This is the second part of an interview with the Associate Producer for Climax Studios, Dean Scott, who talked with us about the upcoming DS version of the Overlord series that let’s you get up close and personal with the real stars of the last Overlord game. The minions.
DHGF- Overlord Minions is a completely different style of game than the console versions. Could you explain how Overlord Minions is different?
Scott- We wanted to create a DS game that played to strengths of the hardware. There was no point trying to scale down what Overlord is already known to be, because the scale and the overall hecticness is a big part of what makes it good. So rather than lose fun in the translation, we created an entirely new game as you say.
Overlord Minions is a slower-paced, more puzzle-orientated experience about lighting farts and stuff. Well, it’s not just about that. But it is about that at times. Each minion has a different set of abilities, which the player has to interweave to solve traversal puzzles. Green farts poison gas, red minion lights it, wall explodes, that sort of thing. Of course it gets more complex the further you get in. But no less childish, because that’s funny.
We wanted a bit of the multiple character gameplay of The Lost Vikings, the slick stylus-only interaction of Phantom Hourglass, and the broken-down-into-manageable-bitsness of Mario Vs Donkey Kong. Except we wanted it as Overlord, so that’s what we made. Using our way sweet “skillz”.
DHGF- In Overlord Minions, it looks like players finally get the chance to get up close and personal with characters who look like they’re having the most fun in the game, the minions. Does the player have direct control over the minions, or do you still direct them as the Overlord?
Scott- Although it’s called Overlord, the Overlord games have always been about the minions. You can’t say that out loud though, because the Overlord is a mean chap and he’ll tear your intestines out through your ass with a big spiky mace if he hears it said. So making an entirely minion-focused game makes sense. The player IS the Overlord, issuing his dastardly commands with a swish of the stylus. Fun ensues, and no spiky maces go near any asses. Everyone wins.
DHGF- With only four minions to control does the game give these minions more personality than the usual minions from the original Overlord title?
Scott- We flesh out the characters of the minions more, certainly. Not with a tedious backstory of how they got bullied in Minion School and vowed to wreak vengeance on the world. Just by giving them names and different personalities that are obvious in the cutscenes. When one of these guys dies, you don’t just pull another generic minion from the spawn pit. You resurrect the dead guy, be it Blaze, Stench, Giblet or Zap. For those are their names.
DHGF- Does the game rely more on the face buttons like most DS games, or does it rely on the touch screen, like Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass?
Scott- The game is entirely touchscreen controlled. That was important to us, we wanted to make a game that was uniquely DS. That interface also helps us immerse the player in the experience. The player feels more Overlordy and powerful telling his minions exactly where to, and the combat can be so much more tactile.
DHGF- Is there any multiplayer component to the game, either W-iFi or local?
Scott- It’s a single player game only, which I can understand sounds a little bit illogical given the game is about the antics of four independent minions. But let me explain ourselves. The way the puzzles work, the player is using each minion as an individual tool to progress. The role of, say, the blue minion in a puzzle might be simply to stand still on a floor tile to hold a door open until the other minions find a means to permanently wedge it open. If you were playing as Zap in that scenario, standing still isn’t exactly going to get your heart pounding as a gamer. You want to be smashing pots and headbutting Halflings in the face.
To make for compelling multiplayer, you’re actually talking about different gameplay entirely. It’s a whole new design. If you’re saying it was selfish of us not to develop two different games and give them to you for the price of one… well, I guess that’s selfish of us and I apologise. Maybe a more multiplayer friendly Minions will be on the cards if this game is a resounding success? Make it so!
DHGF- Since the game doesn’t play like the other Overlord titles, in what way does it connect to the main games that might draw fans of Overlord into checking out Overlord Minions?
Scott- The narrative runs as a sidestory to the events of the Wii game. It was written by the same writer, so there’s a bit of crossover. It’s familiar in that we’ve taken the minions people know and love, but we’re using them in an entirely different way. It’s not a game aimed squarely at Overlord enthusiasts, but as fans of quality, humorous games they’ll find lots to be excited about. We want to create new Overlord fans with this game.
DHGF- More of a personal issue, but one thing I dislike about some DS games is when you are forced to use the microphone to blow into or say something. I feel like a fool blowing into the system in public. Does Overlord Minions have anything where I’m forced to blow into the mic?
Scott- Dude, no way. There’s nothing worse than gimmicky DS games. If a game makes you feel like a total dick playing it, what is the point?! We’re with you: blowing into microphones is the work of Satan and should be punished with a spiky mace to the ass as detailed previously. Our philosophy was to use strengths of the DS where they enhanced the experience, not just to fling a load of crap around and hope some of it stuck.
DHGF- The game is modeled in 3D instead of top down, or in an isometric perspective like many DS games. Does the game use a fixed camera angle or one that follows the character? If it follows, is it easy to readjust the camera angle?
Scott- There’s no camera manipulation. It’s the player’s job to play the games, not to be the cameraman as well. I know in some games it’s unavoidable, but in this context it adds nothing. You don’t have to worry about moving the camera around, just worry about the brain-bending puzzles and the hordes of enemies that want to kill you. That should keep you occupied.
DHGF- Seriously, between this and the Wii game, when do you guys find time to sleep?
Scott- You can buy all sorts of things on the internet that haven’t been made illegal yet that make sleep something you don’t need to worry about. We’re all heading for catastrophic multiple organ failure as soon as these games ship, but that’s all part of the fun. “We’ll sleep when we’re dead!”Â, as Jon Bon Jovi said! Not the tedious hair rocking clown, this other guy called Jon Bon Jovi that I know. Nice bloke.
DHGF- Is there anything else you’d like to share about Overlord Minions?
Scott- Just that it’s available from all reputable game stockists at the end of June, priced, I’m sure, very reasonably. And that our development partners, Climax, are thoroughly nice people and prodigiously talented.
As a side note, I like this guy, so if things don’t work out with his current job there’s always a non-paying position for him available here. Overlord Minions releases in June and it’d be wise to check it out just to avoid possible spiky objects near your rectum