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Nemoide
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Re: Together Retro: Ultima IV

by Nemoide Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:18 pm

The SMS version makes some things, like that telescope, a LOT more user-friendly. The telescope lets you select options A THROUGH P, so A, B, C, D, etc. and they'll give you maps of different towns/castles/villages (I think showing maps is all it does). In the SMS version you just get a little menu of options which is WAY better to deal with than actually typing anything. The only things that need to be explicitly spelled out in the SMS version are the mantras.

Also you won't be able to reach the Shrine of Honesty until you've gotten a ship, which you won't be able to get until you've leveled up from Lord British. (Ships appear randomly in the ocean and once you've fought pirates, you take their ship.)
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Nemoide
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Re: Together Retro: Ultima IV

by Nemoide Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:39 pm

WELL, I FINALLY BEAT THE GAME; MIGHT AS WELL POST ABOUT IT!

Ultima IV is a unique game in how it requires the player to really study the design of the game-world in order to complete puzzles. It only occurred to me yesterday that even though I was making good progress in collecting "virtues stones" in dungeons with the help of dungeon maps (also "up" and "down" spells can let you bypass a lot of the challenges of dungeons) I didn't know what combination of stones to use in the Altars of the Three Principles! (The Principles are Love, Courage, and Truth, FYI.) I had had found someone telling me what color combination to use at one of the altars, but for the others the clues are less obvious. In the castles which correspond to each of the Three Principles, you notice people with certain jobs within, as well as clues about which cities are related to that certain Principle. I then visited all the cities to make sure I had the right correspondences between the color of the stones and the various jobs.

This is the kind of puzzle solving that makes Ultima IV stand out as a special game decades after its release. Unfortunately, the final dungeon has the kind of oldschool 80s-PC-RPG gameplay that (rightfully) turns off modern players. Some rooms in the Abyss give you know clue as to what direction you are supposed to go in to progress and actually HIDE THE CORRECT EXITS on invisible parts of the floor with no indication that there even IS a hidden exit! Even with a dungeon map, it wasn't always easy. The cool aspect about the final dungeon is that on each floor, you're asked a question about a certain Virtue and have to answer correctly and know the corresponding stone! I was glad I reviewed the virtue/color correspondences before trying to get to the end!

At the end of the dungeon, you have to answer a series of questions about the ethical system of the game: the meanings of various Virtues, the relationship between Principles, a "word of passage" and the like. It's really a unique sort of climax but it definitely worked at making the ending feel significant. The whole thing felt a little like an elaborate Mason-style initiation ritual masquerading as an 80s computer game!

I don't think the philosophy of the game carries over to reality all too amazingly, but it tries to and that is something that is still exceedingly rare in video games. I look forward to playing the sequels to find out more about how the game's ethical-structure/philosophical basis are explored. Apparently Ultima V involves Lord British's disappearance and a new king who uses the virtues to tyrannize the land! (But I want to get a Mockingboard clone for my Apple II before I give that a go. Music makes the game more enjoyable.)
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Together Retro: Ultima IV

by BoneSnapDeez Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:40 pm

Nice work. Glad someone saw this through.
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