DS Review: Overlord Minions

Disappointment will always find a way…

Meet Giblet, Blaze, Stench, and Zap – an elite Minion crew who, assisted by minion master Gnarl, get star billing in Overlord Minions, an irresistible and accessible puzzle action game, designed exclusively for Nintendo DS. In Overlord Minions, the Overlord commands the Minion team remotely. The Nintendo DS stylus becomes an extension of his evil will and every precise Touch Screen command is the player-as-Overlord directing, commanding and combining minions in battle, pointing and sweeping them to attack enemies and solving puzzles to execute his dastardly plans.
Controlling the Special Farces team of four, players negotiate fiendish levels and take on a huge range of warped enemies to hunt down the Kindred, a cult dedicated to resurrecting the mighty Dragon Kin, a race of humanoid dragon hybrids, determined to replace the Overlord’s despotism with their own. Extending the Overlord series’ trademark humour, gameplay focuses on the mischievous physical comedy of the minion’s antics and is delivered in a stylised cartoon visual style.

At the time of writing this review, I’m actually going through the original Overlord on the 360 and am having a blast with it as I did when I first played through it when it came out. Also being a fan of Pikmin, I’ve always wondered why Nintendo haven’t put the DS and the series together. Overlord Minions appears to attempt something similar, but sadly it just lacks the charm of its bigger brothers.

The game starts out quite well, but it becomes problematic when you struggle to get your minions to hit switches or enemies. It just becomes an excuse for scratching the stylus all over the screen to get them to respond, it’s inaccurate and very annoying. I guess that’s the problem with making a game where you just use the stylus. Sure, it worked with the likes of Phantom Hourglass…but that’s because Nintendo knew what they were doing. Overlord Minions looks and feels like it’s half-baked, which is a shame since Overlord’s new adventures seem to be pressing all the right buttons (Reviews for them coming early next week).
Overlord Minions only lets you control a total of 4 minions and it’s more of a puzzle game than a proper Overlord one. I don’t get why they didn’t just attempt a proper game and show Nintendo why the handheld needs Pikmin, surely that’s the point of Dark Legend on Wii…to prove that Pikmin 3 can be done on the system and luckily for the team, they have no competition for that at the moment. The puzzles are also pretty simple, that’s if you can actually get the minions to do what you want. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does…it’s frustrating.

If there’s one good thing to be said about Overlord Minions, it’s that it does keep the humour of the series well. The story is also quite good, it’s just a shame that it doesn’t have the gameplay to back it up. Visually, it’s not too bad…but it doesn’t exactly set the handheld on fire.

The Verdict

Overlord Minions is sadly a missed opportunity for both the DS and the series. It had potential and perhaps would have been a good game if the response was more accurate and not just a means of slashing the screen with the stylus. If they do decide to make a DS sequel, let’s hope these problems are fixed so Gnarl won’t be so angry…


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