As mentioned yesterday, the target for today's blog is the infamous rare game, Ultima: Escape From Mt. Drash. The basic plot of the game is that the Garrintrots, who apparently own Mt. Drash and have turned it into an arena, have captured you and put you at the top of the mountain. Your job is to descend it to escape, while avoiding various monsters including dancing demons, gremlins, phantoms and purple slimes.
The game is truly, truly awful.
First of all, the 3D map in early levels is accompanied by an overhead view which indicates where monsters and gems (needed to exit some levels) are. But these do not show up in the 3D view, making it impossible to know, in later levels, whether or not you have gotten the gem. This makes for frustrating gameplay, although it's not a big deal because the game is otherwise so easy. You have 3 magic spells to teleport, cause monsters to sleep, and to tear down walls--but they are only ever useful in stages 14 and 15, when blowing up walls and accessing other parts of the maze is required to find the gems and get to the exit.
The combat system is where the game really falls flat on its face. In the VIC-20 version, it is a tedious process of hitting Z and C and waiting for the game to notice. In the Windows version, it's a tedious process of hitting Z and C over and over until you are told "IT'S DEAD!" Deadlier than the monsters is the 100-second per-stage time limit; the game ends on its expiration. Level 14, which is annoyingly large and full of enemies, is where I would usually lose. Thus, finishing the game took roughly an hour. It would take longer on the VIC-20 version due to its slowless, but you get the venefit of some nice music, making Escape from Mt. Drash the first "Ultima game" to include a complete soundtrack. Someone should certainly add it to the DOS port.
As you progress in the game, you progress through a series of rankings, beginning at Qwimby (!?!) and going all the way up to Questor. In my quest for the screenshot of the endgame, I played the game through twice, but I still seem to have screwed up. However, I am unwilling to play this piece of crap again just to get a shot of a green screen that says "You have truly earned the title of Questor," so I'll close with a shot from just before the endgame on level 15. Overall, it probably took an hour to finish up this goofy game which would have been totally forgotten save for the Ultima name.