Ultima Trilogy Press Release

I’ve been tinkering with the site design and have gone for a simple red theme for now + a completely new menu. It still needs work but I think it’s improving. At the very least it’s a change. What I really need is a logo and/or a background image. I do have some ideas for that but I’ve spent long enough on this today as it is.

Since I’ve been linked from Ultima Aiera, I thought I ought to post something Ultima themed but I don’t have much time and this was the first thing that came to hand. It’s a single page press release for the Ultima Trilogy from 1989, or at least the front half of it. The back which should have shown the specifications is blank.


Ultima 2 Review – Computer Gaming World

I always enjoy reading old reviews and there will be a load from CGW coming up on here, thanks to an archive of scans I found the other day. This one is a review of Ultima 2 from March/April 1983. It’s far more in-depth than the Ultima I review yesterday and the game gets a good reception.

Ultima2ReviewCGWPage1 Ultima2ReviewCGWPage2

Ultima2ReviewCGWPage3 Ultima2ReviewCGWPage4

I’ve also included an advert for Ultima 2 from the same issue + an advert for Marauder (another SierraVenture game). I’ve included Marauder for curiosity value as it has basically the same spaceman as the Ultima 2 box with the colours changed. This is also the case with the actual game box as shown on Mobygames

Ultima Patcher

I’ve not spent long on it, but I cobbled together a simple GOG Ultima game patcher on Saturday afternoon. The idea was to offer an easier alternative to install all the various patches for Ultima 1-4 for anyone who has bought them off GOG. It’s very basic and just copies the patch files, runs any installers inside DOSBox and alters the GOG DOSBox config automatically. There isn’t much point in using it if you know your way around DOS/DOSBox, but it might help a few people out. It needs some serious tidying up and I definitely want to add in links to the project sites and the like but it basically works for now. It’s in the Miscellaneous section in the downloads for anyone who wants it.

I’ll probably add the other games as they are released + the Underworlds, although it does mean buying them all again so I’m tempted to wait until a sale. After buying Ultima 1-3 on GOG that makes it 6 copies of Ultima 1 I own and 5 copies of 2 & 3 in one form or another. Surely I must have paid for these games enough times by now. $6 is not a lot of money though, so I’ll probably stump up the cash for the others.

While I’m posting, one of my favourite channels on Youtube, blacklily8, just added a mini-review of Ultima 4:-

Matt is a guy who is very much into old RPG’s and adventure games, and seems to have very similar tastes to myself. Despite that he’s not played any of the Ultima’s so this is more or less his first experience of the series.

It’s interesting to see what someone new to Ultima, but not to ancient RPG’s makes of it. It’s easy to forget just how awkward the interface is and how much there is to learn when you have been playing these games for years. There is a thread on GOG where several people couldn’t even figure out how to get past the menu screen at the start and thought the game was broken.

Ultima 1-3 on GOG + some Ultima 1 scans

The first 3 games in the Ultima series were released yesterday on GOG.com for their bottom end pricepoint of $5.99. There are quite a few grumblings on GOG about this price for such ancient games, although there were just as many people happy to see them. I can see where the complaints are coming from but it’s not exactly a big expense provided that GOG are adding some value to the deal. I did have concerns that the earlier games in the series might have been skipped altogether so it’s good to see them arrive at all. I think it’s safe to assume at this point that all of the main Ultima series will be appearing on GOG in due course. Fingers crossed for the Worlds of Ultima games.

While I don’t have a problem with the asking price, I definitely have complaints with the added value aspect here. For a start, the Akalabeth remake from the Ultima Collection should have been included. Ignoring that, GOG’s extra’s are a bit of a joke. They appear to consist of some pdf’s lifted from replacementdocs.com including my own scans of the Ultima 3 cluebook, and cloth map/galaxy map from Ultima 2. They have removed the replacementdocs logo however which seems highly unreasonable to me. Surely they ought to acknowledge the source rather than hiding it. They didn’t even manage to grab everything correctly and missed one of the spellbooks + the Ultima 3 map is upside down. My scans of the Ultima 2 map were my usual rubbish patchwork job with something too large to scan in one go. There must be better scans available within a minutes googling which they could have used instead. I’d have done them some decent ones myself, if asked.

It did bring to my attention that the maps from the Ultima 1 remake are missing from replacementdocs and hence not available as GOG “extras” either. I’m sure they are available elsewhere but I’ve done some scans anyway and added them into the downloads here, as well as uploading them to replacementdocs. I thought I might as well do the coins too while I had the scanner going.

Apart from the dubious extras, there do seem to have been issues with several of these EA games as they have been released. Some of these I can sympathise with but others are just basic errors. It was poor to release Underworld with the sound defaulting to MT-32, but to then make the same mistake with Wing Commander is ridiculous. It gives the impression that GOG just shovel the games into Dosbox and don’t bother testing them. This is born out again as by all appearances Ultima 2 still has the bug with all the planet maps not being included, due to the filenames being duplicated on disk 3. I’ve not actually playtested this, but there is no sign of the missing files so it’s a safe bet. There is a fan patch for this but I thought the whole point about GOG was that it was supposed to be easy for people to run these games. This bug has been in every Ultima compilation since the early 90’s for crying out loud.

I am glad to see these games being made available again anyway and it’s the first time any of the main Ultima series has been on sale for around a decade. I’m sure GOG will remedy most if not all of the issues eventually, but they aren’t doing their reputation any favours in the meanwhile as far as I’m concerned.