Ultima 1-2-3 on GOG.COM

I was born in 1982 and even back then Richard Garriott's ground-breaking computer RPG series collectively known as Ultima had been around for a couple of years already (especially if you count Akalabeth). The first three games in the series (respectively subtitled The First Age of Darkness, The Revenge of the Enchantress and Exodus) have now been re-released as a downloadable pack on Good Old Games for the reasonable price of $5.99. Especially given the apparently inferior quality of the DOS remakes (released as they were several years after the original Apple versions), it's unclear whether anyone will actually play these positively ancient games. However, the historical significance of Ultima 1-2-3 is so immense that GOG.COM and Electronic Arts deserves credit for simply making them easily available in legal form.

That said, I have no personal connection to the Ultima series whatsoever. Due to my comparative youth I obviously don't have any fond memories of playing Ultima 1-3 at the time of their original release, but it would have been at least theoretically possible for me to play Ultima 6-9 - or at the very least Pagan (8) and Ascension (9) - since they were all released during an extended, PC-exclusive part of my gaming life. However, I got into PC RPGs comparatively late (around the time FTL released the excellent Dungeon Master II (1995), to be precise) so I pretty much missed the entirety of this series, and before buying this GOG compilation the only Ultima game I legally owned was an old retail copy of The False Prophet I found in a second hand shop in 2009.

Buy Ultima 1-2-3 here:

http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/ultima_1_2_3

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Posted by Egge

I was born in 1982 and even back then Richard Garriott's ground-breaking computer RPG series collectively known as Ultima had been around for a couple of years already (especially if you count Akalabeth). The first three games in the series (respectively subtitled The First Age of Darkness, The Revenge of the Enchantress and Exodus) have now been re-released as a downloadable pack on Good Old Games for the reasonable price of $5.99. Especially given the apparently inferior quality of the DOS remakes (released as they were several years after the original Apple versions), it's unclear whether anyone will actually play these positively ancient games. However, the historical significance of Ultima 1-2-3 is so immense that GOG.COM and Electronic Arts deserves credit for simply making them easily available in legal form.

That said, I have no personal connection to the Ultima series whatsoever. Due to my comparative youth I obviously don't have any fond memories of playing Ultima 1-3 at the time of their original release, but it would have been at least theoretically possible for me to play Ultima 6-9 - or at the very least Pagan (8) and Ascension (9) - since they were all released during an extended, PC-exclusive part of my gaming life. However, I got into PC RPGs comparatively late (around the time FTL released the excellent Dungeon Master II (1995), to be precise) so I pretty much missed the entirety of this series, and before buying this GOG compilation the only Ultima game I legally owned was an old retail copy of The False Prophet I found in a second hand shop in 2009.

Buy Ultima 1-2-3 here:

http://www.gog.com/en/gamecard/ultima_1_2_3

Posted by Twisted_Scot

I want a New ultima :( 
Or an Ultima VII remake, as long as I can force Iolo to carry all the food again.

Posted by Maluvin

Ultima 4 through 7 were the pinnacle of the series for me personally.  When 4 came out there was just nothing like it because it took the entire genre beyond being simply about killing, leveling, and looting and a final showdown with the Big Bad.

Posted by kalmis

Must buy for that price. I only started my Ultima with the fith game back in the C64 days. Need to revisit that and those earlier games soon.

Edited by ArbitraryWater

There's something to be said for importance in regards to the Ultima series, especially the earlier ones. That doesn't mean that any of those games are reasonably playable for anyone who isn't trying very, very, hard. I imagine VII is the earliest I could go personally, but that's because my level of tolerance for the crap old DOS games throw at me starts somewhere around 1991, or whenever Isles of Terra came out. Now, if GOG released Wizardry 8 so I could legally own it, that'd be cool. That's not going to happen because of the weirdness involving the license somehow being owned by some Japanese company, but that game deserves better than to be sold on Ebay for exorbitant prices.

But I'm not going to re-purchase Wizardry VII if GOG ever gets that license to mess with, having fairly impulsively purchased the actual floppies around the time I had just gotten my Ebay account. Man. That was fucking stupid. Regardless of any qualitative assertions, Wizardry VII is not worth the $20 or so I paid for it, not being a collector of any kind.

Edited by Egge

@ArbitraryWater: On second thought, I think Ultima 1-2-3 could be played and enjoyed on some level since the fundamentally unchanged, inherently addictive RPG elements of exploration, building up your character and completing quests are all present even in these early games. What's more, there's a pleasing back-to-basics purity about the borderline abstract presentation, extremely focused gameplay and uncluttered UI of U1-3. Indeed, it could be argued that the more messy interfaces, complex mechanics and detailed but in some ways even more clearly dated graphics of later Ultima titles could be more difficult to handle than the clean, almost slick minimalism of U1-3 (as an example of the oppposite I guess I'm thinking of Ultima VI in particular, although I've only played a little of it). When it comes to really old games, less can definitely be more.

On the subject of Wizardry VII, I'm certainly no collector nor do I have any nostalgic feelings towards to the game since I played it through so recently, but a well-preserved legal copy of Wizardry VII for $20 is a great find in my book. Of course, that's just my opinion since I happen to like the game, so I would assume that the curious "regardless of any qualitative assertions" passage implies that you're simply not interested in playing the game, ever. Any other assessment of what a game is "worth" paying for can surely only come from those collectors with which neither of us have anything in common.

But, yeah, Wizardry 8 on GOG would be awesome, and at least in principle I see no reason why whichever company owns the license wouldn't be interested in selling an old game again (unless they're somehow opposed to free money), especially since the continuing stream of Japanese Wizardry titles seem to indicate that they still want to capitalize on the IP. With the Sir-Tech Wizardry games specifically (a small minority of the franchise at this point) there might be further legal complications I don't know about, though.

Posted by Von

I seriously doubt anyone in this day and age could enjoy the mess that was Ultima II. The first one and the third one blew my mind when they came out but the second.. well, that's a game I woved never, EVER to play again after I finished it.   
 
I do envy those of you who haven't played Ultima 1 before though. The later stages of that RPG are just pure gold (and utterly whimsical. ;)).

Posted by Bloodgraiv3

I guess I'm going to have to buy this.
Posted by Maluvin
@Von said:
I seriously doubt anyone in this day and age could enjoy the mess that was Ultima II. The first one and the third one blew my mind when they came out but the second.. well, that's a game I woved never, EVER to play again after I finished it.     I do envy those of you who haven't played Ultima 1 before though. The later stages of that RPG are just pure gold (and utterly whimsical. ;)).
2 was an absolute beast.  It also has such a different vibe than the others.  
Posted by GreggD

I bought it yesterday, but I'm not sure why.