Technically, this blog is for "today" even though I played late, late last night, around 2 AM. The short news is--the game is over! I win! Woo hoo! The long story is probably more interesting. Using an Apple emulator has the huge advantage of save states, although the game can be finished without them pretty easily, I suspect--the only time I ever needed to re-load was when a gremlin was attacking me and I failed to notice until my food had all vanished.
Akalabeth is organized around a series of quests given to me by Lord British. On the right you see the initial encounter, the first introduction of the king in the series, where British oh-so generously raises my stats by one point. At this point I expected the game to take awhile, so I mapped the outer world again, chose a dungeon to explore. All the dungeons are infinitely deep (actually, I bet once you get to level 1024 or so they will roll over and scramble the game), and all contain the same sorts of critters. My first quest was killing a carrion crawler, but I felt I should make some maps of the dungeon to help me navigate. That's boring, and I decided to just leap right in--at which point I discovered that chests regenerated every time you go up or down a ladder! On level 2 of the dungeon I chose, three chest and a giant rat were near the door, so I simply gathered hundreds of gold pieces and lots of hit points, as well as dozens of magic amulets, by repeating "go downstairs, get chest, turn left, get chest, turn left, get chest, kill rat, turn right, turn right, go upstairs, repeat."
It was after this that I made my first mistake--I bought a bunch of weapons. However, in Akalabeth weapons are practically worthless because of all the thieves which somehow steal them right out of your hands while you are using them! I could wander around the dungeons with 20 axes (I was a Mage, and couldn't use rapiers), and they'd all be gone quick. Moreover, using the amulet to turn into a lizard man doubles (and more) your stats, allowing you to essentially never be hit again, and can stand there attacking with your hands until the enemty dies! I also realized that mapping the dungeon is a waste, because I could just use amulets to cast "ladder down" and "ladder up" to move between levels rapidly. If I ran out of amulets, I just need to revisit that spot in level 2 and get as many as I need. Once I had done that, the remainder of the game was a laugh--well, after the next quest: the gremlin.
Possibly the most absurd aspect of his game is the food. Outside, you eat one bite of food every step, while in the dungeon you eat a fraction of that every step. it's like you have a gigantic bag of potato chips on your back, and are constantly munching on them, and when the bag is empty you instantly die! Once I had turned into the lizard man, I was iffectively immune to attack, and even if I did get hit, with thousands of hit points it would be a piece of cake to escape before anything killed me. The exception is the gremlin,
which doesn't just steal your food, it instantly steals a bit less than half of your food, with every attack! I had to attack it slowly, using the amulet to escape if I got down below 100 food. After a few tries, it died. My next quests were the Mimic (which looks just like a chest), then the daemon and balrog, pictured on the left. The game was pretty anticlimactic after this point, because all I had to do to kill them was stand there attacking them. The image of me standing there punching a giant Balrog in the belly until it dies is pretty funny, though.
The endgame gave me my wish last night--a phone number to call! I did a quick reverse phone number search, but didn't find anything. Evidently it's not being used anymore. I would be amused at calling it to see what happens, but I suspect I'd just get a "disconnected" notice. Additionally, if you want some amusement, search for the number (including parenthesis and dashes, all in quotes) on Google.
I will now speak briefly about some issues with Ultima I. I have been trying to play the Apple version, the original creation, but I am having severe problems. The game plays extremely poorly--if I play at a normal speed, it is as slow as molasses; particularly infuriating is the way in which the screen is constantly redrawing in the dungeon, making me feel ill. In Akalabeth, I solved this by kicking up the speed--but it doesn't work in Ultima I because the in-game timer causes me to pass my turn too fast and I cannot get any commands in. I start the game, and I am instantly killed! I can see why it was re-made and the other Ultimas were not: it's basically unplayable. When you die, you are sometimes resurrected on the water or on a mountain, and after several resurrections, the game lost all my stats and I am no longer able to hit anything. It appears I may be forced to play the remake after all!