The Next Generation of the Serpent Forge of Virtue’s Hold…

Now how’s that for a title, heh?

So as I mentionned earlier, I decided to head to Cove. It was fairly quick since my main purpose was to get Jaana. I also got and went all mushy mushy with Nastassia and stole a kiss or two. You know, Nastassia is a nice enough character but I never really got why some fans seems so obsessed over her. I mean, outside of the fact that any true Ultima knows that Aiela is the Avatar’s one true love, I never felt she could even remotely be this kind of character for the Avatar personally. She’s nice enough sure but well… nothing to write home about.

Now following these events, I headed toward Minoc. Which is nice since it finally allowed be to do a little of combat.

Which reminds me I didn’t talk about combat in Ultima VII. Well… to put it basically: it sucks and it amongst the worst any RPG has ever had. You just press “C” and do nothing. There are strategies that are useless due to the amount of companions you have. So basically it’s like the ancestor of the boring MMO combat sandwish (except that unlike MMOs, it goes fast enough not to be boring).

In order words: even Ultima VIII’s clickfest was better than this.

But in any case: I got to Minoc… and as it happens there had been two other ritual murders, JUST when the Fellowship founders Elizabeth and Abraham were in town. And in addition there was a Fellowship Candelabra at the murder scene. But of course it has GOT to be a set up gainst the goody Fellowship, right?

On a side note – and I’m sure I’m not the only one here – the first times I played Ultima VII I never did see this crime scene, because the game was buggy as hell, and usually the bodies were gone by the time you first got to Minoc. Annoying.

So after getting Owen to kill himself, raided the mine for Serpent Venom to sell at Britain (hey, this is not theft this stuff HURTS people!) I also had my future told by the Gypsy Margarita (note: why are ONLY Gypsies allowed to read the future in Ultima?) that I needed to join the Fellowship to learn their true nature, and to contact the Time Lord through the Wisps. Yay!

So I went back to Britain and did Batlin’s personality test (which feels like a twisted version of the traditionnal Ultima Virtue questions) and his first quest consisting of getting a package to Minoc.

At that point though, I decided to do Forge of Virtue because I felt that plotwise it actually made more sense to do that before starting really the main plotline of Ultima VII.

Now small history lesson: Forge a Virtue is an add-on for Ultima VII that brings the character to the Isle of Fire where you killed Exodus in Ultima III and have you do some virtues test to prove your Avatarhood. It’s an excellent add-on really, altough I’ve always felt it would have been neat to be able to have the isle solely pop up halfwar through the game (which is basically how I did it back when I player the DOS Version).

Now personally I played Forge of Virtue *very* late. You see I had Ultima VII in French, but its add-on was never translated and the english version of Forge of Virtue did not work with the french version of Ultima VII. So I only got to play it around the same time I got Martian Dreams and Savage Empire… since my compilation CD which had Savage Empire also had the english version of Ultima VII. Neat heh?

So I first did the Truth Test. Which took like 5 seconds when you know the trick. Then I did the Love Test, which is an amazing quest about two Golems who love each other as brothers and amongst the best Ultima VII as to offer. It went easilly, but it’s always a pleasure to do it.

Then I started the Courage Test… and I got faced with two Golem on the second room. And I couldn’t kill them. And I figured “Dang I need magical weapons!” as I didn’t had any then. So where could I get magical weapons for free?

That’s right.

Serpent’s Hold.

Now I have to say it I hate Serpent’s Hold in Ultima VII. I actually kind regret my first play through when I didn’t yet know Star Trek: The Next Generation. It felt a bit irky even then, but that work. Now… it just get my eyes rolling. This is basically THE exemple of what you must not do with an easter egg: overblow it. So I did the quest there about the damaged Lord British statue, but I’ll confess: I rushed it.

So I trained my character at the blacksmith’s in order to improve their strength, then I looted the Vault (I’m the Avatar, I need to save the World!) and then I noticed a creepy thing.

Yes Riker and Worf are sleeping together in the same bed. Gargoyle love? I mean is sexualy intimacy even possible between humans and Gargoyles?

Leaving the two love birds behind I got back to the Isle of Fire using the Recall Spell on the nice little Red Stone I had marked… and I am not ready to face to trial of Courage!

In other words: big evil Dragon here I come!

