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…

How do you grow a Martian Body?

Yes – Martian Dreams does bring up some… weird questions.

I mentionned last time I intended to get water running back on Mars. As it turns out: I can’t just yet. Indeed to restart the iceap melting process you need to reactivate there lenses towers at the north pole, and as it turns out, I need the expertise of some of the people of Elysium who are possessed by Martians, so this won’t be doable until I’ve somehow restored them in their own bodies.

So I basically went to repair the Martian Dream Machine in Elysion to allow me to see a bit what this dream world is all about. And I had a talk (yes!) with the Machine it self thanks to magical berries in order to get a sense of what to do.

The process was simple in theory: you need to put an headset (obtained from the destroyed machine at Olympus) on the machine, bring a new control panel (fixed by Thomas Edison), and put a big Radium block as an energy source.

I basically did all this… except it didn’t work. With much puzzlement I began to go back and forth between Hellas and Olympus (thank you transporter tube), and even tried to have a new control panel (this time with a lever) done by Edison. But to no avail, and I was begining to feel like I’ve hit a plotstopper bug.

As it turns out however, the issue was merrily that instead of *U*sing the Radium block on the machine to activate it, I had simply *M*oved it there. So the game didn’t aknowledge the presence of the power source.

Ack!

With everything in place though, I finially did get inside the Machine and the Dream World.

This dream world basically presents himself as this etheral world kind of place with 5 pillars. One transport the player to the surviving martians leaving in a dream version of the Hellas grove, while the four other transport you to nightmares visions of the trapped humans spirites that you have to help.

It stand to point that this whole part of the game also foreshadows Serpent Isle in many aspects. Serpent Isle indeed have a dream world to explore, but the whole small specific quest to save people thing, this very gameplay focused quest can also be found in Serpent Isle.

So I basically got first to the Martians and talked to them which lead to learning a lot of stuff. And then went on to wake up my terran comrades from their nightmares. I then got out of the dream machine and got ready to next phase.

You see from talking to both the Hellas and Elysium martians it became clear that my goal was to create a new healthy Martian body so that the Martian trapped in the dream world could return to the real world. And a martian body… has to be grown!

So after getting fresh seeds from Hellas, ice water from the north pole and various fertilizer, I began working on planting a new martian body.

So I began with basically digging a hole, and planting the seed.

Then I put dirt upon it, fresh water, the fertilizer… and I waited for nine long days, taking real care of coming seeing the plant at least 3 times or else: it would feel lonely and die! And so after a while I had this beautiful pod at my disposal!

Using a ritual martian knighe, I cut the Pod open and here it was: an healthy martian body! After getting back to Hellas’ dream world, I explained the body was ready to the grove’s leader who agreed to transfer his spirit on it. So I put the body in the seat and activated the machine.

It seemed to work at first, but alas – the plague that had been spread by the evil Raxachk aeons ago was still there and the body died along with the leader’s spirit.

So it’s back to square one and I need to create a new kind of martian body. Meh.

All in all I gotta say this whole part was one hell of fun gameplay. I feel Martian Dreams, even before Serpent Isle, was a clear demonstration of the difference of design with Garriott’s Ultima games and Spector’s ones: the Garriott ones were always focused more on the virtual world kind of thing – while Martian dreams is essence is very focused on its core gameplay and work very hard at crafting interesting quest to solve which involve a lot of thinking. And most importantly it is very plot focused – making it more linear than usual, but just as fun!

So I’m now off to Elysium to talk to the Martian there and work on this new body… hopefully I don’t have long left till the end!

Unlimiteeeed Poweeerrrrrr!

Well okay, maybe not THAT much, but at least I’ve got power back online on Mars which is good.

But first thing first.

So I finally got into Olympus and talked a bit with the non-Martian locales and found out quite a bit about the Martian locations and notably about a power station I need to fix in order to get power back online. But first I climbed the Olympus mount in order to get a camera from some dead guy which had an important photo on it.

It also overed a pretty nice view of the new Space Cannon being built there!

After that I explored the Olympus Mine where I was looking for a lad named Jean, the brother of some Masonic guy guarding the broken Olympus dream machine. I did found the guy, but alas he was dead

So all that was left to me was bringing the news to his brother (who happily let me in, altough there isn’t much I can do there for now).

