Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ultima I: Back in Action!

Well, that was something of an ordeal. But here I am once more, back to the Ultima!

I feel stronger!
The first part of my adventures today were trying to remember exactly what it was I was doing. According to my notes, the last thing I'd done was visit the Pillar of Ozymandias for the King of Olympus, then return to him to get a bonus to my strength, halfway through my explorations of the Lands of the Dark Unknown. So to kick things off, I did it again. And again. Since I'd started the game as a mage, my strength was low to begin with, so I made the trip back and forth a couple times to give myself a much needed boost.

Once I had three or four strength boosts under my belt, I went poking around the signposts of the continent - The Sign Post and the Southern Sign Post (descriptive names!), the latter of which being what the King of Barataria wanted me to seek out, which meant another strength boost, although I forgot to do that until just before I called it a day. I shuttled back and forth between the two signposts to up my stamina and my charisma, and reflected on that mechanic. I like the idea that finding places can boost stats, it encourages exploration and reflects the insights that visiting new places can bring, but it leads to a lot of shuttling back and forth, which can get tedious after a while.

Exactly how is this city Poor?
Which led me to pause in the middle of my Quest for Max Stamina, and go run around the rest of the continent. Here I found a lot of other oddly-named places: the city of Wealth barely had anything, just a food shop, a pub, and an arms store, whereas the city of Poor had everything a wayward adventurer could ask for! I also found it odd that the city of Imagination had nothing more than food and arms to sell me... I suppose I just had to imagine the rest of it? Oh well. I also stumbled across a dungeon that I didn't see any indication of on the game maps, which made me do a double-take briefly. I also paused briefly by Castle Olympus, with the town of Nassau sitting in its shadow. There's a couple instances of cities right by castles in Ultima - Lord British's Castle and Britain, Barataria and Arnold - and I like that touch. The foot of a castle is a good spot for a settlement, after all, and I like that Ultima I actually displays that.

If only this spell destroyed the skeleton, too.
After another round of stat boosting at the signposts, I gathered my wits about me and dived into The End..., another dramatically named dungeon. This was considerably less tense than the last time I went dungeon-diving for a monster - I think I'm getting better at finding my way around them! I played around with a couple other spells on my way down, since I'm playing a mage and all - having the 'Destroy' spell around was actually fairly convenient, as those barriers that normally I'd have to find secret doors around I could just blast out of my way.

I got a little nervous when I got to level seven of the dungeon, as that was when the gremlins started showing up and swiping my food - just as annoying in Ultima I as it was in Akalabeth! I was down to about 100 food when I found the lich that the Black Dragon King wanted me to slay, which I did with a single Kill spell. Musing briefly on the irony of killing a magical undead creature with magic that supposedly stops a creature's heart for a few beats according to the manual, I clambered my way back out (relenting and using a few ladder up spells to be on the safe side) and restocked my food in the nearby town of Gauntlet. Visiting the King to tell him of my victory earned me my third gem, along with the knowledge that a princess (like the one in his own dungeon) would help a Space Ace through time.

Die, lich, die! Er, again!
I spent a good deal more time in the dungeons after that, exploring through the first five levels or so of The Long Death in order to garner enough gold for a spaceship, which I bought in Gauntlet for about 700 gold (not bad!) along with a replacement reflect suit (the last one had been eaten by a gelatinous cube), then again in The Viper's Pit - which did indeed have a lot of vipers, making it one of the rare accurately named locales thus far! - in order to gather enough gold to get me through the space section. Last time I played through Ultima I, I found out that you can't change ships if you can't pay the refueling fee, so I ended up becoming a space ace then burning up on reentry because I didn't want to redo it. Live and learn!

I also managed to hit level eight during all this dungeon exploration, so once I become a Space Ace, I'll be all set to rescue a princess and find out how to travel through time!  Of course, I have one more gem to collect before I can do that, but one step at a time.

This being my first entry in quite a while, I have to say I'm enjoying getting back to it. Sparse as the early Ultima games were, they certainly know how to spark the imagination, and I was gleefully making notes and biting my nails when my food was running low while I was playing today. I'm especially looking forward to taking on space next session - somewhat out of place for a standard fantasy sort of setting, but yet it feels like it fits regardless! I'll have more to say on my thoughts on that next time, but for now - Ultima is fitting me like a glove once again. Onward to space!

Time to head for the stars!

No comments:

Post a Comment