Unicorn Overlord Interview Reveals Vanillaware’s Creative Roots & Design Choices

It has been about a month since the launch of Unicorn Overlord, and Atlus and Vanillaware’s tactical RPG has already achieved huge success, with over 500,000 units sold globally. We certainly enjoyed our journey with Prince Alain and the rest of the Liberation Army, and after getting a chance to ask Unicorn Overlord producer Akiyasu Yamamoto some questions to learn more about the game, the appreciation has only grown deeper.

Related – Read our Unicorn Overlord Review

unicorn overlord producer akiyasu yamamoto

Obviously, when fans think of Vanillaware, an SRPG doesn’t come across as the most likely genre for the team to explore. Yet the team has made a habit of breaking tradition and finding new ways to engage old fans and attract new ones, with Unicorn Overlord being a particular passion project for the team.

“Unicorn Overlord’s roots come from tactical RPGs of the 90s, somewhat of an anomaly that deviates from the evolution cycle that tactical RPG franchises have followed over the past three decades,” said Yamamoto.


“Additionally, back in the 90s, the 16-bit CPUs restricted creators to 2D art as a medium. As a consequence, strategy games had to adopt an unreal quality, forcing players to assume an omniscient perspective through the games’ top-down view and experience in-game events from a detached standpoint. Players needed to use their imagination to fill in the gaps, and it was this imaginative process that made these titles unforgettable experiences for us. Building upon those experiences, we aimed to create the tactical RPG of our dreams.”

That said, it was and remains a crowded space, with modern titles holding fort alongside beloved classics in the genre, and this was something that the studio considered when making the game. The “different approach to the tactical RPG genre” meant that an “innovative, new spin” on things would create something remarkable that built upon the pillars of the genre, giving Unicorn Overlord the space to breathe and carve something out for itself.

With CEO George Kamitani and director Takafumi Noma at the helm, the creativity and flexibility in designing the experience were apparent from the beginning to the end of the game, providing a masterful balance of gameplay, storytelling, and character development. For Yamamoto, this meant making certain choices to ensure things moved at a brisk but enjoyable pace.


“We immediately decided that combat would be done automatically. We had decided from the outset that combat would be automatic and that the game would have a deck-building element, where your team composition can make or break victory. However, we knew that mainstream modern tactical RPGs tend to have easy-to-learn mechanics, with original characters and stories to enjoy. What we were making would be new and unfamiliar to them. With that in mind, we spent a considerable time adjusting the game to make sure players could enjoy it.”

Both critical and commercial responses have reflected well on the confidence of the people behind the game, as well as the publisher. In the Philippines, support from fans has caught the eye of Yamamoto as well.

“The overwhelmingly positive reception from the Philippines has exceeded our wildest expectations. We’re extremely happy and deeply honored by the response to the game,” the producer shared.


“Unicorn Overlord is a gem that was molded by our passion for retro tactical RPGs and shaped by our desire to create a title for fans who have been yearning for that classic experience. The director, Takafumi Noma, and the lead game designer, Wataru Nakanishi, poured their heart and soul into making the ideal tactical RPG, so if you’re interested in checking out Unicorn Overlord after reading this article, please give the demo a try!”

Special thanks to Unicorn Overlord producer Akiyasu Yamamoto for taking the time to answer our questions about the game!

Unicorn Overlord is now available on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series, and Switch.

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