A game built entirely from the ground up, Overlord Dark Legend follows another evildoer from the long bloodline of overlords, but this story is set sometime before the events of the original game. Keeping with the same sense of humor as Overlord II on the other consoles, Dark Legend's script is by the same writer, Rhianna Pratchett, and the voice actors from the other games have lent their talents to the Nintendo Wii version so that the humor and overall feel of the game is consistent. We had the opportunity to check out different areas of the game with developer Climax and play around with the Wii controls.
Dark Legend's gameplay is similar to the original Overlord and is inspired by popular fairy tales from your childhood. It starts off with the traditional "Once upon a time" storytelling and then branches off into a depressing tale about your father losing everything he had. While he's away trying to redeem himself, you're stuck with your self-absorbed evil siblings and a castle full of devoted servants who are fending off constant halfling attacks. You begin as a Cinderella of sorts; it's your 16th birthday and you've just received a mysterious gauntlet as a gift. As soon as you discover the rest of the overlord armor, your first order of business is to trash your brother's and sister's rooms, considering that your siblings are the equivalent of the wicked stepsisters who deserve a good whipping.
Gnarl, a straggly old minion, was lying dormant like your armor until you arrived. He guides you through the process of bossing around the different types of minions and eases your way into the role of overlord. Given that Dark Legend was built with the Wii controls in mind, it's extremely easy to use the pointer to make your newly acquired servants sweep forward and terrorize specific locations. You also have full control of the camera by holding the C button and aiming with the remote, and you can reset the camera by pressing C once. If you want to play more strategically, you can set flags, which act as rally points so that minions of a certain type will gather in that area.
Motions controls are included, but they're used only in appropriate situations. For example, you can throttle a minion by shaking the Wii Remote, and you'll wonder what the creatures are made of as they run off wildly into the distance and explode. The volatile minions can also be controlled during their suicide run by tilting the remote. As the overlord, you can melee attack with the Z button, but you can also swing the Nunchuk, which does the same thing. The motion option is there for those who really want to get into it, but it's nice that there's an alternative for when your arm gets tired.
We were able to jump ahead to a later level in the game and meet with Little Red Riding Hood, who has asked the overlord to guide her through the withering woods. Although this may make the overlord seem like a Good Samaritan, his motivation lies in loot and other treasures. Judging from the creepy forest as well as the gingerbread-infested area that we wandered into later, these may not be the fairy-tale characters that you remember. Instead of the sweet smile that you might expect from Gingie in the movie Shrek, crazy gingerbread men with angry expressions will attack you relentlessly with candy canes. They explode into cookie bits, so at least they're destructible.
Graphically, the game isn't going to compare to its high-definition counterparts, but Dark Legend still looks great and captures the feel of the previous games with its witty dialogue and solid voice acting. There's nothing like destroying everything in sight with your band of minions cackling gleefully at your side. If you've ever wanted to feel powerful and in charge, watching your servants eagerly run off to defend you and scurry back with treasure is certainly enough to boost your ego. But you don't have to sit on the sidelines and let everyone do your dirty work; you can easily join in on the fun by swinging your axe and zapping halflings to the next dimension.
Overlord Dark Legend seems to improve on the original formula of minion management with the control scheme, making it accessible for newcomers and more streamlined for those who played the original game. Be sure to check back for our full review when this fairy-tale adventure is released on June 23.