherwise locked areas.
As you progress, you will also acquire relics to help you on your journey. Early on you will unlock gloves to help you with the vast majority of the puzzles that require pushing blocks to their required location, but you will also unlock an Amulet of Might and a Gem of Power that allow the duo to attack the jelly monsters.
Very quickly you will realise the dynamics of the duo, and how Michi is most definitely the brawn. He cannot be harmed by any of the monsters or obstacles, has the better attacks, and is the only one that can destroy the rocks when you unlock the pickaxe. Mina & Michi quickly becomes a game in which you control Michi to do pretty much everything whilst Mina hides until the coast is clear.
Things do get a bit more exciting in the local multiplayer. A quick tap of the B button will instantly allow a second player to drop in and help out. There may be a fight over who gets to control Michi, but the developers cannot be held responsible for that.
Mina does have her uses though. By hugging Michi she can charge up his attacks, making them more powerful, and she is just as competent at pushing the blocks. But on Normal difficulty she starts off with just two hearts of HP, which can be whittled away very easily if you get stuck on the terrain or an obstacle.
And that is something that will happen a lot.
Death is punished by losing half of your currently acquired gems, so be prepared and don’t get too attached to them. Both Mina and Michi can be fiddly to control and frequently get caught on various obstacles in their way. Then there is the fact that it is the same button used for each character to attack and push the blocks, and often enough you will end up actioning an attack rather than pushing a block. You need to be flush against a block to be able to push it; frustratingly there is no margin for error.
Should you get used to the fiddly movement of Mina and Michi, there is a speedrun option for you. In the options menu you can add a speedrun clock to appear in the bottom right and then define your own criteria; complete the game, unlock all 20 chests or complete all 50 puzzles.
Mina & Michi is another game with involvement from Ratalaika Games, and that instantly means another load of easy achievements. This completion may take you slightly longer than some of their other offerings, but you can reach the second boss within the hour and have all 11 achievements wrapped up by then.
Despite its cutesy graphics that hark back to early Game Boy Advance titles, the shallow gameplay of Mina & Michi is rarely nostalgia-inducing. Puzzles are repetitive, enemies lack any invention and Mina is just a bit useless. It is just another game useful for achievement fodder that many will put down as quickly as they pick up once every achievement has been unlocked.
Go adventuring with Mina & Michi on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One for £4.19