“Thou art victorious!”

R.I.P Mondain.

Tonight, the evil wizard Mondain perished under my blade. And his evil gem was shattered.

Now of course considering all the evil stuff it’s gonna spawn like Minax, the Shadowlords, the Guardian, and UO… perhaps I shouldn’t have, heh?

I have to admit he didn’t offer much of a challenge since I had my character basically maxed out there. I still gotta wonder where that Time Machine came from though – perhaps the Time Lord really is Doctor Who after all.

So on the whole I must say Ultima I was a fun ride. Except for the frustrating parts of hunting down TIE Fighters, it was quite enjoyable and I ought to wonder what a moderne remake would look like, especially since it kept the Sci-Fi aspect of the game to some degree…

The Apple IIgs port was very nice I must say, an improvement over the PC version on the whole altough I kind of wish it had as many roaming monsters on the overland and music for everywhere.

In any case, stay tuned for “Ultima II: Revenge of the Enchantress.”

I heard that some enchantress called Minax ain’t too happy about me whacking her beloved Master…

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Hard is the life of a space ace…

And so I am continuing my adventure throughout the Lands of Sosaria: killing monsters, earning money, experience, and going from one sign to the next to get more stats (!)… I am still lacking 3 gems but I figured: I want to be a space ace!

So I bought a space shuttle and launched into space.

Unfortunately… I thought my Reflect Suit would be okay, but I actually needed a Vacuum Suit… so I died horribly while docking at the space station.

Meh.

One reload later and a small passage at an armour shop and here I was, back into space! But man this is hard: thos nasty TIE Fighter (which look more like blue-ish TIE Interceptors in this port) are just awfully hard to hit and you burn fuel (which cost like a LOT) at an amazingly fast pace. It made me realised alas that the force was NOT with me, and I that I still have ways to go before following the footsteps of Luke skywalker, and thus I returned to Sosaria and began: the quest for more money!

On a more technical note the space part is actually quite dissapointing because it doesn’t have any sound or music. I mean come on!

Also I’ve noticed that the art for the dungeons monsters appears not to have been completed as some monsters are replaced with templates with a Card and the Monster name.

On a side note I can also confirm that as you advance in the game, more and more monsters start to appear on the overland map. So this is a different approach from the 1986 remake, but an interesting one.

More later!

“Thou hast saved the Princess Marsha”

Well… I guess Ed Del Castillo was right. Ultima is about savint the Princess after all.

Though you have to wonder what were all these kings (including the so virtuous Lord British) doing with Princesses imprisoned within their walls!

But I digress.

As you may have guessed, I have started Ultima I, well intent on kicking Mondain’s allmighty butt.

One point of note: before starting the game I sat down and read the manual from the 1986 remake. And I while obviously be doing for every Ultima game.

I forgot to mention this, but the Ultima game manuals are amongst the best that were crafted in the history of videogames, always taking an in-game perspective as if you were an actual history book. For its age the manual is very well written (altough it is an updated version and not the original 1980 one which was not quite the same) with very interesting background information.

I obviously started with a Human Male character, in order to stick with the canon and pretending that I am playing the Avatar to be. I choose a Fighter again, because really: I just love whacking thing around!

Now I must say the Apple IIgs version is just very neat: the tiles has the best we’ve seen for Ultima I while still remaining faithful to the original style, and the music is pretty nice with a nice Ultima vibe (we even get to hear “Rule Britannia” whenever we get inside a Castle!). There is however one downside to this remake: while the monster graphics have been fully redrawn for the dungeons, the walls were not so we’re still seeing Akalabeth-quality dungeons. Oh well…

One point of oddity is that it seems this port doesn’t really have monsters on the overland map while they were numerous in the PC version (I’ve actually started it just to be sure!). After a bit of archeological search, it appears that this was the way it was in the original Apple II version of the game, and that roaming monsters were only added for the 1986 remake, probably to be more in line with the newer Ultima.

However…

I did happen to cross ONE monster on the overland map: a bear, after some time of play – so I am not sure what is the deal and wether I have some sort of bugs or if I’ll be seeing more monsters when my character become stronger. We’ll see.

My quest is going well as speaking to the bartenders (whose idea was that really? You need to get drunk to get plot points?) revealed me that I had to find a TIME MACHINE to go back in time 1000 years to kill Mondain before his Gem was completed and he got immortality.

