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Ultima
The logo for Ultima.
Developer(s) Origin Systems
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Year introduced 1980
Genre(s) Role-playing

Ultima is a series of fantasy computer role-playing games from Origin Systems, Inc. Ultima was created by Richard Garriott, alias Lord British. Several games of the series are considered seminal games of their genre. Today, Electronic Arts holds the brand.

The main Ultima series consists of nine installments (the seventh title is further divided into two parts) grouped into three trilogies, or "Ages": The Age of Darkness (Ultima I-III), The Age of Enlightenment (Ultima IV-VI), and The Age of Armageddon (Ultima VII-IX). The latter is also sometimes referred to as "The Guardian Saga" after its chief antagonist. The first trilogy is set in a fantasy world named Sosaria, but during the cataclysmic events of The Age of Darkness, it is sundered and three quarters of it vanish. What is left becomes known as Britannia, a realm ruled by the benevolent Lord British, and is where the later games mostly take place. The protagonist in all the games is a canonically male resident of Earth who is called upon by Lord British to protect Sosaria and, later, Britannia from a number of dangers. Originally, the player character was referred as to "the Stranger", but by the end of Ultima IV he becomes universally known as the Avatar.

Many innovations of the early Ultimas, in particular Ultima III: Exodus (1983), eventually became standard among later RPGs in both the console (if somewhat simplified to fit the gamepad) and the personal computer markets, such as the use of tiled graphics and party-based combat, its mix of fantasy and science-fiction elements, and the introduction of time travel as a plot device. The game was also revolutionary in its use of a written narrative to convey a larger story than the typically minimal plots that were common at the time. Most video games, including Garriott's own Ultima I and II and Akalabeth, tended to focus primarily on things like combat without venturing much further. In addition, Garriott would introduce in Ultima IV a theme that would persist throughout later Ultimas: a system of chivalry and code of conduct in which the player, or "Avatar", is tested periodically (in both obvious and unseen ways) and judged according to his or her actions. This system of morals and ethics was unique, in that in other video games players could for the most part act and do as they wished without having to consider the consequences of their actions.

Ultima III would go on to be released for many other platforms and influence the development of such console role-playing games as Excalibur and Dragon Quest; and many consider the game to be the first modern computer RPG.

Game list[edit]

The vast majority of Ultima games belong to the computer role-playing genre (where the genre is not specified).

Sorting the table by Number (N.), the games will be listed according to continuity.

N. Title Year Genre Systems
0 Akalabeth: World of Doom 1979 Flag of the United States.svg Apple II
Age of Darkness
1 Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness 1981 Globe.svg Apple II, A400, C64
Remakes: MS-DOS, Apple IIGS
Flag of Japan.svg MSX2, PC-8801, PC-9801
2 Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress 1982 Globe.svg Apple II, A8, MS-DOS, C64, ST, Mac
Flag of Japan.svg FM-7, PC-8801, PC-9801, MSX2
3 Ultima III: Exodus 1983 Globe.svg Apple II, C64, Amiga, A800, ST, MS-DOS, Mac
Remake: NES
Flag of Japan.svg FM-7, PC-8801, PC-9801, MSX2, X1
Age of Enlightenment
4 Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar 1985 Globe.svg Apple II, C64, Amiga, A800, ST, MS-DOS, Mac
Remakes: NES, SMS
Flag of Japan.svg FM-7, FM-Towns, PC-8801, PC-9801, MSX2, X1, X68000
5 Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny 1988 Globe.svg Apple II, C64, Amiga, ST, MS-DOS, (NES)
Fan-made remake: MS-Win (Lazarus)
Flag of Japan.svg FM-Towns, PC-9801, X68000
6 Ultima VI: The False Prophet 1990 Globe.svg MS-DOS, ST, Amiga, C64, SNES
Flag of Japan.svg FM-Towns, PC-9801, X68000
Ultima 6 spin-offs
6.2 Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire 1990 Globe.svg MS-DOS
Flag of Japan.svg SNES, X68000
6.3 Ultima Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams 1991 Globe.svg MS-DOS
5.8 Ultima: Runes of Virtue 1991 Action-adventure Globe.svg GB
5.9 Ultima: Runes of Virtue 2 1993 Action-adventure Globe.svg GB, SNES
6.4 Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss 1992 Action-RPG Globe.svg MS-DOS
Flag of Japan.svg FM-Towns, PC-9801, PS1
7.1 Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds 1993 Action-RPG Globe.svg MS-DOS
Flag of Japan.svg FM-Towns, PC-9801
Age of Armageddon
7 Ultima VII: The Black Gate 1992 Globe.svg MS-DOS, (SNES)
Fan-made remake: MS-Win (Exult)
7.2 Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle 1993 Globe.svg MS-DOS
Fan-made remake: MS-Win (Exult)
8 Ultima VIII: Pagan 1994 Globe.svg MS-DOS
9 Ultima IX: Ascension 1999 Action-RPG Globe.svg MS-Win
Online
99 Ultima Online 1997 MMO RPG Globe.svg MS-Win (1997-today)
99 Lord of Ultima 2010 MMO strategy Globe.svg MS-Win (2010-2014)
99 Ultima Forever: Quest of the Avatar 2013 MMO RPG Globe.svg Mobile phones (2013-2014)

