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https://static.giantbomb.com/uploads/original/1/15693/608631-ultima2_big_1_.jpg
Will_Ball gives this an unfortunate "Skip it" on the Ghost Scale
There are some major issues that may make it hard for people to enjoy this.
Will_Ball gives this a "Skip it" on the Ghost Scale
There are some major issues that may make it hard for people to enjoy this.
I recently finished up Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness, so it was time to fire up Ultima II: Revenge of the Enchantress. I knew before starting this game that this is the weakest of the Ultima games, but given that I am trying to play and beat them all, I had to put myself through it. So what did I think? Read on and find out.

Ultima II is a role playing game that was developed for the Apple ][ and released in 1982. It has similar graphics and features to Ultima I. In it you explore Earth from an overhead perspective, explore dungeons from a first person perspective and battle a bunch of monsters. The version I played was released for DOS in 1983. It featured CGA graphics, which were standard for the time. When I tried to play this version through GOG and dosbox, I noticed some screen artifacts. I did some research and found a fan made patch that upgrades the graphics to EGA, fixes some bugs and turns off an autosave feature. I ended up playing the EGA version, which in turn looked much like the DOS port of UItima I, which was released for DOS in 1986.

Ultima II takes place many years after Ultima I. Over the years it is rumored that Mondain (the big bad you beat in Ultima I) had an apprentice named, Minax. After some time, time portals start appearing around Earth followed by monsters and darkness. Over time, the monsters and the darkness end up destroying Earth, so it is up to you to save it.

The first thing you notice when you read the story and play that game is that it does not take place in Sosaria (the location from Ultima I), but rather Earth. This is very bizarre. The game takes place in five time periods on earth. They are called Legends, Pangea, B.C., A.D. and Aftermath. Each period has a different overhead map that you traverse that reflect Earth in those time periods.

You end up spending most of your time in the overhead map battling monsters. There are a few dungeons and towers (another form of a dungeon), but these areas do not add anything to the game and you are not required to go into them.

The whole game is pretty much about resource management. You start with a limited amount of health, food and gold, which you must manage. As you move, you use up food. As you battle monsters, you lose health. The only way to gain more health is by buying it from Lord British. The only way to get food is either to buy it or steal it from some certain stores. The beginning of the game is all about a battle to survive.

After you get a good amount of food and health it is time to collect gold. You spend most of your time battling monsters just to get a little bit of gold. Out of my ten plus hours playing this game, the majority of it was going after gold.

Once you get enough gold, you can upgrade your attributes, get better weapons, better armor, better spells and finally be prepared for the final battle with Minax.

From this point on is SPOILERS. Scroll down until you see “END SPOILERS” if you do not want the game to be spoiled.

As I said earlier, you want to manage your health, food and gold. Your first priority is food, since this gets used up quick. I found the easiest way to get food was to steal it. Once I got enough food, it was time to get a boat.

The easiest way to not use up food is to get a boat. Boats do not use up food. To get a boat, you need to get a random drop of a blue tassel from a thief. Once you get this tassel, you need to wait for a random boat to show up, then you can board it. From here you can use the boat not only for movement, but also for attacks. This is the easiest way to get gold.

Once you can control a boat, the best place to gather gold is in Pangea. Since it is pretty much one landmass, you can just circle the continent with your boat and force the monsters to the shoreline. From there it takes a blast or two from your boat and you gather the rewards.

You will want to keep going around Pangea to gather enough gold (this will take several hours). Once you have enough gold, you can get more health from Lord British. You must also randomly update your stats so you can use the most powerful armor and sword.

Just like Ultima I you need to get the most powerful armor to go to space. Once in space, all you need to do is go to one planet and talk to a man. He does nothing beyond giving you his blessing to get a ring from a man in another time period.

You will also need the most powerful sword to defeat Minax. This can be gathered from a prison in the same time period where you get the ring.

Once you get both the ring and the sword, it is time to travel to the Legends time period to battle Minax. For this final battle, you need a lot of health. After defeating Minax you get a small amount of text congratulating you on defeating the boss. This was a let down compared to the screen of text you got at the end of Ultima I.