You know this is actually a very good plot point: it also kind of explains why Ultima I has so much high technology. Interestingly the Lands of Lord British doesn’t appear to have such technology at first, so you might even possibly reconcile it by saying it’s the other who had space ships and all.

But of course It’d be hard to actually reconcile this aspect with the final “Ultima canon” especially the whole 1000 years before bit, but it certainly is interesting.

In any case the quest is progressing and I already have one of the four gem stones required to use the Time Machine. I get stronger and richer by the day, so I’ll hopefully soon be able to get into space and shot down those nasty TIE Fighters!

But now let’s go an free more Princesses…

Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness

Ultima I, or rather Ultima as it was originally called, was Richard Garriott’s second commercial game and was publisher either in 1980 or 1981 (sources seems to be conflicting on that point) for the Apple II. It was later remade in 1986 for the PC and other platforms with improved graphics where it gained its final title “Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness.”

In many ways, Ultima I feels like an expended version of Akalabeth (and notably used the same dungeons graphics), though with much more content and variety. It also has some sort of plot, where you now have to find the evil Wizard Mondain and kill him and a manual which offered quite a bit of background content.

Ultima I is a game I’ve discovered pretty late as well. I’ve discovered the Ultima series on the Atari ST and this was the only game of the Darkness and Enlightenment trilogies that was never ported to the Atari ST. As such I had to wait until the mid ’90 when I finally tracked down the Ultima I~ VI Series compilation in a mail-order selling computer shop. Of course it came with only the CD and not box or manual of any kind, but never mind.

I was pleasently surprised by the game actually because it looked real good: except for the dungeons it look very much like the 16 Bits versions of Ultima III&IV (which as far as I knew where the only existing one… that was before I tried Ultima III for the PC) altough I missed the music and was a bit puzzled at all the Sci-Fi elements (I already knew Ultima II, but it didn’t expect these stuff to pop up in Sosaria!).

As far as old school RPGs go I do feel it’s an enjoyable game – or at least it was the last time I played it!

Now I’ve been thinking carefully as to what version of the game I should play. The PC version would probably have been fine (I mean… I survived Akalabeth!) and it actually is one of the better looking ones. But there are also some more unusual port which stays true to the original game but with even more improved sound and music.

I’ve finally decided to play Ultima I on the Apple IIgs version. This remake was hard to track down but it is well worth it. Produced in 1994, it offers much improved graphics as well as original in-game music, which feels very Ultima-ish. So I’ll be sure to post some screens to show you how different it looks from other versions.

So, here comes Ultima I! Sosaria awaits its savior!

Ultima I Cover

I am now a Knight !

And this on the day of our Lord, July the 28th, did the mere Peasant Sergorn became knighted by his Majesty Lord British.

And there was much rejoicing or… well maybe not.

I have actually finished Akalabeth twice today. I finished the game I started yesterday at Level 1, and became a Knight. But since I have masochistic tendencies, I figured: what the eck? And thus decided to replay the whole game at Level 10 in order to get the “true” ending.

You see once you figure out the mechanics, Akalabeth actually becomes quite easy – the hardest part are actually the beginning since it require quite a bit of grinding to get more gold and XP, so redoing it was much easier this time. However I also figured out the ultimate cheat: Lizardman.

You see you use magic in Akalabeth by using Magical Amulets which offer multiples effects, which for a warrior also happen to be fully random. the Lizard Man is pretty awesome: because it double your HP, and all your stats permanently. Now the rist is that you could come upon Toad instead which criple your character with 3 in each stats. But I actually came with a bit of luck and multiple Lizard Man spells in a row.

By the time I faced the Balrog – the final monster in the game – I had thousands of hit point and could kill anything in a single. By the time I exited the dungeons with the use of magic… I had so many Lizard Man I completed the game with a freaking number of 235 000 HP and around 15 000 in each time.

Insanity.

Now the true ending was underwhelming: unlike the original Apple II version you don’t an outdated phone number to call, and the game merely tells to tell Lord British about your performance. Sure I would, but anybody got his e-mail ? 😛

On a side note the PC port also appears a bit sloppy with some silly typos such as “Kinght” and “Lord Brititsh”.

So in any case, this is it for Akalabeth. It actually does feel to finish a sorta Ultima I haven’t finished before, but I’m glad it didn’t last too long because it can get kind of boring.

