Well, strictly speaking my 4th day of Runes of Virtue was sometime at the beginning of this past week, but somehow I have not gotten around to blogging about it until today. A large part of the reason is, of course, that there's so little to say. The Isle of the Avatar's Stygian Abyss is, as one would expect, chock full of crazy traps and creative puzzles. Some of them, for example, require you to push rocks around and create passages in walls with them using a lever that makes walls vanish and reappear (it's difficult to explain...), and on more than one occasion you must take advantage of your enemies' capacity to kill each other and/or destroy spider webs. My least favorite puzzles, however, are the big rooms full of blinking teleport arrows. You must use them to move to the exit, but the fact that a screen full of dozens of blinking arrows gives me a headache added to the challenge significantly! There's some magic armor in the abyss and it was, to my surprise, not very difficult to get to. The endgame, as one might expect from the Game Boy, is relatively anti-climactic. You disappear from the dungeon where you got the rune of humility, and appear kneeling before Lord British. The end.
OTHER UNINSPIRING ULTIMA ENDINGS
-Ultima II, which gives you an ad for another game in the Sierra version (anyone recall which game? I can't get my Sierra copy to work)
-Escape from Mt. Drash where you are told in block text on a mold-green background you achieved the title of "Questor." Woo hoo.
-Ultima IX, where that idiot Raven and Lord British look up to see that for some reason you have exploded and have turned into an ankh made out of stars in the sky.
I was tempted not to include Ultima II because of my fondness of the "ALL HER WORKS SHALL DIE!" message that you receive upon Minax's death.
Back to the issue at hand--Runes of Virtue. Overall, and amusing diversion. THe only serious flaws of the game are the irrelevance of the premise (retrieving runes related to virtues) to the dungeons (which have nothing to do with the virtues) and the odd game mechanics (pushing levers and eating mushrooms seem to have about the same effect, and how does a rope build a bridge?). Beyond that, the game is not overly challenging, and the ability to restart over and over makes up for its lack of a save feature (though in a world of emulators, who cares about poor save features anymore?) I would not suggest the game, however, for an actual Game Boy due to its length and the repetitive nature of gameplay when you cannot save. As a final note--I still think those wizards look like vampires! Look at the big black cape with high collar and the pointy teeth!
One could argue that the game is canonical--After all, it appears to take place sometime following Ultima VI, and the goal is to rescue the Runes and become knighted, and a certain drunken paladin has just recently been knighted as of Ultima VII. Never mind that he was apparently a "Sir" long before that. And even if he wasn't, Lord British has some pretty stringent requirements for becoming a knight if it takes, what, 300 years of continuous service?
Expect a slower rate of updates for the next two games--Underworld II and Serpent Isle. The reason is simply that playing them is less fun because it's only been a little over a year since last played the games, and Ultima is more fun when you've forgotten a large portion of the game. On the other hand, it's been about 7 and 12 years since I played Ultima VIII and Ultima IX, so those will be a lot more fun for me. Plus, those two games are not particularly good, and it's a lot easier to write criticism than praise :-) I remember when I started the blog I speculated that it might take a year to do--but I kept up a pretty intense pace back when I was unemployed, and it seems like I'll probably be done before Christmas as I result, despite my much slower-goings lately.
I also need to take some time at some point and reply to comments and other feedback again. Maybe during my Underworld II blogging!