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

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Runes of Virtue 2, Day 4

Welcome to my final blog for Runes of Virtue 2! Yes, I am writing it something like a month after I finished the game, but oh well. I am fortunate in that temporal proximity to the game wouldn't have added much to the blog, because all the levels are basically puzzles and thus I only need to say anything about the entertaining highlights!

First some awards:

Most Annoying Monster: Djinn Man
I don't know what this guy actually is supposed to be, but he looks pudgy and turns into a spinning tornado. I've had some very strange luck with him--when I hit him normally, he takes absolutely forever to kill, but he seems to not take so long when I attack with a weapon and a ping pong paddle in tandem. In any case, his most annoying feature is that in his spinning mode, he outruns you and then suddenly stops spinning right in front of you, and does an enormous amount of damage with every hit. Once you have the magic paddle, thse guys are easy but before that they are a serious pain...

Most Useless Item: The Snake Staff
With this staff, you can summon a pair of snakes who die. Yay.

Most Insane Level: The Pie Factory
OK, ROV1 had a boulder factory in one of the early levels, as I recall. Or was it the rock factory? In any case, for some reason the center for pie production in Britannia is halfway down the Great Stygian Abyss. I really enjoyed this level because it brought back fond memories of Ultima VII, except pies taste better than bread. I think you can make pies in Ultima Online? These pies are made with flour and milk, so I suspect they don't taste very good. The puzzle in the level is to manipulate levers so that the pies go out for delivery rather than landing in a dumping area. Quite amusing, and appropriate for a Nintendo game I think.

The other parts of the Stygian Abyss were not that incredibly hard compared to Hythloth; there were a few tough rooms, but nothing like the endless barrage of spinning deaths mentioned in the last post, and overall the game seemed more puzzle-ey than Hythloth. The final room was a bit anticlimactic. The black knight pops out, swinging his sword, and you stab him till he's dead. The guy does a lot of damage and moves fast, but as one might expect the ping pong paddle and boomerang combination make quick work of him.


They would have, had some fool not dropped his boomerang by accident :-/ As a result, I was stuck using the crappy whip, which does good damage but is not really a ranged weapon, and it has a long lag time before you can whip again.

Also, there were some dragons in the Abyss. The dragon is of the multi-tile monsters, but it's so fat it can't get up and move or be very dangerous.

And so ends the second Game Boy adventure! British thanked me for my service, and then offered to let me continue playing the game, an offer which I politely declined.

So my Ultima IX quest has since begun in earnest. I'm currently hanging out in Magincia. If you're bored, you can go read some bizarre glowing reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. One guy says it's a great game like Ultima VIII, and almost as atmospheric. (Was this actually a comment on the blog? I can't recall where I read this). Another guy tells us that it's one of the greatest games everyone made, and everyone needs to play it.

I will concede that it's atmospheric; it's very fun to peer out over the ocean near the shrines at night, and looking at the world from above in a tower or whatnot is always fun, too. But what else is good about this game? I mean, good atmosphere is like step one of a good game. As a long time fan, I am disappointed by the disconnect from the rest of the games (even the attempts to include history are fatally flawed...what the hell is Mondain's skull doing in the museum!?), but just as a regular old gamer I found the combat pointless and most of the quests predictable or so cheesy I can barely stand it. The game has a certain condescension about it, too, whether it's the Avatar's brainless journal comments or the linearity of the story.

In any case, I will persevere! I did encounter the flying-rune problem, but it turns out I can grab them out of midair without cheating, so it's not a big deal. I do not intend to cheat my way through the game, since I have been trying to avoid even walkthroughs unless I get terribly stuck (having a good memory of previous play-throughs helps...), though i have sympathy on the commenter who used the fly cheat because, yes, the Avatar is TERRIBLY slow. Aggh.

