Only the dead go free

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DUNGEONS and dragons have a lot to answer for. Not only did they spawn the creation of the first rule-based role-playing game, but countless lost hours spent trying to promote a sorcerer to eighth level or arguing over which characters was at the front when the six inch spikes fell from the ceiling.

The graduation on to computer software isn't necessarily an advantage. There was something about sitting cross-legged in someone's bedroom, listening to some Floyd and rolling the 20-sided dice on a copy of the player's guide that just can't be re-created on a computer.

OK, so the computer now controls the rules and whatsnot, so there can be no disputes. But sometimes the disputes were valid. Sometimes they were in the best interests of keeping the game enjoyable and playable.

Probably the most famous of these computer attempts is Dungeon Master, now going into a second incarnation. The problem with DM is that the format is too rigid. The combat itself is random, based on formulae, but the intellectual involvement is static. You must explore the dungeon and there is only one way to do this.

I'll not deny that this approach is a good and entertaining one, but it is missing the point. It makes role-playing like a board game. And that is precisely what it's not about. Role-playing is about freedom - escapism in one of its purest forms.

Some games have gone the other way, with totally random events. Again, these can have their advantages, but they can be just as terrible. If the game is so random what is the point of exploring? What happens 20 miles away is just as likely to happen here.

This is where Might and Magic II starts scoring points. It is obviously heavily based on the Gygax series of games. Character generation is almost identical, as are some of the spells and weapons.

Might II makes its stand by starting off as a random hack and slash and the turning into more of an adventure. A random slaying may eventually lead to a quest. For example, in the first city a wizard will ask you to fetch back a goblet stolen from him by the goblins which live under the city.

If you accomplish this task he will put you on to his sister, who also wants a job done. In this way quests can follow on from each other. You may find items from one quest while attempting to complete an entirely different task. There is a great sense of taking part in something real.

Unfortunately, the game is totally keyboard driven. This is actually a bit more sensible than using the mouse for moving around, but I think the spells at least would have benefited from a pull-down menu. It's very difficult to preserve the atmosphere of performing some occult ceremony while cross-referencing a table of numbers to the instruction book, no matter how much incense you burn.

Whenever the characters encounter anything, an animated graphic will appear. These are not only a nice decoration but can give you an idea of what you are facing.
If you can't guess whether a Brain-eater is undead or not, seeing a picture of one might help you decide. My favourites are the Jugglers, which actually juggle properly, and the Hungry Plants. Beware of the flowers...

Most adventuring will take place within the confines of, or underneath, one of the five cities of Cron. However, if you're feeling lucky, or if the quest you are on demands it, you may find yourself outside the protective walls of a city and exposed to constant danger.

A knowledge of woodcraft, mapping, mountaineering and other skills relevant to the terrain can be obtained if you know where to look.

In terms of longevity I would say there are well over 100 playing hours worth in Might II. The major quest, the battle to save Cron, is a far off and distant thing, though important. Like the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.

It's not terribly Amiga-like, though it will run from AmigaDos and can be installed on a hard drive. The usual intuition-type touches are missing greatly, at least at first. Soon compulsion takes over.
Might And Magic II captures the essence of role-playing that the others have left behind for the rule books. They haven't got that M&M feeling.

Might and Magic 2 logo


Fantasy - the stuff dreams are made of. Another computer swords and sorcery role-playing game hits the Amiga scene. The world of CRON (yes, CRON) is now all of 900 years old. For the first centuries, elemental beings of pure force warred over it. The earth elementals managed to subvert the fire, air and water elementals.

200 years before the game starts, human spell-casters - under the supreme command of king Kalohn, Number One mage - managed to split the elementals up and herd them into their own separate reservations.

Prior to the start of the game, the second greatest magic user in history, Corak, has been behaving peculiarly. He holds mystic summoning and travels magically. Now, he warns of an evil escaped criminal from the past who is loose again to hatch plots and gain domination over all. Will you take up the cause and defeat this adversary? All of this background information is contained in a few pages of well-written, imaginative scene-setting.

