The aim of my Blogging From A to Z Challenge is to find the origins of online games, some relatively modern and some with ancient roots. Gaming might well be a modern take on an art that is almost timeless – storytelling. A perfect excuse for a writer to delve a little deeper.
[Visit here for links to other A to Z participants.]
Game: Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven, commonly abbreviated to Might and Magic VI or simply MM6, is an RPG that was praised for its non-linear, user-friendly and interactive approach.
Release Date: April 30, 1998
Developer: New World Computing
Genre/gameplay mechanics: player chooses & controls four adventurers; character improvement and ageing; fully explorable maps; battles can be conducted either in real time or in a turn-based mode; single-player, 1st person viewing with 360 degrees turning; keyboard controls – arrow keys not WSAD or mouse; main and side quests.
Setting: Medieval fantasy world of Enroth on continent of same name, Seven years after the events of Heroes of Might and Magic II: The Succession Wars. As semi-realistic as blocky-graphics of era allowed. Terrain varies between grassland, swamp, desert and extra-terrestrial constructs.
Storytelling: Continues the 1500-year war between the Ancients and a Devil-like race of alien beings, the Kreegans, from some of previous M&M games. The war spills over into nearby planets. On Enroth, the adventurers aim to keep a rightful dynasty in control amidst various plots and machinations.
Releases + Expansions: Might and Magic is a series of RPGs created by Jon Van Caneghem. Might and Magic is considered one of the defining examples of early PC role-playing games, along with The Bard’s Tale, Ultima and Wizardry series.
The majority of the gameplay takes place in a medieval fantasy setting, while later sections of the games are often based on science fiction tropes, the transition often serving as a plot twist. Combat is turn-based, though the later games allowed the player to choose to conduct combat in real time.
From Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven onward, the interface features a three-dimensional environment.
There are ten games in the series:
- Might and Magic Book One: The Secret of the Inner Sanctum(1986)
- Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World(1988)
- Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra(1991)
- Might and Magic IV: Clouds of Xeen(1992)
- Might and Magic V: Darkside of Xeen(1993)
- Might and Magic: World of Xeen(1994)
- Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven(1998)
- Might and Magic VII: For Blood and Honor(1999)
- Might and Magic VIII: Day of the Destroyer(2000)
- Might and Magic IX(2002; known as: Writ of Fate)
- Might & Magic X: Legacy(2014)
- Might and Magic Trilogy(1993), includes Might and Magic games III, IV, V, and the fanmade Swords of Xeen.
- Might and Magic I, II, III, IV, V: Collection Classique(1998), contains the games I-V
- Ultimate Might and Magic Archives(1998), includes the first five Might and Magic games, World of Xeen and the fanmade Swords of Xeen.
- Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven – Limited Edition(1998), a collector’s edition of Might and Magic VI that included the first five games on CD-ROM as well.
- Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven – Special Edition(1998), included Might and Magic games I, II, III, IV, V and the fanmade Swords of Xeen as well.
- Might and Magic Sixpack(1998), includes the first six Might and Magic
- Might and Magic Millennium Edition(1999), includes the Might and Magic games IV, V, VI and VII.
- Might and Magic (Platinum Edition)(2002), includes the Might and Magic games VI, VII, VIII and IX.
There were several spin-offs from the main series, including Heroes of Might and Magic, Crusaders of Might and Magic, Warriors of Might and Magic, Legends of Might and Magic, and the fan-made Swords of Xeen.
In August 2003, Ubisoft acquired the rights to the Might and Magic and has since released multiple new projects using the Might and Magic brand, including a fifth instalment of the Heroes series, an action-style game called Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, and a puzzle RPG called Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes.
Limbic Entertainment has developed the latest game in the franchise, Might & Magic Heroes VII, for Ubisoft,
Formats: Microsoft Windows
1983-86 – The original Apple II version of Might and Magic Book One: The Secret of the Inner Sanctum was written almost single-handedly by Jon Van Caneghem over three years. Van Caneghem had difficulty finding a publisher to distribute Might and Magic, so he self-published as New World Computing, handling the distribution himself from his own apartment until he was able to broker a distribution deal with Activision.
Recommendation: Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven was a critical success upon release. GameSpot gave the game a 9.1 out of 10 and called it “a standout game in what should be a great year for role-playing game fans”, as well as saying “the graphics in Might and Magic VI are the best yet seen in a 3D first-person-perspective role-playing game.” GameRankings compiled reviews for an average of 85.14%. Might and Magic VI was nominated for the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences‘ “Role-Playing Game of the Year”, Computer Gaming World‘s “Best RPG”, PC Gamer US‘s “The Best Roleplaying Game”, GameSpot‘s “Role-playing Game of the Year”, IGN‘s “Best RPG of the Year” and Computer Games Strategy Plus‘s “RPG of the Year” awards, all of which ultimately went to Baldur’s Gate – see my post B is for Baldur’s Gate.
3.55 Stars: I played Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven, obsessively, around 1998 – determined to find a final secret cache defended by dragons in the desert – a side mission as I completed the game. After dying a few times – nothing has changed – I learnt how to manage a party and stormed ahead. Re-visiting the game after 20 years, I’m dying as I re-learn the tricks of the past – but it’s fun as I re-learn forgotten tricks.
- Setting: 3.5*
- Storyline: 4*
- Gameplay: 3.25*
- Entertainment: 4*
- Genesis: 3*
Alternative ‘M’ thoughts:
M is also for A Matter of Life or Death, one of my top ten movies for so many reasons – 1946, Powell, Pressburger, Niven, Hunter, Goring…
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