Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven – Compatibility

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 95
Processor: Intel Pentium compatible 133MHz
Memory: 32MB RAM
Video: 1MB PCI Graphics Card, supports DirectX
Sound: “All major sound cards” says it right on the packaging. Not sure what “major” means in this case.
Optical Drive: 4x CD-ROM
Hard Drive: 170MB

Windows 10

Installs – Yes
Runs – Yes
Uninstalls – Yes

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven appears to run flawlessly in Windows 10.

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven – Windows 95 Game First Impressions

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven is a Windows 95 role-playing game released in 1998. It was developed by New World Computing and published by 3DO. The game has a Doom-like 2.5D graphics engine the player may use to traverse and interact with the in-game world. The beginning cutscene’s story is simple. All sorts of monsters are invading and terrorizing the land. Some heroes run away from certain doom and are aided by a wizard. These are dire times, and those who are able to stand must somehow be part of the Mandate of Heaven. Obviously I will need to play further into the game to unveil the mystery of these things.

Create Party Screen

Create Party Screen

After character selection is completed, the party begins their quest in front of a town. There are a great number of townsfolk there that can be talked to as in most RPGs. I went to talk to a peasant who said they didn’t want to talk to my party and I discovered there is a “Beg” mechanic. Apparently you can beg a person to talk to you. Even stranger was that while I was having Serena, my party’s most diplomatic and charismatic member do all the talking, she often had to beg too. With a goddess-like personality rating of 18, she did receive far more positive responses. Funny enough, whenever she would approach anyone she would say, “Hey you!” I guess when you have a personality of 18 you can just say anything and people will want to please you.

Talk to this guy in the local inn. He'll give you some gold.

Talk to this guy in the local inn. He’ll give you some gold.

The first thing you will want to do when playing Might and Magic VI is enter the local inn. It is to the right just as you enter town. There you’ll want to talk to a Andover Potbello and tell him about a letter. He will give you 1,000 gold pieces and tell you to scram. Spend this money quickly, because you will lose it when you die.

I decided to adventure around the outskirts of town to check out the goblin critters the townsfolk had been complaining about. Once an enemy is triggered to spot and follow you, I don’t know how you can get them to ever stop following you unless you have killed them or they are dead. I went a little too close to the goblin camp outside of town and around ten goblins followed me back into the city. I did what any sane role-playing game adventurer would in my predicament and hid behind the peasants hoping the goblins would be distracted and attack them. No dice. I ran all over town trying to get away from the goblins. They would completely ignore the townspeople and come directly for my party. Even ducking into a building for a few minutes and then coming back out had no effect. The party vs. one goblin has an easy enough time. Three goblins on an open field are not too great a challenge for the party either. But much more than that and the party is overwhelmed and succumbs to death. When you die, the grim reaper himself greets your party and says (I’m paraphrasing), “You’re done when I say you’re done!” and the party is resurrected to the entrance of town penniless.

At least Alexis is having fun.

At least Alexis is having fun.

I went out the north, south, west, and east sides of town, and found them all covered by goblins. The only theory I have to adequately begin this game is to get the 1,000 gold pieces and figure out how to smartly equip the entire party for battling a small army of goblins. There are those in the town who will allow you to join the local spell casting guilds for 100 gold each and others who will sell some items to the party.

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Game Disc

Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Game Disc

Might and Magic VI has been an almost comical experience for me thus far. This game is polished and really what I would expect from an early role-playing game from the first person 2.5D game engine perspective era. From what I have read, this game was originally released to critical acclaim. The graphics are decent for 1998, and it seems to have in many ways aged quite well. But it seems like I fumble through the game at every turn in ways that I haven’t experienced in any other RPG. It makes the experience feel so terrible it’s great. This is a title I will need to explore further in a Twitch stream segment. To be continued.