In any case I’ll be back tomorrow with some words about my next adventure : “Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness” – and as a parting gift, a picture of my final battle against the vile Balrog.

Thou shalt slay some evil monster!

And here goes : my journey has finally begin !

As such I began yesterday to play through Akalabeth.

Now the first thing: it was actually problematic to get the game working as DosBOX just don’t like Akalabeth – or at least the Ultima Collection version. After some looking around I found a way to go and patch the .exe of the game that they run flawlessly, but this not exactly the easiest way to play a game (Note: I’ll see with WtF_Dragon about providing the modified .exe at Ultima Aiera).

But in any case I managed to begin my quest and find Lord British to gave my first mission : find and kill a Carrion Crawler !

Now… Akalabeth is one damn ugly game, and the colors of the PC version probably make it worst. It’s also goddamn repetitive as well. But most importantly: it’s freakingly hard – you just happen to die a whole lot and thanks god that the PC version offers an actualy saving system so that you don’t have to restart from scratch every time of this cause some accident of the computer being thrown through the window.

I’ve actually tried both the Mage and Fighter approach. They both have their advantages: notably the Mage can use Ladder Up and Ladder Down spells. But it is such a weakling in term of combat that I finally settled upon the Figther. Now after a couple of hours of playing, lot of money being spend of food, and more death than I had ever had in any Ultima game before – I did it: I managed to kill the Carrion Crawler and (most importantly) exit the dungeon alive.

I am now questing for an evil Gremlin. What can I say ? Heroes get no rest…

Akalabeth: World of Doom

Akalabeth was Richard Garriott’s first commercial game and was published in 1979 for the Apple II. Technically not an Ultima back then, it still offered some references to Lord British and Mondain and basic feels like a prototype for Ultima I, hence why it was eventually dubbed (first unofficially and later officially at the release of the Ultima Collection), “Ultima 0”.

Personally I can’t say I ever cared much for Akalabeth. I discovered it in early 1998 through an unofficial port made by Finire Dragon and played for a few minutes before like “What the eck is this crap ?” and quitting the game. I replayed a few minutes of the game with the Ultima Collection remake (which included a new menu, a few colors and some midi music taken from Ultima III), but again never bothered to play through it.

As such, this will actually be my first play through “Ultima 0: Akalabeth” so I guess this is something to be celebrated, somewhat. I’ll post my impressions later – I doubt the game will be that long to finish. I will of course be using the Ultima Collection version through DosBox to play it.

Akalabeth Cover

Welcome to Sergorn Dragon’s Ultima Adventures!

Greetings everyone !

My name is Sergorn Dragon, I am 30 and have been an Ultima fan for pretty much all my life.

Those who already know me, know that I am one of those a huge and crazy Ultima fans, to the point that I am even working on crafting my own Ultima project called “Return to the Serpent Isle.”

As many fans, I am still craving for new Ultima games, so I was delighted when the Ultima VI Project was finally released earlier this month. As I was playing it however, this urge gradually came to me: what if I were to replay the entire Ultima series?

I began to realize that really: it has been a while since I played an Ultima game. Except for Lazarus in 2006 and a few hours of that SNES Ultima VII a couple years ago, the last time I played an actual old-school Ultima game was back in 2002 when I replayed Ultima VII to IX. The earlier ones, that was even a longer time before that, since I have to go back to 1999 when I replayed the entire series from Ultima I in preparation for the release of Ultima IX: Ascension.

Now some of those games probably haven’t aged well, but I figured: what the heck? I still love Ultima dearly and it just would be fun to replay the whole series.

And I figure what about blogging about it? Obviously I can’t claim credit for imagining this, and Ophidian Dragon’s Ultima Blogging has clearly inspired – but there is little else to be said outside that eck it should be fun.

So I will be playing the entire series from Akalabeth to Ultima IX, including the main spin-off such as the World of Ultima and Ultima Underworld games. While I also have considered doing some of the other, weirders, Ultima spin-offs or ports – I have decided to focus on the main series for the time being, and see about the other games afterward.

I will be following a similar pattern for each game: a first post presenting the game, my relationship with it, and when it applies the version chosen for this playthrough. Afterward I’ll post blog posts and possibly some screenshots of my adventuring for how long it will take (which could take a while, or not so much considering I can end up devoting a crazy amount of time to such things when I put myself to it) with some final impressions once the game is finished.

So I hope you’ll enjoy following this adventure with me!