It’s like The Lost Vikings, but with weird little demons.
Remember that old SNES game, The Lost Vikings? In it, you took control of three comical Norse warriors who are, as the title suggests, lost. They had to puzzle their way through some intricately built levels that required the Vikings to split up and use their individual talents to open doors so that they could all make it to the stage's exit. Overlord: Minions is exactly the same concept, only there are four characters and the presentation has been changed from a 2-D sidescroller to a 3-D isometric viewpoint. The game is very fun, despite the occasional glitch and mindless combat. If you liked the Vikings, you'll like the Minions, too.
The story is, dare I say, unimportant. As the Overlord (who doesn’t really show up in the game), you control the actions of four devilish Minions: Blaze, Stench, Zap, and Giblet. Although superficially similar, each Minion has its own talents. Zap can walk through water; Giblet is strong and can move boxes and brave wind storms; Blaze is good with fire; and Stench has a host of fart-based talents, as well as the ability to move through toxic gas.
The game is divided into six impressively large levels, each with a number of stages. The puzzles only get more complex the farther into the game you get. While you will initially be controlling only two Minions at a time, you will quickly graduate to three- and four-Minion missions. The Minions usually move as a group, guided by the stylus (a la Phantom Hourglass), and interact with or attack anything you slide the stylus over. Most of the time you'll be controlling one Minion at a time to get through environmental puzzles. For example, a locked door seals your troop off from a room. However, a river runs alongside the door. You tap Zap's icon and have him run down the river to hit a switch and open the door. Once inside, there's a wall that needs blowing up. Have Stench eat a berry, which causes him to fart profusely. Guide your fetid friend over to the cracked wall, and then switch to Blaze, who sets the gaseous trail alight, causing the wall to be blown apart. Slide your stylus over all three icons to have the group band together, and on you go. That's essentially the whole game—figuring out environmental puzzles of rising complexity while dealing with a multitude of enemies. You are scored based on enemies killed, respawns used, breakables broken, and treasure chests found at the end of every stage, so there's some incentive to go back to previously-completed levels. Doing well unlocks concept art, which are really just individual character portraits.
Combat is utterly simplistic: slash at an enemy to attack it. A few baddies have specific weaknesses (e.g. only Zap can hurt aura-infused undead enemies), but for the most part, the combat is a flop. Enemies exist solely to drop keys and lengthen your time in any given stage. Contrary to the rest of the combat, the game’s bosses present unique combat situations in that you must work as a team to create a chain of events which result in damage to the monster. If one of your Minions dies, you can run over to a spawn point (handily marked on the top screen's map) and respawn him. Later in the game you have to be a bit more careful, as spawn points will become color-coded to a specific Minion. One interesting bug I repeatedly encountered was trying to respawn a Minion at one spawn point and having him appear at different one, often clear across the map. This is not how it's supposed to work, as in most cases the respawn happened as it should've, with no differences in circumstance. In no instance did this break the game (the respawned Minion was never trapped), but it was kind of irritating. The game looks nice overall, though the color palette is unusually limited. Environments are a bit boring, especially after wandering through the same-colored corridors for three stages in a row. Character models are clean and fairly sharp. The Minions themselves are not carbon copies of the same model, though you sometimes have to look hard to see it. The animation is limited for all the characters, even the (anti-) heroes, which quickly becomes noticeable. Cut-scenes consisting of unanimated, lazily-drawn character portraits open every stage.
Despite its simplistic premise, Overlord: Minions ramps up in complexity pretty quickly, yet remains quite fun. If you’re a fan of environmental puzzle-based games with cooperation elements (did you like The Lost Vikings?), you'll get a kick out of Overlord: Minions.