Written by rogue.
I have many fond memories of King's Bounty, for it is not only the game that started the Heroes series, but it is also the game that got me into the Heroes series. King's Bounty is not actually a Heroes game, but it came out several years before Heroes of Might and Magic was released. King's Bounty did have a very primitive version of the combat system that is used in Heroes of Might and Magic, and many of the creatures you are familiar with are also in King's Bounty. (Nomads, Peasants, and Archers, just to name a few.)
In King's Bounty, the king's scepter was stolen, and without it, the king and the land are dying. Yeah yeah, that makes no sense at all, but anyway, your goal is to recover the scepter before the king dies. You have a certain number of days to rescue the king in depending on the difficulty level. I think Easy gives you 900 days, Normal 600, and Impossible doesn't give you many at all. I'm probably wrong on the numbers though, since I'm saying this from memory.
When you start the game, you get to choose between Barbarian, Paladin, Sorceress, or Knight, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages which I won't get into here. So, how do you find the Scepter? Well, there is a map that shows where the scepter is. Unfortunately, the map is broken into 25 pieces, and the 17 villians in the land each hold a piece while the other 8 pieces are hidden with artifacts that have been scattered across the land. When you have enough pieces of the map, you'll be able to figure out where the Scepter is buried and save the king. If time runs out, the king dies and the game ends.
While exploring the map, groups of monsters will move up to you to attack, you can rent a boat, cast spells, find treasure, etc. Every time 7 days go by you get some income from the king and then you have to pay the wages of all of the creatures in your army. If you can't afford to pay a group of creatures, they leave. This is done automatically though, so you don't have to micromanage it.
To capture the villians who have the puzzle pieces, you need to get a contract for for that particular villian and find where they are. The contracts are available in towns for free and the villian you have a contract for will be shown in the top right corner of the screen. If you defeat the villian's army in combat that you have a contract for, the king rewards you with money. You also gain higher ranks (levels) from the king after you capture so many villians.
Battles are turn-based and are fought on a close-up map of the terrain with your army on one side and the bad-guys on the other side. You move your creatures first, then your opponent goes, and you fight until you win or lose. If you win, you get gold. If you lose, you appear back at the castle with a group of peasants (the weakest creatures). The picture below shows that the battles look like, and there is a decent amount of strategy involved. One neat thing about the picture below is that every creature on the screen, except for the Millita (people with swords), is also in Heroes III Complete.
Anyway, there are so many little things in the game that I couldn't explain them all here. King's Bounty has many things in common with Heroes, but it is also different in many ways. If you can find a copy of it somewhere, I'd suggest trying it out.
It would be nearly impossible to find a retail boxed version of King's Bounty for Macintosh nowdays, but the game is included for free on the Heroes of Might and Magic CD which you can still order from 3DO. If you want to run King's Bounty on a modern Mac, you will need to set the screen resolution to 256 colors before starting the game or it will run in black and white. Also, if you have lost the manual passwords, you can find them here.
The pictures here are from the Macintosh version of King's Bounty. I actually played the game 10 years ago on the SEGA Genesis, and never forgot it because it was one of the best games I had ever played. I did not know there was a Macintosh version of the game until very recently. In fact, I didn't know about the Heroes of Might and Magic games until very recently. In summer 1999 I was on Mac Gamer's Ledge and saw a picture of a combat sequence from an upcoming Mac game called Heroes of Might and Magic III. When I saw that picture, my first thought was, "That looks like the fights in King's Bounty!!!" Now look at me...