The Surprising Accessibility of Older RPGs

In case you're interested in reading more weekly WRPG-focused columns from Joystiq, Rowan Kaiser has penned a new editorial, which deals with "the surprising accessibility of older RPGs" or, in other words, how surprisingly accessible the writer found Might and Magic III to be, especially compared to the later-released original Fallout. Here's a snip:
That inviting feeling comes from the game's presentation, first of all. It has bright, clear, cartoonish graphics, which is the best possible way to make a game age well visually. The first town is a glorious bright blue color, fitting in with the "Isles" subtitle and immediately making Might and Magic III look like it's a vacation spot, not a grimy, too-serious slog. The music pairs well with the visuals. Isles Of Terra looks and sounds like a childhood adventure, and sometimes, that's what you want.

You also need to know what you're doing in the game's world, and why. Isles Of Terra does this shockingly well. It includes a quest journal, something that was relatively new in that era. But, better than that, Might & Magic III includes a guidebook "written by" the wizard Corak. These tell you, in a single paragraph of text, what's important in each area of the game world. In the first outdoor area, it says that the local Goblins have headquarters in the area, and finding and burning those headquarters is the best thing for your party to do initially. There are even clues on some of the walls of towns to help you learn the world's secrets. Might & Magic III's manual might be even more helpful, but I found the game entirely playable without it a rarity for a title of that era.

This is, in part, because it's simple. Dumb, even, but I say that lovingly, in the same way that the original Diablo was a bit dumb. If you see an enemy, you press 'S' to shoot your bows at them. If they get close enough, you press 'F' for each of your characters to attack the enemy. There are no tactics, other than choosing the order of the enemy to attack, and casting spells is really the only decision of any complexity. It's fast, responsive, unobtrusive, and faintly ridiculous.