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

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Ultima IX, Day 2

Well, my second day went pretty well, still no significant crashes. I have discovered that I *DO* get sound effects, but that they are inexplicably quiet. If I shut off music and speech and turn the volume on my receiver all the way up to the point I can hear static, then I can hear the Avatar's "Ahh" when he punches the air, and the sound of smashing barrels, etc. Very weird. On the other hand, that doesn't seem to add much to the game, so I am not upset at its lack.

Day 2 comprised four events--probably there was some overlap with Day 1 and 3, but shh, it's convenient to break it up by dungeon.

1) Buccaneer's Den
Raven takes me here to meet Samhayne, who wants me to go off to Hythloth and fix that column, offering the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom (!!!) as an incentive. I guess he just found it laying around somewhere. And why not? In Ultima VI, the vortex cube was possessed by a cyclops family! In any case, I leave him behind, and go to Magincia through the tunnel. The password through said passage was "keelhaul," which Raven considered to be a pirate joke, but which I don't get. Outside of the passage is this annoying ghost who wants rum--annoying because every time you come within several feet of him, he asks "Have ye got the rum?" Ahhh, it drove me batty trying to explore the area.

2) New Magincia
In echoes of some of the Ultima VI rune quests, before Katrina (the lone inhabitant) will give me the rune, she needs me to accomplish some inane quests. including setting fire to a buzzards nest and killing a wolf who guards a shepherd's crook, a weapon oddly more powerful than anything I have thus far, including my flaming sword. Did I talk about the flaming sword? It was in the hedge maze near Lord British's castle. I got it the easy way, by climbing attop the hedges, ignoring the maze, and leaping to the center. That's one of the nice things about Ultima IX--if some aspect of traveling in the outer world seems annoying, you can often ignore it completely and find a way to climb over the mountains or another way around. Anyway, Katrina finally gives me the sigil, and then I get sucked by a whirlpool into Ambrosia!

3) Ambrosia
This quest and the stuff in New Magincia proved to be very brief, as compared to some of the quests in other towns. In Ambrosia, the gargoyle city, all I did was turn on a crappy sculpture on a tower and shatter their underwater dome. Sorry, guys. I then killed the queen and disappeared with a queen egg using a teleporter. The city is one of the more attractive locales in the game, with lots of floating buildings and some guy who built a boat out of rocks. I forgot to rescue a gargoyle from a prison (a side quest I have forgotten the content of), but after I smashed the dome, he showed up anyway, and a rock fell on him.

4) Hythloth
After Ambrosia, for some reason I end up in Britannia's sewer system, which is, again "for some reason," located in the middle of the ocean. And it has scattered magic statues to open up the exit back to Magincia. I guess you could argue that the gigantic towers on Magincia (all since fallen) suggest that they might also have had an extensive sewer system...In any case, Hythloth is divided into two parts--the part that leads to the exit, and the part that leads to absolutely nothing of value. I did not take the second leg of the journey, and opted to head back to Magincia directly. I started on it, remembered the "use tiny levers to turn on colored lights" puzzle, remembered hating it, and then ran back to the escape teleporter. I remember you have to turn them in a certain order to get gates to open, right? Is there any hint as to the order, or is it all trial and error? I've noticed that in Ultima IX I tend to overlook books or signs that are hard to see and which offer tips and explanations for this sort of puzzle...If there was anything, I missed it.

Once I cleansed the shrine, that was that.

As to comments...

I feel OK criticizing Ultima IX for spontaneously inventing a giant tower, because in Ultima V I don't remember there being more than one floor to the Shadowlord's keep, and because Ultima VII had a book documenting its history--inhabited by cyclopses, knights, a mage, then overrun by a swamp. I don't mind the fact that it's in the mountains again--I guess the swamps receded, and the mountains grew back(!?!?)--but it was weird that the history specifically made for it in VII was tossed out.

I don't understand the complaint about the fan patch renaming Ambrosia. They obviously wanted a gargoyle name for a gargoyle city; why would they choose something that sounds like Ambrosia if the point is they think gargoyles wouldn't name something Ambrosia? I've never used the dialog patch, so I can't say how much I agree with the changes that were made.

