Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Game #57: Might & Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum (NES) - Finding Inner Peace (Finished)

Strangely never released in the US
I didn't realize just how close I was to the end of the game. I expected another grand dungeon after breaching the final door in the astral plane. The key was a card received by correctly answering the volcano giant's riddle. There was hardly an indication that's where it was either. Before I got back to that though, I diligently searched the city of gold for messages, of which I only found one.
Not exactly a helpful one either
One mystery was cleared up. With doors of glass, ruby, twinkle, rainbow, and crystals in the city, I surmised the answer to the ruby riddle is crystal instead of prism. I found a way around the crystal door however, so I didn't bother to solve that. I found an item called Thundranium and a white queen idol that was one half to helping Og. Instead of scrounging through the remaining dungeons in hope of finding another idol or more messages, I went to the trivia grove to see what 4/5 answers would get me.
Apparently 50 gems for each correct answer
Since I was near the volcanic islands again, I pondered the giant's riddle. I thought of Percella who may have fought against Sheltem. I thought of Og who may have lost his sight due to his failure. Finally thought of Gala, who had traveled to the volcanic islands. Had I taken down the clue word for word, I would have noted that she was called brave and that she failed her attempt to sooth the savage natives. I was rewarded with a key card, and returned to the Astral plane to slip it in the slot.
A final riddle before the end of the game
I kind of blundered into the answer to the final riddle. I searched through my inventory, and came up empty handed. There wasn't an answer to give, so I rested before giving up: that was the solution. I found myself on the other side of the barrier being congratulated.
My Inner Sanctum?
The Data Keeper congratulated me, and informed me that I had a new assignment on the other side of the Gates to Another World. At the gates in B1, I received another congratulatory message, and was told that to pass through I must now find "Might and Magic: Book Two." Cue credits roll, and another game completed. Rather anticlimactic in the end, and a fair many riddles left unsolved.
In case anyone is interested in carrying on the adventure (I'm not even sure this would work on the PAL SNES or SFC versions)
Elapsed Time: 3h58m (Final Time: 74h38m)

Combatant - Combat was challenging, and remained deadly throughout the game. I think that's mostly due to the bugs that plague the NES port though. The number of spells available make strategies interesting; however, eventually there was a tipping point where most combat was a chore due to low rewards.
Rating: 7
This is the only combat where I felt adequately rewarded with a high level piece of equipment
Admirer - The only positive thing I have to say about this is the ability to generate any party arrangement. I don't know how viable it is to have 6 wizards, but if you can manage to level 11, being able to cast Sword six times seems really good. On the other hand, the Robber class is completely worthless in combat. The menu system is a bit clunky.
Rating: 4
Thanks to JVC for the game
Puzzler - I think this is the first 0 I've given for the main quest. It's just not there. I had a lead on it at one point, but then it kind of evaporated before I stumbled into it again. I didn't even know it was the main quest. At least the side quests are interesting (the entire game feels like one). The option to solve riddles for many of them was a welcomed change of pace. I eventually managed to solve the magic square in Hawkseye; I'm fairly sure there are multiple solutions, but only one is accepted by the game. For my trouble everyone received +2 int, and small amount of experience, gold, and gems.
Rating: 4
How about a little more clarification on the main goal in the third installment?
Instigator - Honestly, I'm not even sure what the story is supposed to be about in this game. Some history and descriptions were presented that allowed me to answer some questions to the puzzles. However, if I look just at the story told, then it boils down to an escaped alien impersonating the king. Uncovering him allowed him to escape to worlds unknown, and I then went to the Inner Sanctum for a new assignment (told to buy the next game). Definitely not the high fantasy save the princess, world, universe we often see, but this is barely anything.
Rating: 3
I'm going to blame this guy for everything
Collector - There are a lot of items in the game, but not an overwhelming amount. Figuring out what each one does is the most cumbersome aspect to the game. If it's some form of protection, then it requires a trip to the fortune teller in Algary, but some are identifiable by a change in base stats. The economy is balanced for combat, but there are plenty of ways to get virtually infinite gold. There's no storage, and no real compulsion to collect all items as most are random drops.
Rating: 4
Would a vault for items have been too hard?
Explorer - The music is wonderful. The graphics are superb for the system, and a major step up from the original. The world is interesting to explore, and the atmosphere it creates is intriguing. The completely open world offers an experience few games have. Discovering everything through bits and pieces with hardly a clue as to what you've found is a missed opportunity in games that hold your hand throughout.
Rating: 8
I'm going to blame this guy for not properly crediting Masaharu Iwata for the music... unless I somehow missed his name in the credits roll, in which case I blame myself
 Final Rating: 30 [50%]

For a 60+ hour experience I expected something more from the story; however, I don't find myself disappointed in having played through to the end. It was fun deciphering all of the cryptic clues, even if I didn't manage all of them this playthrough. It has taught me to take more exact quotes in this style of game, as even the most innocuous adjective could potentially be key to solving a riddle. I'll continue to celebrate these open world games. I may be on the wrong platform to expect more, but I hope to find gems like this every now and then.

Up next is Defenders of Oasis for the Game Gear. I still have no way of streaming my 3DS, so I'm forced to painfully reproduce every screen in the game by hand for your viewing pleasure. I know nothing of the game except I believe it's a strategy RPG much like Warsong and Crystal Warriors. But first, we have to cut some garbage known as Ninja Taro. It seems to be a game based on the Rolan's Curse engine, but with even less weapon management or stats.


  1. For the magic square puzzle, did you remember to include the diagonals as well? I went through that dang dungeon three or four times, getting increasingly frustrated before remembering. Or did you end up with multiple solutions even taking that into account? (this is NES M&M we're talking about here, so I wouldn't be surprised if this puzzle was "bugged" as well)

    1. The first couple of times I forgot to include them, so maybe that was it. I wonder if that one that starts on 43, but spins is a clue to put 4 or 3 in that slot. I read somewhere that it only accepts a single solution.

  2. Ouch, Might & Magic Book One slam!

    I can't dispute the reasoning behind your ratings. I just want to point out that MM1 was first released in 1986 or '87, and its prime competition was boring grindfests like the original Dragon Quest, various ASCII roguelikes, and the Wizardry series. For its time, MM1 was amazing and I loved it.

    The PC version had almost no music at all aside from attract mode, just occasional sound effects and a short dirge when characters die.

    LOL at the credits misspelling Jon Van Caneghem's name. The Wikipedia article at


    has more about him and the games he's created or had a hand in.

    Defenders of Oasis isn't a strategy game. It's a typical turn-based, menu-driven RPG.

    I have one major tip for Defenders of Oasis - do not miss the Escape spell, which I think is in the Cave/Tomb of the Wise. Being able to escape random encounters with 100% success makes the game much, much better and more playable. Otherwise the endless press of random encounters gets very tiresome.

    1. For such an early game it actually scored fairly high. Strangely higher than the second game on Genesis. Mostly, I felt the combat in this one was much more balanced.

      Ah, I was completely mistaken about Defenders of Oasis. That confirms I know absolutely nothing about it. I think I got it confused with a Shining Force game.

  3. I like how that last "riddle" isn't even a riddle so much as a koan.

    1. Maybe it's a metaphor for how our dreams can cross the boundary from fantasy to reality.