Maito & Majikku
I don’t consider myself a “real” Might & Magic collector. For instance, there are many games of the series I didn’t buy right at release and instead waited for the cheaper reissues because I was at the time a penniless student. And I don’t feel the need to seek the old releases of games I already own just to have the original box and floppies on my shelf (which hasn’t much empty space left anyway.)
But once in a while, I come across a mysterious item that piques my interest enough to acquire it, like the Might & Magic novels by Geary Gravel (both of them are great reads, by the way, especially if you like the Jack Vance-ish atmosphere of the Xeen games. But I digress.)
I’ve also become fascinated by the Japanese ports of Might & Magic games, despite the fact I don’t speak or read Japanese.
Japanese players love first-person RPGs and dungeon crawlers. For a long time, while the genre had gone dormant in western countries, Japanese game developers were still producing new Wizardry games, or hardcore gems like the Etrian Odyssey series. It’s therefore not surprising that several unique adaptations of Might & Magic were released in the archipelago. There even used to be a Japanese website called Mighty Magician that hosted some of the most complete walkthroughs of Might & Magic III to V. Sadly it seems to have disappeared.
Here are the games I collected in the last seven years or so.
Might and Magic Book One
In July 1990, the company Gakken Co. develops a port of the very first Might & Magic RPG for the Nintendo Famicom (the console that we know in Europe and the US as the NES). Despite almost-monochrome graphics, it’s a pretty good adaptation of a classic.
I’m a big fan of this cover art.
There’s not much to say about this version, except that it’s one of the rare cases where the game travelled back to be released in the United States in 1991. Also, I have to mention the very catchy soundtrack composed by Masaharu Iwata, who later composed music for many cult games like Ogre Battle, Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, Odin Sphere or Muramasa. A CD of enhanced mixes of the tracks he created for Might & Magic was also released.
Might and Magic Book One
This one is actually the very first Japanese Might & Magic game I acquired. It was released in 1992 (six years after the original) on the NEC PC-Engine (that US players know as the Turbografx). More specifically, for the CD-Rom² add-on for that console.
Yasuhiko Yoshikazu’s distinctive style.
It’s probably the prettiest version of the original Might & Magic, and features a new character design by Yasuhiko Yoshikazu, of Arion and Gundam fame. The game also has voice-overs (in Japanese) for all NPCs, and a soundtrack composed by none other than Joe Hisaishi (better known for his movie scores for Princess Mononoke or Sonatine.)
Unfortunately, you cannot create your own party in this game, and you are stuck with characters such as Amuru Norzan the Paladin, Lia the (evil) archer, or Asura Frost the Wizard. Also, it seems the game ends after the five major quests (the three lords’ quests, the quest to kill the four beasts, and the quest to free the six prisoners) are completed, without the final quest of unmasking Alamar/Sheltem and opening the Gates to Another World.
You can learn more about this game on Celestial Heavens’ Round Table forums.
Might and Magic Book Two
In 1993, Might & Magic II was ported on the Super Famicom (Japanese equivalent of the SNES). This version plays very similarly to the Famicom version of MM1, hinting that it might have been developed by the same team (although a studio called Star Craft – no kidding – is credited for the port).
Let’s face it: this is probably one of the worst covers of the series.
Savvy gamers might know a SNES port of the game was also released in Europe and the US. But these are actually two very different adaptations: while the SNES version is very faithful to the original computer game, the Super Famicom port introduces a number of changes, the most visible being completely different graphics and portraits for the party characters.
Some quests and details have also been altered or removed. For instance, no Guardian Pegasus in the Japanese version.
Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra
(PC-Engine Super CD-Rom²)
Strangely, the PC-Engine ports of Might & Magic jump from the first game to the third. The PC-Engine version of Isles of Terra is however a fairly straight port of the computer game, without major differences (cosmetic or otherwise).
A pretty cool artwork by fantasy legend Akihiro Yamada. Players familiar with the lore of Terra might recognize the symbols of the Force of the Dome in the background.
This time the Japanese publisher, Hudson Soft, hired artist Akihiro Yamada to draw a couple of artworks for the game’s cover and manual. Yamada is one of the greatest fantasy artists in Japan, having illustrated tons of novels like the Chronicles of the Lodoss War and Junni Kokki (Twelve Kingdoms).
The soundtrack also deserves a mention. Composer Shinya Yamamoto did an amazing job, perfectly capturing the eerie mood of the early Might & Magic worlds, full of weirdness and mystery.
Might and Magic: Day of the Destroyer
After a long absence on video game consoles, the series returned with a port of Might & Magic VIII: Day of the Destroyer on the PlayStation 2. Despite the persistent rumour that this PS2 is a compilation of Might & Magic VI to VIII, it actually only contains the eighth episode.
The… colourful cover of Day of the Destroyer on the PS2.
The biggest difference with the PC version is the addition of a new tutorial level at the beginning and a couple of visual effects when striking the enemies. No screenshot this time around, since I was actually able to record some footage of the game. Enjoy!
That’s it! To conclude and get back to the topic of this blog, namely Might & Magic X, I am very happy that our game is also going to be translated into Japanese. I hope Japanese fans of the series (or of the first-person RPG genre) will give it a try :)