Afterward I decided to explore around Hellas a bit to talk to Mad Marcus there, who thought me some nice thinks about talking to objects thanks to magical berry (and it actually… works!), until I finally set out for the power station.

Upon arriving I found out two martian robots and learned that the conveyor belt used to carrying coal, has been broken for a while – hence the lack of power in the martian installations. So I had to take the broken belt, having looked by that Trippet guy in Olympus and then get back to the power station.

Note that it really one of the moments that make you point one of the biggest flaw of the latest Ultima.

Respawn.

Starting with Ultima VI, the guys at OSI somehow decided that respawn in Ultima should consist of having the exact same kind of monster respawning at the exact same place every time as soon as you get out of view. This okay most of the time, but can honestly gets annoying when you need to do a lot of back and forth (which you HAVE to in Martian Dreams).

And this is alas an issue that will stay right up till Ultima IX.

But I digress.

In any case I was back at the power station and after putting some coal into the furnace, the robots took it up from there.

But that was not all – you see energy is transfered from the power station through huge towers than transmit it – but alas their cables had been damaged. Which meant I had to repair them… with a new set of cable, pliers, and ruber gloves.

Which means wearing ruber gloves and then using the player on the cable, and then on the tower. Lot of interactivity there, heh ?

But at least this was it: power is back on Mars! Which means more doors that can open, working bridges and most importantly working teleporter tubes which should lead to a tad less walking.

Next step: getting those water canals filled again and buying a lot of ammo thanks to this unlimited oxium found in the power station…

I see everything in Red…

But it’s allright!

I mean I love red. And the Martian Red is beautiful unlike the Britannian dirt. A tad monotous perhaps… but then it IS a welcome change from the green Eodon.

But of course before dwelling on Martian Dreams… let us start by the beginning. Which is: the manual! Or rather the manuals, since there are two of them respectively entitled “Time Travel” and “Mysteries of the Red Planet”.

Both are, as usual, presented from an in-universe perspective, this time as books written by the character of Dr. Johann Spector – the first focusing on telling the story of our character’s arrival in 1895 and the presenting the many historical figures appearing in the game, and the second describing Mars and its flora and fauna. Funnily enough, these manuals were actually written by producer Warren Spector – the real-life alter ego of Dr. Spector.

They are a good read as always, but to be fair they read a tad too much like a scientific treatise for my taste. It fits the character, but I enjoyed the pulp tone of Ultimate Adventures a lot more.

One point of interest when starting up the game is introduction. First it features the usual Origin FX teaser upon launching the game, except with Mars instead of Earth. Then starts the first introduction sequence depicting the events of the 1893 and the early launch of the first expedition toward Mars, which left by taking with it all the greatest minds of the Victorian Era.

The real intro starts when you select it on the menu screen, and focus on our good ol’ Avatar in present day and how he’ll come back in time to get to the second expidtion of 1895. I love this introduction because of how it looks – first it’s long (which is quite uncommon for an Ultima game at that point), but also has an adventure game feel, which reminds of some rotoscoped Sierra games of the ’90. This is a great introduction, which leads to one thing: the need to play the game!

After that comes the character creation sequence – it follows the traditionnal kind of Ultima questions, except by the form of questions by Sigmund Freud (!) with also three answers. So again, it’s a nice twist on the usual way.

After that the game begins on Mars.

The core gameplay is pretty much the same as Ultima VI and Martian Dreams – except the game really looks gorgeous, and has actually graphics that aged pretty well compared to its predecessor. Unlike Savage Empire, combat has a bigger role here and you’re bound to gain a few levels throughout gameplay. Also it tends to focus on ranged weapon with modern weapons (well… modern by 1895 standard at least) rather than the usual close combat approach of the series.

Interestingly, it also foreshadows Serpent Isle in some aspects: notably the nights of Mars are very cold, which requires your character to have warm clothes, or else take damage. It also offers a pretty hardcore aspcet through oxium, small gelly rocks you character have to chew to get proper oxygen, or else they get reduced stats.

It does remove some traditionnal Ultima aspects such as food and schedule – but on the whole these novetly balances things out.

The goal of the game is basically to find out what happened to the first expedition, and find a way back to Earth. You quickly get to the site of the first expedition where a man named Dibbs joins you, and then you’re free to explore Mars as you see fit – altough there are some obvious limitation to what you do depending on what you have done before.

