Like the lovely Lil' Kingdom, Pocket Minions is a medieval tower-building game, but rather than building an endless castle full of jesters, alchemy shops and the like, this is a story-based game where you build a series of towers across a map, and fend off attacks from the dragons that plague the lands.
As with most games in the genre, you need to carefully balance your expansion with the wants and needs of your residents. If you have too many miserable peasants wandering around your magnificent castle, you can build them a jester show venue which will cheer them up no end, and the tutorial does a very good job of introducing you to this endless interplay of desires within the compound.
Those dragon attacks add some welcome spice to proceedings, and whenever you come under attack you'll want to make sure that your barracks are up and running so you can drag guards onto the rooftops to take ranged pot-shots at the enemy. This is another little tweak that developer SiuYiu has brought to the genre, allowing you to take a very hands-on role with the castle inhabitants.
The game's biggest problem though is that everything is so small. Each individual character on the screen is incredibly tiny and the game does a poor job of taking advantage of the larger screen of the iPad. It's incredibly easy to select the wrong NPC whenever two of them are in close proximity to each other, and I'm afraid this is a road that leads to much swearing and jabbing of the screen.
While the game offers far more purpose to your endless endeavors than most, Pocket Minions doesn't offer anything like the freedom and flexibility offered by Lil' Kingdom. For a start, you're severely limited in how you go about expanding on each of your towers, as your residents belligerently demand a furnace every three levels, a toilet for every eight people, and so on.
Their productivity plummets if these basic needs aren't attended to, and yet there's very little space within each floor to lay down new room types and make the tower your own. Ultimately, you'll struggle to push on further with what is a very welcome twist in the micro-sim genre, knowing that you'll have to replicate so much of what's been done before, just to get to the new scenario. It's a real pity.
What Pocket Minions does offer up is a very solid (if fiddly) tower-construction game with a few neat twists. It doesn't make egregious demands on your wallet via the entirely optional in-app purchase system, and the soundtrack is jaunty enough to have laid an ear-worm in my head that hasn't left since I stopped playing several hours ago! It's by no means perfect, but it is a refreshing change of pace for tower-building lovers, even if genre newcomers would be better served by other titles on the App Store.
What's Hot: A neat twist on the tower-building genre, some very infectious music, and a very gentle in-app purchase system.
What's Not: Extremely fiddly controls, and limited expansion freedom.