last updated: 9-25-1999
I'm a member of UDIC
(Ultima Dragons Internet Chapter) a group of people who are supposed
to be crazy about the Ultimas. They are the Ultima Dragons,
a group of people who used to share high opinions about the great
quality of the Ultima series in general. However as time progresses,
chaos ensues, and sometimes it is difficult to find the best of them.
The newsgroup is overrun with unethical and immoral chatter even
though the Ultimas since Ultima III have presented you as
a virtue seeking hero.
What Ultimas I have played (still want to experience more!):
Ultima I (finished)
Ultima II (unfinished)
Ultima III (unfinished)
Ultima IV (unfinished)
Ultima VI (unfinished)
Worlds of Ultima: Savage Empire (finished)
Worlds of Ultima: Martian Dreams (finished)
Ultima Underworld I (unfinished)
Ultima VII - Black Gate (finished everything but the
Forge of Virtue)
Ultima Underworld II (unfinished)
Ultima VII - Serpent Isles (finished everything but the
Ultima VIII - Pagan (finished)
How I learned about Ultima
My family's first computer was an Apple II+ and then we upgraded to
the Apple IIgs (which no longer run well, if at all). Probably the
first program that I bought with my brother that real impacted what
I thought Ultima's were like was Wasteland by
Interplay. One of the
features it was supposed to have was a top-down view, just like in
Ultima (of course I hadn't seen Ultima before, so I didn't really care
at the time).
When my family finally moved to a 486 20mhz computer, I downloaded
some games with my brother which were supposedly Ultima clones.
Many of the clones I didn't like because of their simplicity and
linear storylines (do this, and this, next this, you win!). One
did give me a better feeling of what I was looking
for because it had the system where you typed in a word (eg., "job"
or "name") to get a response. I had felt that Ultimas should be
similar to Wasteland (I guess I overlooked the fact that only the
top-down view was being compared) where the meaning of life wasn't
to kill monsters and get powerful weapons, but to interact more with
The first Ultima I saw in the stores was the Black Gate, but my
brother and I, after looking closely at the back of the box and reading the
description on the back carefully, decided not to get it. We had
already purchased a Sierra game that had added complete point and
click technology and we didn't reallize that Origin did so much more
with the mouse than Sierra had done, so since we were ignorant
we thought it would be another click here and watch everything happen
for you. :-(
The first Ultima that I "really" wanted badly was
Ultima Underworld I.
My brother and I saw a video of how the game play was with the real
movement and wonderful sounds, and we wanted it because it looked like
a super-enhanced Dungeon Master (which we had bought for the
Apple IIgs) by FTL .
We only had two problems, it was expensive for us at the time, ~$60, and
we didn't have a sound card, so the sounds effects were next to useless.
A couple of years later, after we had finally bought a sound card, we
stumbled upon a demo of Ultima Underworld I and wanted it even more!
You could talk to creatures in it (not like Dungeon Master where
is out to get you) and interact with the 3D world around you. Luckily,
about a year later we found it at an Electronic Boutique for ~$10
(this was a some years ago and they must have found it collecting
dust in their storage) and snapped up the chance to get such a bargain
on what we had always wanted (must have been ~1993-1994)!
The week before finals for our Freshman year (1995), my brother sighted the
Ultima Underworld I&II cdrom, which he decided to buy because
Ultima Underword I
was excellent, so Ultima Underworld II should be really great too!
Just after finals, during our Christmas shopping in, my brother sighted a
Complete Ultima VII cdrom. My brother showed me the box and
that it might be point and click, but at least it had to be better than
a shareware game for the same price. :-)
We exhausted ourselves during our Winter vacation playing
Ultima VII and Ultima Underworld II, almost unable to
away from the computer! It was hard going back to reality after
playing such fabulous games. This scenario shows that sometimes
the back of the box can actually deceive you into not buying a game
if you don't know enough, which is why an actual magazine review is probably
a better judge of a game's character. Just to think that I was still
somewhat reluctant to buy the Complete Ultima VII cdrom because of
the back of the box I had seen so many years ago, even though I would
have bought a trilogy box with Ultima's IV-VI in it (very little
point and click).
These first three Ultimas don't really have the elements that I think
make a great game, but as far as Ultima's history, they show how the
Ultima series grew into what it is now.
The first Ultima is really quite simple and I finished it without
thinking twice about having to map out any of the dungeons. I did have
to write down some notes though.
In the second Ultima, I seemed to have trouble with starving to death,
but after someone told me about the art of stealing food, I haven't had
much trouble. I realized in playing this Ultima that the mazes were not
going to be as friendly as in Ultima I, so I began mapping them.
In the third Ultima, there is much more interaction with the people
than the previous ones, and there is still the food problem, except that
you can make money by creating and deleting characters. This makes it
advantageous if you can install it on your hard drive and use Windows
to kill the process instead of rebooting. :-) I haven't thoroughly
adventured in Ultima III, so any comments I make are limited.
