Ultima

Ultima is a series of fantasy computer role-playing gamess from Origin Systems, Inc. Ultima was created by Richard Garriott, a.k.a. Lord British. It is considered one of the most seminal games of the computer role-playing game genre.

Table of contents
1 Overview
2 Ultima (1980)
3 Ultima II: Revenge of the Enchantress (1982)
4 Ultima III: Exodus (1983)
5 Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (1985)
6 Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (1988)
7 Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1990)
8 Ultima VII: The Black Gate (1992)
9 Ultima VII part two: Serpent Isle (1993)
10 Ultima VIII: Pagan (1994)
11 Ultima IX: Ascension (1999)
12 Ultima X: Odyssey
13 Other Ultima games:
14 Related Projects
15 Major Characters
16 See Also
17 External links

Overview

The Ultima series can be divided in two parts. While the first three games (the 'Age of Darkness' trilogy) are usual fantasy games, the later ones added an innovative moral element, in that the character had to excel at the eight virtues of honesty, compassion, valor, justice, sacrifice, honor, spirituality and humility. Most of the virtues are based on the Chivalry code of knighthood.

The creator, Richard Garriott, no longer owns the rights to the game, nor participates in the development.

Ultima 1-5 were originally developed on and released for the Apple II family of computers. All the games from Ultima 6 on were developed on IBM PC compatible machines.

The earlier Ultima games were ported to many computer types, including 8-bit Atari (Ultima 1-4), Atari ST (Ultima 2-6), Commodore 64 (Ultima 1-6), Commodore Amiga (Ultima 3-6) and IBM PC (Ultima 1-5).

The Ultima games were also famous for the goodies included in the game boxes. From Ultima II on, every main Ultima game came with a cloth map of the game world. Starting with Ultima IV, small trinkets like pendants, coins and magic stones were found in the boxes. Made of metal or glass, they usually represented an important object also found within the game itself.

There is also a substantial community of Ultima fans known as the Ultima Dragons.

The main games of the series are:

Ultima (1980)

The first game in the series was self-published by Richard Garriott, and featured a storyline revolving around a quest to find and destroy a Gem of Power belonging to an evil wizard known as Mondain. This game is unique among the Ultima series (and a rarity among computer RPGs in general) for containing an action element, as the player must find a spaceship and participate in first-person combat. This game was later re-released, with improved graphics and gameplay, by Origin Systems Inc.

Ultima II: Revenge of the Enchantress (1982)

This was the only Ultima game published by Sierra On-Line, Inc From the game's story, we learn that Mondain's lover, Minax, is threatening the world through disturbances in the space-time continuum, and the player must guide a hero through time to destroy her. Also, the player must travel to other planets in the solar system in order to gain a critical item. Speculation continues that Garriott was somehow disgruntled at the prospect of working with Sierra On-Line and intended this game to be a joke; the game contains a number of bizarre and decidedly inappropriate anachronisms when examined in context with similar fantasy games, like: the game's world map is identical to real-life Earth and the player must visit such mundane locations as San Antonio, the Soviet Union and Great Britain, modern-day and futuristic weaponry is used, and completely incongruous pop-culture references abound. In addition, the game is known to contain numerous design flaws and bugs. For these reasons, Revenge of the Enchantress is considered to be the weakest Ultima game by many fans. Regardless, Ultima II still sold well.

Ultima III: Exodus (1983)

Considered one of the most influential video role-playing games in history, the story of Exodus centered on a quest to destroy the final remnant of the evil Mondain and Minax. It is also the first Origin Systems, Inc game. Exodus featured revolutionary graphics for it's time, being the first computer RPG to feature animated characters. Also, Exodus differed from previous games in that players now directed the actions of a party of several characters rather than just one. Players now battled their enemies on a separate battle screen, where the player had to understand fairly complex weapons and magic systems and employ rudimentary tactics in order to overcome each opponent, as opposed to the system in the previous two games, in which players were simply depicted as trading blows with an opponent (or running away) until one was defeated. And, while previous Ultima games required the player to "explore" randomly generated dungeons in first-person in order to find certain items, Exodus's dungeons were pre-set and would remain the same across multiple plays (therefore introducing the element of requiring a player to actually create his/her own maps for dungeons). Exodus is often cited as a main inspiration to later console RPG developers.

Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (1985)

Quest of the Avatar is a rarity among RPGs in that the game's story does not center on asking a player to overcome a tangible ultimate evil. Rather, the object of this game is to become the prophet of a new religion for the fledgling land of Britannia, by understanding and exercising the Eight Virtues of the Avatar, and finding the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom. This was the first Ultima game to feature a "conversation system"; players could interact with non-player characters in the game by specifying a subject of conversation, the subject determined either by a standard set of questions (job, health) or by information gleaned from other characters.

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (1988)

At the start of Warriors of Destiny, the player learns that the throne of Britannia has been usurped by a tyrant known as Blackthorn, while three shadowy figures known as Shadowlords terrorize the countryside. Warriors of Destiny featured much more polished writing and considerably greater detail than previous games, and also included a time-of-day system in which non-player characters would appear to have set daily schedules.

Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1990)

The Avatar is suddenly on a sacrifical altar about to be slain by red creatures, the gargoyles. The Warriors of Destiny suddenly appear and save the Avatar and collect the text the gargoyle "priest" was holding. In Castle Britannia, the Avatar learns that the shrines of Virtue are captured by the gargoyles and he embarks on a quest to rescue Britannia from the invaders.

Ultima VII: The Black Gate (1992)

200 years have passed since the Gargoyle threat was solved and the Avatar is suddenly whisked into Trinsic by a red moongate. The Avatar is asked to solve a ritualistic murder that occurred last night. Along the way, he learns that the Fellowship, a new religion led by Batlin, is tied up with the murders and is attempting to bring an evil force that is named "The Guardian" into Britannia.

Expansion - The Forge of Virtue

The expansion adds the Forge of Virtue to the world of Britannia.

Ultima VII part two: Serpent Isle (1993)

While the Avatar destroys the Black Moongate that the Guardian is just coming through, Batlin flees to Serpent Isle. The Warriors of Destiny pursue the rogue fanatic and find a strange land that has many very different customs than Britannia. In the end, one of the Warriors is slain while saving the Avatar and the Island is severely devastated.

Expansion - The Silver Seed

The expansion adds the Silver Seed story arc to the game.

Ultima VIII: Pagan (1994)

Following the defeat of Batlin on Serpent Isle, the Guardian drops the Avatar onto a world that he has already destroyed, Pagan. The world of Pagan is in eternal twilight as the result of an ancient battle between the Elemental Titans and the evil "Destroyer", who was really the Guardian attempting to destroy their world by using the Titans. In the end, the Avatar destroys the Titans as he becomes the Titan of Ether by taking their followers and capturing them in the very Blackrock that made them.

Expansion - The Lost Vale

This expansion to Ultima VIII was much anticipated, but never released.

Ultima IX: Ascension (1999)

Following the Avatar's defeat of the Titans, he is transported back to Britannia for one final battle with the Guardian. He must restore the Runes of Virtue and cleanse the shrines of the Guardian's taint and he must restore the people to the way of the Virtues. In the final battle, the Avatar defeated the Guardian and ascends to keep the balance of the Virtues throughout the universe.

Ultima X: Odyssey

A MMORPG, slated to be released sometime in Q1, 2004. The official homepage is at http://www.uxo.ea.com/

Other Ultima games:

Akalabeth (aka Ultima 0) (1979)

Original forerunner of the Ultima series that started Richard Garriott's career.

Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (1991)

The first 3D Ultima. The Avatar is thrown in the Stygian Abyss by a Baron whose daughter was recently kidnapped.

Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds (1992)

The second 3D Ultima. Following the Black Gate incident, the Avatar and the rest of Lord British's palace is captured by the Guardian under a dome of blackrock.

Worlds of Ultima: Savage Empire (1990)

Before Ultima VII, the Avatar is transported by an experiment (with Blackrock) to another world whose indigenous people were descended from some of the aboriginal tribes of Earth.

Worlds of Ultima II: Martian Dreams (aka Ultima Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams) (1991)

The Avatar finds himself on ship right from the pages of H.G. Wells and lands on Mars where he meets various heroes from the 1800s.

Ultima Online series (1997)

A MMORPG version of the world of Britannia. In Ultima Online, thousands of players interact online in Britannia.

Related Projects

  • xu4 - An open source, portable Ultima 4 emulator.
  • nu5 - A planned open source, portable Ultima 5 emulator.
  • Nuvie - An open source, portable Ultima 6 emulator. (Works with Savage Empire and Martian Dreams, too)
  • Exult - An open source, portable Ultima 7 Black Gate and Serpent Isle emulator. (Works with the Expansions)
  • Pentagram - A planned open source, portable Ultima 8 emulator.

Major Characters

See Also

External links


Ultima is also the name for the game originally known as Baroque chess.




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