Ultima 3 – Knife Of The Eye/Magnet Of The Heart EP

I’m continuing the Japanese Ultima 3 theme with one of the more unlikely pieces of merchandise to find its way into my hands. This is an EP published by Canyon in 1987 featuring a couple of tracks from the NES version of the game These have been rearranged to the point of being barely recognisable and have added vocals sung by Noriko Hidaka who I gather went on to become reasonably famous on Japanese TV.

Ultima 3 Japanese EP

I have to say it was worth tracking down a copy of this just for the photoshopped cover art. As for the music, Knife Of The Eye played in Ultima 3 when Lord British levels up your character and Magnet Of The Heart when exploring his castle. Both of these also featured on an Ultima Mix CD which had another 9 tracks from the game but without vocals.

I dug out my long disused record player to see if I could play this and it still worked much to my surprise. The sound only came out in mono so it needs a connection sorting out somewhere but you can download the results below:-

Knife Of The Eye
Magnet Of The Heart

The best I can say about the music is that it is very 80’s complete with synthesisers and the obligatory guitar solo. I’m not about to recommend listening to any version but the adventurous listener looking for the full high-fidelity experience will find the Ultima mix CD available to download in all it’s glory at The Rabbit’s Lair.

Ultima 3 FM Towns – Part 2


It took about another 90 minutes to finish Ultima 3. Most of that was spent filling up with gold and journeying back to Ambrosia. Once that was out of the way, I just needed to get the four marks and make sure the Time Lord hadn’t changed the order of the cards in this version.


When you know where to go and have a fully equipped party, gathering the four marks takes no time at all. I used my cleric and wizard to quickly get me up and down levels and had all four in around 15 minutes.


On my travels I met some subtantially tougher creatures in the lower dungeons but my party had no trouble with these at this stage. After a tough start the combat in this game didn’t keep pace with the progression of my characters making the game easier and easier the further I got into it. Also, it is possible to run from combat in this version by backing out of the combat map. I only ever made use of early in the game but I don’t remember this even being a possibility on the PC.

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The trip to the timelord went similarly smoothly apart from some fun and games trying to go through the right moongate. The Timelord makes more of a speech in this version but the order of the cards hadn’t changed.


After that I healed up and headed for Exodus. The snake lets me pass after yelling “Evocare” and I head into the castle.


I wasn’t so sure my party was going to be up to the final battle. I’d maxed out the hit points of my two front line fighters at this stage but my spell casters were relatively weak. I needn’t have worried though. My spellcasters certainly came close to death but I would easily have been able to finish with just the two characters if it had been required. This part of the game was much, much easier than on the NES.


I did run into more invisible floor monsters than in the other versions with my first encounter being in the top left of the map. These died in a single hit without fail so it’s just a question of bunching the party and attacking constantly.


When I get that far, Exodus doesn’t look all that much like a computer. From these tiles I’m not sure I’d make the connection without the text telling me in the bottom corner when I insert a card.

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One addition which I’d not seen before is a quick end cutscene where a passage opens up behind Exodus through which I run through and see a floating orb of some description. At least in this English version the text doesn’t make it too clear what this is but it soon fades and I run away under instruction from the Timelord.

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The big finale cutscene is in English this time, although only barely. The bad translation doesn’t give completing the trilogy quite the air of achievement I would have hoped for with lines like “Doesn’t it look like the spine of a snake, does it?” but it’s still the best ending I’ve seen on any version so far.

I’ve enjoyed my time playing through the Ultima trilogy again for the first time since week 1 of this blog, although it certainly brought it home just how much farming is required in these early Ultimas. As a whole the FM Towns is the best version I’ve played with Ultima I & II being a big improvement, admittedly with some reservations. With Ultima III it’s a much harder call as the original music is so much better. This version probably still wins out over the enhanced PC version given the dungeon graphics and cutscenes but it’s a close call. The NES version had its good points also and is certainly another decent option although I did find it moved a little slowly for my liking. I expect that I’ve yet to play the best version as the Lairwair Mac version looks potentially the best of the bunch.

If you’ve never played Ultima 1-3 and fancy giving it a go, you could do a lot worse than tracking down a copy of this for FM Towns. The improved graphics and tweaked interface make it substantially more accessible and the Unz emulator has been rock solid with no issues at all. The trilogy is usually a crazy price on Ebay but is available at far more reasonable prices direct from Japan.

There is a certain Origin anniversary coming up tomorrow which will form the basis of a post or two on here and hopefully elsewhere. After that, I think I’ve going to have to give Wing Commander Saga a go.