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What is THAT doing in a Britannian field?

I mean that crazy Kilrathi ship!

Of course I gotta admit that this is probably one of the most awesome easter egg in videogame history, so heh, it certainly deserved a mention AND a screen!

So I have now begun my quest against the Guardian in Ultima VII.

Now can I say that I’m just not very fond of Ultima VII’s introduction? I mean really in the end it has too many holes in logic… the Guardian appearing just so that you get to the Moongate which is already, the Avatar NOT taking his Orb of the Moon and so on… it feels to me the introduction was put together without giving much thought to its content really.

Also, I’m gonna flamed for this but I’ll say it, Bill Johnson really sounds terrible in this introduction – and really in most of Ultima VII, as if he didn’t really put his best into the voice until the next games. For me the only line where he DOES sounds like the Guardian he when he says “aknowledge my authority”.

Oh well…

Trinsic went pretty fast as you can expect. I thought the Christopher murder was a nice quest, and really gruesome – which is always nice! You know, it sounds to me there is something fishy about that Fellowship thing…

In any case I recruited Spark (which is annoying but feels logical at having) and went north to Paws.

Now I really like the idea of having turned into this poor village and such. But becoming adjacent ot Britain, it really is kind of ludicrous when you think of the layout of the maps in previouses games. This came as a tad too much. The venom quest in Paws, is pretty nice as far as design goes, altough the whole holier-than-thou attitude and hypocrisy feels a tad too much for my taste.

I really wish Ferydwin could have come up in this game the same way he does in Ultima Underworld II.

But then, having finished with this, I headed straight to Britain. After a short passage at the Blue Boar to get Shamino, I headed straight to Lord British’s Castle. He of course doesn’t seem to have a clue about anything, altough he did gave me the deed of his ship to go to the Isle of Fire (But we’ll see later about this). The point of coming to Castle Britannia of course was to get my EQUIPMENT because really the game don’t let you start with much. Altough if I may complain, how come I don’t get my own room this time?

But in any case after that came the exploration of Britain. I gotta say for a long time, the exploration of Britain felt painful to me. Really because the city is big. TOO Big I might argue. So the first few times I played it, I tended to get lost, miss a few NPCS, and so on. Now of course – Ultima VII seems ridiculously small by today’s standard, but you have to think back to a 1992 context.

I also used the opportunity to gain a bit of monney by getting mutton at the market and selling it for more at the castle. Mesa luuuve commerce!

To be fair, there isn’t much interesting to do in Britain in terme of quests, altough I did get Sentri into my party as usuall. I like the poor lad!

So having now finished Britain, I am making my way east toward Cove… and then toward Yew in order to follow Chuckles’ clue.

Ultima VII: The Black Gate

Released a mere month after Ultima Underworld in 1992, Ultima VII was not only the new core episode of the Ultima series, but also a brand new step in the series as a whole.

After three episodes focusing about the Avatar and its Virtues, Richard Garriott wanted to go back to an epic against a big evil Foozle. Except the idea from the start was to conceive a villain that would last for the entire “trilogy of trilogy” all the way to the final confrontation in Ultima IX, and thus craft a somewhat overarching story that would last the entire trilogy.

Thus was born the idea of the Guardian.

Of couse, as the following games would rapidly prove, there never was much of a plan beyond that – which lead as usual to a very loose continuity. But really was novelty for Ultima at the time.

The context also took a peculiar approach, since it brought the Avatar into what is seemingly a peaceful time with no threat on the horizons, 200 Britannian years after Ultima VI – which had lead to the Avatar into becoming some kind of a legend, and most people not recognizing him at all!

But Ultima VII really was a drastic evolution of Ultima in term of look and gameplay. While it retained the seamless overhead perspective of Ultima VI, it complently revamped the look and feel and the game. For starter the whole game was now in full screen, with a new graphical scale offering a much more realistic scale between characters and items in the game. But most importantly it went with a fully mouse based interface, much more intuitive than the previouses games, and which had the advantage to remain pretty much effective even by today’s standard.

Of course some fans did not take kindly to this change back then, feeling that dropping the keyboard interface was betraying the Ultima spirit. But what do they know?

