|Source // Wikipedia|
I've come across only one game from the Ultima series in my time so far, and that was watching a play-through of Ultima VII on YouTube. I know its an RPG series, set in ye olden times, so I assume that Ultima I is just a stripped down, graphically lacking version of Ultima VII. I mean that sounds fair, right?
Unfortunately, I'm going to have to view Ultima I in much the same way as Ultima VII - by searching for it on YouTube and hoping that the first video is worth watching (it must be, the almighty Google algorithms selected it just for me).
The first result was a Let's Play by someone who hadn't played it before, had trouble getting the original version to run, and read the manual before playing. I do two of those! Perfect.
The topic of watching people play video games is supposedly a hot topic, fiercely contested with people broadly falling into one of two camps: It's fine, or it's stupid. It's not a black and white issue though, and I fall somewhere towards the 'its fine' end of the scale.
Right now, I'm not in a position to play the game, but want to keep some sort of schedule going when it comes to this blog. As such, videos allow me to get an idea of what I'm missing out on, or they can save me from a bullet, so to speak, acting as another opinion to listen to - perhaps contrary to the praise found in a book of 1001 video games you must play...
Ultima I, from what I can see, is a simple top down RPG. A large window for graphics, with a scrolling text feed and a small HUD with Health and Experience stats and so on. I say simple, but then I'm saying that from the perspective of a slimmed down Ultima VII, which it isn't, because that game is so far into the developers wildest fantasies for the game at this point that it's not worth thinking about.
Instead then, it's like an upgraded Adventure. A vastly upgraded Adventure, but one where the player I'm watching is being caught out by unknown elements to the game, and is saying that it feels a bit repetitive.
Go there, kill that, don't starve, don't die. There's more to it than that of course, but that's the gist of things. To some extent that's what you'd imagine; it's one of the first of its kind and we're not working with miracles in the technology department, but there must be something that draws players into it, indeed buying into a whole series of Ultima games.
...Huh. That ought to make a game stand out.
Just last week, I said that Gorf felt a little forced when it came to putting various space shooters together into a single game. It could have made a story out of it in its own way, rather than borrowing (heavily) from other successes.
Here, Ultima I sets itself up as a fantasy RPG before going on quite the epic adventure to the stars. To say I wish to find the time and resources to play this game now is a bit of an understatement. It merges genres in its own way, perhaps not to incredible effect (or in any way that make sense in terms of story), but it makes quite the impression.
Kill this to get these gems to fuel this time machine to slay the evil guy before he had a chance to gain his power. Sounds great. Sure wasn't expecting that when I first saw Ultima... I'm not sure I'd care how bland the game is in terms of combat or exploration if that's what it wants me to work towards.
So I can't form a definitive opinion on Ultima I without playing it, but it's looking good on the 'have we won an audience' front. You have won an audience, Ultima, you have. I've no idea if you continue this trend in your games, I don't even know if the others are anything special at all, but I'm going to remember that name of yours, and keep an eye or two peeled.
Will these final words get updated? I hope so.
The Ultima series is the origin of the 'Lord British Postulate' which states that "If it exists as a living creature in an MMORPG, someone, somewhere, will try to kill it."
Ultima I, developed by Origin Systems, first released in 1981.
Versions watched: Apple II, 1986, via YouTube.