Might and Magic IX
Description official description
The world of Axeoth seems to be in grave peril. The region of Chedian is threatened by an invasion of the Beldonian Horde, led by the warlord Tamur Leng. A party of rangers from Ravensford are shipwrecked on the Isle of Ashes, where they encounter a mysterious troll who announces to them that their fate lies in liberating Chedian and opposing the Beldonian leader.
The ninth installment of the Might and Magic series takes place in a different world, following the destruction of the planet Enroth, which served as a setting for the three previous games. Its story is not directly connected to its predecessors, though there are a few references to them. It is also the first game in the series rendered fully in 3D and with full screen navigation.
As opposed to its immediate predecessor, the game features a traditional party creation system with four races to choose from: human, elf, dwarf, and half-orc. There are only two character classes available during character creation: Fighter or Initiate. Both can, however, be promoted to other, more powerful classes during the course of the game, with two class development branches each. In order to achieve promotion, characters need to complete specific quests given to them.
Other aspects of the character-building system remain largely unchanged. Each character can train in a variety of skills, ranging from weapon proficiencies and magic disciplines to bartering, perception, identifying items, etc. Some skills bestow greater benefits on the character if he or she has been promoted to a specific class, and mastery in certain skills can only be attained following a specific promotion. As in the the three previous games in the series, default real-time combat can be paused at any time to switch to turn-based mode. Party formation options are also available.
Outdoor areas in the game are mostly limited to immediate environment of the towns, resulting in a reduced amount of outdoor exploration. Much of the game, however, takes place in the large cities as well as in dungeon-like areas. The player must complete the quests of the main story in order to finish the game, but may freely travel between any of the game's cities and surrounding areas, tackling main and sub-quests in any order.
- Меч и Магия IX - Russian spelling
- 魔法門九 - Traditional Chinese spelling
Credits (Windows version)
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Average score: 60% (based on 22 ratings)
Average score: 2.9 out of 5 (based on 41 ratings with 5 reviews)
First and most important thing: IT IS still a Might and Magic RPG, so if you are familiar with the game mechanics, you will be overwhelmed by the game in no time. There is a small change in character build, but skills and mastery levels are almost unchanged. I used the latest TELP patch and haven't encountered a single bug (apart from occasional crash exit, which was more likely caused by Win7 than the game itself). I also only bought the game recently, so prize is no longer a problem. Graphics are not as appealing as more recent games, but still a huge improvement over previous games in the series. OK, the graphics really sucks sometimes, but polygons still work better than sprites and this is an RPG, not FPS, strong emphasis is on character development, not pretty graphics. Dungeon design is great - every dungeon has its own unique look and many has some architectonic "wonders" (unlike generic dungeons in Oblivion, for example - when in Chasm of the Dead, you will know what I mean). Apart from dungeon layout, maps are not much of a brainteaser, just your standard dungeon crawling experience - but hey, you don't get stuck and frustrated by missing some unimportant hint, and who does build a tower or a lab as a maze anyway.. Story may not seem like much, but is on par with other open-world RPGs and has some interesting and even funny twists. This of course is not something you will see in first five hours of game, but near the end story climaxes rather swiftly. Or from different perspective - MM6 had better background story (but ingame story was nigh null), MM7 had better ingame story (with more and faster twists and with background story "provided" in Heroes of M&M3), but MM9 story is on par with them and much better than that in MM8.
GUI is a mess. Spellbook is really wrong - with added spell older spells move on next page. Finding anything quickly is hard. I didn't like the drawn graphics in MM8 and I do not like it here either. Even worse is the map - you cannot zoom it, you can not move it and you are not allowed to make notes in it(!). Game also doesn't show you many important statistics - for example I was unable to find what day of week it is unless I looked at save game dialog. Also active spells that are not party-targeted are not shown, so you have no control whether they already dissipated or not. You cannot change the resolution of the game and if you do, GUI is even more messed up. Some promotional quests are unreachable until later in the game, and even then they can be incredibly hard and somewhat unrewarding. This also makes some spells and skills hard to learn or use properly and spoils the fun. While dungeon maps are great, outside areas are just "connected corridors with open sky instead of the ceiling". One thing I missed was the exploring of the whole region and finding secret stashes and shrines.
