When we played Overlord: Dark Legend a month ago, everything suggested that Climax had pulled off a spot-on interpretation of Triumph Studios' minion-meddling gameplay for the Wii. Blessed by a fluid point-and-click control system that lends itself perfectly to this deliciously evil brand of action strategy, the only lingering doubt was whether it offered enough depth and challenge behind the evident accessibility.
For those of you confused by the proliferation of Overlord titles hitting the shelves later this week, here's the deal. Instead of trying to shoehorn Overlord II into platforms ill suited to the level design, Codemasters instead took the altogether more sensible decision to tailor a specific version to each platform. In the Wii's case, we get a prequel rather than a sequel, and travel back to the days when the Overlord had just turned 16 and become aware of his all-conquering evil powers.
Under the guidance of the perennially amusing Minion Master, Gnarl, the young Overlord is left to his own devices in Castle Gromgard, where inevitable mischief ensues. As with all the Overlord games to date, things play out as part third-person adventure, part real-time strategy, where you get to 'sweep' minions around the screen to do your evil bidding, as well as directly control the nefarious Overlord and indulge in some hackandslash antics when you feel so inclined.
Typical: you wait all decade for a decent Wii game and three turn up at once. Titles like Little King's Story and Boom Blox: Bash Party are proving it's not just Nintendo who can produce decent games for the console. What's more, they don't all have to revolve around fitness, cooking or mini-games that are less fun than meningitis.
If you missed Overlord last time around, you're unlikely to miss it on 26th June, when Codemasters releases Overlord II for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, Overlord: Dark Legend for Wii and Overlord: Minions for DS. What's more, publisher and Wii/DS developer Climax have been labouring to make sure that the Nintendo-console versions are more than just the usual 2D platform game spin-off, as you will know if you read our recent previews of both. Using the miracle of email, we caught up with associate producer Dean Scott to discuss getting the most out of the Wii, potentially cannibalising your own audience and what to do as a third party on a Nintendo system.
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.
Triumph Studios on Overlord II, Blackadder and evil-doing.
Codemasters has commanded Triumph (and Climax) to make more Overlord, as you have no doubt seen in our Overlord II and Overlord Wii/DS news stories. Which is music - probably thundering kettle drums - to our ears. Overlord let us trample through scenic fantasy villages and set hordes of multi-disciplined and mischievous minions on fat halflings and skinny elves. The result was glowing appraisals of Overlord on Xbox 360, and the same a year later on PS3.
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