Master of Magic is an archaic Role-Playing Game that is a throwback to the earliest days of home computing – except that it was released in 1985.
The game was programmed by Richard Darling (of Codemasters fame) with graphics by James Wilson. It was published at a budget price (£2.99) by Mastertronic on their M.A.D. label.
Like most of Darling‘s early games, Master of Magic is difficult to get into. The game requires very fast responses in order to survive – it’s kind of like an RPG on steroids. But – with perseverance – a player might find a very interesting game in there.
Presentation-wise the game isn’t too bad. The screen is split into four distinct areas. Top left is the world/room view, with the player represented as a dot and everything else as character graphics. Top right (the main yellow window) are scrolling text messages that describe the action as it happens. The middle orange strip is where the command menu goes – text verbs that do certain specific actions. At the bottom is a graphical representation of items, monsters, and doors that are in the immediate vicinity. One neat thing about the monsters shown down here is: if you’ve already killed a monster it will have the word ‘DEAD’ written in red across it. This really helps with navigation, as well as with confidence!
Master of Magic is also known for its excellent soundtrack. The music, written by legendary tunesmith Rob Hubbard, is considered a chiptune classic. If you’re anything like me, though, you’ll be reaching for the volume knob after ten minutes…
Master of Magic is a good game. It’s not brilliant, but it’s certainly not as bad as it looks. There is a real challenge, and a few surprises, in store for whoever tries to take it on.