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Minions of Mirth

Score: 85%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Prairie Games
Developer: Prairie Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 to 1024
Genre: MMORPG/ RPG/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

I just played two MMORPG games back-to-back, and I don't think there could be a more stark contrast than Minions of Mirth and Dofus. What is amazing is how both games manage to come out with great qualities, which really just shows how diverse and vibrant the MMORPG world is right now.

Depending on your perspective, Dofus might seem like "MMORPG-Lite" in that it is cartoony and has a rather simple interface. Minions of Mirth comes down on the opposite pole, with incredible detail and a party system that harkens back to classic paper or "table" role-playing games. Minions of Mirth is fairly graphics intensive, with options to adjust everything from screen resolution to full-screen mode. Even with a consumer desktop like my test system, the game looks beautiful and I had no problem running at the highest setting. In the game, character models and the "world" is rich with detail. Prairie Games, in deference to the gamers who will be most attracted to this style of play, went about putting lots and lots of information into every panel and interface. The byproduct of this is that the game screen can end up somewhat crowded. Luckily, moving or resizing dialog boxes is possible, and transparency can be adjusted to make panels less intrusive.

Whenever you see a game touting music these days, it tends to be licensed clap-trap of the Top 40 variety, so I'm excited when anyone takes time to do original music. The music in Minions of Mirth reminded me somewhat of Warcraft, with choral and orchestral textures. Very appropriate for the setting of the Minions of Mirth world, which is decidedly fantasy and draws from visual archetypes of our King Arthur and such. If you are impressed by original music, get even more impressed with the fact that Prairie touts two hours of music right now in the game!


Entering the Minions of Mirth world is to become a stranger in a strange but familiar land. Die-hard players of tabletop RPGs will instantly recognize the familiar tropes. Warrior, wizard, elf, halfling... Build a character and jump into the fray, right? Hack and slash, right? Well, not exactly...

The strength of Minions of Mirth is that so many players who have been weaned on simplistic console RPGs or adventure games have never known the pleasure of a truly deep, party-based RPG. Also, the technology we had when I was playing The Bard's Tale on my Commodore-64 has really come a long way... ;) Instead of saving my progress to a cassette tape, I can now just log out of the Minions of Mirth world by quitting or "camping" and then log in days later to find my character as I left him. But the world changes, monsters come and go and respawn. The experience is pretty magical to me, and even though some will say this has all been done before, I see distinctly new tricks coming out of this old dog.

Foremost in the New and Improved department is the flexibility of the model that Prairie uses for character and party building. Points are distributed among characteristics, and there are a huge number of races, classes and professions to choose from. Once you form a party, there are still chances to align yourself with up to 36 other players online, the "massively multiplayer" part of the MMORPG equation. I like that there is a complete single player mode available, and two different multiplayer options. One multiplayer setting allows for player-vs-player, another sets the stage for battles against monsters. You can even beat monsters and play them as characters in the online world! Safe to say that few PC RPG gamers have had so many options for establishing parties and interacting with virtual worlds.

And the worlds! Three "realms" are playable, each with huge interactive environments, towns, non-player characters and unique monsters. It really is daunting once you realize the scope of each zone. One thing that will change as the user community of Minions of Mirth grows is the density of the population. Monsters are easy enough to find, but other players were few and far between as I explored the game. Prairie maintains an active forum, and the chat in-game was also very active, so the players who are on now seem like a good bunch. Rather than limit players to company servers, Prairie makes source code available for users to create dedicated, persistent world servers! Several servers are already listed under the log-in screen, and it will be great if gamers take advantage of this feature. Prairie's server still seems to be the most widely used. And did I mention no monthly fee?


Like any game that is non-linear, difficulty is what you make it. I did find one thing that makes the learning curve in Minions of Mirth steeper than necessary, and that is lack of documentation. In-game resources are fairly rich, either through chat with other players, a "journal" or a topical encyclopaedia. But, they do little to explain the nuances of the control system, the in-game screens, the creation of characters and parties and alliances, and on and on. I actually think that Prairie is on-target if they are selling to the gamer who comes into a RPG with the desire to explore and learn. I like exploring and learning as much as the next guy, but I also like a little bit more of a framework. With as many incredible features as the game has, Prairie would really benefit from more company promotional material. At least one ardent fan has started drafting a quasi-manual in the forums, so maybe the players will step in where Prairie has not.

Game Mechanics:

Downloading and installing the game was simple, and getting connected to the network was smooth. After creating a character and placing the character in a party, you pick a server and realm and you're in business. In terms of selecting characters and adding characters to a party, you don't have to jump through a lot of hoops to get in the game world.

Apart from the caveat about lack of documentation, Minions of Mirth isn't terribly hard to play. As a new player, I found myself cruising through a lot of dialog boxes and dying frequently, but that's just part of exploring and gaining experience. Fighting monsters and interacting with other players or NPCs is easy, a click of the mouse. Macros for items or attacks are easily defined, and there seem to be some advanced options for more technical players to hack the interface. Minions of Mirth is Mac friendly (as both PC and Mac players can play Minions of Mirth) in that it supports a single-button mouse, but I would recommend a 2- or 3-button mouse if you're going to spend any real time in the game. Nothing about the controls seemed glitchy, but in full-screen mode there was no way to switch to any other applications, which I found annoying. Running anything less than full-screen avoids this issue. A neat thing in the visual interface was that the scrollwheel on the mouse shifts perspective from first-person to third.

Playing a large party is surprisingly easy, but not recommended for first-time players. Managing items and leveling with one character is a good enough challenge for the first few hours, and once you get this down, you're ready to go conquer the world. Or at least a Dust Mite... :) Once you really get the hang of controls and the game interface and you build your character, the fun truly begins. If players fed up with lightweight RPGs latch onto this game, I imagine Prairie will have a hit on their hands. Apart from the lack of a busy in-game environment (probably typical for a new entry in a field (MMORPG) that is getting more and more competitive) and the need for more welcoming documentation, Minions of Mirth seems a slice of RPG heaven. Tie in all the advanced (and open) options for players to tweak gameplay or host their own servers, and you've got an even better proposition. Try the demo and you may find yourself up until the wee hours grinding in some far away realm.

Editor's Note: Since the writing of this review, Prairie Games has uploaded a Mini Manual to help address the previously mentioned lack of documentation. A final version is coming soon. You can access the pdf file by clicking HERE.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows XP, 800mhz Athlon or Pentium, 256 MB RAM, OpenGL 3D Graphics Accelerator w/ 64 MB RAM

Test System:

N/A as the game was tested on a Mac OS

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