END SPOILERS

Overall this game was tedious and not really rewarding. The only reason to play this game is to say you have played all the Ultima games. I have to say that I did enjoy seeing the progress of the Ultima games. In this game you can see them start developing towns and castles, which they will use to better effect in future installments.

Next Up: Ultima III

Ultima I Review: https://cheerfulghost.com/Will_Ball/posts/3644/ultima-i-the-first-age-of-darkness-review


http://ultima1.ultimacodex.com/files/2012/05/ultima-1-title-screen.jpg
Will_Ball gives this a solid "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
Will_Ball gives this a "Rad" on the Ghost Scale
This is fun, with very few issues, and is well worth your time.
I have toyed with the idea of sitting down with the Ultima games for some time now. I finally took the plunge with Ultima I.

Ultima I is a role playing game that was released in 1981 for the Apple ][. In 1987 Origin ported it over to the PC and DOS. This version came with enhanced graphics, more town and city variations, monsters traveling on the map, and some money enhancements. It is the 1987 version that I ended up playing.

You play the hero, who is given the quest of destroying Mondain, an evil wizard that has released monsters on Sosaria. This hero is customized at the beginning of the game. First you have to choose a race. The races consist of Human, Elf, Dwarf and Bobbit (think Hobbit). From here you pick a profession. You can choose from Fighter, Cleric, Wizard and Thief. After you choose your race and profession, you can upgrade some of your stats before venturing off into Sosaria. For this game, I ended up playing a Dwarf Fighter.

Once you enter Sosaria, you are presented with an overhead map that you can explore. The map is fairly big and easy to get lost in. I had to track down some maps to help me get around (and I still got lost from time to time). The main points of the map are castles, cities, towns, sign posts and dungeons. There is also the occasional monster traveling around that you can either ignore or fight.

When you go into a castle or town you are presented with a different overhead view. The design of the castles and town are very basic. Each castle has a king, a princess in a cell, a jester and some guards. Each town has a tavern, food shop, weapon shop, armor shop, transport shop and magic shop.

Overall there is not much to do in towns/castles. The castles provide you with some basic find/kill quests by the kings, while the towns are where you can get some hints/information and some of the items you need to beat the game.

When you go into a dungeon the perspective changes to a first person view. There is a wireframe feeling to this view. Each dungeon is a nine-by-nine grid. From what I read, they are randomly generated based on your character name. Every dungeon has multiple floors to explore. Given the number of floors, and how similar everything looks, you need to map these out as you go. I broke out some graph paper to help me through the dungeons, which in turn helped me navigate them fairly easily. The one negative thing about the dungeons, is you truly only need to go into one. Outside of layout and names, all dungeons are the same.

The overall gameplay has you killing monsters, leveling up your character, getting gold, buying food, weapons, etc. In the end it is pretty much a grind, until you beat some quests and are able to go fight Mondain.

Warning, I am getting into spoilers below. If you want to skip them, scroll down until you see "END SPOILERS".

SPOILERS

For the majority of the game, you go get quests from each king. You truly only need to complete the four monster killing missions, but you can complete the finding sign posts missions for some extra stats. After completing each "kill" mission, you are presented with a different color gem. Each "kill" mission has you killing a monster found in a dungeon on a certain floor.

When you go into a dungeon the first two floors are the easiest. These floors are a good way to grind for gold and experience. When you get enough experience, you level up, which unlocks various items in the stores.

There are two main resources that you are going to need to manage in this game: Health and Food. Health does not increase as your character levels up, rather it increases when you leave a dungeon (based on the monsters you killed) or if you buy it from a king. Food decreases each step you take (less so in dungeons and when you get different forms of transportation). If you run out of either health of food you die, loose all items and are resurrected with 99 health and food.

Your main goal at the start is just to increase your health, food and gold. Once you get some gold, you can get some armor, a better weapon and some type of transportation.

After you get some form of transportation that can go over water, you can really start exploring the map. You can pretty much ignore all dungeons and towns, you just want to focus on castles and sign posts. Sign posts not only complete some of the quests that you are sent on but can also up your character's stats. The nice thing about sign posts is that you can keep going back to them to up your stats. This in turn can make your character pretty powerful fairly quickly.

