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

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Silver Seed, Day 1

Overall, finishing the Silver Seed took about 5 hours, most of which was spent wandering around mazes, so I am tempted to combine it all into one entry--but nah. I'll do two! But they will probably be shorter than usual. The Silver Seed...It is surprising that it was even made, given the fact that Serpent Isle, after the point you kill Batlin, has a decidedly rushed feel to it, so it is interesting that anyone went to the effort to make an add-on, even if there is a sense of hurried-ness to the whole Silver Seed adventure.

The premise is this--The Monks found an old amulet and give it to you; you go back in time through its use and must solve quests to prove you are the Champion of Balance. There are four quests, and a variety of treasures as well. The first treasure you get is the magic keyring, which from the screenshot you can see that I rather desperately need! Serpent Isle is absolutely buried in keys, man...and they have a lot of types of keys and lots of colors, yet still multiple versions of all of them! It's almost like the wider variety of key types ironically drove the proliferation of keys even though I suspect that was what it was intended to solve...

The first quest I went after was the maze. It was built by some famous architect, and there's also a helmet of light laying around inside, and a cat person. The walls open and close as you step into a room, and sometimes you get trapped, needing to escape by death! Fortunately, you can shortcut through the maze by virtue of the fact that you can often run into a room and then dash backwards just as the wall closes, which would have normally locked you off from the old room, bu which opens doors in the old room--so if you don't like your current selection of doors, you can step into another room and then instantly backwards, and new ones will open. As a result, I finished the maze in like 8 minutes.

The second quest was vastly harder--Aram Dol is a liche that lives nearby. In Ultima I, liches were floating heads, as they were in later games like Ultima IV. I don't think there were any in Ultima VI, but in Ultima VII and Serpent Isle they have become red-robed mummies with crowns on their heads. Aram Dol lives in a big cave area chock full of miscellaneous undead, along with some spider people who are weirdly pixelated--almost as if the artists simply blew up the spider body and stuck a person on the head. In any case, I faced skeletons, mummies, and zombies; there were many secret passages and a few puzzles, leading ultimately to the Showdown with Aram Dol, which was nearly impossible to win. My ultimate strategy came down to this:

1. Have all my companions leave to avoid their deaths
2. Cast Vibrate on Aram-Dol, forcing him to drop all his magic spells (yes, they look like little fireballs and death bolts on the ground)
3. Grab the key to the treasure
4. Get the axe and gloves that he has
5. Use the newfound strength and dexterity to kill the Liche

Even with that strategy it took three or four tries! But ultimately, I killed the liche and got another orb. Ultimately the orbs are used to get the silver seed, a seed needed to restore balance in some unspecified way (more on this weirdness later). While in this lair, I also met a dragon. He had a series of riddles, and I solved all but the last one--and it seems to me my answer on the last one must have been correct, but he insists I am wrong. Let me see if I remember the riddle...

A tailor needs thre strips of the same color cloth to make a shirt. He has a large stack of disorganized cloth, each strip being of one color, and there are four colors. His assistant is lazy, and just randomly grabs cloth from the table. What is the minimum number of strips the assistant must grab to ensure the tailor can make a shirt?

Bonus points to anyone who knows the game's answer and can explain why it is the correct one.


Anonymous said...

Don't know the game's answer, but the answer should be 9. 8 strips could be two of each color, but the ninth strip must complete a set of 3.

Anonymous said...

The game's answer: 14,
the right answer: 13.
Maybe it's just Sosarian mathematics fooling us...

Anonymous said...

If you need 3 pieces to make a shirt, and there are 4 different colors, the minimum number of pieces would have to cover the fact that you might pick the other colors prior to the color you need. Thus as there are 12 other pieces of the other colors, you would need to pick an additional 3 colors to make sure that your colors are in the stack. Thus, shouldn't the answer be 15?

Anonymous said...

The first anonymous answer is correct.

Say there are 4 colors, Red, Blue, Green, and White. In the worst case scenario, you pull out the following colors, in order:

That's eight pulls, and you have two strips of each color. One more pull is guaranteed to give you three strips of one color, which is what the riddle requires. Therefore, the answer is 9.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that the images in Your texts now have a more direct relation to the play report You write. That's great - in the previous posts, You wrote about strange thing in Ultima, and I couldn't help but wonder: "Why did he post an almost trivial screenshot for this paragraph, and not a screenshot showing that strange thing he is writing about? Damn! I'd like to see that."

Thank You for that.