The game itself is more familiar in outline. You control a party of adventurers, individuals who are generated as novices. They can progress in their chosen areas of skill: chivalric Knight, dextrous Robber, saintly Paladin, holy Cleric, stealthy Ninja, tough Barbarian, sureshot Archer of potent Sorcerer.

Only six characters may be used at one time. These can be chopped and changed from a roster of 26. To take pressure off the merry band, other people can be hired, Such hirelings must be paid off each day, or else they disappear back to the smokey inn where they last stayed.

A simple 3D window displays the direction in which your characters face. They move forwards, backwards and turn to each side. Hundreds of different creatures exist. Some of them can aid you: a blacksmith from whom you buy equipment, a priest who heals characters. Other creature tend to be unfriendly, hacking your party up unless you can beat them to the draw.

CRON is big. Starting at the town of Middlegate, you can explore the kingdom and the four elemental zones. The latter areas are accessible when you can gain protection from certain spells. Forests and mountain ranges block your way, but these can be braved if some members of your party are talented in relevant ways. Time travel is possible, but it will be a while before new characters achieve this.

The spell system is a little clumsy, the combat one-sided (terminal to your enjoyment) until you can build up the party's expertise. It's an enjoyable caper that people who appreciate the likes of Bards Tale will get into.


No graphics are used to convey what your characters are like. Everything to do with them is text. The creatures of CRON are animated with a few frames, and the background landscapes are pleasing to the eye. Sound exploitation is almost non-existent. There are a few spot effects to be heard, but they are not exactly striking.


New characters are woefully weak. Six experienced graphics are available whenever you want, and combat is usually fatal if you don't use them for your first forays. Later on you can play with more confidence. In terms of depth, atmosphere and size, MMII is a compelling game that needs effort to get started. Be warned, fantasy fans!


The game lacks a lot in the way of appeal. The graphics look good, but the different options are confusing at first. The manual is written with this in mind, and manages to guide you gradually. Once sussed, no worries: but the initial frustration may prove too much for many people. Such fast-reaction game-players will see it as too tough and dull; hardened adventurers will rise to the challenge.

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Der zweite Teil von U.S. Golds "mächtigem und magischem" Rollenspiel präsentiert sich am Amiga ganz im Stil von "Bard's Tale" und "Alternate Reality". Ein neuer Star am Rollenspiel-Himmel!

Um es gleich vorwegzunehmen - nicht so ganz! Die Charaktererschaffung ist stark an das "D & D"-System angelehnt: Neben den üblichen Parametern, wie STR, INT, WIS, LUCK etc., müssen für jedes Party-Mitglied Beruf und Gesinnung (gut, böse, neutral) festgelegt werden. Es werden mindestens sechs Charaktere benötigt, die man aus acht verschiedenen Klassen (Krieger, Dieb, Priester...), und fünf unterschiedlichen Rassen auswählen kann.

Zusätzlich lassen sich für die "Dreckarbeit" Söldner erwerben - die Jungs bestehen allerdings auf prompte Bezahlung. Hat man die langwierigen Vorbereitungen hinter sich gebracht, wird die aktuelle Truppe zusammengestellt und in eines der städtischen Inns geschickt.

Die Aufgabe des Spielers besteht darin, das geliebte Heimatland "Cron" vor Scheltern, einem Finsterling aus einer anderen Dimension, zu erretten. Im Klartext: möglichst viele Monster erschlagen, Unmassen von Gold einsammeln und allerlei Rätsel lösen.

Angesichts der überaus zahlreichen Monster (150 verschiedene!) ist es gar nicht so leicht, seine Charaktere am Leben zu erhalten. Regelmäßig Spielstände abzuspeichern (nur in den Inns möglich) ist hier mal wieder echt notwendig. Dafür ist das Spielprinzip recht einfach: Immer feste druff! Erfolgreich bestandene Kämpfe versorgen die Party mit Gold und Erfahrungspunkten; was wiederum die Grundlage für mehre Waffen, verbesserte Ausrüstung und damit den Aufstieg in höhere Level bildet.

