February 07, 2015

[Game 049] Might and Magic: Book 1 (NES - 1990)

Might and Magic is somewhat of a distant franchise for me.  I was certainly aware of its existence growing up as a young meatsack but, for whatever reason, it never managed to make it into my console or PC.  I played the heck out of the first three Heroes of Might and Magic games but never got around to the pure RPG experience.  Obviously, that changes now or you wouldn't even be reading this.  I knew enough about M&M to know that it was a standard dungeon crawler.  I perused the character creation portion of the manual and saw my opportunity to make myself a gnomish paladin, an irresistibly ridiculous prospect.  I got my pot o' joe ready, wrapped myself up in owlbear furs, and got super comfy as I prepared to spend the night rolling up characters.  I was dismayed to discover that I had to start as a human knight but figured that I'd just create my paladin as one of the other characters.  That notion was also dashed as I had to choose from a list of pregenerated characters.  "Oh well", I thought, "at least there is a large list of characters to choose from."  Might and Might had other ideas, however, as most of the other characters were unavailable as they were located in different towns.  I had five slots to fill in the party and guess how many characters were available to select.  As one can see from the trend of M&M denying me any choice in anything, the answer is five, and not one gnomish paladin in the lot.  As if all of this isn't bad enough, some of the characters are either redundant or outright worthless.  I have two wizards when I'd really prefer doubling up on clerics and another knight who has three hit points.  THREE HIT POINTS!  Monsters almost always do at least two points of damage so the knight rarely survived a fight.  I had to put that useless tit in the back row and bring the cleric up front.  Geez, Shen, do you have anything positive to say about the beginning of Might and Magic?

Well, I really dig the demonic banner across the top.

I always expect crawlers like this to have a high difficulty at the onset, which is one of the reasons I normally spend a lot of time making my own characters.  M&M is no different; a single trap can wipe out the entire party.  With just the cleric and I on the front line for most battles, a battle quite often will end with both of us dead, which means a reset (don't forget my rule regarding Shen death).

If I have to go down on anything, I'm glad it's a sprite.

Further exploration of the monster-infested town yielded a gallery of plaques just ripe for the pondering.  They all were quite pretty to look at and included some history as well as poetry.

Tear dat mic up, plaque, word!  Word 'em up!

The plaques are a nice change of pace from the normal NPC delivery system of information; I'd rather look at some nice art than some uggo's face.  Just beyond the gallery, I discovered something that raised my spirits considerably — the guild.  Here... HERE is where I could generate my own characters by overwriting an existing one.  It just happened to be located on the other side of the town.  My initial exuberance waned as I thought more about this situation.  Why have the guild way over here?  Why not have it either part of the inn or nearby?  Anybody who likes character generation is going to be using this option, so why waste the first few hours of gameplay forcing them to hang out with a bunch of losers?  And it is a total waste for the character retains nothing after rebirth, including equipment which I found out later, much to my chagrin.  I sucked this all up, however, as now I could transform myself into the gnome paladin that I had lusted after since starting the game.  Yes, the guild also changes your race somehow (just another reason to have the character generation at the beginning of the game).  The way stats are generated, though, is pretty cool.  There is no viewing of the stats while rolling and re-rolling; rather, all the game shows the player is the potential classes the character could be.  A complete list to choose from ensures the character has decent stats in all categories.

You don't want to know how long it took
to roll a full set for each character.

Since everyone was starting out fresh with no experience or gold (I did manage to save some equipment after I noticed it disappearing), I decided that all the characters would also start off neutrally aligned.  The manual alluded to events that could change a character's alignment and I wanted to give everyone free rein to determine their own moral path.  Four characters in and I, by chance, noticed that character I was working on was actually evil.  A quick check on the previous characters confirmed that we were all evil bastards.  An error of this magnitude at this stage does not bode well for the remainder of the game.

Yes, can you tell me why this game is being ass?

Fine, M&M, have it your way.  There was no way I was going to regen all the previous characters so I'm rolling with the evil party.  If I find any type of exploit, no matter how small, I'm going to hump the everloving shit out of it.  No NPC will be safe from my merry band of chaotic evils if I get even the slightest chance to attack them.  Continue to piss me off and I'll meta the evil alignment and break out my trusty hex editor.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED, M&M.  Fucking ports, man, I tell ya.  At any rate, while finishing off exploring the rest of the town, the entire party fell down a hole and now we're lost in the first dungeon.  Luckily, we had the foresight to bring some torches to light up this dank, urine-soaked hell hole.  I should have known by now that Might and Magic would be a dick even with something this basic, but I was still shocked to discover that a lit torch only lasts until a single movement is made.  How useful!  So I guess we'll muddle around in the dark here until we either find the stairs or die off.  My money's on the latter.