The Bottom Line
While my opinion is a biased one of a long time fan of the series, I just can't ignore great deal of hard work and imagination that can be seen behind the game. While game has its flaws, don't get fooled by first four hours of gameplay, go on and wait for the real Might and Magic experience. It is here, I promise.
Windows · by Dan Mokosh (56) · 2011
The once huge popularity of one of the longest-running series in RPG history began to decline steadily after the so-called "RPG Renaissance" kicked in. Old-school games focused on party creation and gradual exploration gave way to more dynamic, streamlined RPGs as popularized by BioWare. The design school of Ultima prevailed. Might and Magic series, once a proud leader, became somewhat of a dinosaur who has mistakenly survived extinction and is trying to compete with humans.
It is no wonder then that the ninth installment was doomed to fail unless it was willing to make enormous concessions to the new fashion, which it didn't. People blamed the failure of the previous game on its outdated engine, but the sad reality was that it didn't even matter. The majority was simply not into that kind of RPG anymore.
As someone who is very much into that kind of RPG, I'll try to highlight the advantages Might and Magic IX has over its contemporaries, which were created with a completely different design philosophy in mind. These advantages are, in fact, the same that were upheld by the series at least since it found its perfect tone and style in the sixth game: flexible, addictive character-building system, great balance between free-form exploration and tight questing, and loads of monsters to slay and items to find - all that without the need to possess advanced, highly specialized role-playing skills as required by Wizardry.
So, is Might and Magic IX just another take on the same old formula? Yes, it pretty much is, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is a conservative game in the age of liberal changes to the ancient RPG recipe - and paradoxically, that's exactly what makes it non-mainstream and charmingly different. Might and Magic IX is indeed a throwback to the times when you didn't care about witty dialogue choices or lesbian relationships between party members, but instead wanted to immerse yourself in a world with its own clearly defined system, its set of rules. It was you against the game - you trying to outsmart it, exploit its idiosyncrasies, defeat it on its own ground. Nobody held your hand, and you had to figure out on your own how to do it, but the reward was immense. The secret of Might and Magic is that it found the golden middle ground of role-playing, without falling into over-scripting traps of BioWare, simplified monotony of Diablo, or esoteric complexity of Wizardry. It blends the difficulty of old-style RPGs with user-friendliness, depth of character development with ease of actual playing, vast combat options with fast point-and-click execution.
Might and Magic IX possesses all these qualities. Whoever says it has been dumbed down has probably not played it beyond the tutorial island, which is in no way an illustration to its actual structure and content. Once you get to the first city you gain access to almost the entire world. Of course, you'd be killed if you ventured to tougher areas straight ahead, but that was always the case with Might and Magic games: they were never free-roaming in the uniform sense of Elder Scrolls. The order in which you do quests, the way you develop your characters, the actual pace of the game is dictated by you. And there is plenty of character development to do, with a total of eight high-tier classes you can be promoted to, each with its own cleverly placed advantages and disadvantages (for example, grandmastery in particular skill is only possible when belonging to a specific class), not to mention the vast abundance of useful skills, spells of different disciplines, equipment, and items. Yes, some things were removed (more on that in the "Bad" section), but overall, the spirit of the series is there, you just have to let it shine when you get past the boring opening and accept the needless, yet minor interface changes.
Alright, so it's a typical Might and Magic game. But why should you play it if there are already eight of them that ground the same formula to death? Well, in my opinion it's worth to have the whole experience one more time in full 3D, with an actual full screen that shows a homogeneous world. Many people complained Might and Magic IX was ugly. In fact, most reviews I've read seem to focus on that point obsessively. There are two problems with that assessment: first, bad graphics have never ruined an RPG; and second, Might and Magic IX is far from being ugly. The game starts by throwing at you cloned NPCs and then guiding you through a bland open area, so you complete your tutorial without having seen a single normal city or a single dungeon, which are its highlights. As the game progresses, however, it gradually shows you its true face, and I'm not afraid to call it beautiful.
The meet and potatoes of this game - as with other Might and Magics - is dungeon exploration and combat. And that's where you begin to clearly feel the advantages of the new engine. There was always something cartoony in the "2.5D" installments of the series. Fighting sprites is just not as exciting as doing the same to 3D models. The result is that Might and Magic IX is more atmospheric. Yes, it may not seem so in the beginning, but give it a chance! The dungeons of this game are exquisitely designed. An eerie feeling surrounds you once you hear the sound of the creaking door and footsteps of an approaching monster. And once you begin the exploration you realize it's not just about the graphics, it's about the design. Every dungeon is unique and will stay in your memory. None feels like just another cave, just another old temple. They are perfect in size and length - complex and wonderfully explorable, yet without gratuitous mazes. Devious traps and other physical obstacles, secret rooms, puzzles, alternate paths - everything you need from a good dungeon is there, and it's consistent in quality.
