Overlord

a game by Virgin
Genre: Strategy/War
Platforms: XBox 360, PC, NESNES
Editor Rating: 7.6/10, based on 6 reviews, 8 reviews are shown
User Rating: 9.0/10 - 4 votes
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See also: Overlord Series

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

XBox 360

System requirements:

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

PC

System requirements:

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

NES

System requirements:

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

Game Reviews

It is unlikely I know, but some of you may not yet have realised that D-Day was almost exactly 50 years ago. In that case, you probably also won't know that the landings were known as Operation Overlord, so you will have no idea what this game is all about. Those of you who have been on the planet for more than a week, however, will have guessed that this is indeed something to do with the D-Day landings. And, my smug friends, you would be right. Overlord is a combat flight simulator, and jolly pretty it looks too.

Okay, so it's not all roses, but allow me to show you the garden before concentrating on the individual flowers. And pricks. Back in the bad old war days of 1944 Mr Hitler was still sitting in France (and most of the rest of Europe, come to think of it) pulling faces at us and saying rude things about our mums. Naturally, being British, we were having none of this, and we invaded France (again), along with a couple of colonials, and stamped on his choc ice. This upset him a lot, and he blew his brains out. Well, that's an abbreviated version of it, anyway. During this time, the raf were knocking seven bells out of pretty well anything that moved and wasn't made in Birmingham. They were doing this with a variety of aeroplanes, but the bulk of ground-attack work was carried out by Typhoons, while the glamorous/exciting jobs went to the Spitfires and, to a lesser extent, the Mustangs.

So what does it do then?

Overlord gives you the chance to fly either the Typhoon, Spitfire ix or Mustang against a mainly surface-based enemy. You may be attacking E-boats, tank convoys, radar installations, bridges or almost any other ground target you can think of, as well as the occasional dogfight or bomber intercept. You have the choice of servicing your target with either cannon, bombs or rockets, depending on your choice of mount, and the enemy will try his best to kill you with a range of flak and fighter attacks. The aeroplanes fly very differently, and the cockpits are beautifully rendered, along with any external details that may be visible from within. Control is fairly conventional, with support for all major sticks as well as the Thrustmaster wcs and separate rudder pedals (Hoorah!). External views are truly stunning, and enemy aircraft appear complete with squadron markings and proper camouflage, as do your wingmen. However, the ground is nothing to write home about, although the targets are quite detailed. Despite this, they do suffer slightly from the "stuck on" look that we first encountered and slagged off in Strike Commander. The real graphical treat for me, though, is the way that other aircraft gradually get bigger and easier to see as they loom out of the haze. They are really difficult to spot until less than two miles away - just like the real thing. Fortunately for you, Virgin have seen fit to include no less than two padlock views to help you find the bad guy and terminate his contract. These padlock views, although not quite as useful as those found in Falcon 3, are pretty damn good, and after you get used to them they work very well, with little danger of disorientation, though the ground does still get in the way at times.

Two padlock views? I hear you say. Yes, you get a choice of padlocking from inside the cockpit or outside. This latter version, although it takes a fair bit of getting used to, is extremely useful when you find yourself caught up in a real tangle, because it allows you to keep an eye on both what's going on around you, and on your target at the same time. However, take warning: the first few times you try to use it, you will find yourself either over controlling massively or, failing that, moving the controls the wrong way altogether.

Tell us about the game, then.

Okay, on to the game itself. Overlord is unusual in that you don't get to create a pilot of your own when you start. Instead, you choose the level at which you wish to fight, and the program then assigns you three personae; one for each aircraft type. Each time one of your pilots goes for a "Burton" (as they used to say), you are treated to a superbly drawn view of the station adjutant reporting your demise to the c.o., accompanied by suitably sombre music. Then, assuming that you haven't goofed up too badly, the same guy, looking a lot happier, tells the c.o. that he has replaced you with the next pilot on the list. Neat, huh? Trouble is, when you die, you don't really die at all, so the whole thing takes on a slightly surreal air as your reincarnation attempts the same mission that killed you earlier. What does happen, though, is that if you really screw up badly, you are advised that operations have been suspended and the invasion, postponed. In other words, you lose. Another option, if you prefer, is to leave the aeroplane at the last second and jump into the next in line. This means that although your original mount has been destroyed, you are now your wingman and you are free to carry on as before. Needless to say, if the aeroplane you jump into is getting the crap knocked out of it, you're going to have to repeat the process soon. So, as you see, all the while you have aircraft in the air you can leap into one at will. Spooky, huh? What this does give you is a fair amount of flexibility in how you want to go about doing things, and it does mean that you can keep a good career running without having to resort to rebooting if you get shot down.

