Overlord surprised a lot of people on its release on Xbox 360, with its tongue-in-cheek story and RTS-like gameplay proving to be quite a success. After appearing on the PlayStation 3 in 2008 it's time for Wii and DS owners to get a taste of the minion-controlling fun. We caught up with Associate Producer Dean Scott to ask him about all the important issues - like if you can use the Wii Remote to kick the jester minion.
VideoGamer.com: When did work on Wii and DS versions of Overlord begin and was there ever a thought to simply try and port over the 360 game?
Dean Scott: We've been working on the Nintendo games since late 2007. We never considered a port, because we wanted to make bespoke Overlord games tailored to each platform. There are enough ports on Wii that don't make the most of the hardware, and we didn't just want to 'cut and shut' the control system in there. The way our levels have to be built is very different to on the original Xbox 360 game. And anyway, there's no 'save as Nintendo Wii' command on our magic game-making machine.
The Wii game is set before the first 360 game, and has an all-new story taking in classic fairytales and twisting them around. A bit of Cinderella, bit of Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, rampaging gingerbread men, and an army of minions intent on tearing it all to bits.
VideoGamer.com: The Wii seems like a great console for a game like Overlord. How has Dark Legend been designed to make the most of the Wii's control options?
DS: The pointer gives you a more tangible connection with the game world. It's the physicality and intuitiveness of Wii games that really draws people in, so you have to make that the starting point. So the player moves an on-screen pointer to command the minions: sweeping them around to break things and pointing directly at things they want to attack and interact with. Because you can aim anywhere, we give the player FPS-style control over where they're shooting off magic attacks and the like. Because of this connection, the player feels more like they *are* the Overlord. It really draws them into the experience.
Then we've got the throttle feature. The Overlord can snatch a minion up by its throat, and shake it around by waggling the Wii Remote. That charges the minion up and they start giggling maniacally, before you drop them down and they run off at an enemy and explode. Sort of a heat-seeking, suicide bomber with sharp teeth and bad breath. It's great fun. It'll bring people together, through a minion being blown apart.
VideoGamer.com: For anyone who's played Overlord on Xbox 360 or PS3, what do you think will be the biggest difference they'll notice when playing the Wii game?
DS: The Wii controls really add a new dimension to moving the minions around. It feels like the way Overlord was meant to be played, in my opinion. The core gameplay is Overlord as they know it. There's always the temptation with Wii games to stick big heads in, cel-shade it, and make it a mini-game collection. But we wanted to make a hardcore Overlord game. We weren't going to sell out what made the first game cool because there is this perceived wisdom of what Wii gamers want. I'm a Wii gamer: I don't want Wii Sports again. I've got that. It was with the console. I want something new and interesting, and something that's going to appeal to me as a gamer. And I don't think I'm alone in that. I hope I'm not anyway.
VideoGamer.com: The next-gen versions weren't slouches visually. Obviously the Wii isn't as powerful, so have you had to make any cutbacks in terms of level size or the number of characters/minions on screen at once?
DS: Overlord Dark Legend looks amazing. When people see this game in motion, they are going to be seriously impressed. It sounds like such a lame cliché to say "it looks like the 360 version", but that's true. Not exactly, but it's closer than we ever imagined possible on the platform. Quote me, and hold me up to internet ridicule if that's not the case. Of course we've made some changes to get that level of fidelity on the Wii, but the guys at Climax have been very clever with it. In terms of looks, it blows away just about everything else I've seen on Wii.
I'm not going to share the secrets of how we made that possible, the Climax art ninjas will take that to their graves. Or they might swap it for the recipes for KFC and Coke. Seasoned Overlord gamers won't get the feeling that there's something missing when they play this, and that's the important thing.
VideoGamer.com: The Wii is a social console, with lots of people playing with their friends while sat on the same couch. What multiplayer functionality have you built into the Dark Legend on Wii?
DS: Overlord is not Wii Sports. This is not a game you're sitting down to play with your grandmother. Like I was saying earlier, making Overlord Party wasn't what we were trying to do. We haven't dumbed any part of the game down to pander to this perceived idea of a legion of idiot gamers that can't handle anything more serious than shaking a remote and pressing one button as the game plays itself. And also, how would we make that work in the Overlord universe? The whole conceit of the game is that there is this ONE chosen guy that is going to take over the world. You can't then decide there are two, three or four. And would you want to play co-op as a minion? You go where the Overlord says, you fight a Halfling, and you might get killed. You'd get to wear some brilliant hats, though. No, we were focused on delivering a compelling single-player game. I'm not having a go at VideoGamer.com here - it's a fun website read by winners - I'm having a go at stereotypes. DAMN YOU, STEREOTYPES! A game can be single-player only and be good on the Wii.