The game runs extremely fast. I guess that's what almost 9 years does, lol. The biggest problems I have are:
--Raven's boat and most other wooden objects are a hideous purple
--Lots of shop walls render as totally black
--There are no sound effects. Zero. No combat sounds, no monster sounds, no door sounds, no footsteps, nothing. I get muic and voices and sometimes weather sounds, but that's it. I guess I get magic sounds too. So it seems random...Are there supposed to be other sound effects?

Dunno when I will begin blogging U9. Expect the screenshots to suck--I seem to not beable to get good ones; sometimes, the result is just a black square, sometimes I lose all the on-screen objects, etc. I think it's got to do with whether or not the items on-screen are moving around.

As a final note, i think Tseremed or someone else nearby clues you in on the nude guy and gal in Ultima VII. And yes, Ultima III NES is different from the Apple version, but I liked the Apple's music more, and I didn't see much depth to Zelda or to Ultima III. They're just two cases of kill-the-foozle-who's-evil-cause-the-manual-says-so. I guess Ganon kidnapped someone. I like both games because the gameplay, at least for their respective times, was excellent and fun, but I don't see them as deep.


Adamantyr said...

I had some color issues with sprite-like effects, but it sounds like you have something worse going on, if the textures are that bad. And I had no problem getting sound on my Sound Blaster FX.

What model video card and audio card are you using?

On a side note, one curious thing I had happen with U9 was it always ran on my second monitor, which is physically and software-set as the second. It didn't harm gameplay, fortunately, just a rather strange result.

Anonymous said...

zelda WAS deep. you probably played it years later or were used to computer games. at its time of release it was the deepest game released ever for a video game system. puzzles, large overworld, various enemy attack strategies. burning trees. bumpin statues. blowin up rocks. gammbling. buying. a second quest. come on?! whattya need? a wordy, boring second rate plot? frankly the modern games like ocarina are too boring and slow because of all the setpieces. it was deep, but in its own way. ultima is very shallow in its own way. like combat. anyways, zelda was a taste for me of how a long, adventure-tpe games could be rewarding. so ikept my eye out for games that were as deep as zelda or deeper. some favs of the time that i considered "deep" were metroid, kid icarus, metal gear, rygar, etc... it wasnt til around '90 that i got a pc and got to play ultima6. i played u3 and u4 on nes prior. anyways, at the time of zelda's release, like '87, it was deep all right. the i saw a preview for ultima:exodus in nintendo power. i knew that game was going to be even more deep, and i had always loved that ultima artwork i would see at the computer store in the mall. i thought u3 on nes was great. but you cant say its deep either can you? theres little dialouge and you simply solve puzzles or quests. a lot like zelda. love to know what you call deep, but please spare me if its one of those all text games like zork or something, hehe. last deep game that didnt bore me to death, (ie i played) it: well damn it might be u9 (if thats deep). i also got around to playing undying, giants, fallout, and I76. they all got some depth. don't know what you liek to play, but i feel like making recommendations to anyone with enough taste to play ALL THE ULTIMAS. i like many genres, but ultima3 and 6 and underworld 1 were probably my fav games. its very true that old games dont hold up very well when they look and sound primitive. back when the games were fresh, it was exciting to hear speech or gaze upon 256 color, but now its not. w/o out the dazzling effect, i could never of played and enjoyed the old computer ultimas, even though i wanted to experience them. i guess part of the immersion factor is knowing that whats on your screen is "awesome!" and back when they were fresh... they were.

i've got a nice 27 inch monitor, and u9 looked good. those two things made it more immersive for sure. oh, and i had sound, hehe.
if it were playastation graphics and no ambient sound/music/etc... and just gameplay, id not play. probably why i often choose windows solitaire for some quick gameplay. when its just about gameplay, then you dont need all the atmosphere. some games need gameplay and graphics. and then there are those with just sweet graphics. then youve got games with nothing to offer. well, those used to exist, not sure anymore. games have become such big budget they all at least have graphics these days.

ever try morrowind? i couldnt get into it like the ultimas. i liked arx fatalis though. i long for the old days when origin could be trusted to deliver an awesome game.