What made Ultima VII impressive though was its sheer scope, cumulated with his truly seamless approach (unlike Ultima VI, dungeons were also on the same game map) – which made a really big world for its time, with a lot of exploration to do throughouth Britannia.

In addition interactivity was pushed even farther away (though some might argue not quite as much as Savage Empire), wich the abilite to put items one on another, bake bread and other stuff.

For all of these reasons, Ultima VII was yet another breakthrough in the Ultima series, and is widely considered as one of the best episode of the entier Ultima legacy.

Well.

Not by me though. 😛

I have always been somewhat ambivalant about the game. There are some aspect that I truly love, but others I’ve always dislkied and just profundly irked me.

A bit of context first: I played Ultima VII in summer 1993, the year we got that computer. I had already played through a lot of Ultima Underworld II by then, but most importantly I had just completed Serpent Isle after months of playing and as a matter of fact, I went and bought Ultima VII the very same day I finished playing Serpent Isle.

I knew the gameplay already, and loved the engine, so that certainly wasn’t an issue.

The first point of issue was first the lenght of the game – after having spent month on Serpent Isle, Underworld II… and really pretty much all Ultima games before then, I fully expected Ultima VII to take at least as long.

And I got it done in less than a week, which left me with like a bitter tast in my mouth.

But really when it comes down to it, my issue comes from two things: the plot and Britannia.

I’m not that fond of Ultima VII’s plot – there are some brillant stuff (notably all the Time Lord aspect), but admitetly the main plot aspect regarding the Fellowship is just not very interesting due a lack of subtelty and predictabilty. It’s all very black&white (indeed the little subtelty that was brought to the Fellowship would only come with Ultima Underworld II) and perhaps it would have been starter if you know… the Fellowship had NOT been evil? No I don’t necessarilly mind black&white but the way it was presented was just really not that interesting.

But most importantly I would guess that the issue with the plot is that it sometime feels like there just isn’t much of a plot, and that the story takes a secondary place in the game, which is more focused into creating a beaufiltul virtual world and bringing a heavy handed pseudo social subtexte that really has no place in an Ultima.

As I mentionned I also wasn’t very fond of Britannia as it was into the game – because it just didn’t felt like the Britannia I had grown to love over the past three games and more like a separate place altogether. The lack of anything related to Virtues also really irked me.

Now of course I guess this was also the point of the game in some way, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

That being said I still enjoye playing Ultima VII and certainly feel it to be a very good game – but it’s too flawed in my view to be amongst by favorite episodes of the series.

Needless to say, I will be playing this playthrough with the help of Exult. While Ultima VII runs just fine with DOSBox, it does feel silly to use it considering Exult just offers a lot of improvement, digital music and bug fixes.

Ultima V Cover

The Slasher of the Veils has been banished!

Ans thus, after a mere 12 days into the Abyss, have I banished the Evil Slasher of the Veils from out plane.

What can I say? Heroes waste no time!

I was already pretty close to the end yesterday, so as I suspected it didn’t took that long to finish the game. Level 7 was fairly long to to beat though with lots of twists and turns and some coming up and down necessary to Level 8.

But in the end, I prevailed and beat the evil Wizard Tyball (what sort of a name if Tyball anyway?)

But as it turned out he really was trying to save Britannia in his own self serving ways. So whoops I guess.

Of course I did manage to save the Princess!

But then she left with not even a goodbye kiss! Meh! 😦

Now at that was left to me, it banishing the Slasher of the Veils. But for that I needed to get access to the chamber of the Codex and destroy the artefacts of Cabirus in the heart of the volcano.

But first I needed to get the three part key (which involved a lot of going back and forth) and to bury the bones of Garamon (which involved… a lot of that too).

But I did it, and I prevailed. The Slasher of the Veils (which looks suspisiously like the Arcadion portrait in Serpent Isle actually) was banished in the Ethereal Void… with me.

Now that was a freaky place, but again… We’ll talk about it more in Underworld II. So I ran for my life, and exited through this green moongate to Britannia.

How come nobody complains about the odd colored Moongates in Underworld by the way? 😛

But thus here I was… having saved the world once again and I got back home. Did Lord British even HEARD of that quest really?

Side note to Garamon: was moving the settlers of the Abyss to Destard such a good idea? I mean you should know this IS a Dragon’s Lair…

I figure they ended up all being eaten by the time of Ultima VII. Oh well.

