Title: Ultima: Quest of the Avatar
Released: Dec 1990 (Sep 20, 1989 JP)
Platform: NES (SMS published by Sega)
Developer: Origin (Port: Infinity Co., Ltd., Newtopia Planning | Localized: Atelier Double Co. Ltd.)
Publisher: Pony Canyon
Exploration - Top-down
Combat - Turn-based by party with terrain
Series - Ultima
Apologies for the length, in time since my last post and that of this one. In any case, I'm back! This time exploring the lands of Britannia in the next installment of Ultima. For some reason the series' console ports dropped the roman numerals. I suppose this was because Ultima III was the first game on console; however, the instruction manual for this game covers the past three games clearly labeling them 1-2-3. Adding to the oddities, the story of Ultima: Exodus was summarized as, "a group of adventurers defeated an evil serpent." I suppose they don't want to reveal too much, but this seems like a strange way to shorten it as Exodus becomes a star of ill-omen that portents the serpent's release.
|Real moral choices like these haven't appeared in the game yet|
|I'm really unsure those beads stand for anything|
|Lord British's castle is hidden by the menu|
|Only a few enemies have ranged attacks|
|All the answers you seek are here|
|Meditating at the shrine of Compassion we learn that the game and manual differ on what to call the symbol of love|
|I wish, and also don't want, all runes this easy to find|
|Iolo brushing me off to sing songs|
|A meager sum gained from a rough battle just after leveling up|
|The only map I'd have access to if I rented this game as a kid|
|The manual's map with moongate key|
The main theme behind compassion is showing love and care for others despite all circumstance. Throughout my journey across the land I found numerous beggars, blind merchants who can't count their own coins, and pubs asking for generous tips. I visited each and generously passed out my gold. The rune of compassion was easily found at the foot of the stairs in the inn, helpfully pointed out by a random townsfolk. I found this early, and stopped by the shrine to meditate. To enter a shrine requires the correct rune. Once inside I had the option to meditate for one, two, or three cycles. I chose three cycles, and received a strange clue about lighting the Candle of Love at the Abyss.
|So, are you saying it's around here somewhere?|
|Partial Avatarhood, or partial virtue... it's so confusing|
My first companion was Dupre (a paladin), and I picked up a bow in Trinsic. Honor (along with Valor) were the first two virtues in which I reached the level of Avatarhood, but unlike Compassion, I don't have a clue where the runes are hiding. There's an old man preparing for the harvest, and I think I'm supposed to figure out when that is according to the phases of the moon, but I haven't deciphered his cryptic message yet.
|I didn't try very hard, but reading this now it might be a full moon next to a new moon|
|Seems I need to drop coins for everything|
My second companion was the tinker Julius. A tinker seems to be a mix of fighter with just a touch of magic. He's been a solid companion. The rune of sacrifice was hidden inside a blacksmith's furnace, knowledge gained by giving gold to an injured man. I've yet to reach Avatarhood in this virtue, but I've recently learned that I need to donate blood to raise this value. I believe to get that option at the healers I need to be in sufficient health.
|Meditation proves useful for the virtue I considered|
|The Lich is the strongest enemy I've faced, capable of casting Tremor|
My third companion, Mariah, came from Moonglow. This virtue has been one of the hardest to track. I'm really unsure how to move this up. To prevent it from falling I believe I must not take other people's treasure, but does the game really track that I've avoided the temptation? I received a clue for the location of the rune as, "don't you see it? three spaces south!" I figured out quickly the directions weren't from the person speaking as she kept moving, but from an oddly placed tile.
|Seriously, how is 'Yes' the correct answer here? It's like those "do you mind..." style of questions... In fact this isn't even a question with the period there and all|
|It's a secret to everybody|
I enjoy the ranger class. The power of a fighter, the magic of a cleric, and the stealth of a rogue. Unfortunately, I either get locked into the first three companions, or the game locks out Shamino until I gain a number of levels. I'm not sure collecting all the companions is necessary, but it's something to do. The rune and stone are missing, and will take some snooping around to find.
|This is where I learned to look for hidden rooms|
Geoff the fighter is another companion that won't join me. He suggests I, "fight more." Well thanks for nothing. I'm already at Avatarhood status in this virtue, but once again locating the rune is proving troublesome. I suppose I could go after the stones in the dungeons first. It's possible fighting through there is the only way to get the attention of Geoff, and possibly the rune.
|This man in black, can you describe him?|
|So, that's a ghost horse behind me?|
The town of Yew is hidden inside the forests north of Britain, and east of Empath Abbey (castle of love). Jaana needs me to prove myself worthy of her company before she'll join. The rune was kept safe by Ramus, but he's misplaced it. Apparently someone, or somewhere named Vorpal has it, or knows where it is. I was told by the Judge Talfourd that I was honest enough and needed to speak with penitent Vorpal, but I haven't found him at all. He may be a prisoner below the court, but once again I'm without keys.
|Darkest secrets? I'll tell you some dark secrets...|
|Where's this Vorpal place you may have mistranslated?|
The town centered around humility was destroyed long ago. In the distant past they believed pride was a virtue, and speedily came their destruction. Now the place is covered in poison swamps, crumbling buildings, and badgering monsters. I suppose the impulse to attack would be a lot stronger if it encouraged me after every slight, but hiding the attack command in the menu prevented me from acting on it. I was told they don't have use for the treasure below town, and I was free to take it. It was a flute, whose purpose baffles me.
|Must... refrain...from... attack|
|Oh! Look! Treasure! Mine! Is what I'd say in any other game...|
|Pirates are laughably easy|
Buccaneer's Den offered up a chance for dishonesty through posing as pirates, but I declined. I learned of the location of Mondain's skull, which I picked up shortly after. A hint for the Silver Horn also proved fruitful. I'm really glad no one seems to lie in this game. I also ran into a pirate named Ramsel, who I remembered had someone looking for him. I couldn't inform him of that though, so I suppose I'll have to revisit that location, wherever it was.
|If only I had a clue for what a shoal looks like this game|
|Okay... and which one is the great castle again?|
|Eternal dirge? Forever song?|
|I didn't realize those monsters were facing away from me until I already attacked, I hope the hit to Valor isn't much|
|I was to seek out the last ingredient for the life spell from her, but this is all she says|
|This is a cryptic clue for one of the ingredients to Tremor I believe|
|The "password" to all hidden shop menus, just press select|
Elapsed Time: 5h49m (Total Time: 5h49m)
Edit: Nicolay Garkusha helpfully pointed out that this game was also available on the SMS. Published by Sega, which is a more faithful port of the PC game. Although you don't type commands, the basic topics of Name, Job, and Health are presented as menu options when speaking to each NPC. This is contrasted with the single Talk command on the NES. I'll test drive that version and PC, and report more on the differences in the final rating post. Going forward, I'll do my best to mention other versions of the game and why I chose to play the one I did. In some cases, I may even open up polls so readers can vote for the version I play. Yet another topic for the end of year post.