More Avatar Adventures

This was published in 1993 by Prima and as the title suggests is a follow-up to Avatar Adventures. It covers Ultima 7, Forge Of Virtue, and Ultima Underworld, with appendices for the early stages of Serpent Isle and Underworld 2.

The formula is the same as Avatar Adventures with long walkthrough novellas for each game, followed by shorter walkthroughs with maps and tables of all the game information. The main selling point of the book is definitely the novels which are extremely faithful to the games right down to using identical dialog.

The story is told as though the Avatar is recounting it to Carlotta, at some point prior to Underworld 2. It sticks to the shortest route through the games, meaning that Underworld surprisingly gets more pages than Ultima 7 despite having a simpler narrative. There is a town plots section at the end of Ultima 7 to make up for this, briefly covering all the local quests that don’t play a part in the main story.

For such a large and complex game, it’s surprising just how short the Ultima 7 story is when it’s written down like this with all the side quests removed. Because of the rigid structure it’s having to follow, it’s nowhere near as good as a novel as books like the Technocrat Wars series. Despite that, it’s still great fun for anyone who played the games. Books like these always makes me want to go back and play the game again and Ultima 7 isn’t a game I’ve spent enough time with.

Ultima Underworld on the other hand is a game I know inside out. It’s plot wasn’t its strongest point, although it was streets ahead of its rivals such as Dungeon Master or Eye Of The Beholder. I did wonder if I was perhaps too familiar with the game to enjoy the novella, but I needn’t have worried. Out of the two games it was probably the better of the two simply because it doesn’t miss anything out. Also with knowing the game so well, I could picture every corridor as described and it was almost like replaying the game.

There are 3 appendices at the end of the book. The first two of these cover the early stages of Underworld 2 and Serpent Isle. I don’t know if this implies that a third book in the series was planned, but if so it was never published which is a shame as this and Avatar Adventures are both prized by Ultima collectors. The Underworld 2 section is extremely short but does have maps of all the sewer levels. There is a little more for Serpent Isle but it still only goes as far as arriving into the first city.

Right at the end of the book is a very nice extra, a 13 page interview with Paul Neurath and Warren Spector. It’s shorter than I would have liked but there is some information about the founding of Looking Glass, the development of Ultima Underworld and what they thought would come next. Paul Neurath talks about his hopes that the industry won’t end up like Hollywood (which it clearly has), and Warren Spector says he needs to do a cartoon game (which he did but only very recently). Something I didn’t know is that between being called Blue Sky and Looking Glass the name of the company was briefly Flying Fish.

I’ve added a scan of the book to the downloads. This was, as far as I know, the last Origin novel, clue book or manual that wasn’t available on the internet (not including all the various ports and foreign languages) with the exception of the ever elusive Caverns Of Callisto. If there is anything else missing, then I want to know about it. This was definitely a great book to finish on anyway, which is why I saved it for last. I do still have Pilgrim Truth to read though, which I should be starting next.

I’ve put a load more game manuals into the downloads page in the last week or two. I’m not going through all of these here but the highlights in my opinion are the Stonekeep novella Thera Awakening, and the Elite Plus manual which also has its own novella. There isn’t anything Origin related although Chris Roberts did name Elite as his all time favourite game in one of the magazine scans somewhere on this site. I’m sure he was referring to the original version which I’m sorry to say I’m old enough to remember playing on a friends BBC back when I was still in primary school. It certainly impressed me at the time but not owning a BBC myself, it wasn’t a game I spent any real-time on until Elite Plus came out years later. I played it enough back then to achieve the coveted elite status, to absolutely no fanfare as I recall, and it remains a personal favourite. It’s a game that had a clear influence on Wing Commander, and especially Privateer.