So this is it for Underworld. This was a nice romp, and I really look forward to get to Underworld II… but of course I need first to face the Guardian the first time in Ultima VII: The Black Gate!

OMG! Pac Man!

Or the first sign that… you know, there is something wrong with the guys at Looking Glass.

But we should expand more upon that when reaching Ultima Underworld II.

But yes: Pac Man! You see there a part on Level 5 of The Abyss… which is called a mine is reachable by a teleporter… and basically you need to get blue nuggets while walking over them, and being chased with ghost.

I mean seriously ? 😛

But in any case – things have been going well. As I am now almost finished with Level 6 of the Abyss and have found the eight talisman of Sir Cabirus. Which also means I have the best sword and Shield and the game (in addition to a full plate armor I got from the Knights of Crux Ansata after joining them) and infinite light. Yay!

It’s still great fun, but the downside is that I’m not getting near the end of the civilized areas, since from what I remember the later levels offers little in terme of NPCs.

I am on the whole not too far from the end of the game. Still a few hours (and a tiny bit of backtracking), but most of it is behind it.

It’s a nice ride but I gotta to admit I am looking forward to finish it, because I am just very eager to get started with the Guardian Saga…

How come I’m whiping the floor with all these monsters?

I mean this is a legitimate question.

I remember the Underworlds being these very hard game in term of combat, where monsters could basically come and kill you on the spot. And yet… I’m pretty much killing any creature in the game with no issue, from lowly rat to dangerous Gazers.

Talk about underwhelming.

Now granted I created a fighter with a focus on Swords and Attack, but that should be somewhat harder than that. Oh well.

Which reminds me I didn’t mention the character creation of the game, which actually comes as fairly basic. It offers the 8 traditionnal Ultima classes, but you only have to choose which one you want to use from a list. After that it defines you starting stats and skills depending on your class (with a random value set), and you can pick a couple of skills to enhance. Pretty conventionnal alas.

However the choice of the class is of no incidence to the game in itself since it is fully skill based – meaning you can train your warrior in magic to cast as good as any mage, or train your mage to become a powerful swordsman. The sky’s the limit!

This is a good system though (which is actually inspiring me for Return’s) as I feel an Ultima game should never limit the capabilities of a character. I’m less fond of the medidate at Shrines approach for training though, altough I guess it IS Ultima-ish.

In any case my quest is progressing well. I’m on a level 4 of the Abyss (so not quite half way through the game), I’m starting to get a few of Cabirus’ artifact, and I’m still looking for the damsel in distress. I have to say that unlike Ultima Underworld II my memory of the game is not that clear though, which means it’s not such as easy ride as it could be. But I never replayed the game that much anyway, which might explains it.

One thing this playthrough make me realise though, and especially after having played 8 other Ultima games before, is that no matter how great Ultima Underworld is. The truth of the matter is that it just doesn’t feel very Ultima-ish. It does feel more like a world of its own rather than being a part of Britannia – and really the references you can find throughout the game tend to feel tacked-on (probably because they actually are!).

Another aspect that I’ve never really thought about before – is how it’s basically never referenced once during the game or its dialogue that you are the Avatar. Yet there are many occasion when you feel you err… might be able to point this out, especially in a colony supposedly dedicated to upholding the 8 Virtues… but nope. Which kind of make me think that the whole Avatar mention in the introdution was implemented at the last minute and that you were originally meant to play some random Britannian and not the Avatar.

Nevermind the fact that the way you do endup on Britannia feels incredibly far-fetched as well.

Oh well.

I don’t mean this as a way to diss the game of course, it doesn’t change anything from its qualities. But it’s also why Underworld II is so much more enjoyable to me, because it feels through and through like an Ultima game.

One down, seven to go…

And thus, I have begun my exploration of the Stygian Abyss. Which to say the least… has changed quite a lot since Ultima IV.

But then it was supposed to be destroyed, so I figure building a city inside a dungeon that doesn’t exist anymore is quite a feat, heh?

But before dwelving further I should perhaps mention first the manual of the game – Memories of Sir Cabirus. It is a very good manual as usual, altough Cabrirus tends to get a bit preachy and shows an anti-Gargoyle bias which is kind of funny.

