Ophidian Dragon blogs his way through the entire Ultima series, from beginning to end.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Serpent Isle, Day 6

Another day, another gigantic dungeon. Today's quest was to escape from the Mountains of Freedom, which i believe I did in record time, for me anyway. To begin with, I hooked up with Frigidazzi, who falls for me because...I dunno, maybe I just smell good. She dances around, and gives me a kiss which oddly looks like a punch in the face, and we go to bed. Filbercio, her lover and the lord of the city, then drops in, sees me, and immediately banishes me by way of yet another absurd trial to the Mountains of Freedom, the most dreaded dungeon in all the land. Her goblin servent is supposed to leave, but she stays in the corner watching us. Please stop reading if you're under 18, because you can almost make out exactly two pixels that are probably supposed to be nipples. I'd should have gotten a screenshot of the Avatar nude, because him climbing in bed with that gigantic two-handed sword is pretty amusing, and potentially disturbing...

Honestly, I'm not sure why. I guess other people who are sent there cannot save their games, nor do they have a demon sword to call upon, but still! It's a long series of puzzles and mazes, although only the first part has much of a maze; the rest is fairly linear. There are a few highlights worth noting, however. First is this guy named lorthondo who isn't really explained, but who seems to be king of the mountains, and who threatens to kill you repeatedly, but who never actually engages you in conversation. He turns one guy into a giant bone dragon, which was kinda cool. In the end, you have to blow him up via Arcadion, whom you picked up in gem form back on the Isle of Fire. I always thought that was kinda sad, but the way in which the Black Sword is nonetheless used for the plot later in the game is cool. I'm still using it as a weapon, though I seem to recall that as such it's no good until you get it fixed later.

Other entertaining aspects of the dungeon are Stefano, the thief who for inexplicable reasons was tolerated in Moonshade for a long time before being sent here, the depressing dead baby inside a female fighter that you have to kill, and, of course, the Big Room o'Levers. I have a screenshot of that--basically, it's a series of brief and weird, dream-like quests, such as leading some generic woman to her pet nightmare, who promptly kills here; putting carrots on the plate of a bunny, and then giving flowers to a ranger whose gal is dead. He then goes and fixes a stuck lever for you...and then turns into a skeleton and explodes! Wha!?! Finally, there's a tricky teleport hallway that the designers did pretty well, which appears to go on infinitely, until you drop an item and realize you are simply teleporting backwards over and over. Usually, teleporting seems to have a lag time, but in this case it's nearly seamless, and pretty confusing the first time through. Unfortunately, it's one of those things that doesn't replay well once you know the trick!

After escaping the Mountains of Freedom, I made a brief visit to Torrissio to buy Create Automaton, for kicks. he tells me how old his family line is, and says that many of his forefathers were killed in the war with the demons that "brought an end to the age of the two kings." I assume he refers to Britiannia, but it makes me wonder if he realizes that he's on one of the old continents from that time period.

Oh yeah, and I have been skipping out on one of my goals for Serpent Isle, which was to discuss its relationship to previous games--And here I should point out that the town of Brother was situated, long ago, where Monk Isle is now, and Magic was the city somewhat south of Moonshade's present location. The island you teleport to in order to get the phoenix egg was once home to the dungeon called Morbid Adventure, though i think that name would be more appropriate at this point for the Mad Mage's isle! There's also Dead Cat's Life, which is on the isle of Claw, but which you never see in-game, though I believe there was once intended to be a plot item associated with it.

With that cleared up, tomorrow I will tackle two days, mostly because the next two days of gaming were primarily spent wandering around buying spells :-P If you're curious, today in "real time" I killed an ice dragon and am seeking a horn. I still anticipate finishing the game before Halloween, but the blog will extend beyond that most likely--though I forgot about Silver Seed, and if that add-on is too long it ill push the blog into November. But all the better! It would amuse me for the blog to take exactly a year to complete. I am worried about Ultima VIII's performance in DOSBox, by the way. Anyone got tips?


Cory said...

You shouldn't need DOSbox for VIII. If I recall correctly, when I played through it again in 2001 or so I made a "boot disk" (like, a 3.5 floppy) that worked for it, as it had to change the "buffers=40" or something in the msconfig for VIII to work on win 2000. Might be different for XP. If dosbox doesn't work, I suggest making a boot disk for the game in the regular windows DOS prompt by running the UVIII setup and going through the "create boot disk" motions.

As an aside, love the blog and UVIII was also my favorite Ultima (I know that makes you sad), as I came into the games at Ulitma at VII and didn't have any idea who all the people were even though I guess I was supposed to know the 6 previous games of backstory (its like starting the wheel of time at book 6). It was nice just to be the faceless hero for once rather than the SUPERAVATARHOORAY!(and I loved the fire magic).

Adamantyr said...

If you're worried about Ultima VIII, be more worried about Ultima IX...

I've been playing it myself lately, and even patched up to 1.19, it crashes frequently.

I'd strongly suggest you try and acquire a 3DFX Glide card, a Voodoo5 if possible, to play U9. It was designed on the Glide engine and it probably gives the least amount of trouble with it.

And save frequently, save often. No kidding here. Saved games can get corrupted very easily. And you'll want cheat codes enabled; sometimes you have to use the fly cheat if objects don't behave themselves in game. (With D3D, a lot of objects hang in mid-air instead of succumbing to gravity.)

Cory said...

Hey, for kicks I reinstalled U8 with Dosbox. The following soundblaster settings work perfect for U8 in dosbox:

port 220
irq 7
dma 5
(basically what you should be using in dosbox all the time anyway)

I forgot how cheesy the guardian sounds in this game.

Also, let me second the U9 frustration. I've installed and played that game no fewer than three times all the way to the island of Valor where the game freezes up. This is between two computers and three separate video cards! To this day I haven't been able to get past that stupid island without the game freezing, though the disks lie there... mocking me.

Anonymous said...

I've been playing Ultima 5 to Ultima 9 lately and performance shouldn't really be an issue with Dosbox and standard settings. However I'm wondering why you didn't activate the HQ2X filter for Dosbox which gives a far better image quality? Concerning U9: I hope you got strong nerves, that game nearly drove me mad!

Natreg said...

I remember that teleporting cave... That drove me crazy... I checked the walls and didn't find a thing... so I was stuck there, I remember using that Spell "columna0s intuition" or something like that and I found the secret passage... well that was a long time ago and I was not that good with rpgs at the time...

About Ultima VIII performance in dosbox, well I have been able to play it in a Pentium III 733mhz with the cybles up to 20000 or so, I was also able to play it in my old AMD 2400+, and It also plays really good in my new D-core.

Dosbox works great with U8, so don't worry.

Ultima IX can be a problem if your computer is too fast.
It works great in a 2400, but I tried it in my D-core and there is this damn bug that keeps the runes from falling back to the shrine. The only way around it I found was using Moslo to reduce my cpu's speed and it worked great again :)

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, Stefano finally got exiled to Freedom when he did because he had been hired to get evidence of Columna's affair with Torissio. He got the evidence, but then it got swapped with a blackrock serpent during a Balance Storm... and since he couldn't produce the item for Filbercio to use to blackmail Columna into another affair with him, he got exiled.