This is basically how I would sum up my attempt of playing through Ultima on the FM-Towns.
First of foremost: Ultima II really is not that fun to play to be honest. Sure the FM-Towns graphics are nice (see below), but it does suffer from many obvious design decision, the most important being the fact that a lot of very important item (wether that’s keys, torches or those annoying blue tassels needed to board a ship) can’t be bought anywhere and can only be obtained through sheer luck after a ton of combat.
Now that is already a major issue against actually having fun with the game: but the FM-Towns basically make it worst.
First it plays slower – which might not seem a major issue but can get annoying. Second, it has way too much monsters at a time with a spawn rate much greater than the usual version of the game: it basically means that you can get on a world map with things like Dragon attacking you with a level 2 character. In addition Lord British has become a cheap bastard and only gives you 150 HP when you talk to him instead of 300 HP.
But the game breaker really is the way food is handled is annoying. Outside of the fact that food seems to goes down even faster than in the original version of the game, the main problem is that it consumes food even when you are simply “passing” time – which become a major issue because you have to pass time a LOT in Ultima II.
So after a few hours of playing… I finally gave up altogether and decided to restart Ultima II with the good ol’ PC version, turned to EGA graphic thanks to Voyager Dragon’s patch and running under DOS Box. I wouldn’t say it makes the game enjoyable, but at least it becomes much less of a pain to play.
On a closing note I feel I should also mention the game manual “The Second Age of Darkness”. Except for the first Chapter I which proved a good historical context (albeit inconsistent with Ultima I) and that from what I gather was actually in re-releases of the game, I must say the manual is quite dissapointed by Ultima standard since it is basically a pretty common instruction booklet.
So this is it, for my dissapointing quest against Minax. I’ll be coming back as soon as I progress more with the PC version.