In order to figure out what to do to defeat Mondain, you need to buy ale at the tavern and talk to the bartender. On occasion, the bartender will drop a little nugget of information that will tell you what to do in the game.

In order to defeat Mondain, you must first get all four gems. Once you get all four gems, you need to gather up some gold, buy a reflect suit (armor) and buy a space shuttle. Once you get a space shuttle you can travel into space.

Once in space you change over from managing health and food to managing shields and fuel (which is pretty much the same thing, now that I think about it). Your first stop is a space station where you should transfer to another spaceship with better shields and fuel. You have a choice of a ship that is heavier on shields or a ship that is heavier on fuel. The goal of the space portion is to destroy twenty fighters and get "Ace" status. To destroy fighters you have to hyperspace into different areas of the space map. From there you chase around fighters in first person view and try to shoot them down. This game mechanic was a little annoying in the fact that you are always fighting to get your target over the fighter. It seemed more of a game of chance then skill.

When you have acquired your "Ace" status, it is time to return to Sosaria. When you return, it is time to rescue a princess. Each castle has a princess in a cell, and the jester in the castle holds a key. This was my other annoyance of the game. The jester holds a key to one of the two cells, but you will not always get the princess key. To get a key from a jester, you must kill the character, which in turn causes the guards to come after you. The guards (outside of Mondain) are some of the toughest monsters, so if you get the wrong key, you have to fight some guards, get to the cell, find out it is the wrong key and then leave the castle and start over again. These guard battles can be a real drain on your health. This mechanic had me restarting the game a few times just so I would not loose so much health.

After you save a princess, she will tell you that you are ready for the time machine. You have to go find the time machine in the map and then travel back in time. At this point you are put in an overhead map with Mondain. You must destroy Mondain and destroy the evil gem that is giving him power. Once you do that, you are given a nice little "afterwards" story to close out the game.

END SPOILERS

Overall I had fun with this game. It is not too long (it took me a little less than 10 hours to beat). It was something that I didn't have to think much about and could sit down and play in somewhat short sessions and make progress. All that being said, I would probably only recommend this game to people that want to play through all the Ultima games.

Next up: Ultima II.


Story

Mario and Rabbids existing in the same game? How can this be? Ubisoft found a way. Here is how Ubisoft explains it: A girl sitting in her basement has a device that can merge two objects into one. Using AR, she has an AI (named Beep-0) that helps her out. It should also be noted that she is a big fan of all things Mario.

When the girl leaves her basement, a time traveling (and dimension traveling?) washing machine shows up. Inside of this washing machine are the Rabbids. The Rabbids get out of the washing machine and start causing mayhem. One of the Rabbids picks up the girl’s AR device and starts merging objects. This in turn starts off a chain of events. The Rabbids get pulled back into the washing machine, along with the object merging AR device. The washing machine then travels dimensions to the Mushroom Kingdom, which in turn gets sucked into the washing machine. From there, Mario & Crew + Rabbids travel to a merged dimension that has merged the mushroom kingdom with the Rabbids and objects from the girl’s basement. The Rabbid with the object merging AR device merges with said device. Beep-0 also becomes a physical AI device that floats around and can interact with the environment. What???

Gameplay

Ok, enough about this game’s story shenanigans, how about the gameplay? Mario + Rabbids has two modes of gameplay: a turn-based strategic battle system and a world exploring puzzle solving mode.

Turn-based Strategic Battle System

The main part of the game is the turn-based strategic battle system. You enter each map with three characters and fight various enemies. Each battle field has various objects and levels. These objects and levels affect your offense, defense and sometimes have special abilities. In regards to offense, if you have the high ground on someone, you can get an attack bonus. For defense, the objects provide line of sight blockage. If your attacker has no line of sight, there is zero chance that they can hit you. If the attacker has partial line of sight, there is a fifty percent chance that they will hit you. If there is nothing blocking line of sight, well the character being attacked is quite frankly screwed. Some objects can also affect the characters if they are destroyed. For example: some will bounce characters around the map while some will blind them.

