Show Some Love

Posted on Aug 2nd 2014 at 12:00:00 AM by (Crabmaster2000)
Posted under Overlord, unloved, nes, nintendo, rts, strategy, scifi

For years there has been a common myth that RTS style games have no place on consoles. I believe that many of the people spreading that myth must have missed out on Overlord for the NES. This is a port of the Commodore 64 game of the same name. Other than a step down in the graphics department and a slightly clunkier controller interface the game plays very much the same as its C64 counterpart.

The goal of Overlord is to terraform planets and manage the resources and populations from those planets to make your way across a solar system to challenge and defeat that systems terrible Overlord. The difficulty choices provided at the start of the game determine the size of the solar system you'll be traversing with the easy mode having just 8 planets to traverse with the hardest mode having a whopping 32 planets to explore.

As with most RTS games Overlord relies heavily on resource managment and unlike a lot of early console RTS games doesn't need to pause the game to do so. Everything is as the genre suggests, in real time. This means you've always got to keep your guard up and make sure you know what is going on in each of your planets or you'll quickly be overrun by a fairly aggressive CPU even on the easier difficulties.

When first encountering a planet you wont know what kind of resources can be provided until you finish terraforming it, which can take several weeks depending on how far away each planet is from the last destination of your Atmosphere Processor (Terraforming device). The game always starts you off on the planet furthest from your opponent so you have a little time early on to explore and gather resources without worrying about the military aspect of the game at first. It is very important to take advantage of that time early in the game. Once your device is done making a new planet habitable for your population you'll find out what kind of resources are available. There are 4 possible planet types: Tropical, Desert, Volcanic and Metroplolis. Tropical Planets yeild the highest food production, Volcanic is great for mining fuel for your star ships, Deserts are great for setting up solar satellites and storing energy to keep your growing populations with power, and Metropolis is great for increasing your general population. Each type is important and none can be ignored.

The final stats you have to take into account are tax rates and credits. You can change tax rates as you wish at any point in the game and they can be different for each colonized planet you control. The lower the tax rate the higher your population growth will be, the higher the tax rate the more revenue you'll take off the population but at the cost of population growth if too high. The credits are used to purchase transports, Atmospheric Proccessors, farming equipment, mining tools, and military weapons and vehicles.


As I said earlier the goal of the game is to travel across the solar system and confront an evil Overlord. To challenge an enemy controlled planet you need to fill a transport with military vehicles and weapons. Your transports can only move so far before needing to be refueled so its important to have many planets colonized for your ships to dock at and stock up on supplies. Once you start a confrontation the game changes from an RTS to a primitive tower defense game. As the aggressor you take control of whatever tanks and secondary missiles you stocked and attempt to destroy any defensive turrets your opponent managed to place prior to your attack. And likewise if you are attacked your only line of defense is any turrets you placed before hand and your ability to actively control them.

The main HUD in Overlord is pretty plain, even by NES standard and may take a little time to familiarize yourself with. The manual is a big help in knowing what each symbol represents so that you don't need to learn through trial and error. Outside of the boring HUD the game actually looks pretty good though. Planet types are easily recognizable and the equipment you can purchase is very large and impressive. The battles play out in a comfortable directly overhead view similar in style to a game like Rampart (another great RTS game for the NES).

With the fairly aggressive AI in Overlord there is a steep learning curve even on the easiest difficulty. If you can be mindful of your first few losses and learn from them you'll soon master the basics and find yourself progressing more steadily through the solar system and winning a lot more often. Each game is not particularily long (all games should be done within 30 minutes regardless of difficulty), so losses are not as devestating as they can be in some games with larger time investments.

The biggest flaw facing this game is the lack of music during most parts. Its very quiet other than the sounds of you scrolling through menus at most times. Might be one of the very few games I would suggest you put your own tunes on while playing.

Overlord is definitely not an easily accessible game for everyone, but for those willing to invest a little time into learning it is quite rewarding. Luckily that hurdle helps keep the price low and it can easily be had for less than $10 for a cart only copy.

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Well, well, well... what do we have here? A new "Unloved" blog entry since forever? I'll take it!

I'll definitely be on the lookout for this one... for the Commodore 64 that is.

Gotta keep it real, you know.
Thanks for this, Crabby! I can't say I've finished this one yet, but I've always been impressed by it. Since I never had a manual for it and first played it before the internet could fill me with misinformation, I've yet to *quite* put enough time into it to figure it out. This reminds me I should do so.

Always enjoy the "unloved" series, hope to see more again! Smiley
Unloved is back?!  I didn't get into this one until much later after I had already developed a taste for RTS games on the PC, although this one always kind of felt more like a "lite" 3X game than what most people think of as an RTS game.  Great post and thanks for bringing it back.
So glad to see this series again. I think everyone has really missed the "Unloved" articles. I've owned this game for years, but it is one of several in my NES collection that I have never played. Thanks for highlighting it and ensuring that it will be a part of my playlist.
Happy to have another Unloved entry.  This is a title that I own but haven't fired up...yet.
Really glad to see this series make a comeback. Overlord is one of those games that I don't recall ever seeing back when I was playing NES. These type of games aren't my cup of tea, but it sounds like it could be fun for those fans of the genre.
@Duke.Togo: I didn't think I'd like it either Duke. But after making myself take the time to learn the system in it I really had a good time with it.
Thanks Crabby. Always enjoy reading your Unloved blog posts. Sounds like an interesting game and one that I had no knowledge of prior, even though it's on my want list.
@EngineerMike:'s okay. Just look in the mirror and say to yourself, "My name is Mike and I am going for a complete set." Join the "group." No need to live in further denial. Wink
They (meaning I) don't call me Mr. 81% for nothing!

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