From New World Computing now a division of 3DO.
In each of the games Might and Magic 1 to 5 there is an evil force that threatens your world. You must develop characters that are capable of defeating that force. The characters will solve a series of quests, gaining them many rewards and magic items. As they develop, they will learn enough to defeat the enemy.
I have recently seen a new package which contains M&M 1 to 5. This is one way to pick up the first 5 games without driving yourself and your friends and family crazy. Though slightly annoying if you own 4 and 5 and only needed M&M 1-3.
The games are all multiple character, turn-based rpgs. Generally, you can (though you don't have to) create a team of 6 characters that will roam the world solving quests. With Might and Magic 3, you can also hire two other characters to help you on the quests. Quests are usually requests to find an item and return it to the person who set the quest to receive a bonus. There are also sometimes riddles to solve to open doors, or to solve some of the quests.
This game also allows characters to have secondary skills. These skills are things like swimming (a very good idea), cartography, spot secret doors, etc. Pay attention to the manual, some of these skills only need one character to acquire (cartography), others may require that two or all of the members of the party should have the skill (swimming).
You can create a team of up to 6 characters. You can select character name, race, gender, and profession. Points for things like might, intelligence, personality (etc.) are generated for the character with your selection of race, gender (etc.) influencing the points. Certain races and classes also start with skills, and skills are something you will find useful in the game. Take the time to develop good characters, in the long run, it is worth the trouble.
I forget about the earliest games, but M&M 3, 4 and 5 have a party ready to try when you start the game. So you don't ever have to roll your own characters, unless you want to. It does make starting the game quicker, if you use the default party, though it may be more satisfying in the long run to develop your own characters.
Starting with Might and Magic III, the game does auto-mapping if you have a character of the right skill. This does make exploring the rather large worlds much more pleasant. I have nothing against mapping, but it does get tedious.
Wander around, and explore every square. You won't have to fight every battle, but learn where all the permanent magic places are. Some characters you can talk to, and they will send you on small quests. Return to them when the quest is finished to gain a reward. These rewards tend to be the fastest way to gain the experience that you'll need to survive. Usually the games are fairly good at giving you hints to what areas you should be exploring next, which is good given that you wander into an area with too powerful monsters, you will die. Save the game anytime your character advance in their stats or whenever you have found an interesting magical item.
My basic complaint is that there is simply too much magical stuff for the adventurers to pick up. Such items should be rare, not "Which of the dozen magic rings do I need?" or "Which weapon will be better in the long run +2 against magic or +3 strength points."
I have owned every Might and Magic from 1 to 5. Might and Magic 1 and 2 I owned on a Commodore, though you could order them for PC's from New World Computing a couple of years ago. I missed out on Swords of Xeen which you get if you buy the games packaged with 3, 4 and 5 together. When they get around to publishing another new one, I'll be buying it. The recommendation is obvious.
I have a specific review for Might and Magic 6.
Cumulatively speaking, I have spent more time wandering through Might and Magic then any other game. There is something so soothing about bashing your way through a dungeon, finding the missing amulet and returning.
One advantage these games have over some. When you've cleared an area of monsters, it will usually stay that way. And if you find and destroy the monster hideout (for a bonus), you won't find any more of that type of monster. So once you've been through an area, it will be much safer afterwards.
These games I would class as descendants of the Wizardry games. They do have their differences, but it is a 6 character, first person viewpoint with turn-based combat set of games.
If you send your final score to New World Computing, they'll send you a little certificate. I did that for either 1 or 2 but haven't bothered since. The certificate is mostly to remind you to buy the next game.