Each battle has a set of stated requirements and a set of secondary requirements. The stated requirements are typically: kill all the enemies or escort a character. The secondary requirements are: how many characters survive and how fast you complete the battle. Based on these secondary requirements, you will get a different trophy. This gives the main battles some replayability in the fact that you may want to get the best trophy.

As mentioned above, you enter each map with three characters. You must always have Mario and a Rabbid as one of your characters. You start off with Mario, Rabbid Luigi and Rabbid Peach as your characters. As you go through the game you will unlock all eight characters. Each character has a specific skill that they are good at. For example: Peach is a healer while Luigi is an expert at long range attacks.

Each character also has a skill tree. As you win battles and open chests you will get skill points that you can spend to enhance and unlock abilities.
Every character has two weapons. You can unlock weapons by beating portions of the game, and then you can buy these weapons with coins. You acquire coins in battle and throughout the world map.

In addition to weapons, each character has two abilities that you can pick from that can affect your characters or your enemies.

There are also different movement modes. Characters can jump off each other (giving a range boost or quick access to a different level in the map), slide into enemies causing damage and sometimes jump on enemies also causing damage.

World Exploring Puzzle Mode

In-between each battle, you will explore this weird world. For the most part it is just sightseeing, but you also can run into some simple puzzles to solve. These puzzles can lead to new areas and treasure. For the most part the puzzles are pretty simple and require you to have an item or move some blocks around. There were a few puzzles that seemed rather difficult, but overall they are not too bad.

Length of Game + Replayability

The game took me about thirty-five hours to beat. This included a good chunk of backtracking. After that amount of time, I have completed ninety-two precent of the battles, found eighty percent of the treasure chests and completed fifty-four percent of the challenges. Overall there is a good amount of gaming.

So how does this all break down?

There are four areas to the map. Each area has eight chapters with one to four battles, one boss battle and one hidden chapter.

Once you beat an area and chapter you can backtrack to them. At this point you can complete challenges which range in difficulty, fight the battles over again to try to meet the secondary requirements and just explore the area.

As you explore the area, you will solve puzzles (as mentioned above), gather coins and unlock chests. Chests can have new weapons, skill points and various game artifacts that do not add anything to the gameplay, but rather unlock things like music, artwork, character design, etc.

There is also a co-op mode that you unlock as you beat areas of the map. I have not had a chance to try this out, but it seems like it could be fun.

Nintendo has announced a Donkey Kong DLC which will be coming out soon and add even more content to the game.

Overall

I really liked this game. The battles are fun, not too long and not too difficult. The world and character design are excellent and really tie the game together. I would recommend this game to anybody that A) has a Nintendo Switch and B) wants a fun turn-based tactical game that is not too complicated.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is available as physical game cart and as a digital download for the Nintendo Switch.


I originally beat Kingdom Hearts, back in 2002, when it originally came out for the Playstation 2. Having fond memories of the game, I picked up the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMIX compilation for the PS4. The version of Kingdom Hearts in this compilation is Kingdom Hearts Final Remix. It adds some new content in addition to updating all the game assets to HD.

So how did it hold up the second time around? Overall, it is not as good as I remember, but it is still fun. Some things are still just as horrible (the space shooter sections of the game), while some things remain awesome (character design).

For those that are not aware of Kingdom Hearts, it takes a lot of Disney characters, some Final Fantasy characters and some new characters and mashes them all into one action-role playing game. On the surface this sounds like a disaster, but Square pulls it off.

The story follows a boy named Sora, who is out to save not only one princess but seven princesses and multiple worlds from the Heartless (the bad guys). The Heartless' end goal is to destroy all worlds through the power of darkness. During Sora's journey he is joined by Goofy, Donald and a handful of other level specific Disney characters.

Each world you are trying to save is essentially a level. The majority of these worlds are mainly straight out of Disney movies. You have Tarzan, Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, A Nightmare Before Christmas, Hercules, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Winnie the Pooh, and a handful of other worlds that are newly created for the game. The design of these worlds has not aged well. All the worlds are walled in, which in turn makes them feel very claustrophobic. Each time I made it to a new world, I was ready to leave it as soon as I could and move on with the story.

