Monday, March 17, 2014

Ultima: Exodus (NES, 1989)

To celebrate St. Paddy's Day, I'm looking at a game that has nothing to do with drinking but has a lot of the color green.

This is the third game in the Ultima series; the first to get an NES version.

This is from the time when you had to register filenames before you started playing. Mine is noble Sir Douch. Pronounced  "Dowwssh".

 Looks like there are a ton of possible character classes in this game... but it assigns them randomly. Seriously? Not gonna let me choose between all of these classes? There are more than FF1 OR Dragon Quest 3. Mixing and matching a party with this many choices would be interesting.

 Instead, you get four randomly-generated pairs and can choose one character from each pair. These two look equivalent, but I go with the one who looks like a typical Dragon Quest warrior.

 The mighty Ass has arrived.

 Next up is the wisened mage, Herp. He can't be too wise, because he's got an embarassing case of... you guessed it, the clap.

And this sultry jezebel is a paladin. Seriously? There's a race called Bobit? Is her special attack a choppy-choppy of the pee-pee? I think that it's supposed to be Hobbit but they ran out of spaces.


::rock and roll plays::

 It seems that the bastardly wizard Exodus is running wild in the land of Britannia, and even though Lord British is like the Gokou of his world, he leaves it up to our brave heroes and their noob-stats to save the day.

 And we're dropped on the overworld with little fanfare. Damn, Dragon Warrior much? Got the first town next to the first castle and everything.

 I really like the way you can see enemies in this game rather than having invisible random encounters. That one element of gameplay alone is very impressive and ahead of its time.

 Getting into a battle takes you to a separate screen where you can movie characters around individually and issue commands. It's like a mini strategy game. Ya know, I was all ready to not like this incredibly antiquated game, but now? It's actually pretty cool. Definitely has some features that I haven't seen anywhere else in this era.

 Time to introduce the party: ASS, the brave warrior. HERP, the STD-addled mage. NUN, the...uh...nun. And finally... DIANE.

 Winning a battle doesn't get you anything besides some very paltry exp. However, enemies leave a chest on the ground after fights, and you can open that for a pretty substantial amount of gold. Gotta say, the gold intake here is much higher than the beginning of Dragon Warrior.

 WAIT WHAT THE HELL? That gold came with a deadly side-effect. A trap. A trap that took off more than half of my entire party's HP. This is THE FIRST CHEST THAT I'VE OPENED.

 Interesting... walk through woods and you get limited visibility. That actually makes a lot of sense.

 Time to head into town and look for an inn. The townspeople have a lot to say. So, what makes Exodus evil? What did he do? Did he do anything? Or did Lord British just tell you he had WMDs or somesuch poppycock (excuse my language)?

The armor shop is full of stuff I can in no way shape or form afford. I could probably very slowly grind up some money for the more potent armor, but who knows how many traps I'd get owned by in the process. people still say "owned"?

Moments after this picture was taken, DIANE started putting on the LEATHER. Oh baby! As if that heart-shaped shield didn't have me hot and bothered already!

 The weapon shop is (oddly enough) MUCH MUCH MUCH more affordable. I could actually get some good equipment here in short order if I weren't completely terrified of opening chests after fights.

 Well, it IS St. Paddy's Day. But I'll have to pass. Still need to find that inn...

No inn in sight. I thought maybe Lord British would heal our heroes, but nope. He just mumbles about how we should return when we have higher experience levels.

Interesting how so much of the screen is blackness. Anything outside of your current room is obscured. Likely to save on memory space. Considering this came along in 1989, it really does look like a game from 1985 or so at best.

 Ho ho ho! An in-joke for the Nintendo fans! Bet the PC version didn't have this.

 No shit. Thanks for the warning. I'd still open them if I had a reliable way to get restored...

 What? NO! I walk over this one-tile-wide stream of water and it kills off my fighter. I actually didn't think it'd let me walk over the water. Not only did it indeed allow it, it dropped him right in to his death.

 NO! NOT DIANE TOO! This happened while I was moving off of the water tile. NUN also bit the dust.

And then there was one. HERP is really the worse for wear at this point. He has survived booby trapped chest, booby trapped floors, and the succulent boobies of DIANE in leather.

Oh thank God! This must be the inn! Help us! HELP US!!!

 Well, even though we're supposed to save the land from Exodus, they can't charge us a decent rate on revivals. One revive is waaaay more than I have gold.

I do, however, have the option to give blood. I try doing that, thinking that the benevolent HERP can perhaps save a life before I turn the game off. Unfortunately, he apparently bled out after I stepped on that small pool.

 There isn't much left to do but celebrate St. Paddy's Day in style.



 Eventually, they cut off our hero, and he goes outside to bleed out the rest of the way.

 ...or not, as he apparently has quite a few HP left. I take on some foes...and win, surprisingly. Casters are quite formidable in this game, plus early-game foes seem to be extremely weak.

OHHH NO. I know better than to open anything foes leave.

HERP is on a rampage!

The boxes are piling up and the mage is still owning everything in sight. Basically, if I hadn't been slaughtered by a trap and a puddle, I'd be rollin' by now. Probably should have started the game over.

 Finally, HERP bites the dust.


Unfortunately, dying doesn't bring back the party... just the last survivor. I could probably farm up the gold for reviving everyone with HERP's super soloing ability. Though it'd be easier to start over and avoid those traps I ran into. That said, I'm going to pass on this one. Seems like a surprisingly decent RPG for the time, but I can tell that it's very unforgiving. By all accounts, Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, the follow-up to this game, is a far superior RPG. If I'm going to play a game from this series all the way through, it'll probably be that one instead.


  1. ULTIMA?? For some reason I never expected to see one of these here. IV is much better than III, yes. Hoping that you'll take a quick look at the whole series, but that might be asking too much...

    1. The problem with taking a look at the whole series: Each game has like five different versions on different systems. These versions are very very different from one another, not just straight ports. Exodus has at least one PC version that looks completely different from the NES version. The first two games have versions on every kind of Atari AND various DOS versions. And so on for all nine games. I have no idea which version would be best to cover for each installment because different people swear by different systems. I have no desire to check out every version of every game in the series, but perhaps I could pick one version of each (console if possible) and take a quick look at all of them, with a longer look at IV (the one I've picked for a full playthrough). I'll do a short look at Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny in the near future, for starters.

      Also, thanks for not busting my balls for the fact that this post is essentially me completely botching the game.

    2. I'll help you out.
      I and II - PC, IV and V - NES, VI and VII - SNES, VIII and IX - PC
      That's if you want to be on consoles as much as possible.

  2. Botching nothing, this is a completely accurate portrayal of what happened to a lot of players who rented this. In addition to being a brilliant retelling of Herp's Strange Adventure.

  3. This was really different and awesome. Laughed a lot and am actually looking forward to seeing more posts like it! Brightened my day.