Related games[edit]

Many games are referenced throughout the series. They are other games by Origin Systems or older games developed by Origin members before they joined the company.

As a final note, Space Rogue is often referred to as "Ultima in Space"; gameplay-wise, it's the link from the Ultima to the Wing Commander series.

Ports[edit]

Computer ports[edit]

Every Ultima game up to the 6th one was released for several different computer systems. The following table does not list all existing ports, but only the original and the most advanced ones. For a detailed list of all the ports, see the individual game guides.

Title Original port Most advanced English port
Ultima 1 Apple II (1981) 1986: MS-DOS
1994: Apple IIGS (harder gameplay)
Ultima 2 Apple II (1982) 1983: C-64
Ultima 3 Apple II (1983) 1986: C-Amiga
1988: NES (modified sub-quests)
Ultima 4 Apple II (1985) 1988: C-Amiga & Atari ST
1990: NES (modified sub-quests)
Ultima 5 Apple II (1988) 1989: Atari ST
2001: MS-DOS w/ fan-made music patch
Title Original port Most advanced English port
Ultima 6 MS-DOS (1990) 1990: MS-DOS
Ultima 7 MS-DOS (1992) 2008: Exult (fan-made)
Ultima 7.2 MS-DOS (1993) 2008: Exult (fan-made)
Ultima 8 MS-DOS (1994) 1995: MS-DOS w/ 2 official patches
Ultima 9 MS-Windows (1999) 2001: MS-Win w/ 1 official & 2 fan-made patches

Console ports[edit]

Five Ultima games were ported to Nintendo consolles, and one to the Sega Master System. Obviously, changes had to be made for two main reasons: (1) consolles use joypad instead of keyboard; (2) consolle cartridges have limited memory.

In general, ports developed in Japan managed to be more faithful to the original than the ports developed in the USA. Indeed, the US-made Nintendo ports of Ultima V and VII are so different from the original versions that separate guides are necessary on StrategyWiki.

Sorting the table by R. (Rate), the games will be listed from the most faithful to their original.

Game Port Development and main differences R
Ultima III: Exodus NES
  • Developed in Japan;
  • Greatly improved graphics; full-screen field of view;
  • Added quests to supply the lack of keyboard commands.
3
Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar NES
  • Developed in Japan;
  • Greatly improved graphics; full-screen field of view;
  • Random encounters with enemies invisible on the field (as in Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest);
  • Simplified sea travel.
4
Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar SMS
  • Developed in Japan by Sega;
  • The most faithful consolle port of an Ultima game;
  • Top-down perspective in dungeons, instead of first-person (it is the only real change).
1
Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny
(NES guide)
NES
  • Developed in USA, never exported; considered the worst consolle port;
  • Sluggish commands, non-existing music and sounds;
  • Developers tried to recreate Ultima 6 graphics and gameplay with hardware and software limited to the level of Ultima 4.
6
Ultima VI: The False Prophet SNES
  • Developed in Japan;
  • Full-screen field of view;
  • Due to memory limits: no character portraits, no character creation, 50 spells instead of 80, party of 6 instead of 8.
2
Ultima VII: The Black Gate
(SNES guide)
SNES
  • Developed in USA;
  • No party: the Avatar travels alone;
  • Simplified magic system: 16 spells instead of 72, no purchasing, no reagents;
  • Extra dungeons.
5