As a new pilot, you are given a choice of aeroplanes, mission preferences, difficulty and reality levels. Then, after a briefing which certainly looks good, although it doesn't always tell you much, it's off to bash the baddies. You can choose to start on the field or in the air near the enemy. Either way, you'll receive a constant stream of information from both ground control and your fellow fliers, advising you of enemy air and surface vessels, along with their range and bearing. You will have been advised of your mission prior to take off, so after administering to whatever target you have been allocated and then nailing anything else convenient, you should head for home, debriefing and a welcome pint in the bar.

Nothing really out of the ordinary so far then. As usual for games of this genre, you will be carrying either bombs or rockets, along with the ubiquitous 20mm cannon (except the Mustang, which only has weedy machine guns). Targets vary, but will usually be either boats, bridges or buildings. You can, if you wish, choose to specialise in trains, airfields, radar sites, v-i launch sites etc. What you will find, whatever your chosen target type, is that air resistance is pretty minimal. This is fair, because at this stage in the proceedings the Luftwaffe were pushed to muster many planes anyway. Be advised, though, that when you do come up against an enemy aircraft you'll have a seriously hard time. The enemy pilots have been gifted with a high level of intelligence and are often able to guess your next move. Indeed, even the gunners of the bombers will often be able to anticipate your next move, resulting in your untimely and fairly messy demise (unless, of course, you first remember that you can bail out by rolling inverted and pressing cntrl-q, and second, that you remain in control of the aeroplane). Then it's back to the sombre music and the adjutant reporting your loss....

Does it look any good?

The main thing that makes this game stand out from the others is the quality of the between-missions graphics which, assuming you have the hardware, are beautifully drawn in svga. Actually, it's fair to say that, visually, this game is stunning. Nevertheless, there is a catch, and that catch is that Overlord is very demanding on hardware. However, it is very smart and configures itself to the ideal levels of detail and the like for your processor. It also has an adaptable viewing screen which shrinks as there are more demands to try and cope with the levels of info being pumped through it. Actually, although the idea of a continually shrinking and expanding screen is pretty wacky, in practice it is barely noticeable, although it makes a noticeable difference to refresh rates. You can also force the program to turn off haze, graduate horizons and reduce the detail level. Be warned, though, that although the higher graphic levels look superb, if you push the machine into giving you more detail than it can cope with, the aeroplane will be uncontrollable as it lurches from one control input to the next between screen refreshes. I suppose that what I'm saying here is that you do not know better than the program. Unlike some alleged self-configuring games, Overlord has been designed properly and it does actually work. So leave it alone and you shouldn't have any problems.

But is it any good?

Well, to summarise. Overlord is a very well presented and historically, fairly accurate, flight simulator, which, despite the limited world area and fairly restricted range of missions, is challenging enough to stay interesting for a reasonable length of time. Combat is excellent and the padlock views help in dispatching the fast, manoeuvrable and heavily-armed opponents that you will encounter, although surface targets seem to be a little soft and can often be frayed with a good burst of cannon. The graphics and sounds are both superb, with the important proviso that you will need at least a 486DX/33 vlb to get even nearly the best out of it. The manual is so comprehensive that even a confirmed prophead like me can learn something from it. What can I say? So long as you have the hardware to use it, you can buy this game in the almost certain knowledge that you have one of the best simulators in its field (and probably the most powerful pc on the block, as well). There are sims which fly better but look crap. There are sims which look better but fly like trains. Overlord combines nice looks with an acceptable flight model, without expecting you to do a Mavis Beacon touchtyping course just to stay alive in the sky. Sure, all the controls you need are there, along with the obligatory pointless couple, but the interface is pretty intuitive all in all, and basic flight and combat can be dealt with using the minimum of keys. Yes, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the quirks built in, I like this game a lot.