Ultima 3 FM Towns – Part 1

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This is the final game in the FM Towns Ultima Trilogy. Since I’ve already blogged through Ultima 3 on both PC and more recently NES, I’ll keep this fairly short and concentrate on the differences. Like the other 2 games in the FM Towns trilogy, it has a standalone intro with some still images, CD music and a lot of Japanese text that I can’t understand.


On starting the game, there is a nice rendering of a demon similar to the one on the original box cover and a much improved version of the band of adventurers shuffling back and forth fighting the dragon. Character creation hasn’t been changed and still offers the option of using races that would vanish from Ultima after this game (Fuzzy, Bobbit & Elf).


The tile graphics are the same as the rest of the trilogy and the regular overworld music is used once again. This music hasn’t been annoying me anywhere near as much though as you really don’t spend all that long wandering around the main map in Ultima 3.


One of the reasons for this is the inclusion of a combat screen which did add a lot to the tactical element of this game even if it slows things down. There is some original combat music which fits quite well and some new sound effects which can be over the top. I see more combat than I would like at the start of the game and it’s tough to survive while my party tries to find their feet. It gets a lot easier when I can equip my front line with bows and start to level up.

When I was playing the NES version recently I would frequently use the wizard and clerics dispel spells to clear whole monster parties. In this version I can only cast this spell once per combat and it doesn’t work anywhere near as often. It’s not entirely useless but my cleric imparticular is almost useless in combat because of this. I end up using her purely for healing and opening chests. Despite this she is slowly advancing in levels with an ocassionally succesful dispel. I can only assume that it requires fewer kills for clerics to progress which is just as well if I’m ever going to get her hit points up.


All the towns are exactly as I remember them. There are minor changes to the dialog but it amounts to roughly the same thing overall. I’ve not spent too much time in the towns other than shopping and the occasional visit to Lord British for healing or levelling up.


The dungeon maps are just like on the PC also, with identical graphics to the rest of the trilogy. There are some nice new fountain graphics but with the combat screens I can no longer see monsters coming which is something of a loss. With the identical layouts, I settle into my well practiced grinding technique of raiding the same collection of 6 chests at the top of the Dungeon of Fire over and over. With the convenient poison curing fountain on the way out, I can fix up my party if needed and repeat. I combine this with occasional trips to the nearby Perinian Depths where there is an easily reached healing fountain on the second level.


After enough dungeon raiding and my party is now lugging around 9999 gold each. This doesn’t take too long with the emulator cranked up to maximum speed as the dungeons are nowhere near as dangerous as in Ultima 1 & 2. I head for Ambrosia and finding the whirlpool turns out to me much easier than I expect and I head straight in.


The lost continent of Ambrosia turns out to be surprisingly red but otherwise the same as ever. I realise at this point that I’ve come down here without buying any keys which wasn’t the smartest move.


I can still get to the shrine of strength at least so I max out all my characters in that one stat and head back to the surface to start raising some more gold before I go back down.


I break this up with a trip to find the exotics which I probably should have done much earlier. After the tough start to the game, I’ve really not been having any trouble with the combat though and this is arguably the easiest game of the trilogy. When playing FM Towns Ultima I and II, there was always some tweak to the gameplay that made them much harder than the PC but this has been near enough an exact duplicate except the better graphics.

I do miss the original Ultima 3 music which would have been a better alternative but other than that this has been a great port. Like all these early Ultimas, the gameplay ends up being 90% grinding but it’s not too bad if you know what you are doing. I’ve yet to go after any of the marks and will attempt to max out the parties significant stats next before I get started on that.

Console Manual Scans

I’ve added a batch of new scans to the downloads for the console versions of various Origin games, some of which were available elsewhere already but they are on here now as well. The new pdfs are manuals for Ultima 3 (NES & Famicom), Ultima 4 (NES & Famicom), Ultima 6 (NES & Super Famicom), Ultima 7 (Super Famicom), Wing Commander (Mega CD & Sega CD) & Wing Commander Secret Missions (SNES).

In addition to all of those, I’ve been kindly sent a scan of the Lands Of Lore clue book by Matt Larson. This isn’t anything to do with Origin but I love the game so I’ve added that also.

Ultima 3 NES – Part 2

It turned out I was being pessimistic about it taking 60 minutes to max out my parties gold and it was more like 30. As soon as that is done, I immediately took the nearest boat I could find and sailed it straight into the whirlpool.

