Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 87 / AUGUST 1987 / PAGE 57


Might And Magic

James V. Trunzo

Requirements: Apple II-series computers (64K minimum), including Apple IIGS.

Might and Magic is an outstanding adventure game. This new release has the potential to take its place alongside The Bard's Tale and Wizard's Crown among the best in the genre.

Might and Magic, all 500K of it (done entirely in machine language), contains just about every conceivable fantasy element crammed onto two double-sided disks. Over 4,000 individual locations, each graphically represented, comprise the 55 areas that make up the fantasy world of Varn. On Varn, towns, dungeons, castles, caves, wilderness, and even astral planes have their own themes, difficulty ratings, and special events. It is up to you to traverse this vast and varied fantasy world in order to gain wealth, experience, and the secret of the Inner Sanctum.

Standard Elements Rendered New

Before you can triumph, though, you must (as you might have guessed) assemble a party of adventurers of different races and character professions. While this may seem typical, Might and Magic makes more use of character types than other games. Even the gender of the character (something used only for "color" in most games) becomes a significant factor in one of the kingdoms which is decidedly antimale. Alignment is crucial, too, because there are places where good guys just can't go …and vice-versa.

Once your group is assembled, it is time to go adventuring. Here, once again, you can perceive a difference between Might and Magic and other fantasy games. This game is much more than just "combat." People from beggars to kings populate the land of Varn, many of them possessing information of great value, others wanting you to undertake a quest for them. You may accept or decline as you wish. Strange writings on cave walls or riddles spoken by magical statues will send you off to distant parts of the land, looking for hidden treasures or powerful magic. Such puzzles, riddles, quests, and themes abound in the game, and it is up to you to accept or reject them, to solve or ignore them. Ultimately, all of these elements come together to lead you to solving the secret of the Inner Sanctum. Also, you venture through varied terrain, which adds to the variety of encounters—avalanches can be just as deadly as dragons.

Another feature that makes Might and Magic unique is its freedom of play. While other fantasy games possess impressive scope as far as the amount of exploration possible, they often lock you in, requiring you to work through one area before being able to access another. Might and Magic gives you free rein. Your party may travel anywhere, anytime. They may partially explore a castle, depart, explore a different castle, embark on a quest, and so on, before ever returning to the original castle. This isn't to say that entering some areas doesn't hinge upon information or items gathered elsewhere, but Might and Magic is less rigid than other games.

Might and Magic provides players with a passport to a richly various—and dangerous—fantasy realm.

Multiple Monsters

Of course, magic and combat do occur, as you want and expect them to do. But the tremendous range of monsters and magic in this game give it a freshness that sets it apart from other fantasy games. Two hundred different monsters may be encountered, each with its own set of statistics, including ratings for special attacks, magic resistance, friendliness, spell-casting abilities, missile weapons, aggressiveness, and more. Many of the more powerful monsters can regenerate. There's nothing more frustrating than scoring a major hit upon a demon, only to have it return to its initial state.

Magic comes in many forms. There are over 250 unique items (some of them cursed, so be careful). Their powers range from one-time use to unlimited use, and they can do things like alter a character's statistics, allow passage to a restricted area, or destroy anything with which they come into contact. Characters in the party who have the ability to cast spells have 94 spells spread over seven levels from which to choose. And, as mentioned before, magic may manifest itself in other ways, including talking statues, magical fountains, and illusionary walls.

Graphically, Might and Magic has few peers. Whether in a dungeon or outside in the wilderness, the 3-dimensional displays are delightful. Whether characters are crossing oceans, climbing mountains, walking down decorated castle corridors, or sneaking past dungeon cells, the game provides flicker-free, full-colored graphics. The monsters and treasures are well-represented, too. A note here: Because of the huge scope of this program, some sacrifices had to be made. One of them was in the nature of the monster graphics. Unlike The Bard's Tale, there is no animation nor are all members of mixed parties represented graphically in Night and Magic.. The most powerful of the monster types is shown, however, and very nicely, too.

There's also icing on this cake. Might and Magic contains several additional features that further distinguish it. First of all, when all the characters in a party die, you aren't forced to start all over. You pick up at the last inn visited. The process does not require anything out of the ordinary, nor do you need special back-up disks. Also, it is easier for new characters to survive, providing you use good fantasy-game common sense and reject the temptation to fight "just one more time" or visit "just one more room." During the early stages of the game, Might and Magic gears its encounters to the playing level of the group, giving you a chance from the very beginning of the adventure.

Finally, the 54-page, spiral-bound manual strikes me as a refreshing change from the norm. It contains illustrations, examples, and information that fully explain all aspects of the game. It is easy to refer to when you're in need of a refresher course, and the chart of spells as well as the 18 × 12 fold-out map of the Land of Varn are worth their weight in the coin of the realm.

All in all, Might and Magic provided me with plenty of enjoyment. The game can take months to play—you won't easily exhaust its possibilities. This one is special.

Might and Magic

New World Computing

14922 Calvert St.

Van Nuys, CA 91411