Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Game 22: Ultima: Quest of the Avatar (NES) - Finished!

Have you ever stopped 10 feet before a finish line? Actually, scratch that, a better analogy... have you ever fallen asleep within the last few pages of a book? You know you didn't finish, but you can't quiet place where you left off. That's how I felt getting back to Quest of the Avatar after a long weekend. I meant to wrap it up on Saturday, but my power company had other ideas.
I like to bookend these posts with the title and very last screens, no matter how underwhelming
So, I knew that I needed to meditate (according to my notes) at the shrine of Valor, but every time I visited, I received the same message. I was too weary from my last meditation. Either I actually needed to walk around the world map to relieve my weariness, or the game hates me. I tried wandering the map in the safety of my balloon. I fought a couple battles. I spent many a night at the inn. All this to no avail.
At least someone acknowledged the passage of time
I had time to stop by Zircon's to pick up the fabled weapon. A completely useless Axe +2. It neither has value to sell, nor anyone in my party to wield it. (According to the manual only the fighter may do so.) I even visited Lord British for some final levels. With nothing else to do, I scouted out the entrance to the Abyss.
That looks likely (I should have said to myself)
In fact it was plainly one of these volcano structures. I thought maybe they were interconnected, and I needed to navigate them. Imagine then my sinking feeling as I walked over each one, taking damage, and not entering a single one. I searched, I used items, and failed to use the correct ones. I found that the bell had a certain affinity with the one pictured above, but nothing more happened.
This should have been a resounding "You are at the right spot!"
I tried to use the candle next and nothing happened. I tried the book, again nothing. I tried the bell again, and again it rang. Then I thought maybe I needed to use each one at a different volcano. You see, I think I missed a hint that told me the order I should use them in. In the end, after about 10 minutes of wandering around, I contemplated trying to meditate again at the shrine of Valor. Luckily, I gave the correct location one last chance.
Truth follows Courage
I figured this out by trying the bell twice in a row. First it rang solemnly. Second, nothing happened. I most definitely knew now I needed to use them in a certain order. Only one left to try.
And both are swallowed by Love
Strangely, the skull of Mondain crumbled to pieces as I entered the Abyss. I wonder if getting it was even necessary. As I entered the Abyss, all my companions simply vanished.
Begin end game *plop*
The Abyss is structured similarly to regular dungeons. To complicate this, the correct path down is lined with chalices where you must answer the correct virtue and place the correct stone into the cup. I'm not sure what happens when answered incorrectly. By the third or fourth level I realized the correct answers were in order.
Let's see, level two, Compassion
The stones are in the same order... really reinforces the order
And, that's it. That's the end of the game. One of the floors has a tricky little maze through the top-down rooms that litter the dungeons, but other than that it's fairly straightforward. Without the last set of gems I can imagine it being a wee bit more work, but really, who's going to play this game without using the gems?
I know there's a way down, the gem told me so
There is one last room of interest where I had to fight against clones of the companions (including my chosen class). Less interesting that it's a standard battle with no dialogue, so I wrote my own twist. I imagined a terrible discovery was made while I was adventuring; that reading from the codex would destroy Britannia. In a last ditch effort, the companions tried to stop me, but I knew this to be final test of my determination and slaughtered these doppelgangers.
Poor Ankh hasn't had anyone around to corrects it's grammar
At the Ankh, the three keys became one. I wonder if it's possible to arrive here without the keys, and what would happen. There's probably something preventing that. A stairway opened up after uniting the keys. Below this room was the Codex. Inside was the end of the game.
Some reference to Infinity
The game was pretty much on auto-pilot at this point. No further dialogue options. No access to the menus. And the game wrapped up in a ceremony above. It turns out this was a hidden area under that strange shrine, which was the very first location I plopped into when I started the game.
It begins and ends with Lord British...
Another game done. This one was a pleasant experience, though a mostly diluted one from what I hear of the PC. I plan to play through a bit of the PC and SMS versions to include some differences in my final rating. I also have a game to cut, which I may end up doing before I get the final rating post out for this game.

As for the next game, Double Dungeons, I'm going to do something a bit different. I've already completed the game in recent memory, so I'm going to dive in a bit more than usual. Into the inner workings of the game and route a speedrun for it. With my new schedule, I'll start later tonight even though I haven't quite finished posting for other games. Wish me luck.

Elapsed Time: 1h41m (Final Time: 19h03m)


  1. Lots of interesting changes between the PC version and this one.

    Ultima IV will always be one of my favourite RPGs though, and it's more for the general quest and structure of the game, which this version stays faithful to.

    I look forward to your final rating!

    1. Now that I'm done, I've been skimming over Chet's posts, and they really changed a lot more than the dialogue. Hopefully I can point out some not so obvious changes in the final rating..

  2. I'm pretty sure Ultima: Quest of the Avatar is somewhere within Nintendo Power's Top 100 Nintendo games of all time. I don't remember what issue of Nintendo Power had the list, but Goldeneye was on it, so it must have been a relatively late issue.

    I have this game on cartridge, but trying to play it after beating the PC version is sort of impossible. It's like my mind became wired to the PC version and couldn't transition to the console adaptation.

    1. Did a quick search and it's there, number 99. As for the list, "printed in the 100th issue... released in Sep 1997." It was put together by 12 people according to the wiki article here:'s_100_Best_Games_of_All_Time

      Lots of RPGs on there, so it's in good company; however, I have no idea how a game like Faceball 2000 gets on that list higher than Ultima (or anywhere on that list for that matter). It must have had a really strong supporter.

      The console adaptation seems a lot easier, but you could also watch the 2 hour speedrun, which I'll highlight in the final part of my final rating. I don't think you're missing much by skipping this port.

    2. Interesting note, the game is missing from Nintendo Power's final send off top 285 Nintendo games of all time list here:

      I wonder how many of the games made the transition between lists. No time to check at the moment.

  3. I'm interested in your rating, Zenic. This one was a game I longed for after reading about it in Nintendo Power as a kid, but never got the chance to play it (or the PC version) until I was in my late twenties (so not that long ago!). I really enjoyed it, though the music, while pretty, got tedious at times. Also, aside from finding out what to do and where to go, this one wasn't hard. Unfortunately, I rented Exodus many times as a kid...sigh...

    As an aside, I later went and played the PC version, and just couldn't get into it! Go figure.

    1. I should get it out by Monday, depends how the weekend goes. I agree, pretty straightforward if you find all the clues and write them down. Even though I had trouble with a couple of them (I was never lost for things to do) I managed to finish in less than 20 hours. According to most times online that's nearly half the PC version. It seems there are a lot more clues and keywords to find. Exodus was also the only one I played as a kid. We'll see how well I do with the PC version this weekend.

    2. Cool, looking forward to it!