The cities are also more interesting. Each of the seven cities has its own distinct face and structure - the quiet rural beauty of Guberland, the imposing stern architecture of Thronheim, the melancholy of the snowy Frosgard, and so on. The cities are large and also feel more coherent, less randomly designed than in the earlier games. And finally, you can explore houses - for the first time since World of Xeen. The only true graphical weakness of the game are the horrible connecting outdoors, which have driven many players away before they got the chance to know the game better.
Combat has been improved as well. Enemies have a noticeably better AI - you can't just abuse bows and spells like you did before. Enemies would use ranged attacks much more consistently, they are more aggressive, they don't tend to get stuck in the scenery, and they will try to corner and slaughter you very quickly. The difficulty level, while still on the easy side, is an improvement over the previous installment. There is more accuracy and realism in fighting - for example, you will miss more if you shoot while running. Party formation adds more tactical touches. There is more balance in your development, and your specializations matter more.
There is quite a bit of humor in the game, and I found some of the dialogues genuinely funny. Each of the Jarls you do quests for has a distinct personality, and from the dialogues with the many "unimportant" NPCs you can get a good idea about the societies in each city. Mind you, all that doesn't even begin to approach the level of BioWare-style characterization, but that's not what the game was aiming for, anyway.
Most of the flaws of Might and Magic IX come courtesy of a rushed release. The latest patch eliminates most of the bugs and provides a technically smooth experience, but it could not restore lost content. It is clear that the game was released before certain things were ironed out. More often than not I felt something was missing - an item at the end of a twisted passage, a key dialogue line during a conversation that went nowhere, a more challenging solution perhaps originally intended for a quest, a different face for a reasonably important character. The good thoughts are all there, but sometimes they feel like a foundation for something to come, not like a completed, polished product.
One flaw, however, is inherent to the core concept, and that is the design of outdoor locations. These are the game's definitive weakpoint. Instead of the detailed open areas of the previous games in the series, the outdoors of Might and Magic IX consist of ugly, depressing ravines. Almost every passage is squeezed between mountains. There is little variation, and the green really begins to hurt your eyes until you are brave enough to venture to Frosgard and bask in the beautiful snowy landscape. There is also little sense of interconnectivity, with most areas feeling isolated and too neatly measured. The contrast to the gorgeous dungeons is sharp. Graphically, these areas are unfortunately on par with character faces - the same few models are nauseatingly reused over and over again, undermining any personal attachment you might have felt in the dialogue. The final member of the unholy trio is the bland inventory, with generic drawings replacing the elegant slots and paper dolls of the earlier games.
Why was it necessary to remove features? There are no minotaurs, vampires, and dragons you could proudly enlist in your party in the previous installment. Some traditional spells (such as flying) are missing. You can't use horses to travel anymore. There are many such annoying omissions, and while I was able to make peace with that after the game convinced me its system was strong enough to survive on its own, the whole experience began with frustration. Case in point: right off the bat, you are treated to character creation that allows you to choose between two classes. Never mind that the process of gradually transforming your boring fighters and initiates to powerful gladiators and liches eventually turns out to be at least as exciting as the multitude of one-tier promotions in the predecessor. The initial setup is simply a bad marketing move for the fans of the series, who, like everyone else, want more content right away.
Might and Magic IX feels unsure of itself. It should have delivered the biggest and baddest incarnation of the series yet, but that was, sadly, not the case. Subtly, it offers many improvements, but there is no substantial quality leap, and the first feeling it conveys is disappointment bordering on irritation. So the truth is that we have here a really good game that came out at the wrong time and collapsed under impossibly high expectations. It could not save the dying series, and that is perhaps the chief reason for the hatred it caused.
