Maximizing minis: A Look At ‘Young Thor’ And Frima’s Love For All Things Tiny

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Developer of fan-favourite Zombie Tycoon and the recently launched Young Thor talks about rethinking just how big a minis title can get.

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The recent launch of Young Thor has been a tremendous occasion for our studio, and finally launching one of the biggest minis titles to date has brought up a lot of warm praise and even some questions from the fans. In short, I’d love to take this opportunity to tell you how this project came about, and fill you in on our unique approach to minis.
Nearly three years ago, an idea came to us for a project surrounding a fresh take on Norse mythology. We wanted to make something that we’d enjoy as hardcore gamers, but also something for all ages that our families could dive into at the same time. While we weren’t exactly sure where we would decide to take the game, our imaginations ran wild before we got into the actual game design itself. We created our own animated short for Young Thor that helped us wrap our heads around what we wanted to do. Once finished, we all knew that we still wanted to tell this story in game form, but we wanted to do so in the same vein as an animated short. At the time, there just wasn’t really a platform for that.
We DID know that we loved the PlayStation platform, but we didn’t want to stretch things into a full-on retail game, nor did we want to go as big as a downloadable PSN game. We needed a format that could help us encapsulate the essence of a short animated film, yet retain the feel of the all-out epic adventure we wanted to enjoy. By 2009, we knew that Sony had exactly what we were looking for when the PlayStation minis were first announced.

Maximizing Minis: A Look at 'Young Thor' and Frima's Love for All Things Tiny Maximizing Minis: A Look at 'Young Thor' and Frima's Love for All Things Tiny Maximizing Minis: A Look at 'Young Thor' and Frima's Love for All Things Tiny

Maximizing Minis: A Look at 'Young Thor' and Frima's Love for All Things Tiny

Images from Young Thor’s design
This is what led us to the launch of our first mini, Zombie Tycoon, a ghoulish take on the RTS genre that was designed to be played in as short or long bursts as needed. Once we wrapped up that project, we finally had time to go back to the drawing board on Young Thor. Not only did this mean a total redesign of the characters and the logo, this also meant we were faced with the challenge of creating not necessarily a ‘full-length’ action epic, but a ‘mini-length’ action epic. A game that would fit the tone for what minis are all about, yet still retain the same production value as a full-blown retail game.

Maximizing Minis: A Look at 'Young Thor' and Frima's Love for All Things Tiny Maximizing Minis: A Look at 'Young Thor' and Frima's Love for All Things Tiny Maximizing Minis: A Look at 'Young Thor' and Frima's Love for All Things Tiny img-fallenWarrior

The Cast of Young Thor
I’d say that overall, this was definitely the most challenging piece of new territory for us; rethinking a lot of how we knew games could be presented and trying something fresh. In our story, we wanted Young Thor to travel through rich and vibrant environments, but we also only wanted to focus in on four of the Norse realms where we would follow him on his journey.
This meant that we would give the player an epic experience, bashing their way through all four worlds, upgrading experience and finding rare items – but this also meant keeping the experience brief, or ‘mini’, as you will. This was an idea we fell in love with, but also wanted to see if we could flesh things out for the hardcore players like us. With this notion, we gave players the option to re-explore those same levels with a completely different set of enemies and challenges, also giving 50 different achievements to complete. This was precisely our goal: a short, epic story for everyone with plenty extra packed in for the hardcore gamers like us.

Maximizing Minis: A Look at 'Young Thor' and Frima's Love for All Things Tiny

A few of Young Thor’s Epic Items
This is why we love the minis so much. We have the ability to create something for everyone, tell our stories, hook players in just long enough to finish, and then give them even more gameplay on top of it. We encourage players to check out all of our minis, and not to miss Widgets Odyssey II which launched this week and which echoes many of our same approaches we had with Young Thor. I also want to thank everyone again for supporting Frima, and we look forward to continuing our delivery of quality games on minis that come from big ideas.

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Young Thor in final form!

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10 Comments

  • Thats great!………..Now whats the deal with this PSN trophy error a lot of people are getting when they try to sync?

  • I bought Widget’s Odyssey 1 last night (and also have young Thor). Love the production values in these games. Nice intros and cutscenes, sometimes even voiced – all pretty impressive for the minis format in my opinion.

  • I’ve been enjoying Thor – nice work guys and also hearing good things about the Widget games so i’ll check them out too.

  • I am happy to see he has red hair

  • Is there a reason Minis can’t have trophies? I think this would be a big incentive for people. Even if they capped Minis at two bronze trophies, it would be something.

  • Let me just tell you wonderful folks at Frima – I absolutely Love Young Thor. It’s nice to see a development studio put their heart into a teeny, bite-sized game, and turn it into something that can stand up to the massive titles on the platform.
    I was pleasantly suprised to see the amount of detail that went into this game.
    Let me tell you, I am now an active fan, and cannot wait to see your next game!
    Thank you for this awesome title! :D

  • Will there be trophies implemented with minis.. this would be awesome.

  • Young Thor is an amazing mini, I have enjoyed quite throughly. The Frima studio is great. I may want to check out the Widget games. Go on, Frima.

  • Well I need to put at least £5 in to get the super stardust soundtrack I want so I reckon maybe I’ll get Young Thor to make up the rest of the cost too. Looks pretty cool and I’ve liked what I’ve seen of it before so I should just go get it now.

  • Dear Frima,
    when I was a kid, I played many of your games. Why? Well because you started out with flash games. In fact, I remember playing Widget Odyssey on my PC. I’m not trashing you, I just wonder if you’re gonna do a full-on downloadable game instead of a mini, like Joe Danger and Critter Crunch. I know you can do it, I just wonder when or if you’re even considering it.

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