Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Game #57: Might & Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum (NES) - Looking for the Magic

Game 57

Title: Might and Magic: Secret of the Inner Sanctum
Released: August 1992 (July 1990 JPN)
Platform: NES
Developer: New World Computing (ported by G-Amusements)
Publisher: American Sammy Corp.
Genre: RPG
Exploration - First-person
Combat - Turn based
Series - Might and Magic

Strangely, 1991 doesn't fit any date I can find online
There's not much to say about the story of Might & Magic. Most of the game is figuring out what to do while fighting off enemies at every turn. The manual only references the Inner Sanctum as a place the party has come together to discover. I suppose I will follow the rumors of taverns and seek out those in power once again. Having already played the second game, I can imagine how it'll end. The two are very similar.
The game begins unlike the second by only naming a lead character, who is then automatically fitted to the role of male knight. I planned to have a full party, one of each character, and reroll until my eyes bled. Unfortunately, those plans were dashed when I was left standing in front of the inn with my sole character. The inn had a cast of preset characters with randomly rolled HP.
I spent a few minutes hoping to roll some good ones, but always managed at least one character with 2 HP
The manual has a map of Sorpigal, but doesn't mark the guild where it's possible to re-roll characters individually. It's strange, but the game has a whole cast of characters spread out in the various towns. Much like the second game, I don't see any reason why these level 1 characters would ever find room in the party. Most of them have fairly average stats. It took nearly an hour to find the guild without a single death in the party.
There were a number of reliefs with some very cryptic information displayed in an art gallery
At the guild it took a while to roll proper stats for my characters. Stats matter quite a lot, at least in the early game. A couple points of might means a 50% increase in damage. Speed controls turn order, and is essential for acting before the enemies. Endurance influences HP, but rolling at the guild means a character starts with the max value. Unfortunately, it has some side effects; it wipes all gold, items, and experience from the character, but sets food to 20. The small amount I'd saved up searching the town was nearly voided out.
With a full party I confidently stepped into the world
For some variety, I chose to have a character from each class and race, with a mix of male and females, and two of each alignment. The knight is the basic fighter, cleric and wizard (sorcerer in the manual) are the base spellcasters, paladins and archers are their fighter hybrid classes respectively, and robbers are pathetic in battle. I went in search for some easy battles. Combat has a few peculiarities to this series compared to other RPGs, but more in common with D&D. Armor only increases the chance of an attack missing, and damage is determined purely by the weapon plus bonus for high might times the number of attacks.
That is, unless you're a bugged enemy called Locust Plague that does a base damage of 255 HP
Experience is earned for each defeated monster, but gold is only found in sacks or chests successfully searched and opened after battle. If the party moves away from the square after battle, the gold is lost forever. Both sacks and chests are potentially trapped, and thus comes the only reason to have a robber in the party. Yet, at level 4, he still fails to disarm traps, but at least I have the potential survive now. A failed disarm could wipe out the entire party.
Collecting some rumors from the local tavern
So far I haven't found much of a story to the game, and the only "quest" I have is to deliver a scroll given to me by an old man in the Sorpigal catacombs. I have no idea where Erliquin is, but I've barely scratched the surface of the over world. The guards at the gate wouldn't even let me leave until all party members were level 2. I slowly saved up, bought some ranged weapons, and filled out the rest of my equipment slots. Leveling up costs increasingly more money each time, and gold can be hard to come by (especially when purposefully avoiding trapped treasure). I've managed to keep up, but I can see it becoming a problem eventually.
This over world map is not nearly as useful as Might and Might II
I scouted all of C2, and small portions of other areas, but only found two towns. Portsmith has traps that drain males of HP. Algary was much more welcoming, and the equipment shop there had further upgrades I wish I could afford. Tips from the tavern like "the queen can be helpful" and "the swamp was once a City of Gold" aren't as helpful as I was expecting. A group of wyverns took my party out easily. A gypsy woman told me the color of my party's auras, which may come in useful later. I also found two fountains, and remembering how useful these were in Gates to Another World, I dove right into them, but there were no effects as far as I could tell. Lastly was a lion that asked for a password. I have no idea where to go, or what to do.
It's nice when the more difficult enemies are out of range on their turn
Back to combat for a moment, range works strangely in this game. Only the first two characters in the party are usually within melee range, but the monsters will often surprise the party, which puts other members in the front line. The monster party, which consists of up to 15 individuals, on the other hand always only allows the first three to be attacked (including with ranged weapons). Spells can reach any of the first six, but the potentially other nine are completely obscured. There are eventually some spells that allow all party members to enter the fray, and even one to reduce or eliminate surprise attacks. When running from combat the party retreats to a specific square on each 16x16 map.
In Might and Magic fashion, I end each night with a nice party wipe
As expected, the early game is progressing slowly. I've been mapping as much as I can on foot, but feel like things will really start to pick up once my wizard reaches level 3 and the fly spell. I'm only level four though, and at this point I'm at the whims of a game that seems bent on wiping out any progress if I stretch myself too thin. My current plan is to continue branching out in every way I can while struggling my way to the next level. I just hope I can afford it once I get there.

Elapsed Time: 12h11m (Total Time: 12h11m)


  1. All the Might & Magic games will obliterate you if you stray into dangerous areas or encounters at too low a level, but MM1 was especially bad about it. There's nothing you can do except save often and remember to come back when you're stronger.

    The bugged locust swarm was a problem specific to the NES port; it's not that deadly in the PC version.

    There is a story to MM1 about following in the footsteps of the legendary explorer Corak, but it is extremely subtle, and told with very little text.

    1. Well, I do have one note about Corak, but I haven't found anything more. I'm thinking I might need to map towns more fully than I have at this point.