Posted by: Ben | January 6, 2010

Ultima Part 3: Bossfight

Click here for more about Man vs Genre.
Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here.

The last time I died, it took hours of slow progression to get back to where I had been. But this time I have two advantages. One, my stats have increased, not by much, but it should at least count for something. Two, somehow my aircar is still parked where I left it, which I honestly wasn’t expecting the game to remember. Unfortunately, a bunch of monsters are stood around it, possibly trying to hotwire it. In my attempt to retrieve it, I am spat to death by a Dragon Turtle, cuing a short sequence of respawning and sprinting to the aircar as quickly as possible while trying to dodge the attentions of assorted rangers, necromancers and invisible archers.

Once I make it to the vehicle I have a moment of revelation. It doesn’t seem to mention it anywhere in the game, but surely this has a built-in laser beam, right? What kind of fantasy world would give me an aircar without a laser beam. Sure enough, pressing F unleashes a bolt of pure energy powerful enough to destroy even a Dragon Turtle with one hit. That should level the odds a bit.

I conclude that the most efficient and low-risk way to earn enough money to get into space is as follows: 1) Find the signpost that gives you a better weapon every time you land there, and 2) fly back and forth between that and another signpost until I get a blaster, followed by 3) finding a nice castle and repeatedly rescue the princess until my cash reserves start to increase. For many years hence, the bards of Sosaria shall sing of my tale as the murderer of innumerable jesters and twice as many palace guards. The real world equivalent would probably be starting one’s own company and releasing an Ultima game every two years for about 17 years.

Anyway, the biggest risk in space is leaving a space station in the wrong ship by accident, and it turns out that if you slow the emulator down enough the chances of this happening are minimal. Plus I managed to get five ships last time out, meaning I only need fifteen more to become a space ace. Interestingly, if you do shoot down more than twenty ships you get a message along the lines of “you are still a space ace.” It’s possible that greater ranks can be achieved in space, it should even be possible to clear the map of aliens entirely, but there doesn’t seem to be any reason to do so. Anyway, with my target achieved, I head home, and even manage to land safely.

Hint: Don't crash into the sun.

More dungeon action as I encounter Shamino, who gives me one last mission. I have to kill a Balron, which looks sort of like a line drawing of the Angel Of The North and can be deaded with a single shot from a blaster. Now I’m almost ready to face Mondain himself. But first, for old times’ sake, I rescue one of the princesses three more times. Hilariously, I discover that there are now four time machines to choose from.

But are they all different time machines or are they the same one at different points in its timeline?

So after overcoming a series of obstacles and gaining experience far beyond the game’s ability to record it, it’s time for the final showdown between good and evil, or at least between me and evil. I’m taken to a scary underground cave, where I surprise the wicked Mondain in the act of doing something to a big diamond. This must be the Evil Gem that the pub landlord would have told me about some time ago, had my emulator been running a little slower. I decide to shoot Mondain first and ask questions later.

After 30 hits with a blaster, Mondain falls over. Then he turns into a bat and tries to run away. Every time I shoot him, he just gets back up again. I start out assuming that he’s got a lot of hit points, but after an hour of this I realise I should probably think outside the box, and decide to shoot him while he’s down, which seems to keep him still for long enough for me to seize the gem. On the downside this act strips me of hundreds of hit points for no readily apparent reason, but on the upside, the game ends and I win. Yippee.

“Should our gratitude alone not be enough to sustain thee, know that I, Lord British, hereby ordain that the entire realm of Sosaria be at thy service for all time henceforth. So let it be done.”

Total play time: 13 hours.

Missions completed: 9 (Found the Grave of the Lost Soul; killed a Gelatinous Cube; found the Southern Sign Post; killed a Carrion Crawler; found the Pillar of Ozymandias; killed a Lich; found the Tower of Knowledge; killed a Balron; defeated Mondain, completing the game.)

Verdict: Fun at first, but monster-killing in identical looking dungeons gets old after a while. As a pure game design decision I think putting the space combat section in to break things up is, on balance, a good idea, but on this playthrough it didn’t half play havoc with my roleplaying experience, such as it was. There’s no in-game explanation of why you should be killing jesters or rescuing princesses from castles, so I would have been lost without a walkthrough – unfair or emblematic of the beauty of the exploratory nature of RPGs?

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Responses

  1. This is great stuff, and completely insane. I actually thought you were just making up the outer space stuff and had to check wikipedia to see if it was for real. Utterly bizarre.


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