Cross-platform development is perhaps finally coming out of its slump of the last few years. Each platform has born the brunt of sloppy ports, but developers are beginning to show signs of taking far more care when they intend their game to appear on 360, PS3 and PC at once. This gets trickier when you want to catch the Wii and DS market, mind you, and often the result is extremely compromised versions of the original, possibly with a couple of lazy hand/stylus-waggling mini-games. Or there's Codemasters' approach with Overlord, making three completely different games.
For those unfamiliar, the Overlord games have you control a cruel, evil figure who lords over a gang of minions. Your primary interaction with the game is to send off your critters to do your bidding, while able to muck in on the action when needs must. It's all about being dreadful to innocent citizens, burning things down and causing as much mayhem as possible. Overlord II for the PC/PS3/360 looks like it's developing nicely, and while we've seen it running and looking very attractive, beyond the announcement of the ability to possess your minions for more intriguing puzzle opportunities, there's not much more to add to our previous preview. However, there's much more news to report on Overlord: Dark Legend for the Wii, and Overlord: Minions for the DS.
Overlord: Dark Legend (Wii)
When developing for the Wii, quite a few too many developers have fallen into the trap of thinking players should look like they're performing semaphore while having a seizure. Fortunately Dark Legend developer Climax has taken a rather more sedate, mature approach. Attempting to create a 'hardcore' game for the mainstream machine, the only concession to inane waggling antics appears when prepping a minion to violently explode, and we've decreed this is acceptable.
Set before the events of 2007's original Overlord, you play the titular hero in his younger years, wielding an army of minions through a series of fairytale-spoofing scenarios. Using the Wiimote as a cursor, you sweep your gang of four different colours of minions into the fray, while controlling the Overlord on the nunchuk. It looks to be a very sensible application of the Wii's main strengths: the ability to point independently of your movement.
The first and most apparent fairytale to get twisted is Cinderella. Turning it in on itself, the Overlord grew up in a terrible castle, mistreated by his father, and bullied by his brother and sister. The action begins on the miserable occasion of his 16th birthday. Dad is out of town, which offers an excellent opportunity to cause trouble. The Overlord's brother is in an alignment with the Elves, while his sister is on the side of the Dwarves. So it seems like just the right time to cause a civil war in Gromgard.
From what we've seen so far, there appears to be a greater focus on the Overlord's own magical abilities in this incarnation, with quite an impressive arsenal of spells to fire with the Wiimote when you're not guiding the minions' antics. There's also the aforementioned minion exploding, which is achieved by grabbing them around the throat and throttling them until the point where they are ready to burst. Burst they do.
Despite the abundance of strangling, there have been a few concessions to the Wii market. While not interested in making a watered down "casual" version, certain elements have been removed to keep the age rating down to a 12+. The Mistresses that appear in both Overlord and Overlord II are absent, meaning there's no boinking, and the drinking/pissing behaviour of the minions has also been expunged. Neither really needs to be lamented in its absence, and the Wii version shares Overlord II's desire to be far more evil than the original's rather damp offering of naughtiness.