Putting a castle in your pocket isn’t terribly comfortable. That’s both a fact and a fitting assessment of Pocket Minions.

The medieval landscape has become one that is very familiar to gamers. Developer SiuYiu Games puts those simpler times on your iOS device, giving you the opportunity to gather resources, protect territories, and even fight dragons in Pocket Minions. But is this game a mobile medieval lord? Or is it nothing but a court jester?

The aim of Pocket Minions seems pretty straight forward: Build a tower that is occupied by bunches of busy workers. That’s the game at its most basic, but there’s tons of depths behind the tower walls. Your minions will be tasked with more busy work than your substitute math teacher gave out in the 6th grade to distract you from the fact that they had no idea how to teach long division. The best comparison one can make to Pocket Minions is a more involved Tiny Tower, so folks that found NimbleBit’s tower manger to be a bit much best turn back now.

 

Here’s a basic breakdown of how this medieval game of micromanagement plays: You start the game and build the first floor. Recruit minions to live on that floor to complete specific tasks. Build another floor on top of it, assigning new minions with another line of work to reside there. Rinse, wash, repeat until you reach the peak building level (the Middle Ages had notoriously strict building permits) and then start another castle. The rest of the game is maintenance on every level, gathering resources to continue to build, defeating potential threats to your stone kingdom, and keeping your workers happy. That’s right, they’ve got feelings too.

While your minions will continue to produce their specialized item or complete their tasks on schedule, they also have needs to be kept happy. Short yourself on food producers and you’ll wind up with stomachs grumbling for revolt. Forget to create maids and your workers will become unhappy living in filth. While you’re busy keeping all of them satisfied with their current position in your hierarchy, you’ll also have to click constantly to collect the items they produce and have to collect rent. If you’ve ever considered becoming a landlord, put playing this game on your property management resume.

The added layer of depth seems like a great formula for fun, but in Pocket Minions, there’s simply too much going on at any one time. What makes this entire experience even more overwhelming is the fact that the controls aren’t terribly responsive. If you’re looking to make very specific touches, prepare for the game to disagree with your choice and select something else. It’s extremely frustrating when time is of the essence.

 Pocket Minions     Pocket Minions

If there’s one thing SiuYiu Games nailed with Pocket Minions, it’s the thematic devices. The music, orchestral in its sound, is rather good. Catchy, at times bordering on epic. The graphics are spectacular and makes you want to spend most of your time zoomed in to get as much joy as possible out of the detailed design. If it weren’t for the less than stellar gameplay, it would be a great title to show off your retina display. The characters are cute, the scenery and setting is pitch perfect, and the castles are made to look like they’re worth exploring. We just wish that was actually the case.

Life for the minions of Pocket Minions is tough. It’s all work and no play, all day every day. Tasks are excessive and production is sometimes difficult. Even though they’re cute and appealing and everything looks good, the downsides of Minions make it not quite worth your time.

It’s funny how fitting an analogy the main characters of this title are for the game itself. There’s too much to do here and not enough of a reason to do it. Pocket Minions is one of the rare occasions where ambition works against a game.