Time to remember

On a serious note... yes, I know I was pretty flippant about D-Day and the background to it earlier on, but joking aside, the success of the Overlord landings was the real turning point in the war. It cost the lives of thousands of people; both combatants and civilians, from both sides, but those same people saved countless more lives by bringing hostilities to an earlier end.

You Won't Get through any articles about Overlord without reading the words Fable and Pikmin at least eight times, but Triumph Studios' action-RPG really is, very simply, Fable mixed with Pikmin. Not since The Matrix: Path Of Neo has a game been so describable. Sometimes, writing about games is easy.

From Fable it takes its art style, the wonderful colourful world, the exaggerated characters and ear-stabbingly enthusiastic voice-acting. You play an evil lord, resurrected to reclaim the world after being vanquished by seven valiant heroes. These heroes have become grotesque representations of the equally numerous deadly sins, such as a fat-bastard gluttonous halfling and a gold-obsessed dwarf. As an evil lord, you must destroy the seven heroes, rebuild your tower and establish yourself as the almighty leader of all you observe.

Yummy. Evil!

The world itself is semi-freeform, composed of several linear areas and sub domains threaded together. Depending on your actions, people will either scream in terror as you come bounding evilly over the hills, or praise you as their saviour. Either way, you're evil, and any good actions you carry out are always with a view to future gains, like ripe, tender virgins full of gold.

From the Pikmin component of the already tired 'this is Fable mixed with Pikmin' summary come your minions, a group of gremlin allies who do your bidding, all the while gurgling and chirping with their little gremlin voices. Nintendo's puzzler had you using your tiny followers to collect items and solve puzzles, and likewise with Overlord you use your minions to turn wheels and flick switches (god forbid you do some work yourself). Plus, with a clever use of gamepad analogue sticks they begin to feel like an extension of your main character. Keyboard and mouse implementation is actually quite good at the moment, but a gamepad will no doubt be ideal.

Rainbow Minions

Of course, the minions are Overlord's biggest draw. You slowly gain the ability to control more and more of the things, moving on from simple brown minions to specialised ones. Red minions are impervious to fire and can launch fireballs, green minions are stealthy assassins and blue minions can heal and revive their dead friends.

Run them through some furniture and crates with a sweep of the mouse and they smash and destroy everything in their path. They'll pick up useful debris like pots to use as helmets, or wood to use as weapons, or if they find gold or healing potions, they'll run back to offer it to you with a raspy-voiced (and startlingly enough, not annoyingly repetitive): "For yoooouu!"

Order them to attack enemy and they'll swarm all over them, jumping on their victim's Ixick and overpowering them with numbers. The effectiveness of your minions increases when they pick up weapons, so the longer you can keep them alive the better they become. You can get stuck in with your own axe too, although in many situations you've got to use your little 'tins to get to places you can't reach.

Good Boy

On the face of it, it's a slightly unoriginal morality 'em up, but the melding of these two different gaming ideas works well enough to make Overlord a meaty prospect in its own right, swimming in a delicious sauce of neat touches. For instance, command four of your underlings to carry a sack of treasure back to your tower and they'll get to it; call three of them back halfway through the task, and the final minion will drop the loot on his foot before hopping around in comical slapstick agony.

We've some reservations about the morality system. Being an evil character, making a 'good' choice just seems wrong, and the control system is still a little fiddly when it comes to choosing various minion types and positioning them in specific places. Then again, Triumph's decision to make you play as this morally biased character means the writing and the game should be better focused.

Overlord looks like it could be a pleasantly surprising title, and one that'll be interesting enough to catch the attention of the PC market. And if you like to read the last paragraph first, it's just like Fable crossed with Pikmin.

Most role-playing games leave the worldsaving to a hackneyed hero, but here you'll ravage the lands with a litter of minions. The real fun is ordering your gremlins to do what they do best pillage towns, chug booze, and annoy the hell out of people.

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:

7

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.

7

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.

4

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.

4

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

NES/Famicom/Dendy Screenshots

PC Screenshots

XBox 360 Screenshots

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