It also feels short compared to the core Ultima manuals, but since I feel they sometime get a bit on the long way, it’s alright.

The interesting aspect about this manual is how it tries to work Underworld into canon. As I mentioned in my presentation of the game, Underworld has a lot of inconsistent aspect with the Ultima lore due to its late addition as an Ultima game but at least the manual does try to make it fit (with more or less success) in the Ultima lore, which is to be commended.

But now how I can talk of the game without mentioning the wonderful introduction? Well it is wonderful… bu 1992’s standard though, which means it has awefully corny voice acting.

And it also stands as proof that Britannian English should not ever be used for voice acting.

As for the game itself well… it really feels like a breath of fresh after doing all the traditionnal Ultima games and spin off. Having an actually 3D world to move in and explore is just great fun, and so it having dialogues that don’t consist of using stupid keywords. In essence, it gives the game a sense of modernity that still works 18 years after the fact (and indeed Arx Fatalis a few years back really proved that the concept of Ultima Underworld and its core philosophy is still as great now as it was then).

The level design remains wonderful – even if it admitedly tends to feel smaller that one might remember, combat works well, so does magic. So what is there to complain about?

Oh yeah. The UI.

Because this is really the aspect that did NOT age well. While I sitll find it serviceable, in the modern age of mouselook, Underworld’d interface feels archaic at best.

Indeed this almost make me want to do an appeal to the community. DOSBox is both a blessing and a curse, because it has lead to the death of many engine recreation such as Underworld Adventures.

But i’ll say it.

Ultima Underworld needs and engine recreation of the likes Underworld Adventures and Labyrinth of Worlds were doing. These are both wonderful games which are actually not to bad by today’s standard – a simple 3D accelaration would means much more beautiful graphics with filtered textures instead of pixel, monsters models could be replaced, the game could be made to run in full screend with a mouse UI. This would be a dream for many fans I think. Which is why I beg anyone with incling to work on such an engine (or who is already working on one), to do so. This would be an awesome way to celebrate these games!

But I digress.

So as I was about so say, I have finished the first level of the Abyss… this one is pretty straighforward but it’s fun to explore. I do have one rethorical question to ask though:

How come people whines constanstly about the jumping puzzles of Ultima VIII (with good reason if you take the original version account) and Ultima IX (with sheer hypocrisy considering the game has ONE jumping puzzle) and don’t say anything about Ultima Underworld?

First level, and it already has a lot of Jumping, and a real Jumping puzzles, and things are not going to get better, and even more so in Underworld II. And yet they’re still “classics” !

Of coufse this is not a complain on my part – I actually love being able to jump and i feel it’s a necessity in a 3D engine really (note to Bioware: please put Jumping in Mass Effect 3!)… but this has always striked me a odd.

In any case I am no on Level 2, having just talked with some friendly dwarves (*sigh*) and ready to continue my adventure…

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss

Released in 1992, roughly at the same time as Ultima VII, Ultima Underworld is the first intalment of yet another Ultima spin-off series, but this time quite different from the Worlds of Ultima games.

Oh and it’s one of the most groundbreaking and revolutionnary CRPGs of its time basically.

But let’s start with the beginning. In 1990, newly formed company Blue Sky Productions (which would later be renamed as Looking Glass Studios) under the lead of former Origin employee (and Space Roguer designer) Paul Neurath began working on a new type of dungeon crawler game called “Underworld”. The concept was to basically push forward the Dungeon type of RPG game (of which games like Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder are some of the most renowned examples) with a new kind of 3D engine.

In mid-1990, Blue Sky proposed the project to Origin which immediately loved it, and lead Richard Garriott (which was still fond of the idea of 3D dungeons in spite of their removal in Ultima VI) to suggest reworking the game into the Utima universe – thus leading to its new title “Ultima Underworld”.

Due to its late implementation in the Ultima series, this lead the game to some rather unusual races in the game (such as dwarves!) and a questionable continuity with the main series that did not sit well with some Ultima fans. But the end result is a game that remains one of the most revolutionnary and beloved RPG of all time.

In essence Ultima Underworld is not radically different from game like dungeon master – you basically need to get through the 8 levels of the dungeons until you find a way to destroy the big bad guy. But Ultima Underworld is revolutionnary by the ways it handle this.

