Overlord (1990)

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a game by Virgin, and Acclaim Studios Cheltenham
Genre: Strategy/War
Platforms: DOS, NESNES
Editor Rating: 7.7/10, based on 5 reviews
User Rating: 9.3/10 - 3 votes
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See also: Old School Games
Overlord (1990)
Overlord (1990)
Overlord (1990)
Overlord (1990)

Wanted: Planet Overlord. The right candidate will be an adventurer with a strong pioneer spirit. Experience in colonizing and making planets habitable for human populations is a strong plus. The ability to manage complex economic resources is a must. Experience in battling merciless alien races required. Possibilities for promotion endless -- successful applicants will have the opportunity to create and rule their own planet systems. Send all applications to the leaders of the Galactic Federation. Those with an aversion to strategic simulations need not apply!

Go Forth and Multiply

Rev up your brain cells, gamers. Overlord by Virgin Games is a massive one-player strategic simulation game in the style of SimCity and Populous. The Galactic Federation's interested in colonizing four barren planet systems in the Epsilon Galaxy. They're willing to give you the job of planet Overlord if you can successfully build the Starbases in four planet systems into a system-wide empire. Unfortunately, Rom, leader of a nasty race of aggressive aliens, wants to colonize the same systems. Get the picture?

When you take command as Overlord, you'll immediately notice the game's superior NES graphics and complex menu system. It looks really cool, but Overlord's appeal is very specific. More than a few gamers are gonna find Overlord is just too complicated for blastoff. The standard icon-driven point-and-click control system takes some getting used to, and, if you don't read the massive manual, your planets will be doomed.

Would-be Overlords who survive and master the initial information onslaught will find themselves drawn into an absorbing simulation. You can attempt to colonize the four planet systems in any order, but there's an obvious progression of difficulty. If you begin a normal game, you've got a single Star base and the rest of the system to conquer. You can Save a game in progress, or select a Preset Game, which randomly gives both you and Rom a number of different planets and resources.

ProTip: Begin with the eight planet Ristotsu system and work your way up to the 32 planets of the Yottsu.

Divide and Conquer

Overlord is not for the gaming faint-of- heart or those who have an aversion to too much thinking while playing games. Once you're ready to colonize, you've got constant decision making, planet monitoring, and resource allocating to do.

  • Your first step in any game is to purchase an Atmosphere Processor and use it to begin formatting a new planet for habitation. Planet conditions range from Unformatted (no atmosphere) to Volcanic (lots of minerals for mining) to Tropical (good farming) and more.
  • Don't forget that you can always transfer the funds generated from the colonized planets back to your Star base. However, you've got to spend money to make money. Plow your profits back into improved equipment and resources for your colonies.

Once you've got a planet going, it's all uphill. It's up to you to purchase equipment, send it to different planets, check on food levels, monitor energy levels, gauge fuel levels, and oversee population growth for each of your different colonies. You also have to monitor and transfer the necessary monetary resources from colony to colony, set taxes, investigate and colonize new planets, spy on the enemy, and prepare to defend each colony from Rorn's inevitable attack. Got a headache yet? All of these activities involve constant, and frequently confusing, movement from window to window. In the tougher campaigns with many planets it can be pretty frustrating to even track what's going on.

  • Always double check the planet icon to see which planet you're transferring to and from. It's easy to think that you've moved equipment to one planet when you didn't!
  • Don't forget to buy Cargo Cruisers. They're an excellent way to shuttle resources among your different colonies. For example, Farming Stations work more efficiently on Tropical planets. Colonize a Tropical planet, stock it with Farming Stations, and then use Cargo Cruisers to move the food to less fortunate colonies.
  • The second item each planet needs is a Farming Station. If you want your colony to grow, you need people to populate it No food, no people!
  • Satellites are a good place to begin with any new planet. They generate energy that beams to the planet's surface. Mining and Fanning Stations won't work without energy.

The only change of pace occurs when Rom attacks one of your planets or you attack one of his. The action then switches to an overhead-view of the battle scene. You observe your forces and Rorn's as they fight-to-the-death over the disputed planet.

Never neglect the defense of your colonies. Stock up on weapons, or all your hard work will end up for naught when Rom overruns your planets. Remember, the best defense is a good offense!

Lord Have Mercy

Overlord's an 8-bit masterpiece, albeit one with a limited appeal. Who would have thought that such a cool simulation could be stuffed onto an NES format? Unfortunately, most gamers probably aren't going to have the patience or interest to master Overlord's complexities. But if you're one of the few, the brave, the die-hard simulation power-mongers, Overlord's a brave new adventure looking for a master.

Download Overlord (1990)


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
  • P-200, 32 MB RAM

Game Reviews

Ever wanted to develop an entire solar system to your liking? Now you can, with Overlord from Virgin Games! This simulation lets you take control of a pilgrimage across the galaxy. You can buy atmosphere processors, farming equipment and protect your planets from invasion. Once a planet has been inhabited, you must control the government to avoid plagues, rebellion and hunger. Beware of renegade ships!

People say:


This type of game is similar to other popular computer titles that let you become the creator of civilizations. This game has a more laid back approach, however, which benefits it greatly. Kick in some battles, the need for weapon systems and other options any galactic ruler would need and you get a decent simulation.


A good concept for a game and well executed version also. While the average person will get overwhelmed immediately with all the options and icons, the game really begins to get moving once you've read the instructions and understand how complex this cart really is! Not for the action crowd, this one requires brains.


Overlord is an interesting game. It is a COMPUTER game though and most computer ports to NES are not very exciting. There is a lot to do and the game is very involving but all I really found was a bunch of subscreens filled with click-on icons and a little action that seemed like an over glorified Missile Command.