Going between worlds is bizarre. Square decided to slap on a space shooter as your method of travel. In addition to the space shooter aspect, they added in a whole system to modify and create your own spacecraft. This portion of the game stands out like a sore thumb. It is just so mind-numbing. Luckily you are only forced to travel like this when it is your first visit to a planet. After that you can skip this portion of the game and just warp to where you want to go.

The final complaint I have about this game is the controls. Some of the controls suck. First off, Square decided to update the camera mode for the Final Remix to match Kingdom Hearts 2 (The original camera mode is still available). This new camera mode gets in the way of battles and platforming more often than not. I should have tried the original camera mode to see if it was any better (sadly I don't recall what was used when I originally played it). The other part of the controls that gets in the way is using items and magic. You can assign three magic spells to hot keys within the game, for the rest of the magic and your items, you must navigate menus in realtime. What this means is you literally need to find a place to hide during any battles if you plan to navigate the menus to cast magic and/or use items. If you do not do that, you risk getting severely hurt or even killed.

So what saves the day for Kingdom Hearts? The art direction, voice acting and story save the game from being painful, to somewhat enjoyable.

Kingdom Hearts nails the art direction. Each world is colorful and nails the theme of the movie that Square is going for. All the Heartless are well designed, and the characters look amazing in HD. The Disney characters are so well designed they look like they came straight out of the cartoons.

The voice acting is top notch too. The Disney characters sound like their movie counterparts (and are sometimes the same voice actors) and the new characters are voiced by the likes of Haley Joel Osmet, Hayden Panettierre and Billy Zane.

Finally the fact that Square manages to cram a bunch of Disney movies, some Final Fantasy characters and some new characters together without the story falling apart is amazing. It is pretty much a standard video game story, but overall it works.

While my recent play through has soured me on the game a little bit due to bad camera controls, realtime menu navigation, claustrophobic levels and a crappy space shooter, the story, art direction and voice acting save the day. I look forward to giving Kingdom Hearts 2 a try and hope they solved some of these problems. If they did not fix the problems, hopefully I can at least enjoy the story.


I have been playing a lot of Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ on my Switch. Is anybody else still playing this? I finally beat it once, but I feel it was the luck of the draw on items rather than my skills. Does anybody have any good play tips?


For those of you not familiar with Blaster Master, it is a game that was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) back in 1988. Blaster Master 0 takes the original game, updates it for today’s hardware, adds in more modern day controls and game conventions and gives it a little more story.

Blaster Master 0 takes place in the future, where humans were forced to move underground at one point, due to an ice age. At the time the game takes place, humans are living back on the surface of the planet. You play a boy named Jason Frudnick. Jason discovers a new type of frog, which he takes home and names Fred. Fred eventually escapes and jumps down a hole into the earth. Jason follows Fred down the hole and makes another discovery in the form of a vehicle called SOPHIA III. Jason gets in SOPHIA III and takes off to find Fred. At this point the gameplay kicks in.

Blaster Master 0's gameplay comes in two forms: A 2D sideview platformer and a 2D overhead dungeon type of game. The sideview portion feels kind of Metroidish, where you are exploring different areas of the map trying to unlock abilities and items. While the overhead view becomes more of a dungeon-like shooter.

As a kid, I really enjoyed Blaster Master on the NES. Over time I have revisited the original game and have found it to be brutal and unforgiving. Some of the things in Blaster Master that make it unforgiving are: you only have one life, with no save or continue, and brutal boss fights. Blaster Master 0 takes away a lot of this difficulty by adding in save states, and making the boss battles easier. I feel Blaster Master 0 is more accessible due to this, but if you are looking for a game as difficult as the original, you will be disappointed.

Despite being easier, I still enjoyed the game as much as the original. The save points definitely made it easier to play the game in batches of time rather than needing to play all night and day to beat the game. The level design, weapons and updated graphics add to its enjoyability.

