“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