By ahoodedfigure 4 Comments
I loaded up both Savage Empire and Martian Dreams after getting them free from GOG. I actually managed to get pretty far in Savage Empire by just charging into the jungle, killing some of the local wildlife, and figuring out pretty early how to get people to "join" my group, but when I reached a river where a raft and some paddles lay, I never could figure out how to get the damn thing to go. Maybe it needed an extra person, I only had three at the time, but it would be nice if it gave me some feedback on this.
Playing a bit of Martian Dreams solidified a long-ago held impression that it was by far the more refined of the two games, despite the appeal of Savage Empire's subject matter for my pulpy heart, so it's probably going to be the one I'll seriously play. The I-need-a-V8 slanty presentation and the inventory system are a bit clunky to me, but I want to see if I'll be able to get hints of the progress through the game that I'd made when I'd first played it a long time ago, back when I borrowed it from a friend of mine.
It also seems a bit turn-based, which I remember Ultima VII not being, perhaps wrongly. That's a great relief to me, since I remember U7 being a nightmare to play, even on an intended system that happened to be running it a little fast. Of course since it's emulated through Dosbox, old Martian Dreams shouldn't be too bad. And hey, Martian Dreams allows you a bit more customization for your character. Progressive nuff.
It's a bit charming how both narratives try to shoehorn the Avatar into the adventures, but I feel it has better solidity than... I guess other possible contrivances, and Martian Dreams even manages to project a healthy amount of John Carter of Mars without seeming like a low-rent imitation.
I'll admit this, like I have before: old-school RPGs are intimidating to me, even though I'm a fan of them in theory. I guess it's taken me years to realize that some games are a lot nicer to the player than others, that it pays to have a bit of faith in the designer that they're not going to create something cruelly difficult, even if it's an older design.
Lemme know if you have any memories of the Worlds of Ultima games!