|Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress|
|Publisher(s)||Sierra Online, Origin Systems|
|System(s)||Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, Atari ST, Macintosh, Fujitsu FM-7, MSX2, NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, Windows|
|Preceded by||Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness|
|Followed by||Ultima III: Exodus|
Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress, developed for the Apple II computer and published by Sierra Online on August 24, 1982, is the second computer role-playing game in the Ultima series. It was also the only official Ultima game published by Sierra On-Line. Controversy with Sierra over royalties for the MS-DOS port of this game led the series creator Richard Garriott to start his own company, Origin Systems. The game was inspired by and drew elements from the 1981 movie Time Bandits by director Terry Gilliam.
The gameplay is similar to the previous game in the series, Ultima 1. However, the scope of this game is much broader in that there are several more areas to explore, despite exactly 50% of them being optional and therefore not needed to complete the game. This includes all of the dungeons and towers as well as most of the solar system planets.
A unique characteristic of Ultima 2 is the strong presence of random events: most items can only be obtained by chance from defeated enemies; when raising the character's attributes, the specific attribute raised is selected at random; the maximum value of the character's attributes is also random as the attribute-raising process has to stop when any one attribute rises higher than 95, as otherwise the character will be punished (refer to the Fan-made patches section below).
In the game, the player has to travel to five different time periods of Earth, using what are known as time gates. The periods are: Pangea age (about 300 to 250 million years ago), 1423 B.C. ("before the dawn of civilization"), 1990 A.D., the 2112 A.D. aftermath, and the Time of Legends (a timeless period). In 2112 A.D., the player also has to travel to space, where he can visit all the planets in the solar system.
From the game's introduction:
- You start your quest lost and alone with only your wits to defend and guide you. Don't despair! Before long, you'll have people standing in line to meet you!!!
- Pick up some useful tips in a local bar.
- Hobnobbing with royalty is expensive, but you'll receive something you need.
- You'll travel the high seas in search of adventure, but watch out for those pesky sea serpents!!
- Dungeons and towers are dark and scary places, but the treasures they hold must be obtained to get further on your mission!!
- In time you will leave earth and travel to other planets in our solar system. Be sure to pack for a night away from home.
- When you return you must be prepared to face the ultimate challenge, to destroy the evil enchantress who has enslaved the entire universe: Minax!!
- The original text had no verb in the sentence, but just a preposition.
- The original text uses the French verb "voyage" intead of the English verb "travel".
From the game's manual, we learn that the lover of the dark wizard Mondain, the enchantress Minax, is threatening Earth through disturbances in the space-time continuum. The player must guide the hero through time and space (quite literally) in order to thwart her evil plot.
The young Minax survived her mentor's and lover's death at the hands of the Stranger (in Ultima I) and went into hiding. Several years later, the much older and experienced Minax was very powerful, more so than Mondain ever was. Minax desired vengeance for the death of her lover; to do so she made use of the time gates spawned by Mondain's defeat to travel to the Time of Legends, the place representing the origin of time. From there, she sent forth her evil minions to all the different time eras and also made use of her dark powers to disturb and influence men, men who ultimately ended up destroying each other in the far future, nearly wiping out humanity. When Minax's minions emerged from the Time of Legend into present-day Sosaria, Lord British called for a hero to crush Minax's evil plans. The Stranger once again answered British's call.
The game begins with the Stranger at the start of their quest, ready to improve their abilities and acquire the necessary equipment so as to defeat Minax. Minax's castle, Shadowguard, can only be reached through these newly-spawned time gates (which are similar to moongates in the later games). Even then, an enchanted ring is still required to pass through the force fields inside the castle. Having to battle hellspawn across time and space, the war against Minax's vile legions was long and arduous, but eventually the Stranger manages to hunt down the sorceress to the Time of Legends, pursue her as she teleports throughout the castle, and finally slay her with his Quicksword, Enilno, emerging triumphant and bringing an end to the days of darkness.
Versions and patches
The following table is based on the review by Teran.
|1982||Apple II||The very first version of Ultima 2 was programmed on and released for the Apple II. The game was bigger than its predecessor, but graphically it didn't improve much, which isn't that bad, considering the time it was released.|
|1983||Atari 8-bit||The gameplay is the same, but the graphics are even worse than on Apple II.|
|1983||DOS||The graphics are the first big problem with this version. Nevertheless, 4-color CGA graphics were standard in 1983, so the programmers can't be blamed. The second problem is the speed: it's too fast for modern computers, making the use of a slowdown-utility a must.|
|1983||Commodore 64||A very good 8-bit version. The graphics are superior even to the Atari ST and playability is very high.|
|1985||Atari ST||This version is different, at least when it comes to controls: it's fully controlled by the mouse and commands are chosen over a menu on the top of the screen. Some people might say that keyboard control might be faster when you are used to it. The other point that is striking are the graphics. In contrast to many 8-bit versions and the original Apple II version, they used bright colors. Where once was black, there now is white, giving it a complete different look.|
|1985||Macintosh||The controls (via mouse and menus) are similar to those in the Atari ST version. This version is in black & white, as most of the early Macintosh games.|
|This early release by the Japanese company Starcraft resembles the western homecomputer versions, with the exception of being in the Japanese language, obviously.|
|Pony Canyon released this remake of Ultima 2 in Japan only. They improved the graphics and sound, making it a very good version (albeit playable only if you can read Japanese). Since the PC-9801 is more powerful than the MSX-2, the former is probably the best Ultima 2 version to date.|
The Japanese-only version included in Ultima Trilogy (FM Towns) has two important changes to gameplay: (1) visiting dungeons is rendered necessary since one vital item is no longer dropped by defeated enemies in the overworld; (2) a greater usage and understanding of the time gates is necessary as traveling by ship is limited by the availability of another item. A fan-made patch for the Apple II version adds these changes to the game.
The attributes of the character are not supposed to be raised to their maximum. If the player tries to this, any attribute that rises above 99 gets automatically reset to zero. Because of this, most players feel that the game is affected by what is known as the "roll-over bug". A fan-made patch for the DOS version addresses this issue, but not only that, it also improves graphics and adds more functionalities, part of which were already available in the C64 port. It can be downloaded here: exodus.voyd.net.
Table of Contents
Age of Darkness:
Akalabeth: World of Doom ·
I: The First Age of Darkness ·
II: The Revenge of the Enchantress ·
Age of Enlightment: IV: Quest of the Avatar (NES) · V: Warriors of Destiny (NES) · VI: The False Prophet
Age of Armageddon: VII: The Black Gate (Forge of Virtue) · VII Part Two: Serpent Isle (The Silver Seed) · VIII: Pagan · IX: Ascension