A STRATEGY wargame which takes less time to finish than a war itself? With truly simultaneous movement on both sides? And no complicated rulebook?
Well, it seems to have finally happened. Lothlorien has produced Overlords, a two-player game combining frenzied arcade action with deep strategy.
Loosely based on the classic board game Campaign, Overlords takes place across 12 screens of map. You have three types of piece - footsoldiers, generals, and the Overlord. You can choose different options for play - a short game, long game or all-out bloodbath.
The mechanics of the game have an original simplicity. Each player simultaneously moves a cursor around the screen to 'pick up' pieces and move them. The front lines become a mass of moving pieces as players jockey for position. The computer picks the screen for play at random, and sets a time limit on manoeuvres. The turn is punctuated by brief but vicious bursts of fire as units are destroyed.
Usually combat is decided by a straightforward count of the pieces bearing on a square, but generals have superior power and can be used to startling effect. A short game should take about half an hour. A duel to the death could last longer.
The graphics are less original, being firmly based on the UDG format with coloured tokens representing trees, buildings, castles and rivers. Whereas some wargames involve complicated movement rules for different terrain, Overlords simply makes such squares impassable. That means to get a piece through a forest you have to dodge the trees, thus appreciably slowing down movement.
Speed of action is remarkable, given two independent cursors on screen. But Lothlorien has gone further than that in providing a variety of facilities. You can save the game to microdrive, use joystick/keyboard combinations, and even play the game across a network of two Spectrums. Would that more companies were so thoughtful.
Joystick: Kempston, Sinclair, Cursor