I've played Ultima IV, and I must have be about 1/3rd of the way
through. I'm finding that a notebook is extremely handy in this
Ultima since you must record information about the moongates, shrines,
dungeons, runes, and stones (other information is also useful to
record). I'm really enjoying it so far, and the quest for virtue
seems to really add to the plot. I found out you didn't have to
pay for your magical reagents, but that certainly made me look
unvirtuous. :-) Now I always will pay extra to help boost their
perception of me!
I have also had the change to play Ultima VI, but I lost my
note papers that were scattered around the room, so it looks like
I'll have to start over again since I've forgotten some of the
important information I had recorded on them. This is where I've
now starting to get separate logbooks (notebooks) for these
games so that the papers can't be as easily lost and discarded!
The Black Gate was my first introduction to playing a mainstream
Ultima that had the number appended to Ultima. Although the first time
I saw it being played was by my brother, just watching how the storyline
began with the mystery and the ability for objects to be moved and hide
other objects was exciting! By looking at the back of the box, I
couldn't tell how really great the game was, but seeing it being played,
I could tell it was a winner! The Black Gate had all of the elements
that makes a great game for me, interaction without constant killing and
slaughter, a great story line, and puzzles.
The Serpent Isle has been taking me somewhat longer to finish
than The Black Gate. It's really good, except I think that most
of the story line seems to be forced upon you in order for you to complete
the game. I hate it when I know what I want, but have to go through a
ritual of talking to people to get them to respond correctly. I finally
solved this game through much running around (which became a headache
when attacked by monsters). The puzzles and story were great, but the
lack of side quests really hurt. :-)
I finally started playing Ultima VIII. It's not as bad as
people make it out to be, yet it isn't as good as Ultima VII: The
Black Gate. I think it has a place around the rank I give
Ultima VII: Serpent Isle because it has some definite linearity
problems, and some tid bits of the story seem to be left out since
I tell someone I'll speak to someone else for them, yet it doesn't
appear as an option to tell the other person.
Positives that I have seen so far are graphics, mood music, and
digitized sound. It also has the key ring that Serpent Isle
had with the Silver Seed add-on, which really makes unlocking
doors easy. The "patched" version has a fairly good story line
(but more could have been added to make it better) and the world is
full of surprises and it is large. I like the "patched" jumping
and climbing abilities, they add character to the game.
Negatives that I have seen are that people seem too story line
based and everything they say only pertrains for the furtherance of
the story. I want some side quests of helping others and finding
things like in Ultima VII: The Black Gate. I wish you could
look underthings without moving them because I make messes of houses
when I try to find a key. My backpack is disorganized and full of
things that I have to always move around to find what I'm looking
for. I also have a nasty habit losing things behind walls.
Ultima Underworld I
Sometimes battling the bugs in the program seem to be about as precarious
as battling the tougher monsters, except that I can save before a battle,
but who knows when I have saved and saved a bug that will end my game in
the future. :-( An excellent game, nonetheless, and well worth the time
spent on it. At least I have gotten enough clues from others on how to
dodge bugs. I've gotten as far as burying the wizards bones, but got
stuck after that. No hints please, it helps for me to solve these riddles
by myself. Unless, of course, I get desperate.
The best part of the game is the realistic reactions that the objects
have. You can bounce them against the walls... you can drop them in the
water... and even float them in the water. My favorite pass time when
I get stumped is floating the special items in the water.
Ultima Underworld II
The Guardian really seems to make himself a pain in this one, killing
people left and right. Actually it's worse in Serpent Isle from the
Banes of Chaos. Anyway, this is much like Ultima Underworld I, except
that you travel to different dimensions picking up clues and other objects
to help you defeat the Guardian. I'm stuck near the end in this one too,
but like usual, it's probably just a mind block. I think this is about
as great as the previous version, except sometimes I get tired roving
around the tremendous size of the mazes when I forget an object. :-)
Same thing happens in Serpent Isle, but I think if I took more notes,
then my pains would be decreased immensely.
Worlds of Ultima: Savage Empire
The Savage Empire is a great game, using an improved
Ultima VI engine. This game is extremely non-linear, allowing
you to finish objectives in a variety of orders. The story line is
terrific, something I expected from the Worlds of Ultima series
after playing Martian Dreams. What really seems to make Savage
Empire and Martian Dreams stand apart from other games I've
played is their imaginitive scope. Rather than making something as
humongous as Ultima VI, the programmers and writers seem to have
spent more time on the quality of the story and making it an enjoyable
Worlds of Ultima: Martian Dreams
I can agree with some people that the game play is quite linear in
Martian Dreams, but it's storyline is so great that it's still worth
getting (if only it was easier to find in the stores). One thing that
I liked about this game was the play on historic characters on a trip
to Mars! I remember so long ago when I saw an advertisement for
Martian Dreams inside my Omega box for the Apple IIgs. Oh well,
back then we didn't have an Intel PC and when we did get one, that box was
so old that Martian Dreams wasn't being sold anymore. :-P
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