Today's remarkable auction is Sierra On-Line's (OnLine Systems), Ultima II: Revenge of the Enchantress, big box version, for the Apple II. Ultima II was Richard Garriott's somewhat divisive sequel to the first Ultima game, and one of the most sought after entries in the series for collectors. There were several different versions of the game, some in large boxes, some in small boxes, and some with Origin as the primary publisher rather than Sierra. Origin also re-released Ultima II in yet another variation, this time in conjunction with Ultima I and III, in a materially scaled back compilation called the Ultima Trilogy. In any case, what makes this particular auction remarkable is not so much the final sale price, which was a relatively fair $257.00 with free shipping, but the fact that the game was sealed, which had the potential to drive the price even higher. As with most of the Ultima games, Ultima II saw release on a wide range of platforms, but the Apple II version was the original, and also was one of the only Western platforms to get a slightly upgraded re-release. I personally own all the games in the Ultima series boxed except for Ultima II, which I only have outside of PC CD-based compilations in the Commodore 64 version of the Ultima Trilogy, though I do have the original disks for the Atari 8-bit version of Ultima II. Though not spectacular, the Japanese-only FM Towns version of Ultima II, is arguably the nicest looking of the official releases.
Check out the video from LordKarnov42 below to see the original Apple II release in action for the RPG game that tasked you with traveling to every planet in the solar system, including Planet X:
Milano Italy-based professional photographer, Enrico Ricciardi - who is also a noted computer software collector - has put together a lavish Ultima-inspired calendar that has received the blessing of series creator Richard "Lord British" Garriott himself. While neither Ricciardi or Garriott have the rights to the Ultima license, the end product, named "Mystik 2010", still has a lot of the famous series' spirit. Check it out here and be sure to check out the photographer's other works while there (as well as the behind-the-scenes making of the calendar itself). They all have a very slick and sexy European feel to my American eyes.
Hail, brave adventurer! That's right--it's time for me to start drafting the chapter on Ultima for Vintage Gaming, the forthcoming book by your very own Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton. Thankfully, I've already done much of the necessary research for this title for Dungeons & Desktops, but I'd still like to hear your stories about the Ultima series. What is the best Ultima? What is the worst? What do you consider the most important innovations introduced by the series? I can think of several right off the top, such as the focus on ethical decisions and the more personality-driven character creation system of later games. The series is also known for introducing really memorable characters and stories, years ahead of the more character and plot-driven JRPGs. Other factors worth considering are the heavy attention given to the interactive world in Black Gate, and the radical changes made to the engine from game to game.
We've been having a bit of a discussion about Ultima in the Gates of Delirium Live - Post 11 blog comments, and I was curious what everyone's thoughts were on the most authentic, interesting and error-free versions of each of the nine main Ultima games, not counting Akalabeth (though we can throw that in there too). This is both for my own selfish reasons of wanting to play these at some point (and to do it only once for each game) and also because I think this would prove to be an interesting discussion as I know everyone is very opinionated about the series. So, assuming you have access to any version - and any version's optimized hardware setup (for instance, you have an Apple II with two Mockingboards or a C-128), which would you pick, and in what order, say up to the top three systems for each version of the game? I'll start with my own only partially informed opinion.
For $20, Electronic Arts plans to release the following games on one UMD disc for the PSP: B.O.B., Road Rash II, Budokan, Road Rash III, Desert Strike, Syndicate, Jungle Strike, Ultima: The Black Gate, Haunting Starring Polterguy, Virtual Pinball, Mutant League Football, Wing Commander, Road Rash, and Wing Commander: Secret Missions.
The GameTap service is at it again, going all "vintage" this and "classic" that on us and simply requiring our undivided attention. Richard Garriott, Ultima, Origin, all things a classic gamer simply can't resist. Here's the full press release (and ignore the line "many hardcore gamers still consider Ultima 1 to be the birth of the role playing game as we know it" - Garriott's own "Akalabeth" (AKA "Ultima 0"), though primitive, would be more appropriate):