Ultima: Exodus

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North American NES box.

Ultima: Exodus, known in Japan as ウルティマ 恐怖のエクソダス Urutima Kyofu no Ekusodasu, "Ultima: Fear of Exodus", is a role-playing game and a port of Ultima III: Exodus, but I have a history with it different enough to warrant its own page. This version was created by Newtopia Planning and first released in Japan by Pony Canyon on the NES in 1987, then for the MSX in 1988. It was published in North America by FCI on the NES in 1989. The MSX version is very similar to the NES version, just with a slightly different color palette and sound due to different hardware. This game was heavily advertised in Japan, the soundtrack was composed by a pop musician, a single was released featuring the vocals of a pop singer, several extensive hint books were made, and even a manga was written to popularize Ultima to Japanese audiances.

I first played this game after renting it from a video store and loved it. I remember reading the poorly printed replacement manual that came with the game that there was "dragon" armor, which I thought was so cool. Later, my step-brother brought his copy when he visited, and I play it. I accidentally erased his save game file, and my brother and I tried to rush through the game to get back all the stuff he had, but were unable to, he was very mad. But we kept playing, and I amassed a lot of gold and raised each of the characters to level 5. This unleashed the pirates, and we made it to Ambrosia. I found a shrine, and, teasingly, my step-brother told me to try and donate all my gold to see what happened. I obeyed, and didn't see any benefit, and I felt betrayed.

I later asked for the game for Christmas, and got it. It was a used copy and didn't have the manual, but it did come with a nice transparent purple plastic case, which was so fitting for the game. I played it a lot, but didn't get very far without the manual. Later, my brother and I found a copy of the hint book at a Toys 'R Us, and he bought it for me. With it, I was able to get a lot farther. The hint book contains everything I needed to beat the game, and I got about two thirds of the way through it, but I never did beat the game. I probably never will because it is a serious grind-fest.

Status

I own a complete in box copy of the game, but I have not beaten it.

Review

  • Overall: 4/10
  • Best Version: NES

Good

  • For the time, the graphics are pretty good, certainly better than any of the PC-based Ultima ports.
  • The game has really good music.
  • Hiding portions of the map that your character's can't see, while not very attractive to look at, is certainly more realistic than seeing through walls, which was common in most RPGs of the day.
  • There is a large variety to the towns; each focuses on a particular terrain.
  • It's impressive to see varying ages in the NPCs.
  • The spell list is fairly varied. Attack spells for singular and multiple targets, spells for getting around in the dungeons, disarming traps, healing, and so forth.

Bad

  • The game moves very slowly. If you double the speed in an emulator, it runs at a more acceptable pace.
  • The towns are very redundant. Most of them are useless except for a single item or clue, a couple of them could be removed altogether. And most of the game's dialogue is useless or contradictory.
  • Experience is poorly correlated to the difficulty of the monster. A full mob of skeletons can be defeated in a single round, for 32 XP, while a full mob of demons, who will leave your whole party injured and poisoned, only gives 64 XP.
  • Combat, though tactically superior to most RPGs of the time, is dreadfully slow.
  • Enemies can attack diagonally, but you cannot, even if your character is wielding a pole-arm.
  • If you pick the wrong menu item in combat, you have to cancel your turn, you can't go back.
  • I don't care for the 3D dungeons. They're redundant, you can't tell where the enemies are, there are WAY too many traps, and their layout is ridiculous.
  • There are a couple game breaking bugs, but they're rarely encountered.

Ugly

  • The game requires an obscene amount of grinding. You have to grind monsters to get XP to raise levels, but levels only increase your HP. To raise stats, you must grind gold and donate 100 GP for a single stat increase at a shrine (a total of about 20,000 per character). You also have to constantly buy more food, buy healing, and equip your whole party with weapons and armor. All that grinding takes days, but, if combat were eliminated, you could probably beat the game in about an hour.

Box Art

Documentation

Maps

Maps with details can be found here: mikesrpgcenter.com/ultima3.

Graphics

Links