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Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: 10.3    CPU: G4    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 250 MB    Graphics: 64 MB VRAM

Minions of Mirth
February 2, 2006 | Ted Bade

Click to enlarge
Minions of Mirth (MoM) by Prairie Games has all the elements of a superb "Sword & Sorcery" role playing game. There is a large and very detailed world to explore, characters to build, monsters to battle (or avoid), treasures to find, and quests to undertake, all wrapped in a graphically stunning environment. The game can be either played solo or on an massively multiplayer server. I found Minions of Mirth captivating, graphically pleasing, and a lot of fun. It pulled me away from other games, and is the best of this genre I have encountered in a long while!

So what are this game's features? Let me start by quoting the company's PR:

• Single player and MMORPG
• No monthly fee
• 12 Races, 16 Classes, 3 Realms
• Playable monsters from Dust Mites to Blightborn Dragons
• Host your own Persistent World Server
• Free demo for Windows and OSX

Prairie Games is a small company. MoM is perhaps a step above a shareware, but it isn't commercially distributed yet. I have played a number of shareware adventure and RPG games, and while they can be fun they often lack polished (or detailed) graphics and audio. Not so with Minions of Mirth. The avatar you use in the game, as well as the people and monsters you interact with, are all nicely rendered, and the environment was also quite stunning.

Graphics and sound
MoM offers a graphically pleasing environment, filled with motion and attention to detail. Like classic art, the longer you look at it, the more detail and expression you become aware of. Clouds roll in, then the rain begins; at night, if the sky is clear, stars and constellations shine overhead, as does the photo-realistic moon. During the day, the sun shines as it transits the ecliptic and gives a rosy hue to the lands as it sets or rises. At night the light dims, greying the scenery. Lanterns create a light haze around one's avatar that fades toward the fringes. In the Realm of Darkness, the detail is bleak and grey and the sky sombre, helping to create the dark ambience.

Creatures and NPCs are nicely rendered and appear realistic, rather then cartoon-like. Your avatar's appearance changes as you change equipment. If a monster is equipped with a piece of armor like a helm or shield, you will find that item when you loot it's dead body. There are a lot of critters in MoM, all looking like you'd expect. Creatures far away fade in detail, yet there is enough to identify what they are, giving you the opportunity to choose not to attack or even run.

If you move up a hill, you see vistas of grassy and snow-covered mountains in the distance. There are several types of environments in MoM: grasses, forests, mountainsides, and deserts. Area effects, like butterflies flitting about, storm clouds rolling in, grasses waving in the breeze, and rain falling from the sky, add a realistic feel to MoM's environment. I found that I felt more like I was watching a movie then playing a game on a computer.

Environmental sounds were probably the least impressive part of the game. MoM includes several hours of original music used in the background; you hear growls and other monster sounds when being attacked; there are environmental sounds, such as thunder, rain and so forth; and NPCs will laugh or make startled sounds when you click on them, but that's it. While this adds to the general ambience of the game, it is strictly background.

I found that the three realms consist of 14 different zones to play in. Since I have literally spent hours in just one area (having dipped briefly into two others), I can tell you that these zones are huge. And did you notice in the features that you can play monsters? Doing this can be a real hoot when online, and adds some real variety and extends the game even more. I had a lot of fun buzzing players as a "vicious bat," until some uppity hero decided to fill me with nasty arrows. But I get ahead of myself. Let's look at the game interface and other aspects of gameplay.


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