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Rule your fantasy empire from high atop your bejeweled throne.

By - Dave "Fargo" Kosak (04/17/00)

A thriving marketplace in this small kingdom invites adventurers to spend their loot on rings and potions
(Click for enlargement)

Glancing at the screenshots for Microprose's Majesty, one would be tempted to dismiss it as yet another real-time strategy game fighting for recognition in a crowded market. A few minutes of gameplay will change your mind; Majesty, billed as a "Fantasy Kingdom Sim," is refreshingly different. While hardcore gamers might find the gameplay a bit too random for their micro-managing minds, most people will appreciate the new twists.

Each hero in the game is like a little tiny RPG-generated character, with a name, stats, skills, hit points, magic items, an experience level, etc.

Here's the way it works: You're the monarch of a fantasy kingdom. You decide which buildings to build and where, and when to invest the money to train new units. However, you don't have any control over the inhabitants of your kingdom. Each character moves about on their own whims. You can guide their actions by offering bounties on the heads of creatures or rewards for exploration, beyond that your characters fend for themselves.

A wizard and paladin put the smack down on some goblins who tried to raid the wizard's guild
Each hero in the game is like a little tiny RPG-generated character, with a name, stats, skills, hit points, magic items, an experience level, etc. For instance, recruit a warrior and he'll emerge as a first level character, hungry for a fight. As he defeats some small creatures he'll gain gold, some of which he'll walk back to his guild. Then he'll go to your blacksmiths to buy armor and weapons. After some more adventuring he'll probably stop by your marketplace to buy some healing potions, then maybe he'll cruise over to your wizard's guild to enchant his sword. Then he might consider pursuing the 200 gold-piece bounty you put on the head of a nearby troll...

You don't make money directly from your characters, but you can get some of their income indirectly by taxing the guilds and shops that they spend their money on. Of course, the real challenge in the game is to create a self-sufficient kingdom while at the same time convincing these independently-willed characters to do your bidding of their own accord.

Of course, it's never as easy as it sounds. But it's a unique challenge, brilliantly executed ... and one of the main reasons that Majesty is a joy to play.

Next: A Touch of Character, and a look at the graphics...

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