I can’t really say whether or not the summer of 2001 was rainy, but what I do know, is that me and my cousin didn’t really care. Cleaning shift? We didn’t care. Food? Didn’t care. Sleep? No way. Not until we could conquer back the kingdom of Erathia.
Firstly, our job was to pick up a town (Castle was my all-time favorite) and a starter hero. Different towns represent various races and mythological creatures, and at least in my opinion, they are assembled very well. Every town has its own unique feel and units though I have a hunch that some are superior to others.
The importance of the strategy is immensely great. Whether I fight the throng of orcs who guard the entrance of the cave, or will I wait another week and gather replenishment forces to safeguard my peace of mind and minimize the potential threat of losing momentum. The risk of losing everything is always present: the foundation you built in the beginning is almost impossible to rebuild again to its former glory. As an almost 24-year-old game, its AI is an amazingly competent challenger even at normal levels.
HOMM3 resembles chess in many ways. This impression is further emphasized clearly by the combat mechanics, built as a board game-like grid where the game expresses the limits of movement of different units. Infinitely straightforward and simple, as well as infinitely functional. It is fascinating to acknowledge the fact that just over twenty years ago it was possible to make a computer game so collectively outstanding that the following games of the series (the seventh version, which is the latest one, came out in 2015) or any other game series really, has not achieved similar kind of feng shui in their games. HOMM3 is truly pure dynamic simpleness.
So, what makes this game so addictive and comprehensive, and is there something I would criticize? Of course. All-around visuals are outdated (and don’t let me say anything about the cinematic cutscenes, goodness gracious!), sound including music is comically straight from the court of Ludvig XIV and gameplay quickly repeats itself. However, the balance of everything is so magically coherent that it doesn’t matter: everything seems to be where it should be. Also, I think HOMM3 tickles our compelling need for materialism with the “collect everything” mentality. For the hope of better capes, crowns, gold and experience points will make you search every dark inch of the map and because of the evolving enemies and turn-based strategy elements, it isn’t a quick task.
Sometimes nostalgia may be just a warm sense, a blurry picture with rose gold frames that you shouldn’t look closer. Sometimes, however, it can be a memento, a proof of continuity of time that makes you feel that the world is still spinning around. I love this game.
Publisher: The 3DO Company.
Developer: New World Computing
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Release Date: February 1999
Genres: Turn-based strategy, fantasy
Photos: Screenshots from Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (The 3DO Company 1999), taken by Tuomas Sormunen/taken by the author
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