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

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Ultima VIII, Day 3

So the game continues in the third day! As mentioned last time, the quest involved in his day was to seek out some corpses, talk to them, and then jump across lots of dopey Zelda-esque platforms. Well, actually, the latter was not specifically sated, but I've learned that it is implicit in all quests in Ultima VIII. The necromancers, of whom I took several screenshots which I have no room for (due to the need for an absolutely essential two-shot sequence later), were mostly friendly, except for one who did not trust me, and called me "meat." What an insult. Just what are you? Rotting meat! Not very logical, Necromancer. Anyway, they taught me some spells one or two of which I actually used. Specifically, I used "grant peace" to banish some ghosts. There is also an "avoid death" spell that the necromancer who told me of it said I would need at some point, but which I do not seem to need. Leaving the necromancers put me on the roof of the catacombs, and leaping off required some extra healing potion because they are very tall indeed.

From there it was off to Tenebrae to be confused wondering what the heck I did wrong, and then subsequently off to the catacombs again in order to go talk to Lithos, the Titan of Earth, and connoisseur of corpses: "Her rotting flesh will perfume my garden of delight" was most definitely his most memorable line. The way there was riddled with danger, mostly in the form of more Zelda transplants, including mysterious rocks floating in mid-air for no reason, rising and lowering stones, and everyone's all-time favorite--Vanishing platforms! I also had to explore this annoying area where pillars produced dangerous blue fields between them, though once I got to the end, I received the treasure of the appropriately named, "Blue Field Passage Gem." Ever wonder how the Avatar just knows the names of stuff you click on? It was particularly silly in Serpent Isle; click on a weird glowing circle and it says "Chaos Serpent Eye." Oh...of course! In any case, this quest was kind of tiring, due to the sheer amount of craling and jumping and monster ignoring you have to do. On the plus side, I found a sweet axe called Deceiver nearby. My only complaint is that it isn't very fun--Slayer claps thunder when you kill a monster; Flame Sting burst flame, but this one just sorta kills things, with no special effects :-(

When I returned to the necromancer (what's the guys name? Vividos or something? I keep thinking of "Vardion" but I know that's not him) he told me I was now able to seek the Birthplace of Moriens. He describes the amazing experience he had there, though not in any detail. He also made me totally confused by giving me "the key of the scion," which looks exactly like the magic wand with a skull that is used to cast necromancy spells, except this one actually oens doors...somehow. Anyway, it opens a lot of the locked doors I found in mapping the catacombs, and one of them is labeled "The Birthplace of Moriens." In the pre-patch version of the game, it was labeled as "Towards Fate Do You Travel," and the Birthplace did not exist. That's the kind of totally bizarre problem that I just do not understand--how can that have gotten through any kind of playtesting, or even a brief survey of how the quest was supposed to be accomplished?

In any case, the end result is not as inspiring as implied by Mr. Vividos. You can almost see the little speech bubble over the Avatar's head saying, "What, this is it!?" Fortunately, just around the corner there's a bunch of Zelda traps that you can easily escape, including...well, I won't say dumbest, but man it's silly...the rolling spiked ball. I think it's in the top 5 absurdities of Ultima VIII. Let's make a list:

1. Morgaelin's complete lack of continental shelf
2. Rocks floating conspicuously in midair
3. Physics-defying spiked rolling balls
4. Vanishing midair red platforms
5. The skull of quakes

The Skull of Quakes you ask? Why, it's found pretty nearby to the spikey balls I just described. What possible use could a skull of quakes be? Isn't it obvious that you would go somehow place it inside a mysterious red half-circle, thereby causing an earthquake to open a teleport pad? When I first played Ultima VIII, the only reason I thought to do this was way into the game, when I was literally double-clicking the Skull of Quakes and trying its little cross hairs on everything. So bizarre! Ahhhh.

If you have other notable absurdities, please add them in comments! I might start having to approve them due to excess spam, but I hope not to...


cyberninja said...

How about every single one of the thaumaturgy spells? Lets see, extremely expensive reagents to produce a semi-crappy effect, and then every time you want to check the spell by clicking on the book the avatar attempts to cast the spell, even if you don't have enough reagents (and ruining the ones you do have).

Batwing (~50 coins) + Dragon blood (~80 coins) + Newt Eye (~30 coins) = The spell of "Confusion," which temporarily pauses your enemies...

...or you can stick a pile of dirt (free) and a piece of wood (also free) in a bag and become an invulnerable bad-ass. Hmmm.

Tom said...

Have you ever even played Zelda? It's not exactly known for jumping puzzles.

Anonymous said...

This part of the game drove me absolutely crazy. I'm guessing i had the pre-patch version when i played as a youngin' as i remember being confused for a week and eventually having to find a walkthrough and realizing that i'd already finished the part, i just didn't know it because the game never told me exactly where to go and didn't tell me what to get and didn't tell me that I had got what i needed once i got it. Urgh. I also remember the necromancy section being disproportionately larger than any other section of the game.

Anonymous said...

The Skull of Quakes thing is sort of supposed to be a subplot that starts with a letter in a barrel near the execution scene at the beginning, addressed from Swordproof Vittek. Later you can find that guy's corpse in the catacombs, plus another letter continuing on.

Carlo said...

The bigger mystery is, who the hell first figured out to target that red glowing slice with the Skull of Quakes in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Have you ever even played Zelda? It's not exactly known for jumping puzzles.
Pretty weak of me to comment on a comment that's well over a year old, but I had a hell of a time trying to jump across some areas of Ocarina of Time. There was one dungeon puzzle where I was stuck for ages before realizing just which direction Link had to go in order to make the jump. Great game, though... unlike U8.