“`html Unicorn Overlord aims to bring tactical RPGs back to the ‘90s

Vanillaware, known for its signature style, has ventured into different genres over the years. From the side-scrolling action RPG Odin Sphere to the recent sci-fi epic 13 Sentinels, the studio has displayed its versatility while maintaining its unique 2D art.

The studio’s next project, Unicorn Overlord, is a tactical RPG inspired by classic titles. Ahead of its launch in March (scheduled for PlayStation, Xbox, and the Switch), I had the opportunity to interview producer Akiyasu Yamamoto about the game’s origins and the process of creating a new fantasy universe.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Did the idea of creating a new tactical game precede the development of the fantasy universe for Unicorn Overlord?

Yamamoto: The idea of creating a tactical RPG came first. We have always been drawn to the tactical RPGs of the ‘90s and felt that the current market lacked new titles in this genre. With our passion for tactical RPGs, we set out to develop Unicorn Overlord, blending elements from both digital and analog games of the ‘90s.

How does Unicorn Overlord differentiate itself from other fantasy universes and tactical RPGs?

Yamamoto: When conceptualizing the game, we focused on leveraging our expertise in 2D graphics to create a grand-scale world from an overworld perspective. This, combined with modern game design, sets Unicorn Overlord apart from other titles in the genre.

Did the development of 13 Sentinels provide insights for creating a large tactical game with numerous characters while maintaining accessibility for players?

Yamamoto: While there might have been some shared knowledge from the development of 13 Sentinels, our primary inspiration for Unicorn Overlord was drawn from the resource management and character dynamics of ‘90s tactical RPGs.

Akiyasu Yamamoto.


Image: Atlus

The implementation of the event archive in the “Analysis” section of 13 Sentinels garnered valuable feedback from players. In this project, we’ve also prepared an extensive text archive revealing the backgrounds of many characters and their interrelationships. Although localizing this content presented challenges, the team takes pride in their work to implement it in order to convey the world’s charm to everyone.

Do projects like this prioritize approachability? Is the goal to satisfy dedicated players or reach a larger audience?

Yamamoto: The latter takes precedence. Our main objective for this title is to establish something of interest as the core, then carefully refine and enhance it to be enjoyable to as many people as possible.

What makes strategy games a good vehicle for telling large stories like this?

Yamamoto: After developing this game, we believe that overseeing activities from above and creating a sense of scale and epicness are the biggest sources of excitement in this title.

The incorporation of elements that we believe will be very exciting for players to enjoy in our era is something we find very exciting in these types of tactical games, for which we are yet to find an answer.

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