I was sceptical about how much further I’d get with this game at the end of the last post. I needn’t have worried. After only a couple of minutes exploring last night, I found a very welcome sight in the form of a shrine on a little island.
I was expecting the equivalent of the Ultima 3 shrines and this this would raise one particular stat but it allows me to pick any I like and raise them by something like 3 points for every 100 gold. Finally some progress. I upped the dexterity on my thief to start with. This made a massive difference with grinding in the nearby dungeon.
A lot of chest thievery later, I’d maxed out what I took to be the important stats and done a little more exploring in the dungeon, finding a third gem on floor 4 in the process. Time to see Lord British’s and level up.
After levelling up, he drops me a hint about the time machine. I kind of guessed as much but took the opportunity to rescue the princess while here.
This part is a little strange. I walk into the jester to get his key, and all the guards attack as expected. When I open the door to rescue the princess, I don’t need to get her outside the castle (or fly around in space). She just gives me a time machine on the spot.
I’m wondering how this is going to show up in my inventory but after fighting my way out, there it is sat around outside the castle.
Compared to the Ultima I know, I’m still a gem down but the time machine does actually work and transport me to the end encounter with Mondain, much to my surprise. I’m not so sure I’m ready for this. My cleric is still level 1, I think my fighter is all of level 4 so I’m not exactly over powered. Since I’m here I take the gem, wiping out half the party in the process…
…then get mocked by Mondain (with typo) when I walk into him. Eventually I figure out that I have to choose to attack in the menu. This had been automatic prior to this point.
And then the final battle reverts to the usual combat screen and he takes one shot and goes down. Mondain is literally the weakest enemy in the game. A single box of reward text is my prize before being returned to the menu in one of the most anti-climatic RPG endings I’ve ever come across.
And that’s Ultima 1 for Palm OS down. Going into this I was expecting an enhanced version with some new elements on what is clearly vastly more powerful hardware than an Apple II. In the end, it is actually a simpler game than that Apple II original. No 3D dungeons, no space section, no quests, no progression of technology, no chasing Mondain around as a bat. The only addition was the 4 person party. I’m not too impressed. Yes, it’s playable but comes across as a beta version which hasn’t had all those elements added yet and still needs the combat balancing. As such, I can’t honestly recommend it. It’s arguably the worst version of Ultima 1 I’ve played, with the only competition being the Apple II original (purely due to the excruciating slow speed). It’s great to have these games finally show up after all these years but I don’t think I’ll be rushing to play #2 for all that. Assuming that Ultima 3 turns out to be a faithful port, I expect that 1 & 2 were afterthoughts knocked out quickly using the same engine.