I thought I’d pull another random item from the collection today. This is a standing advert that was presumably used at a trade show around late 1991/early 1992. It’s about A3 sized and features a generic Ultima advert with all the games up to Ultima 7 including all the NES releases and Runes Of Virtue on the Gameboy but curiously no mention of Ultima Underworld. It might be from the 1991 Winter CES by when Ultima 7 should have been (but wasn’t) released but that is strictly a guess. It has something along the lines of Sega Hilton 4556 SPA written on the back which may mean something to someone:-
I’ve been catching up on various mundane jobs since I got back last weekend and one piece of news that sneaked by unseen behind a pile of ironing yesterday was that another Origin classic Bioforge has been released on GOG for the usual price of $5.99. This was one of Origin’s best efforts without a doubt, a kind of updated sci-fi Alone In The Dark with strong movie-like story elements. It could have done with a sequel but is certainly recommended at the price if you’ve never played it.
Also yesterday, Star Citizen reached its first million in the fundraising campaign and immediately launched a Kickstarter. I’ll admit that I was unconvinced that a Kickstarter was a good idea as I thought splitting the funding would just cause confusion among backers. Since the Kickstarter is closing in on $200,000 after one day, I was clearly completely and utterly wrong. I guess you can never have enough sources of money or publicity. Here’s hoping RSI reaches the $2 million total by this time next week and they can start working on those stretch goals.
Finally, if you have some money left over, Lori & Corey Cole of Quest For Glory fame just launched a Kickstarter of their own. It clearly isn’t going to be on the scale of Star Citizen but I can’t be the only Sierra fan who has been waiting for this one.
Runes of Virtue was another Ultima spin off series, this time developed for the gameboy. The gameplay has very little to do with Ultima although there are a few familiar people and locations. In the game a figure called the Black Knight has stolen the runes and hidden them in the dungeons. You travel between all the dungeons trying to get them all back. The gameplay is a combination of combat and puzzle with a lot of pushing boulders around (ala Boulderdash), flipping switches and the like. There are some minor RPG elements in that your stats improve as you collect runes so you will be able to take more damage, use more magic, etc. For magic, there isn’t spell casting but you can use certain objects as you collect them which will consume spell points. Combat is just click to fire in the direction you face and very simple.
I’ve never owned a gameboy although I do have a hacked PSP so I’ve dusted that off for the first time in months to play this on the excellent MasterBoy emulator. I thought I’d taken a load of screenshots on the way but now I come to try and get them off the psp there is nothing there and it looks as though there is some bug or other in the emulator. I’ll not be bothering with screenshots for this post therefore. Never having owned a gameboy I’ve nothing to compare this game against either. The ROM is just 128k – the original Apple 2 Ultima probably took up more room than that so its a bit unfair to compare ROV against the rest of the series.
There is a choice of characters at the start of the game – I went for Dupre as the strongest fighter. This just changes starting stats/equipment a bit. The game itself starts in Britania but not Britania as we know it. The realm is now 4 or 5 distant islands and bears little relation to the rest of the series. There are a couple of locations which you can walk into which are basically shops + LB’s castle. LB sends me off to the first dungeon just to the North. The dungeons are where I will be spending most of the rest of this game – the dungeons can get quite complex – you kill monsters, push boulders, flip switches and collect keys to try to travel between levels and find the rune. As an added complication some dungeons have alternate routes which lead to some artifact or other. For example at the start of the game you need a wand of fireballs to burn certain spider webs. This grants access to a boat that sails off to another island on the main map later in the game. In this way you have to complete some dungeons before you get access to others.
The same music plays in all the dungeons and it has to be the worst piece of music the fat man has ever composed. This is not a game to play with the sound on – the limited abilities of the gameboy don’t help here. The dungeons are surprisingly large and complex, especially the Stygian abyss at the end of the game. There is a good 5 or 6 hours of gameplay which is impressive out of such limited space.
Other than that I don’t have a lot to say about this. There isn’t any storyline, the gameplay never really varies. I didn’t get bored as the puzzles kept on coming, all in all this was probably a decent title for the gameboy. Its a light, fun puzzle game but nothing much more.
Next: Wing Commander 2