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Heroes of Might and Magic is, as you might expect, a game about commanding heroes, who use both might and magic to fight against other heroes. These other heroes look the same as your heroes but crucially they prefer a different coloured flag. Actually, despite the games title, when it comes to the actual fighting, your heroes are nowhere to be seen on the battlefield and it’s left to you to command the rank and file soldiers to victory instead. I suppose “cowards of hiding in a tent and occasionally casting spells” didn’t have the same ring to it. Not that the heroes notable absence from the battlefield makes the game any less fun. Make no mistake, this easy to learn strategy game is compelling and engrossing and was a huge hit back in 1995, kick-starting a series that now has no less than seven instalments.
A note about different versions of the game
Heroes of Might and Magic was a very successful game and was re-released several times over the years. The very first edition, launched in 1995, ran on the old DOS operating system. If this is the version of the game you have, you will need to follow our DOSBox tutorials to get it working.
The following year, there was a re-release of the game for the then-new Windows 95 operating system. This version of the game also included an enhanced CD audio soundtrack, so it can be considered the better version of the game. The original Windows 95 edition of the game has a 16 bit installer and because of this it won’t install on more modern, 64 bit versions of Windows.
The Windows version of the game was re-released several times, as part of several box sets. Specifically, we tested the version included in the “Heroes of Might and Magic – Complete Edition” box set, which is available as a large collectors set with various goodies. Obviously there are other compilations released over the years that include the game too and we’ve no way of checking them all, but it’s likely that most sets include the Windows 95 version since it’s considerably easier to get working on a modern PC.
There’s also a re-release of the game by our friends over at GoG.com. However, while we’d usually recommend the GoG version without hesitation, it turns out that the GoG.com version of Heroes of Might and Magic is actually a re-packaging of the original DOS version which runs through a bundled version of DOSBox. This is disappointing, given that the Windows 95 version with its CD quality soundtrack is unquestionably the better version of the game.
Unfortunately, the earliest versions of this game used a 16 bit installer and won’t install on more modern versions of Windows. If you have one of these early releases, you could try installing it on an older PC then simply moving it over to your new PC on a USB stick. The game doesn’t seem to create any registry keys, so this will probably work. An easier method is to simply obtain a more recent re-release of the game. The “Heroes of Might and Magic collection”, still available on Amazon at time of publication, features the game with a more modern installer that will work on more recent PCs. Don’t discard your original CD-ROM just yet though, there’s an important difference between the original and the later re-releases that we’ll come to in a moment.
During installation you may be asked if you wish to install DirectX. Obviously the version on the CD/DVD is out of date, so you should decline. You may also be greeted by a “System Requirements Tool” that thinks you do not have an OS or that you don’t have the correct version of DirectX, or enough memory to run the game. All of these errors can be ignored. Finally, the installer might offer to install a tool called “Gameupdate”. This tool was designed to automatically check for a new version of the game, however it hasn’t worked in many years so can safely be skipped.
After installation you may find that the desktop shortcut is not created correctly. You can easily re-create this yourself if necessary, simply create a new shortcut and point it to the games installation directory, by default that is “C:\Program Files (x86)\3DO\Heroes of Might and Magic\HEROES.EXE”
During our research we found two patches for the game. The first was an official patch while the other was simply labelled “unofficial”. The official patch would not install due to it being a 16 bit installer program. The unofficial patch had almost no documentation with it, but seems to install and work just fine. If you want to try it, you can download it here.
Fixing the games soundtrack
You might recall at the start of the article we told you that the Windows 95 edition of the game had a CD soundtrack. If you happen to pick this game up as part of a compilation, it is likely that it has been placed on a DVD disc and the CD soundtrack simply discarded. That’s a shame as the high quality soundtrack definitely adds to the game. Fortunately we can do something about that. First of all, we need to download and install the _inmm.dll compatibility tool, if it’s not on your system already. Click here to learn all about this tool and what it does for old games with CD soundtracks.
Secondly, you will need the missing CD audio tracks. You can grab those here. Copy them to the games installation directory (C:\Program Files (x86)\3DO\Heroes of Might and Magic by default) in the sub-folder “Music”.
Now, follow our _inmm.dll tutorial from step 2 onwards, to patch the games executable and create your _inmm.ini file that points to the music files you downloaded above.
If you did everything correctly, you should now be able to start the game and enjoy the full CD soundtrack too. There are a few settings you may need to tweak in-game, but we’ll come to those in a moment.
Configuring the game
Before leading your armies into battle, there are a small number of in-game settings you may wish to tweak. Start Heroes of Might and Magic from the Start menu or desktop shortcut and then start a new game, any kind of game will do. If the game is running in full screen mode, press F4 to toggle it into windowed mode.
At the top of the games window you will notice several menus. First of all, on the “Display” menu, set the games resolution to the highest setting available, that is 1280×1024. This will make the game easier to see on a modern display. Heroes Of Might and Magic uses hand drawn graphics (sprites) rather than 3D polygons, so actually increasing the games resolution makes scant difference to the graphical quality. If you play the game in full screen mode, the screen resolution will reset to 640×480.
The Control Panel menu has some further options you may wish to configure. The picture below shows the available options.
Music and Sound menus – In these menus you can set the volume of both the music and the sound effects. If the game’s not making any sounds, check this menu and make sure that the sounds/music are not set to off. If you turn music on and the soundtrack does not play, try choosing another volume setting. Note that the volume setting for the CD soundtrack does not work correctly when using _inmm.dll.
CD Stereo – With the game successfully patched to use _inmm.dll, you should be able to turn this option on.
Troubleshooting and known issues
CD audio soundtrack not playing – If the CD soundtrack does not play, you need to access the Control Panel menu and then choose “Music” and change the volume. If this doesn’t work immediately, try changing the volume again.
CD audio soundtrack volume sometimes goes quiet – The CD soundtrack has a habit of changing volume while you play. This is probably not intentional and just a side effect of the _inmm.dll patching process. We do not have a workaround for this bug at present.
Full screen mode causes the game to crash – If putting the game into full screen mode causes it to crash, try installing the dgVoodoo2 tool into the games directory.
Game becomes sluggish when a prompt window appears – Sometimes the game gets stuck momentarily after a message appears and requires you to click “OK” to continue. Usually this problem goes away after a minute or two so don’t panic.
Game opens in a very tiny window – If the game opens in a absurdly small window, try pressing the F4 key to put the game into full screen. You can then either play in full screen or press F4 again to return to a (hopefully sensibly sized) window.
Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.