The story was a little weak, but it seemed to be more in depth than the original. I do not remember the original having much of a story, outside of Jason chasing Fred, so it was nice to see it expanded upon.

Blaster Master 0 is available for both the 3DS and the Switch. I played the Switch version, which makes use of the HD rumble. While the HD rumble is not required for the game, it does add another fun dimension.

Overall, I would recommend this game to anybody that wants a fun 2D platformer/shooter that is not too difficult and can be finished in under ten hours.


Today is the SNES Classic launch day! I was able to get an in stock order off of Thinkgeek at midnight last night, so I should have mine in a few days. Did anybody else get one?


Square Enix recently released a demo of Project Octopath Traveler on the Nintendo Switch. Traveler is a “2D-HD” turn-based RPG developed by Square Enix and Acquire. It currently does not have any firm release date beyond 2018.

So what is “2D-HD”? 2D-HD takes 2D sprites and surrounds them with 2.5D environments and modern special effects. It is a very unique approach. I feel that the environment and special effects look awesome, but the sprites were somewhat disappointing. The sprites seemed to lack detail and looked very blocky (especially on a big TV). Maybe I am spoiled with more modern sprites, but it feels like they could have spent some more time with the artwork here.

The demo comes with two of the eight classes enabled. They are the warrior and the dancer. I put some time in with the warrior and enjoyed the turn-based battle system. It has the standard fare of abilities, defense and attacks, but it also adds in a way to boost your attack. After each turn, you get another dot on your boost meter, which you can use during your next attack. You can chain up to three boosts in one turn, which makes for some strong attacks. Boosts can be combined with your normal attack and your abilities.

Each class has a unique ability that can be performed outside of battle. In the case of the warrior, he can challenge people to a battle. When you challenge another character, you will see their ranking in a five star based scale. One star is easy whereas five is hard. In the demo, most of the time these battles lead to experience and money, but sometimes it will complete a quest. This is an interesting addition to the turn-based RPG, but I found that I was getting bored with challenging people. Maybe if they put it to better use in the full game, it could be fun, but who knows what their grand plan is.

Outside of challenging people, the majority of battles happen randomly while you wander around the world. It is no different that other turn-based RPGs in this aspect.

I found that the warrior’s story was not very strong and kind of boring. He is a fallen warrior that failed to protect somebody from being killed. He then moves to a town under a different name and tries to lead a quiet life until a group of brigands threaten the town and kidnap a boy. At that point you go save the boy and your identity is revealed. I just did not care for the character all that much and found the dialogue to be bland.

I plan on giving the dancer a try to see if her story is more compelling. I want to love this game, but in the end, I felt that it is not the strongest turn-based RPG. They also need to find a new name for this game, I can never remember it.


Is anybody planning on picking up destiny 2 for the pc next month? I may pick it up if CG is going to spin up a team.


Guns 'N' Stories is an early access VR wave shooter set in the old west. It is being developed by MiroWin. The overall story is the tried-and-true scenario of a woman getting kidnapped by a big bad, and you are out to save her.

The first two levels that I played were enjoyable. You start out with one pistol and soon end up with two. You fight wave after wave of bad guys while you are dodging and shooting down bullets. Based on the fact that my pistols turned into high-tech automated weapons during the second level, it looks like MiroWin has a weapon progression plan in the game.

Given that this is a wave shooter, there is not a lot to explore. You pretty much stand in one place and fight the bad guys, but you do get a workout ducking and dodging the incoming fire.

I really enjoyed the narration. It starts out with a boy asking his grandpa about his gun, which in turn has the grandpa telling the story which you are playing. The game is narrated in real time, so the grandpa will start talking about things that change the course of the game. For example, you start out the game with a cup in one hand and a bottle in the other. The boy asks how he fights with a cup, to which the grandpa responds that it is actually a pistol. At that moment the cup changes into a pistol. Overall, the narration was the highlight of the game.

I plan to keep checking out this game to see what the developer adds. They definitely have a fun story surrounding this wave shooter. Hopefully it holds up.

This was reviewed using a download key provided to Cheerful Ghost by MiroWin.

Guns 'N' Stories: Bulletproof VR is available for both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.


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