Den Zauberkundigen stehen natürlich etliche magische Sprüche zur Verfügung, für deren Anwendung neben ausreichend Spellpoints, zum Teil auch Edelsteine benötigt werden. Angenehmer-weise ist man zum flotten Vorankommen weder auf die Location-Sprüche, noch auf die eigenen zeichnerischen Fähigkeiten angewiesen: Auto-Mapping heißt das Zauberwort!

Gesteuert wird die Abenteuer-Gruppe ausschließlich mit dem Keybaord; sämtliche Aktionen (und derer gibt es viele!) werden ebenfalls per Tastendruck eingeleitet. Das Kampfsystem bietet zwar umfangreiche Möglichkeiten, aber das epidemie-artige Auftreten von Monstern trübt den Spielspaß doch gewaltig - allzu-viel ist einfach ungesund!

Auf den beiden Disketten sit eine komplette Welt mit fünf Städten, Schlössern und Feinden satt enthalten. Die grafische Umsetzung ist nur bei den animierten Gegnern wirklich gut gelungen, der magere Screenaufbau läßt hingegen eher C 64-Feeling aufkommen.

Sound wird in der englischen Anleitung zwar versprochen, unser Testmuster war aber leider noch schweigsam. Auch das Spiel ist komplett in englisch, was aber keine großen Schwierigkeiten bereitet.

Might and Magic II ist insgesamt kein schlechtes Game, nahrhafte Durchschnittskost für ausgehungerte SchwertSchwinger halt. Wer den großen Rollenspiel-Knüller erwartet hat, wird zwar etwas enttäuscht aber es muß ja bekanntlich nicht immer Kaviar sein... (wh)

Might and Magic 2 logo

By the orb of King Kalohn The Vanquished and the jacuzzi complex of the fabled Water Lords, I conjure thee to take a peek at Might And Magic II. May your loins be fruitful and your goblin chopper well bloodied...

Ye Gods! It's the tenth century and chaos reigns in the land of Cron. West Berkhampstead has been engulfed by the Quagmire of Doom and Dragons have taken over New Scotland Yard. Law and order has given way to sword and sorcery - which is pretty good news since you're more at home bludgeoning witches to death than handing out parking tickets.

Might And Magic II is an open-ended adventure game in which you can wander almost anywhere and do almost anything. There are no set goals and no preset characters that you have to use. In fact, it's all rather confusing at first as you plough about beating up poor defenceless goblins and getting, erm... nowhere really.

To begin with, you can create up to 24 characters, any six of which may be drawn together to form an adventuring party. In other words, you can have four separate bands trogging about poking their nose into everybody's else's business. The usual range of Dungeons And Dragons style options are available: race, character, class, sex and alignment. There are two 9 level spell books containing 96 spells and a whole host of weapons and magic items to mess about with. A word of warning: 10 foot pikes are not suitable for children and gnomes.

Five towns are available for exploration, each with an inn where different parties can meet up and hire thugs. Travel between the towns is by means of teleportation. Enter the portal, pay your money and whomma! New country, new bars to get arrested in. It's a bit like travelling on French motorways but without granny getting carsick.

Amiga reviewSpig Of The Whastes Of Elfin Buttocks Jnr: My dad's still great with child and somebody has stolen my best marble. (Get on with it. Ed.) Erm, yes, right. I'm in two minds about M&M II. The actual game system (combat calculation, spells, etc.) is sophisticated but user friendly. Limitations of what you can carry, wear and use make sense (except that the same suit of armour can be worn by a three foot game or a seven foot half-orc) and the keyboard driven options make actions speedy and convenient.

Unfortunately, the game is hampered by daft use of graphics. For example, walk into a pub and a barmaid will appear and ask if she can help. Say no and she disappears. Has she exploded or what?
This is the case with all encounters and though it doesn't interfere with gameplay, it seems a bit silly. And the locations all look the same until you hit a sub-quest.

Another feature of the game is dead annoying - you can only save a game at one of the five inns. What tends to happen is your troll about killing monsters, gaining experience and then die before you make it back home. So it's back to square one. It doesn't help that you have no idea how powerful monsters are until it's too late. A mean looking group of demons turn out to be a cinch, but a band of poofy wood elves pack bows like bazookas.

