Might & Magic series entered the new millennium with a limp. The Day of the Destroyer, the eighth installation of the series, has shown severe signs of stagnation and was met rather coldly by the public, which expected a rise to a new quality level from the beloved franchise. Furthermore, the Heroes series were also walking in circles, being caught in a loop of trying to stretch further the massive success of Heroes of Might & Magic III. Considering the tough financial situation of Might & Magic’s publisher 3DO, the next game just had to be successful. So much was at the stake, that New World Computing’s two separate teams had been working simultaneously on both of franchises.
Again I will start an article with a spoiler alert: it all ended pretty bad.
First five games of glorious Might & Magic franchise have received all the love and praise they deserved. But in the mid-’90s the developers New World Computing decided to put the series on hiatus. Sheltem’s story has ended on an epic note and all the roleplaying juices seemed to dry out. Might & Magic became strategic: Heroes of Might & Magic has been released in 1995, bearing a strong trail of King’s Bounty (another NWC successful game released in 1990) and became the world’s most loved turned-based mind boggler almost instantly. But that’s the story for another time.
Might & Magic returned in 1998, after the years of constant technological advancements as well as an RPG evolution as a genre. It would be a grave mistake to not keep those environmental changes in mind, and NWC had to put their hand on the pulse of time. I am going to spoil you the ending: the return of Might & Magic into the roleplaying genre was phenomenal.
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Behold that fabulous world of roleplaying games! Rich and beautiful it floats through the vast space of escapist entertainment, enchanting the hearts and empowering the minds. There are three pillars this world is based upon (or lies on the backs of three elephants, for the Pratchett fans here) — Ultima, Wizardry and Might & Magic. Each of them had an overwhelming influence on the shape, feel, and direction, which the genre of CRPG has taken, while forming itself.
Onto the youngest one of the elephants (or pillars, if you’ve never read Discworld, oh, poor soul) I’ve decided to turn my retro-gaze here. Join me in remembering the wonderful worlds of Might & Magic and reminding once again the pure joy of virtual roleplaying escapism.
Oh, some major spoilers ahead, so be warned.