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 – Compatibility

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Title Screen

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 95
Processor: Pentium or compatible
Memory: 16MB
Hard Drive: 45MB
Optical Drive: 2x CD-ROM

Windows 10

  • Installs – Yes
  • Runs – Yes
  • Uninstalls – Yes

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 seems to work flawlessly on Windows 10.

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 – Windows 95 Game First Impressions

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Title Screen

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Title Screen

As I alluded to in a recent “Ask Me Anything” article, my parents did not allow me to own a video game console when I was growing up. Atari made computers, of which my father was a big fan. I still have the Atari 800 and Atari ST I played on when I was little. When Atari got sold off in 1995 after the failure of their Jaguar console, my dad purchased a new PC that ran Windows.

Gaming between PCs and consoles has always been a separate experience. While my friends at school were talking about Super Mario World, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Donkey Kong Country, there was no significant Atari counterpart. I used to pass Rick Dangerous 2 off as a contender; I’ll get around to reviewing that one later. When I finally started getting into PC gaming, there were a few well known shareware titles: Commander Keen, Jill of the Jungle, and Duke Nukem. All were worthy titles for the IBM compatible computer, but with awful sound and graphics in comparison to the Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis.

One day in the lunch room at school, the new kid in our class revealed himself as a PC gamer. He talked about a game called Jazz Jackrabbit and said it was faster than Sonic the Hedgehog and had better graphics too. I had never heard of this Jazz Jackrabbit before. I really didn’t know whether to defend him or join in the mob that had formed against him because he had publicly blasphemed Sonic. Eventually he invited me over and I got to see it. A little while later I got my own copy of the shareware episode.

He wasn’t wrong. Jazz Jackrabbit was top notch gaming for the time. It was so good it may have contributed to its designers being recognized for their achievement and going on to create more great games. You’ve probably heard of their company; they are now called Epic Games.

But in 1998, when Jazz Jackrabbit 2 was released by then named Epic Mega Games, they were attempting to answer a many years long call to create a Cadillac platforming experience, the last word in platformers. When I first got my copy and played Jazz Jackrabbit 2, it seemed like it was all I had hoped for in a computer platformer. The designers made full use of the expanded screen resolution available to them on modern computers. There is so much real estate to play in, the game feels huge. When Jazz is running fast, I can still see what’s in front of him and have more time to react than I ever did with Sonic. The graphics are crisp and I don’t think I would be wrong to say this title has the most impressive parallax I saw during the era.

Yo dawg, I heard you like parallax.

Yo dawg, I heard you like parallax.

I stayed in contact with my PC gaming friend and we talked on the phone about Jazz Jackrabbit 2 after we both got it. We talked smugly as if we had finally been vindicated. If only all of those kids around the lunch table could see this game, they’d finally agree PC gaming is better. We were such losers.

It was 1998. The N64 had come out in 1996. We had all played Super Mario 64 by then, a great platformer in 3D! The last great 2D platformer of the era, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble! came out in 1996 as well. Jazz Jackrabbit 2 was too late; it was the last word in a debate most no one had broached for two years.

These walls are filled with hidden spikes, and this hoverboard sucks.

These walls are filled with hidden spikes, and this hoverboard sucks.

It was exciting for me when I reinstalled Jazz Jackrabbit 2 and realized it runs successfully on Windows 10 without any additional tweaking. I had so many fond memories surrounding this platformer. After all, it was the chosen one to save us from the PC platformer darkness those few decades ago. It was in playing through this time that I suddenly had some objective clarity.

You can choose to play as Jazz or Jazz’s brother Spaz, or if you want to play with a friend you can play with Jazz and Spaz locally or over LAN. Both Jazz and Spaz have slightly different abilities that get triggered when pressing the jump button immediately after jumping. Jazz’s ears turn into helicopter wings and help him glide down softly at a reduced rate of descent. Spaz can jump an extra half jump into the air. Spaz is fun to watch when left idle. He shoots UFOs out of the sky and eats birds that land on his finger.

