One of the earliest CRPGs, this game is a classic. By today’s standards, the graphics are horribly outdated but it certainly established the scrolling combat and 3D dungeon crawling genre back in the 80s for CRPGs. It’s also one of those games that every hardcore old school CRPG gamer probably tried at one time.
This is the last of the great Ultima games as the last two were buggy disasters with poor stories. Unfortunately, for myself I wasn’t able to play this one on release due to hardware requirements. Also, I must admit to not finishing it for a variety of reasons. Some feel that this might be the be the best in the entire series, but I tend to disagree.
Wasteland was one of the best post-apocalyptic RPGs and is the progenitor for the Fallout series. It essentially is Bard’s Tale with guns and skills with turn based scrolling combat. Recently, there was a new version produced as a Kickstarter project by Brian Fargo. Although I haven’t played it yet, I did want to look the original classic.
Might and Magic 8 would be the last great Might and Magic ever made. While the game legacy would continue when Ubisoft acquired the rights to the brand, the same vision and sentiment would never be the same. Might and Magic 8 for me was the best of the 6-8 game series engine, even though it didn’t really revolutionize what 6 had started. More or less, Might and Magic 8 felt like a really polished version of what 6 was but it did have a variety of unique elements in a CRPG, which is why I enjoyed it more than 6 and 7.
As the Ultima series continued to evolve, the complexity of the game, world and storyline also increased. Ultima 6 for me is by far my favorite Ultima in the series. At this point, the game was far ahead of everything in the market when it came to RPG style world building and you felt that the land was alive in handling various environmental conditions. I am jumping ahead of Ultima 5, but I may cover that in a later review.
For my money objectively speaking, Ultima 4 Quest of the Avatar is perhaps the greatest CRPG in existence. Certainly, there are more advanced CRPGs, ones with better content, mechanics, combat systems, etc. However, Ultima 4 did what few games have done which is bringing actual role playing into an otherwise hack-n-slash themed universe. The game was far ahead of its time and tries to teach people on a fundamental level how to be a good person.
Prior to the gold box set AD&D games, SSI had Wizard’s Crown, which I heard had the basis for the combat engine for the gold box series. Wizard’s Crown was one of the original true hardcore CRPGs and quite difficult even when you had the game set to the lowest difficulty level (and I believe there was one at the time). It had a very interesting system to say the least, which is why I wanted to do a review.
Although I did play Might and Magic I before II, I wanted to review II as I felt it was certainly the better game with more depth and content. Also, it was horribly addicting and something I could easily spin up today and play for hours.
After Bard’s Tale 2, I had become a CRPG addict. I would go out and try to find other fantasy games that complimented Bard’s Tale. There was a feature in Bard’s Tale that allowed you to import characters from a few other games, including Ultima 3. Since I was struggling a bit with Bard’s Tale 2 in the beginning, I wanted to use this tool to gain a bit of power. But before that, I also found myself struggling in this early hardcore style adventure.