So I rapidly when to the Olympus settlement where part of the original expedition settled. Alas the settlers refused to give me access, on account that part of the expedition which settled at Elysiuem went crazy and think themselves as martians ever since they used some weird “Dream Machine” and the guy at entrance require that I get the signature of three famouses explorers to attest of my sanity: David Yellin, Richard Sherman and Greg Dupray.

So I procedeed to go and find these explorers which were exploring mines in a distant mountains – which meant having to travel a lot around martian channels. In the way I passe through Elysium which was indeed filled with people thinking themselves as Martian.

Of course, talking to them lead to the revelation that these are actual Martian who had transfered their mind to the Dream Machines are a now possessing the humans body in order to create a new martian body for their needs.

There actually is a CRAZY amount of lore and background information being tossed out at that point, which basically leads to regret the lack of an actual ingame journal to take note of it all. Indeed, the first time I played it I DID write down every dialogue of the game, and there is so much depth in it that it was sorely needed.

But it’s what make Martian Dreams so good: the amount of depth the plot has to offer is mindblowing – so it’s kind of hard to keep track of it at times, but makes for a wonderful experience!

In any it wasn’t quite the time for me to help the Martians, so I continued my road to the mine of Syrtis Major, where I discovered that two of the explorers were blocked into a cave-in – thankfully I had a wrench to allow me to assemble a old martian drill and free the poor lads.

Now funnily enough of course – these three explorers are actually real dopplegangers of Iolo, Shamino and Dupre! Altough this time there doesn’t seem to be any issue of memory loss, so we can probably assume that they are somehow their ancestors. Alas I can’t get to big three to join me, as they want to keep digging the mines, so only Sherman joined me – but hey, one is still good!

With the three signatures on my note, I now went back to Olympus after facing the dangerous creatures of the planet and was granted access. And here I stand now, ready to talk to these legendary historical figures and continue my quest on Mars…

Ultima Worlds of Adventure: Martian Dreams

After Savage Empire, it didn’t take long for a sequel to be release a few month later in 1991, intitled “Martian Dreams.”

While this sequel is technically the second “World of Ultima” game, it actualls sports the name “Ultima Worlds of Adventure” instead. There actually is a reason for this: you see Savage Empire just didn’t sell as much as hoped, so someone at Origin’s marketing obviously decided the series needed a new brand name, and one with a bigger Ultima to show – hence the “Ultima Worlds of Adventure” bit.

But of course, it’s still Worlds of Ultima 2. Nevermind the fact that it once again uses the Ultima VI engine (with even more improved interface and graphics), but it also has a couple of direct reference to Savage Empire, and offers one of its character as one of the game’s main companion: Dr. Johann Spector. The difference being of course that instead of a prehistoric valley out of time, the game takes place on Mars in 1895.

This is a peculiar approach, but is basically an exemple of steampunk – most notably it goes back to authors such Jules Vernes, Edgar Rice Burroughs or H.G Wells, with the concept of having a sci-fi story set in the victorian era. Closer to geeky heart, it also reminds of a famous RPG setting of the 80/90 called “Space 1889” which focused on space travel and planetary exploration in the victorian era. Interestinly, Space 1889 has also be turned into a CRPG in 1990 which was quite reminiscent of Ultima!

But I digress.

I must say I really love Martian Dreams. As I mentioned in my first Savage Empire post, it was very hard to find. I first played it some time after Ultima VIII was released and I trully fell in love with. While the game suffers from the rather monotonous landscape of Mars, a tad too much backtracking, and the removal of some traditionnal Ultima aspects such as NPC schedule – it shines through its atmosphere, its beautiful graphics, and most importantly a really brillant plotline with some of the best dialogues of the entire Ultima series. It also brings back some traditionnal RPG elements that were somewhat lacking in Savage Empire, which means more levelling and combat – but in reasonable amounts. It also keeps the same level of interactivty of Ultima VI, with some really brillant design ideas.

I have to confess taht Martian Dreams remains to the day the only core Ultima game I don’t have a legetimate copy of, much to my dismay. Alas the game is now impossible to find (except in some unreasonable amounts), and I think I’ll always has this deep regret into my heart: you see about a month before we first got a PC I saw Martian Dreams in a computer shop, brand new, at a normal price. Had I known I would have bought it.

Oh well.

In any case I look forward to this adventure, which is know is just gonna be memorable!

Ultima V Cover