Another commenter insists Zelda is deep, though I still don't see it. Things which are "deep" are things which can be understood on multiple levels, or whcih consist of multiple layers; Ultima VI had this because the situation as it appears when you arrive is not the reality you uncover later on. Although I can't think of any games that I would call deep throughout, there are many aspects of the Ultima games that think have depth to them, beginning with the ending of Ultima III, where you discover that the supposed child of Mondain and Minax is some kind of machine to be destroyed a punch card program. It's something that I find interesting to think about once the game is over. There's other things, too, like the inexplicable presence of the Time Lord in one location in one cave in order to say once sentence and then disappear. It seems as if Garriott must have made this person for some reason as opposed to just making it a sign or plaque or something telling you the order of the cards; presumably, he ties into the fact that Exodus is actually a machine, and the Time Lord is the only person around that understands it.

Of course, depth does not equal fun, and plenty of decidedly shallow things are quite fun. I consider Zelda, whether considered when I played it in 1987 or today, to be in the latter category.


Anonymous said...

when you say deep, is it like "deep thoughts with jack handy?" cuz to me depth is a lot of things. time to complete, variety, quality of design, strategies required, secrets,etc.... some games inflate their game playtime value with tedium. sometimes its random battles ala final fantasy, othertimes its too much dialouge/dialouge tree talkin. when i say deep, im meaning as a game. im not comparing it to movies or books. when a game is too much liek a movie or book, it sucks. being deep, for a game, means something a littl different. so maybe were using the word differently. im curious what games you enjoyed which you consider deep. a deep game should immerse you into it, right? all i know is i enjoy games that are immersive, and few are! or im growing out of them, or im just too smart for the developers! u9 was tolerable: i had never watched the cinemas so iplayed with that in mind to keep me goin. plus, i just had to finally finish my ultima career.

Adam said...

Concerning the dialogue patch... Yeah, I'm being a bit nitpicky, but even in Ultima 6 the city at the other side of the world did not have a name in Gargish. (I remember they did refer to it as an English name, and a very odd one, but I can't find any references to it online.)

And if it's going to be Gargish, first you have to come up with a word meaning "city", since the original lexicon didn't include one. "urb" would fit, since Gargish is essentially simplified and shortened Latin. So for an underwater city, perhaps "desterurbmir". (Literally "below city water") Or if you object to me having the audacity of adding a word to Gargish, just "destermir", or "Underwater".

Point being, I don't see why they would call the place "bad opening"! And while the U9's original lines may be insipid and mediocre, the fan patch tends towards overstatement of old material. So I haven't really played through all the way to read it all and see what reasons they had to call it that.

You can find an extensive article on the Gargish language at the Ultima Web Archives:


Grandor Dragon said...

I asked Evil Freak Dragon, who said that he intended Baltergres to mean "refuge from evil". I agree that there are several ways to translate the name, though.

Adam said...

Ah, I see what he was going for. Still, a word for refuge would probably be 'terjuxark'. As follows
ter - place
jux - harm, damage
ark - hide, hiding
juxark - protect
terjuxark - A place of protection

Gargish is fairly ambiguous, but I would interpret tergres as "place of opening" or "doorway". Still, I'm glad to hear there was another intended meaning besides what I thought.

I was part of the Seer program in Ultima Online, and one of my proposed (and rejected) ideas was to play a gargoyle in-game that only spoke Gargish. I was willing to take on the task, which would be particularly problematic because you would have to use emotes to do gestures and indicate context, as spoken Gargish lacks qualifiers.

In itself, I'd call the trip to Ambrosia one of the better parts of the game. The music is really awesome (I had it as my default tune in UO) and the tie-in of the city's destruction due to pride was an interesting re-visit to the theme. The bad parts are the tying of Hythloth to Humility (why not create a dungeon called Pride?) and the relative shortness of plots in Ambroisa; the wingless revolution gets a few lines of mention but little else. I remember proposing the idea of a wingless revolution in seer chat once. One of our seers went on to be a level designer for U9. Hm...

Grandor Dragon said...

The design of Ambrosia was indeed pretty cool. The whole revised "Fals Prophet" plot however, that was cheap and cheaply done. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

all this debate over the dialouge patch and the gargoyle dome? if you want to play u9 like it was intended, you do not want the dialogue patch. it desrves to be played unmodified at least once b4 you play with the dialogue patch. my opinion of the dialogue patch is that its a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

About Ambrosia not being a name that the Gargoyles would use: yes, it IS a named they would use. The gargoyles worship Exodus, and Ambrosia was the name of the island where Exodus resided. So obviously the gargoyles used the name as a homage to Exodus.