Overlord starts out as a highly interesting game. Wow! You can create worlds and oversee their development! Well, if only it were that easy. This is a title that clearly screams to put onto 16-bit machines due to the complexity and graphics required to make it mind-blowing. As it is, it loses before it from the moment go.

Overlord is an NES war game, manufactured by Virgin Interactive and released in 1993. The game is a lot like SimEarth, only instead of natural planet energy here they use currency. Also wars instead of being waged out automatically by the Central Processing Unit, are controlled manually by the player.

In this game there are four galaxies that the player can go through, struggling with evil aliens in their spaceships, and finally taking the entire control of their starbase, so that the human begins will be able to colonize the whole universe. For more highly developed galaxy and harder warlord, the player receives more freedom in purchasing spaceships. Then, because of growing population, that means more tax dollars that can be re-routed to headquarters, the player has to watch the energy and food usage of his colonists. Also, the Space Federation will disown the player for attacking an enemy before the enemy attacks him/her. It will force the player fight the alien menace on his/her own.

One universe with many planets is at your fingertips. Working from a single starbase, your job is to format barren planets and colonize them. At the same time, an evil dictator is trying to do the same, but his intentions are to conquer and destroy anyone who gets in his way. With this in mind, you need to set up an army. In addition, cargo ships, satellites, farming and mining stations, atmosphere processors need to be built to sustain life on the various planets.

In Overlord, most of the playing time will take place on a control screen in which you may use icons to perform specific functions. From here, you can monitor the status of your people, food, energy and fuel. First, you must buy the ships that are needed to transport materials from your starbase. Then, buy all of the necessary equipment for the starbase and send a planet formatter to the other planets, so you can initiate life and rule over them. Quick decisions have to be made when reports indicate that food, fuel and population levels are critical on a certain planet's surface. Tax your civilians to get you money to buy machines that will create the necessary resources for the survival of your people. Not only will you have to be wary of these things, but you will also have to take into consideration the threat of war from your enemy's planets. To be prepared for an invasion you should set up military installations on the surface of your worlds. Buy missiles, hover tanks, bases, battle cruisers and more to defend your planet. When attacked, go to the combat screen, and monitor your progress in battle.

This is a fast-moving game with a very fixed set of objectives, and that's extremely welcome. Overlord makes you feel like a ruler with a mission, and time and events are conspiring against you.

As the absolu te ru ler of Epsi Ion, you are up against four newly discovered enemies. You must defeat them one at a time, which means taking control of their starbases. Once you've captured an enemy starbase, you can amass troops and ships in preparation for conquering the next foe. You win by defeating all four of them in succession, thereby remaining supreme commander of the known universe.

Although you can open the contest against any one of the four enemy commanders, the apelike Wotok is the most obvious choice. Wotok's planetary system, Hitotsu, has only eight planets to worry about, and Wotok isn't partieuIarly bright.

Once you've conquered Wotok, move on to the Futatsu system and its leader, Smine. Here, 16 planets await your, uh, liberation, but Smine is smarter than Wotok. Next comes the 32-planet Mittsu system, whose reptilian commander, Krart, is very good at strategy. Finally there's the mysterious and brilliant Rorn, who rules the 32-planet Yottsu system. If you get past him, you've won the game - but doing so is anything but easy.

At the beginning of each stage, you have control over nothing but your starport, a planet which serves as your base of operations. Your opponent has control of his starport as well. Between the starports are planets waiting to be colonized. Each planet is a worthless shell, and your first task is to build an atmosphere processor to "format" the world. Once a planet is formatted, you can send equipment to begin making it a productive part of your empire.

You also start with a certain amount of money, with which you must purchase the atmosphere generator and other equipment. You can buy such items as solar satellite generators, mining stations, horticultural stations, cargo ships, and battle cruisers. You can purchase as many of these items as you can afford, but you'll need only one atmosphere generator (you send it from planet to planet).

Your starport needs mining and horticultural stations, as well as a solar generator, to build up its economy and improve the quality of life. Eventually, all formatted planets will need the same things, and some will need two or more of each item. As ruler of the empire, you must maintain firm control over the resources of your colonies, transferring the money they earn back to your starport and making sure that all planets have enough food for their growing populations. Each world also must have enough energy to make the materials it needs to survive and prosper.

Although it's important to strike out early and establish colonies, the game is won or lost militarily. As soon as possible, you must begin recruiting troops and purchasing battle cruisers and cargo ships. Clicking on various icons takes you to separate military screens, where you can form platoons from the local civilian population, train and equip the troops, assign them to duty on your starport, or send them to other planets for defensive or offensive operations.

To equip your platoons, you can select from four different types of armor and three different kinds of weapons. The main question is whether you have enough money to pay for all this equipment.

The trick to playing Overlord successfully is learning to move quickly and decisively - not only from planet to planet, but also from one game screen to the next. There are eight different screens in all, and each allows you to perform a variety of tasks. All are selected by clicking on icons, and you don't need the keyboard for anything but typing in the names of equipment and planets.

Overlord moves very quickly. While you're building troops, your enemy isn't waiting around. The only problem is that it gets difficult to remember which piece of equipmerit is stationed on which planet or in which orbit, so be sure to go around and check frequently. Otherwise, you might find one of your planets suddenly conquered, simply because you forgot to tell your five crack platoons to leave the docking bay and deploy as a garrison. There's lots to do in Overlord.

Snapshots and Media

DOS Screenshots

NES/Famicom/Dendy Screenshots

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