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Saturday, April 2, 2022

Ultima: Runes of Virtue

 A spinoff of the legendary CRPG Ultima series developed in-house by Origin themselves.  Of course, being released on the lowly Game Boy meant that this wouldn't be the usual brand of adventure in a dense, well-realized fantasy world.  In fact, there's only the barest minimum in terms of plot or characters and the gameplay is changed up to be something more akin to Chip's Challenge by way of Zelda, putting heavy emphasis on traversing traps, solving puzzles and fighting monsters.  In that regard, the game is decent, but definitely not on level with the Zelda games - combat in the game is clunky at best, with the player only able to fire one projectile at a time and enemies attacking relentlessly, draining the player's health in moments (and crowding into doorways and teleport landing points, ensuring that you have to take several hits to get through).  You're frequently forced to take damage to progress and puzzles often boil down to tedious trial-and-error, with one mistake usually forcing you to either reset the system or exit the dungeon completely in order to try again - not a good thing when each one has multiple floors and several puzzles to complete.  It is at least notable for being the first Ultima game to feature multiplayer gameplay (via the system's Link Cable), but I doubt too many people have ever done that.  Runes of Virtue is a decent little crawl for the year and platform it came out on, but it's only worth a look for die-hard Ultima fans today.

Developer: Origin Systems
Publisher: Fujisankei Communications International
Released: 1991
Platforms: Game Boy