Ultima: Quest of the Avatar

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North American box art.

Ultima: Quest of the Avatar is a fantasy role-playing video game originally developed by Origin Systems. This port was developed by Newtopia Planning and first released in Japan by Pony Canyon on the Famicom on 1989-09-20, and later in December, 1990 in North America on the NES by FCI. This is a port of Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar, and, while the game mechanics are similar enough that it should be on the original game's page, like the NES port of Ultima: Exodus, it has enough media differences to warrant its own page.

In the game's story, Lord British is looking someone to embody the eight virtues, rid Britannia of the remnants of Mondain, Minax, and Exodus, and uncover the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom. The player must walk the straight and narrow path to become the hero of the land.

Personal

I was already a fan of Ultima: Exodus, when my friend Chris rented this game. I remember being very impressed by the greatly improved graphics and music, and he and I worked our way through the manual's built-in walkthrough progressing quite a ways into the game before having to return it. Later, I bought a copy for myself, but I never beat it. While researching the game to get its soundtrack in the Video Game Music Preservation Foundation, I discovered how incredibly boring the game gets near the end, and I've never had much desire to try and beat it.

I own this game on the NES, but I have not beaten it.

Review

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5 5 7 9 4

Best Version: NES

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • The game reproduces much of the original game but greatly improves on the media.
  • The fully re-drawn graphics by Reiko Horimoto look fantastic. The best of any of the ports.
  • The sound and music have all been remade. Although I enjoy the original soundtrack, Seiji Toda's new music is among my favorite soundtracks on the platform.
  • I like how area of sight shrinks and grows around you when you go into rooms or the forest.
  • The game's documentation is phenomenal. Not only is it a lengthy full-color manual for how the game works with fully illustrated guides to the weapons, items, and monsters, but it also acts as a walk-through for a large portion of the game with detailed maps and hints. It also comes with a fold-out map of the over world and dungeons.
  • I like the side quests of figuring out the ingredients for various spells, as well as finding the runes, stones, moongates, and shrines.

Bad

  • Too much of the game is random encounter combat. Each combat can take a couple minutes, and you have to fight hundreds of battles to become powerful enough to beat the game, so you spend most of the game just killing random enemies.
  • Gold is awarded semi-randomly from 1-99. This means, a single rat can carry more gold than a whole mob of hydras. To speed up this process, people usually find easier places to get gold and farm them over and over, which is really dull.
  • Having to buy reagents for spells is far too costly. The game doesn't award enough gold as it is, so a party of magic users will only burn through your gold on basic attacks.
  • While you have some control over how your party gains levels, you can't control how the leader gains levels. Any time you talk to Lord British, he raises your level if you have the experience whether you want him to or not. And, since the game runs much smoother if you purposely stay low-level, it's best to just not talk to him until you're ready to raise to a much higher level.
  • The "auto" option in combat is pretty awful. Rather than repeat your last option, or choose the most useful one, it picks options partially at random. This means charging when you have ranged weapons, or casting spells that won't help and wasting your reagents.
  • While I like the idea of having to control the wind for the balloon, it's pretty annoying to float the hot air balloon around. It also doesn't affect ships, which is odd.
  • The town maps seem to be a little unfinished. There are a fair amount of empty rooms where it would make sense to place NPCs to give hints.

Ugly

  • Just like with Ultima: Exodus, combat gets harder as you level up. This means, it's far more strategic to remain low level and farm gold to buy all the best equipment before raising levels to tackle the dungeons. While this makes for a rather boring game, it's a lot faster than trying to farm the same amount of gold on dragons and hydras!

Media

Box Art

Documentation

Maps

Credits

Roles Staff
Original Designed By Richard Garriott
Producer Yasuo Hattori
Director Kunihiko Kagawa
Designer Yasuhiro Kawashima
Coordinator Kouji Ichikawa
Character Designer Reiko Horimoto
Music Seiji Toda
Sound Driver Kazuo Sawa (uncredited)
Illustrator J.C Staff
English Project Manager Kunihiko Kagawa
English Translation Atelier Double Corp.

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Ultima: Quest of the Avatar
Japanese ウルティマ 〜聖者への道〜 Ultima: Seisha he no Michi Ultima: Road to Sainthood

Links

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