The Bottom Line
Like Ultima IX, Might and Magic IX had a tragic fate. Rushed, buggy release sadly sealed the reputation of both those games as the weakest entries in their respective franchises, something that no amount of subsequent patches and attempts at rehabilitation could alter. However, that doesn't mean that these games are not enjoyable. And while Ultima IX did throw out a lot of traditional gameplay, Might and Magic IX is in fact quite faithful to its legacy. With the latest patch and a bit of tolerance needed to accept a few weird design choices, the ninth chapter of the proud series turns to be as absorbing and enticingly addictive as its predecessors. At its core, it is a traditional old-school RPG - a medieval relic during the age of genre Renaissance, strange and oddly shaped, but magically beautiful to those who just want to play Might and Magic.
Windows · by Unicorn Lynx (181794) · 2018
Second update. Not much change, should've insulted it more but I censored some sensitive material, regardless.
Hmm....should've changed the one line summary to !#!$!@# but I'm not sure if that's allowed. Hahahaha.
Well, what's good about the game? Uh...besides the graphics which is good is some areas but awful in others, I have to honestly say there is nothing worth mentioning. Considering I played this game only for a couple of hours before throwing it to the nearest trash disposal bin, should generally explain the finer aspects of the game...uh...
The only other good thing I can say is the PATIENCE the other guy who reviewed this game had, to ACTUALLY PLAY the game! Hahaha.
Here's the good part. The bad. Yes, its bad. Very.
Well the game is similar to its Might and Magic predecessors but if there was a game to show you what it looks like, I would say a seriously bad version of Daggerfall. But, I'll have to start from the beginning to tell the tale of this horrible game.
First, character creation. Alley Cat would be more of an RPG than this game and Alley Cat isn't even an RPG! Oh, my God! This has got to be one of the lamest ideas of character creation in the great hall of idiot games. There are only 2 main character classes (although later specified in more specialized classes):
The fighter type and the magic user type. Now, it is a degradation in 2 aspects in my opinion: First, it is in violation of the Might and Magic tradition. They had your standard character classes of Ranger, Mage, Cleric, Barbarian, Paladin, etc. Well, eventually your can reach those classes but it looked kinda lame. Secondly, it is surprising to find such standards of character classes in this modern age. Seriously, you would find something like this in DOS games. Not in the 21st century. HELLO, DO YOU DEVELOPERS ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT AN RPG IS? Apparently not.
Second, graphics. Oddly extremely bright though. Not bad. Until you meet the people and monsters. The first time you play, you meet this bloke with a horrific 3D face. The first monsters you meet later one are irritating half sized skeletons that look like rejected products from a Halloween party. That in itself ultimately ruined any attempt for me to move on (seriously, it was THAT BAD). No taste. YES THAT'S IT! THIS GAME HAS NO TASTE!
Third, storyline? What storyline? This game doesn't have one. Your a bunch of adventurers who want to get out of your village. What kinda intro is that?
(Sigh). It's amazing anyone would actually create a stupid game like this. And from such a series like Might and Magic. A bad sequel is one thing, blasphemy is another.
The Bottom Line
Quoting from MC Hammer: You can't touch this. Seriously, please don't.
Windows · by Indra was here (20770) · 2006
Might and Magic IX has the weakest connection to the Might and Magic universe. For the first time in the series, there is no mention of the Ancients, and the only connection to the previous games is a single character who appeared in Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven.
This is the first game in the Might and Magic series that does not have a sub-title. All previous games had one (from "Secret of the Inner Sanctum" for MM1 to "Day of the Destroyer" for MM8). Among the fan base, the game is called "Writ of Fate".
The subtitle "Writ of Fate" first appeared in a story by Norwegian website gibme.com. This story revealed the existence of Might and Magic IX before there was an official announcement. When asked for comment, a 3DO representative stated that the details mentioned in the article were subject to change, and specifically denied that "Writ of Fate" was the title. It is unknown whether "Writ of Fate" was a working title, but no officially released material from 3DO/New World Computing has ever used it.
- Computer Gaming World
- April 2003 (Issue #225) – Coaster of the Year (together with Heroes of Might and Magic IV)
Information also contributed by Terok Nor
Related Sites +
Hints for M and M 9
Instead of using a walkthrough, which can spoil parts of the game for you, try using this question and answer system.
Probably the best resource for tips, tricks and maps for this game.
A simple FAQ covering all quests and manual omissions.
Might and Magic IX official site
Offers several screenshots and extra information about the game.
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Steve Hall.
Game added April 6, 2002. Last modified February 13, 2024.