Might And Magic II is perhaps a bit heavy on the combat side and light on brain teasers. It'll appeal to adventurers who are more interested in mapping and disemboweling than using their grey matter. If you're into graphic style adventuring, then it'll prove a big disappointment. But RPG players who enjoy a well-constructed game system and enjoy mutilating mythical beasts will love it. Yep, you pays money and takes your choice.
Can I have my marble back now?

Might and Magic 2: Map of Middlegate

Since there are no friendly bobbies to ask for directions, just packs of giant rabid rats etc., making a map is pretty essential unless you're a complete plonker. Fortunately, if one of your characters has Cartography skills (and presumably a damn good memory), you can turn on the auto-mapping function. This is Middlegae, a sleepy town disturbed only by the barking of dogs and the bone-crunching of roving gangs of mutant zombies.

Might and Magic 2 logo

New World Computing Inc/US Gold, Amiga £29.99

The kingdom of Cron was heavily damaged during a ferocious battle between the four elements, Fire, Water, Air and Earth. However, the fighting stopped when Man arrived (unusual) and displayed his contempt, even mastery, of the elements. Only in the extreme could the four elements harm humans and this fact, coupled with man's skill in matters magical, banished the elemental lords from direct interaction with Mankind.

One elemental lord was particularly miffed at being pushed aside and vowed revenge: he plotted, schemed and studied sorcery until he had power enough to summon a great dragon. The king of Cron realised how much of a threat the dragon was to his land and set out to vanquish it; the dragon wiped the floor with him! The king's battle plan was to protect himself from the dragon's fire with a shield of water but his spell backfired and he fried.

Also, his attempt at creating a magic shield caused a flood which not only drowned the dragon but effected a change throughout the land, a change so vast it led to regression and the ultimate downfall of Cron's civilisation. Chaos reigns... and guess who's gonna get wet!

Might and Magic II is a role-play game which puts you in charge of up to five teams of adventurers with a maximum of eight members in each. You can either choose members from those provided or spend many a happy hour creating your own using characteristics such as Statistics, Class, Race, Alignment, Sex, Status and Secondary Skills.

Four windows inform you of your current situation (although these change to one when viewing a character or in mapping mode). They display your view ahead and characters encountered, current options, date and time and your team or text messages.

Five towns nestle in the turmoil of Cron and Middlegate is the one where your adventures begin. In towns you find weapon shops, temples for curing the wounded and obtaining spells - spells for both clerics and sorcerers are many and varied -, training arenas and many other buildings which may or may not conceal something of interest. There are also plenty of potential enemies wandering the streets.

Your band of merry muckers may be arranged in any order so that whichever of your party best suits a particular situation is ever to the fore. This is also useful if a party member has taken a lot of hits: he may be sent to the back of the party where it's relatively safe.

The combat system is quite good and it usually lets you run away - very useful when you stumble across a camp of 300 blood-crazed orcs. It's also fast so there's no time to make a cup of tea while enemies decide how to counter your moves.

Outside of towns a wilderness exists which is interesting to explore and features mountains, woods, cryptic messages, castles and again plenty of enemies to keep you on your toes. Graphics are animated and quite nicely drawn although you may get tired of seeing the same blacksmith in every town and the barmaid (who drinks like a fish) in every tavern. There was no sound in the version I looked at.

Although there doesn't appear to be an ultimate goal in M&M II you are given the odd quest to tackle enable your party to build up experience, weaponry and gold reserves. One annoying feature is the restriction of only be able to save a game at inns. This idiosyncrasy can be very frustrating, especially if you've been on a binge in the wilderness and are about to enter a town after gaining lots of gold and experience points and you get wiped out by an attacker before you make it to the inn. I don't understand the logic behind this idea, all it did was make me use the off switch before I otherwise might have done.

Although M&M II is polished to fairly high sheen and is interesting to delve in to it's not a thinking player's game, but if you like a lot of mapping interspersed with the odd hack' n 'slay bout then you Might think this RPG Magic.