For starters: its engine was unlike anything ever seen before. While many people tend to give ID Software and Wolfenstein 3D the credit for “inventing” the 3D FPS kind of engine… this is actually not true, especially taking into account that Wolfenstein 3D (and even Doom) were basically 2,5D engine creating the illusion of 3D. Ultima Underworld however over a TRUE 3D engine: which first means you could look anywhere in 360°, swim and jump, but most importantly it meant a true 3D world with slopes of all kinds, bridges and walls that could go in any direction and not just 90°.

Now there had been actual 3D engines before – notably the Freescape engine used in some 16 Bits games (and the 3D Contrustion Kit game creation tool) which actually allowed the same kind of movement as Ultima Underworld and actual 3D worlds. But these engines were usally stuck to rather simple geometric shapes and also offered no texture whatsoever.

So Ultima Underworld basically pushed new ground in a way that had never been seen before in video game, with a fully 3D world, and fully textured game. In the end, only the creatures and items remained as 2D sprites in the world.

But Ultima Underworld was also revolutionnary in its approach of gameplay: unlike one might think the game is not linear as it looks with a lot of coming and going around between levels. But most importantly it was amongst the first RPG to bring adventure-like dialogues with full sentences and choices. Which lead to a lot of freedom in what to do in the game, and solve certains quests and events.

While the game was not perfect (the graphics were admitedly very pixelated even for its time, the view was very small and the UI has aged a whole lot), it really was and still is an awesome creation in every aspects.

Personally I came to Underworld rather late. Like Ultima VI and VII, it was one of those game that made me fantasize back when I was stuck on the Atari ST, and I couldn’t quite grasp the concept behind it either notably the way the character moved around (altough in retrospect I actually had played with those Freescape game so I should have figured it out).

By the time we finally got a PC however, Ultima Underworld II was out, so I basically went and played that one instead and was rather blown away. I would have to wait a few years to finally play Ultima Underworld (it was in fact, after Ultima VIII!), and while I couldn’t have the same novelty effect to me since I played Underworld II before I loved it as well, notably due the wonderful atmosphere it had.

I also haven’t played it in many years, so I’m really looking forward to revisiting this good ol’ Abyss. Not to mention this will make a welcome change after 3 games with the U6 engine!

Ultima V Cover

Home sweet home!

And thus after a long adventure did I finally destroyed the evil Raxachk, saved the Martians and brought everyone back to Earth!

Now as I mentionned I was bringing the iron to the Olympus mines in order to finish the canon. Alas… I was a moron and didn’t put enough iron ore in my cart… so I had to travel way back to the other mine with the barge, get more ore, and come back.

I complain a lot about backtracking in this game… but heh… I guess this is my own fault here.

The canon could now be completed but we needed the fuel to get it working… and of course it HAD been stolen by the evil Rasputin… which was in turn not trully evil, rather just possessed by he evil Raxachk.

So it was time to get to Argyre and blow its heavy metal doors open with a Canon Barge. So I lead my huge barge there… and found out it didn’t fit. Meh. So I had to get a smaller barge with canons (which tanksfully was not far from Argyre) and then I got there and fired.

To no avail.

Because regular canon balls can not do a dent in the doors. Meh. So I had to get back all the way to Olympus to get Steel canon balls made.

And then: BAM!

Good bye door!

So I talked a bit with everyone there, notably Rasputin/Raxachk which revealed to me his evil plans: he had hidden the fuel in the deam world and any attempt to bring it back would destroy both Mars and the Dream World. Neat heh?

So for now I merely just took the Rouge Berries and had the pigment made for my martian friends.

Chsheket sure looks beter like this heh?

Now I got back to Argyre to deal with Rasputin… and found out nearly all humans were killed and he had fled into the Dream World, intent on destroying everything. So I followed him there and got ready to face my own nightmare…

The Shadowlords!

Now this was a really awesome and unexpected event of Martian Dreams. The return of Ultima V’s nemesis. Now of course, this is only a dream – so they’re not actually real (I mean at that point in time they’re actually Red, Big and Destroying Worlds) but it was still really cool. Some fans objects to the fact that Martian Dreams make them speaks, but I think this is actually pretty cool. After all there is no evidence in U5 that they could not speak if they’d want to.