The first level is a tutorial of sorts, helping you get familiar with the character chosen. So far so good. Everything is as colorful, bright, and fun as I remembered it. The catchy chiptunes that were such a staple of PC gaming are here. I’m in my happy place. I jump, skip, and most importantly hop through the first few levels and past the first boss. On to the rest of the game.

I found a friend.

I found a friend.

It was at this point I realized Jazz Jackrabbit 2 isn’t the bed of roses I remembered. While the increase in screen resolution was welcomed as it makes the game feel bigger and easier to navigate, the collision detection was not increased to compensate. It seems like pixel precision is required to land on some of the tiny platforms. This is not a complaint about the game being too hard, it’s more a complaint of the game not allowing me to progress until I have jumped perfectly across these in game objects that I won’t land on or grab on to if I am not at the precise position and angle to do so. It often looks like you are falling through objects because you are just slightly off from them. It’s time consuming and greatly frustrating. Also, given that the characters move quickly, there are some places they will not occupy when jumping from a particular starting position. Imagine a knight moving in the game of chess. A knight will only move in an “L” shape and all at once when it does. This is the same idea with Jazz. Just because there is a platform right next to him, this does not mean the game intended for you to jump on that immediately close position. I think the game developers strategically placed many platforms in many places so you could hop over some to easily get through to others further beyond in the places you wish to go. If you are having problems hopping onto something directly next to you, try to hop onto something beyond it instead.

Jumping to the hook on the immediate right may be impossible, but easy for the one beyond it.

Jumping to the hook on the immediate right may be impossible, but easy for the one beyond it.

There is not much original in Jazz Jackrabbit 2. There are two or three similarly themed levels and a boss for each episode for six episodes. The episodes are all a parody of something that was pop culture relevant in the 90s. The game itself appears to be a parody of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, though it seems to flatter rather than to poke fun. They even included their own pinball level. Jazz and Spaz can swim, however, so there are water levels as well.

There are a lot of collectible edibles strewn throughout all of the levels. Eating carrots will restore health. But eating enough of the other foods will make the Jazz’s sugar level increase. Once enough foods have been eaten, Jazz enters a Sugar Rush and becomes invulnerable for a countdown of seconds. Use this time to kill off as many enemies as you can, and don’t simply discount the collectible items throughout the game, they can be used to your advantage.

Sugar Rush!

Sugar Rush!

Be careful about what you do collect, however. Some of the items you pick up will provide power-up ammo to your weapon. I got really frustrated because I would pick up flamethrower ammo at the worst time to be using a flamethrower. It got to the point in some levels where I wish I hadn’t picked up any ammo at all and I could have just stuck with the default weapon with infinite ammo.

C'mon, don't be a loser. Be a stud.

C’mon, don’t be a loser. Be a stud.

Despite being let down by my outrageous expectations of nostalgia, would Jazz Jackrabbit 2 be worthwhile to a newcomer to PC gaming as a stand-alone platforming title? Yes, yes it would. It’s not the savior of the PC master race, but it’s a really good game that holds up today. It won’t win a modern or even historical beauty contest, but it is a clever platformer that offers a new challenge to fans of the genre who may have missed this one when it first came by provided they can get their hands on a copy. I was shocked to discover copies going for around $25 on Amazon and Ebay on the cheap end. I’m not sure I would pay that much. If I grabbed a working one for $15, I’d say I would have received my money’s worth at this point. I suppose I need to take real good care of my copy so I won’t have to replace it.

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Game Disc

Jazz Jackrabbit 2 Game Disc

As I am already starting to come out of my nostalgic stupor, I’m seeing Jazz Jackrabbit 2 in a new light. It really is a charming game. While I probably placed greater stock in it when I was younger than I probably should have (so much was at stake!), I realize this game still resonates with me and, judging by the demand for it among PC gamers online, others as well. Like a good joke where you just had to be there, I can’t guarantee everyone will see this one with the same rose color glasses I do. The more I realize I have lots more to say about it, the more I’ll have to leave this first impression article stating that it’s certainly a wonderful game filled with wonderful memories for me.