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

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fake Ultima VII, Day 1/2/3

Well, I did it. I began the SNES Ultima VII. My opinion is pretty torn. On the one hand, it''s much less fun a game to play than the original; it feels as if someone took the basic plot outline of Ultima VII and stapled it on top of a fairly typical console action-RPG. Here''s some of the similarities to the original and some of the differences:

1. Most of the monsters and character figures are the same as on the PC, with some strange exceptions. There are bouncing green heads as monsters in addition to the skeletons, scorpions, rats, headlesses and trolls. Similarly, the generic robed man has been replaced with a robed man with no hood, and the generic grungy townsperson is now a same grungy townsperson but with blond hair!

2. The world geography is quite similar, but on a much smaller scale. Most of the dungeons have shifted in position or ceased to exist altogether. Unlike the PC game, the dungeons are on a distinct map from the overworld (more like Ultima VI). All of the dungeons have been completely replaced inside; none of the maps are even close. They are much more combat focused than the original, with monsters being generated even if you walk only a few feet away! The puzzles at least so far are nearly nonexistent, besides the ocassional lever or object that needs to be lifted to reveal...well, another lever!

3. The towns are all there, but reorganized. The conversations are also generally there, but dramatically truncated, and most of the quests have been shifted around. For example, Skara Brae''s quest is largely handheld. Mordra allows you to speak to people; Trent gives you a music box; Rowena gives you a ring; Trent builds a cage; Rudolfo (!) attacks you; you put his bones in a cage; put the cage in a well; use the potion Caine gives you.

4. The game does not seem very dramatic at all. A typical example if Owen the shipwright--instead of killing himself, he just expresses mild annoyance that he won't get a statue of himself.

I suppose today''s entry is just a brief introduction. I have been a bit of a lazy bum and not captured screenshots...maybe next time. My next entry will describe some of the things I find entertaining and some of the things I find highly irritating. Overall, I don''t think the game''s horrible reputation is all that deserved. It feels a lot like Runes of Virtue, actually--less serious, more action-oriented, but still with a certain amount of charm. The downside is that it's a port of a very different sort of game, and it suffers badly for the comparison.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ultima VII again, sort of!

Recently I had a sudden inspiration: It might be fun to blog an experience of playing that infamous Ultima VII port for the Super NES. I remember trying it once and hating it, but at the same time being eager to see just how different the game is as you go further into it. It is interesting to me how the Ultima III and IV for the NES were in some ways superior to their PC cousins, yet the SNES Ultima VII was so much worse. I assume it has to do with the gap in time between their respective releases--NES graphics are obviously superior to the Apple II graphics, even if I always thought the NES versions were irritatingly cartoonish. I also recall how Ultima III for the NES had a little bit of additional game balancing by forcing you to get the gold and silver picks before you could go dig up the exotics. It's been too long since I played the NES version of Ultima IV to remember any major differences there. Well, besides the toilets in the hotels!

Anyway, I think I'll start that sometime soon. It should prove amusing. In the comments someone asked for my e-mail address. It seems like there ought to be a way to send a message to me through Blogger that provides your email such that only I can see it...but I can't find any such method, so you can send me an email at zacwbond@hotmail.com. I'm leery of getting new messages from spambots, but on the other hand I get so much spam already it won't matter much.