The concept of the part of the game is motly like the other dream sequences, except you face your own dreams and are confronted to a Virtue Choice. And this is just really cool and reminds of some similar quests in Serpent Isle.

After facing the Shadowlords, I could now face the evil Raxachk which made me fight for his amusement against creatures before laughing at how he was unacessible in an indestructible room and I could no nothing.

Yeah well… alas for him I’m a guy from the future and imagined a neafty M60 machinegun from dream stuff.

And then as they say… it’s HASTA LA VISTA, BABY!

So I got the fuel back into the real world, which had began quacking a lot. Meaning the whole martian surface is being ravaged, erasing any trace of martian civilisation. Which explains why there is no trace of it from 20th century explorations. (Well thought up heh? I actually imagined a similar scenario with Edgard’s Rice Burrgous John Carter of Mars long ago….)

Now I just had to get back to Olympus (thank you transporter tube!) and get the fuel back to Mr Canergie.

And then it was good bye Mars, hello Earth, and a hero’s welcome!

Well what to say? Martian Dreams is a still remain an awesome game. While I don’t quite have the same patience I used to for certains aspects (backtracking ugh…) it sure was fun.

And taken into context I love how this game basically prefigures a lot of things to appear in the best upcoming Ultima game: Serpent Isle.

But for now it’s time for lil’ trip back to Britannia’s most infamouse dungeon: the Stygian Abyss!

How to build a metal body?

See?

More questions I tell ya!

So here I was back in Elysion and since I already helped with growing a body, the Martian Leader agreed to give me access to the Dream Machine and free the humans bodies in exchange for my promise to help them.

So here I was: back in dream land!

As I said, very Ethereal Void-ish eh? So there were no Martians in this section of the Dream World only four poor earthling to save from their Nightmare. This went easy enough, but I most definitly has to point to this peculiar NPC you encounter in a strange horse bidding contest:

That’s right! It’s Smith! Good ‘ol Smith. And he as clue… regarding to both Savage Empire *and* Ultima VI (since he wasn’t in Savage Empire) which is just really awesome. Of course the issue is that you only get the clue if you buy Smith, and have to buy another horse to finish the quest.

I wonder if that is the reason Smith is so pissed against the Avatar in Ultima VII?

But in any case here I was: I had freed all the terrans from the Dream Land, so I returned to the Martian leader who want on and go all their bodies back to the 1893 expedition’s members.

One point of note though: if the Elysium and Argyre martians had taken possessions of the terrans, and the Hellas ones were still in the dream-grove. What of the Olympus martians whose machine has been destroyed by Jack Segal?

Whoops – plot hole!

But in any case with the terrans freed I could now get back to fixing the north lenses lenses and get water running! So I got the lens repaired, and fixed all three towers.

And here I was…

Now I want you to take a special notice of the screen just above. Because you say this is the area that got me stuck for MONTHS (thus leading me to finish Savage Empire before!) the first time I played Martian Dreams.

You see, you need to realign with the proper coordinates. And I had no idea what those were. Now I’m stressing again, this was time without the internet, so you couldn’t just go and consult the walkthrough! In the end I think someone did give me the answere which was (as if I’d know!) to simply enter the hour.

And thus, the ice caps were melted a bit and water came flowing…

Except it’s never enough – and while water was melted it had to be activated at the pumping station… in area inaccessible because of hot steam that just kill my party members.

But you know what would resist such heat?

Yep! A metal body!

Thankfully enough, melting the icecape also opened the access to the lab were an other martian were working on a indestrucible body for the Martian to use instead of their plant ones. After getting an azurite from Olympus, I activated to body and brought it to Hellas, where the martian lass Chsheket agreed to try to transfer her soul in it.

Thus Shamino… err Sherman decided to leave my party while Chsheket joined instead in order to try if this body works fine. But first I got back to the pumping station and had her activate the gears there.

And this water was back flowing in the canals of Mars, and its boats were open to me!

But things are not quite finished yet – because Chsheket looks a bit conspicuous in her metal body and we need to find a way to make her look more humans. Sarah Berhnart has a way of making a pigment but she need Rouge Berries from Argure which is unaccessible.

So in the meantime I went back to the Syrtis Major mines and I’m in the process of transfering iron ore to finish construction of the space canon to Earth.

The adventure continues…

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