Electronic Arts’ mobile division is unveiling its Minions Paradise, a new mobile game based on the lovable characters from the first two Despicable Me films. Those movies have generated more than $1.5 billion in box office revenues since 2010. A third film is in the works, and the Minions’ own movie debuts on July 10.

At a preview event, we got a hands-on look at the new Minions Paradise game from Mike Rasmussen, the general manager of a new EA Mobile studio in Salt Lake City. The title looks a lot like The Sims, viewed in third person from above as you look down on the cute yellow Minions on a tropical island. The title will ship on July 7, just before the Minions movie.

Rasmussen said his team in Salt Lake City has been able to work closely with Illumination Entertainment. Together, they created an exclusive story and a new hero named Phil, a Minion who can’t do anything right. The Minions go on a cruise vacation, but Phil causes the ship to wreck, forcing the Minions to escape to a deserted tropical island. There, your job as Phil is to rehabilitate your reputation and build the ultimate Minion’s Paradise.

Phil’s buddies are furious that he ruined their awesome vacation. You have to unleash your creativity, party with the Minions, and explore the island. Phil starts out by building a tiki lounge and giving out coconut drinks. He runs out, so he has to send the Minions off to gather coconuts.

“What could go wrong, right?” Rasmussen said. “Well, with Minions, everything can go wrong. These little touches of humor bring these characters to life.”

As you get more items, you can combine them to create things like ninja stars and swamp gas grenades. You can entertain yourself playing mini games, such as riding on the back of a crocodile. You go fishing, but an alligator bites on the hook and swims off, pulling your minion along like a water skier.

“We give you a blank canvas to create your own Minions Paradise,” Rasmussen said.

EA hopes that the Minions game will last for a while, in part because the movies will keep on coming and also because you’re just going to build, build, and build.

“We did a lot of research before creating the game. What we found is that players really want to play with their minions,” he said. “They want to build things for the minions. They want to have a very tactile experience. They want to be able to reach through the glass and interact with this world of minions. As we started to create the game design, it centered around that.”

Paradise island games are very popular on mobile. But Rasmussen said the team didn’t just want to create another such game.

He added, “We didn’t actually arrive at it that way. We just thought, ‘How would players want to interact with the minions?’ There was this iconic image in Despicable Me where all the minions go to this island. There’s a water slide in that image that we actually put in our game. It just captured the feeling that we wanted to go for. We want all the minions to have their ideal place and to have the players be able to create that place for them. Paradise just worked. One of the things I think works well is that when people play mobile games, they want to have a short escape. The idea here is that you’re going to take a little minions vacation and go to this paradise for a moment to escape.”

The mobile game action starts at Phil's shack in Minions Paradise

Above: The mobile game action starts at Phil’s shack in Minions Paradise.

Image Credit: EA