Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ultima IV: A Decision

I always feel the need to provide some exposition before actually writing something, but this time I think I'll just write a blog entry.

I've never actually played Ultima IV before, which I have been told is kind of a shame.  But considering my arcade and console-centric upbringing, it kind of makes sense.  It's not like ever played a CRPG before (I actually own quite a few of them)I think I can even say, with no hesitation whatsoever, that I have never actually played a CRPG game to completion before.  I have watched several videos about Ultima IV (and the Ultima series in general), as well as read several articles about it (and them).  I think the videos by Noah Antwiler, The Spoony One, stands out the most for me.  Not for being the most on point or informative, but for being the most vulgar, which has managed to somehow wash the words and sayings of all the other sources away in my mind, which is how I would like it to be.

Now choice of platform.  I think the obvious choice for someone like me would be the NES version, however that seems to be the easy out and defeats the purpose of wanting to experience computer games to begin with.  A little more research on the Hardcore Gaming 101 entry shows that this game was originally made for the Apple II, which I might have already know.  The C64 version also appears quite nice, though the HC101 author complains of very long load times, which I am not super keen on.  Oddly enough he didn't note the same for the Apple version, which would have likely had the same problem. The IBM version appears to be the most widespread of them all as it was repackaged many times over the years.  Also, I know for a fact that this version has a fan "upgrade" patch, and can be obtained for free from GoG.  So it seems I will be choosing between the Apple II, the C64, and the IBM port.  After a long think (about two hours while I did housework), I decided on the IBM port, almost entirely due to the GoG thing, which offers a version I don't have to monkey with as well as several bits of documentation.  While the Apple version sounds great (I like the intro music), but I wasn't able to find any documentation, which is unfortunate.  The C64 also sounds great but is noticeably less colorful (at least in the intro sequence). Oh, well, time to move on.

Now the rules: I will do my best to avoid any reviews and completely avoid any FAQs, though I will use the included documents from GoG, which include the manual, spellbook, reference card, and interview with Richard Garriott.  The map will be used sparingly and the cluebook not at all (if I can manage it).  I am allowing myself to use the article on Hardcore Gaming 101, as it doesn't appear to have anything outside of historical information.

So, first things first, flip open the reference card (as it were).  It appears that the game uses individual keys for actions instead of sub-menus.  I did see something like this during the ten or so minutes I played of Magic Candle on the C64, so not a total surprise.  Glad I am reading this, though.  It is nice having basic instructions.  I wonder how many kids played through this game without trying the instructions first.  I'd love to hear about it.

Well, at least traps auto-disarm when opening chests.

After reading the card I really feel I should peruse the manual as well.  I don't think any of my previous experience with RPG games will serve me at all, so I think I should have some sort of firm base when I fire this game up.  I'm currently loading the manual into my phone so I can check it out tomorrow whilst on break at work.  Should be interesting.

Bye for now.

Actually, I just realized that I did an exposition in the beginning, even though I didn't want to.  Oh, well.

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