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This has the desired effect of taking me to Ultima 3’s other continent, Ambrosia. I was a little concerned that my slightly pathetic party could find things difficult down here but there are hardly any monsters at all and none of them are random from what I could see. It’s far, far safer than life on the surface ever was. I set off to find the four temples to spend my cash raising stats. Some of the temples are easier to find than others with this place being something of a maze but perseverance pays off and I soon find the strength temple.


The temple isn’t quite what I expected. I can walk inside it and have to talk to a priest to donate my gold. It occurs to me at this point that I’ve no way of searching to get the cards since I don’t have a search command. Much, much later on, I find out that I can use the Pray command (which I also didn’t have) to achieve the same result.


A single trip is enough to max out all the important stats for each character. I did come back a second time later to finish up but I could probably have finished the game as was.

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Rather than going straight back to gold farming, I decide to try and gather all the marks next. I think I counted 7 dungeons in the game, although I didn’t need to search all of them I’m glad to say. It’s always a safe bet that anything you need will be on level 8 so I magic myself straight down in each dungeon and search everywhere. In the process, I find the missing silver pick which I need to get the mystic weapons. My beefed up characters are much better able to cope with any monsters I encounter and some of the new mage and cleric offensive spells are particularly effective if a little expensive. My Cleric also gained a spell to exit straight from any dungeon which is highly useful.

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With all the marks gathered, I foolishly level up my characters making life twice as hard when exploring Sosaria as the monsters level up with me. I then head off to explore all those bits of the towns I couldn’t get to as well as the towns I’ve not been to yet. I find plenty of people hidden away in lava fields and other nasty areas but I can’t say I learn anything I didn’t already know. The exception here is a priest in Yew who gives me the Pray command which I already know to use in the circle of light to the South, thus giving me the Silver Horn.

With every town explored, I’m almost ready for the end game but I still haven’t been to see the Time Lord. I know the order of the cards from the PC game, but it could be different here and I may as well do things properly.

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The name of the dungeon has changed but he is still at the bottom of the only dungeon which can’t be reached by any means except moongates. These moongates aren’t of the oblong variety and I’d seen them several times before I realised what they were. Finding the Time Lord is comparatively easy and simply a case of magicing down to the bottom level as ever. The difficult part is getting out again. On the surface map, the dungeon is placed one square away from the moongate leaving no room to wait and hence pass time to make the moongate appear. I have to resort to talking to myself to pass time until the moongate pops up.

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I head back to Ambrosia to gather the cards, and then it’s time to take on Exodus. My characters aren’t exactly at the maximum levels but I deem them tough enough to get to the end. This was just about true but I did have to find a lot of corners to hide in and recuperate. All the monsters here are of the large 4-tile variety and attack in pairs. My cleric and wizard could take one out each time with a single spell but needed time to regain lost mana. This was definitely the most effective tactic I came up with. My fighters could bash the monsters to death also, but we took a lot of damage in the process.

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After some wrong turns and restarts I eventually pick out the correct route to Exodus. I initially think it’s another dead-end when I see the river, Exodus is barely even visible and I wouldn’t have guessed that it was a computer if I didn’t already know. The giveaway is the attacking floor tiles, which are a nuisance but die in one hit. I have to pray to insert the cards which I only discover out of desperation but I expect there was a clue somewhere in the game.

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Exodus is defeated and transforms into an Ankh which we grab. Rather than ending here as I expect, I now have to run through a collapsing castle to escape before it is destroyed.

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There are some fallen rocks blocking part of the route back, but thankfully all the monsters are now gone and I have a much easier time getting out than in. The game then ends and goes into the credits without so much as a congratulations. The credits are quite definitely full of Japanese people confirming that this game wasn’t done in-house by Origin despite rumours to the contrary. The fact that it was published a year or two earlier in Japan is also something of a giveaway to this.

As for the game itself, I didn’t tire of it and the grinding was fairly quick in the scheme of things. Had I been more prepared to take my time and explore every level of every dungeon, I’m sure I’d have amassed a lot of the gold I needed that way. I discovered huge stashes in some of the towns but I would have needed to fight a lot of guards on my way out if I’d used these.

If you were only going to play one version of Ultima 3, this shouldn’t be it when we have patches for the PC version or the Lairware version (which I should attempt to play at some point). If you’ve already finished one of those and fancy trying it again, you could do a lot worse. Ultima 3 on the NES is original enough to be it’s own game without trampling over the legacy of the original. I’m curious to see how Ultima 4 holds up now. The maps were slightly shrunken in this as it was and Ultima 4 was much larger and more complex.