Ultima (1981)

cover Unbenannt

I remember playing the first Ultima (86 Dos remake) due to my want to play through all of them up to the final one. Due to my disappointment with the game I actually stopped there. I still want to play at least starting with the fourth up to the last one, but only time will tell when that’ll happen.

My disappointment with the first Ultima wasn’t due to the graphics, since I’m pretty immune to low res images. Done well they can be as appealing as any modern game. What really stopped me was the limited gameplay and sameness of the dungeons. All you do is level up, find some places (as part of quests with the consequence of raising your attributes and getting new equipment) and go down into dungeons to kill monsters. Since you can find all the monsters in all the dungeons, you actually need to map only one of them to solve that part of the game. The dungeons themselves are pretty boring and not much fun, even for people who like dungeon crawlers (in comparison the early Wizardry’s had much more inventive dungeon designs, despite other weaknesses). The cities aren’t that diverse either, so despite going to different places, you’ll never feel like exploring the game world is actually worth it. And the science fiction elements really didn’t fit the rest of the game, unlike say in the later Wizardy’s.

Since the first Ultima is one of the earliest cRPGs, it understandable why the gameplay is so basic, but that still doesn’t change the fact that I hadn’t much fun with it. Interestingly, I disliked the first parts in the Final Fantasy and Dungeon Quest series of jRPGs for similar reason. Plot nearly nonexistent, gameplay too simple and mostly consisting of level-grinding. One can easily see the influences.