Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress, PC

Originally released by Sierra On-line in 1983, the PC MS-DOS version of Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress is pretty much the same as the Apple II original – except for the graphics which are four-colour CGA and look pretty awful. Thankfully there’s a fan-made patch, by The Exodus Project, that upgrades the graphics and fixes a few bugs and that’s the version I’m showing here. Note that at the end of this sequence of screenshots I’ve also shown the CGA version of the game for comparison.

Ultima II is a much bigger game than the first Ultima, and it starts off fairly slowly. Knowing what to do and where to go isn’t obvious, but in a nutshell here’s what you gotta do: first, you begin with no weapons or armour and are dropped into a world (shaped like the continents of Earth) where monsters chase and attack you, so you need to run west and make your way to a town where you can buy some protection. The only town within your reach (called Linda) is in Italy and has various shops, so you should buy and equip some chain mail and a weapon (what kind of weapon you can equip is tied to your agility rating – if it’s below 30, buy a bow; if it’s 30 or above, buy a sword). Secondly, you then need to acquaint yourself with a village in Africa, called Le Jester, where you can buy food. So travel south and enter the village. Go north in the village to Alfred’s Fish & Chips and buy some food with your remaining money. Every step you take in the game uses up your food supplies, so you will have to return to the village every now and then to top-up. Thirdly: you then need to acquire a sailing ship (aka a frigate), and to do this you’re going to have to grind a bit. On the overworld, enemies will spawn and attack you fairly regularly. Some of these are thieves (indicated by them holding a dagger in their hand), and you need to keep moving around and killing as many thieves as you can in the hope that one will drop a Blue Tassel. Once you have a Blue Tassel you’ll then be able to walk onto – and take over – an enemy frigate that occasionally appears. Note that they don’t appear very often, but there is a set sequence in which they spawn: after two sea monsters, one frigate will appear. Once you have a boat you can then start saving money, because movement on a boat doesn’t use up any food. From there you can plough on, into the game proper. If you run low on Hit Points (HP) at any point you can travel through a time door, and to Lord British‘s castle, where you can pay the king to top-up your health. Read a guide to find out what to do next.

Ultima II is an extremely difficult game to play blind, and because the clues the game gives you are short and subtle it can be a frustrating experience to play. That said: when you know what you’re doing, the game is a lot of fun, although it does require some grinding. You need a lot of gold to grow powerful enough to beat the final boss, but it’s actually a relatively short route to the end if you know exactly what to do and where to go. There are first-person dungeon sections, just like in the first Ultima, but these are actually optional and are arguably the least interesting part of the game.

A couple of things to note about the upgrade patch by The Exodus Project. Firstly: I could not get the GOG version of Revenge of the Enchantress to work properly with the patch, so be careful if you’re going to try applying it. Make a backup of your vanilla GOG version first, then try it. I got the patch to apply successfully, and the game ran, but it would quit out after character creation and starting a new adventure. I don’t know if this was because of the cloud saves or not, but I tried for hours to get it working, to no avail. I did manage to get the upgrade patch to work with a non-GOG version of the DOS original, which I found elsewhere. Since I’d bought the GOG version I had no qualms about finding a version online and trying to patch that. The only downside was that – after patching the game and playing it for a few hours – I noticed a few bugs that messed-up my inventory screen, so there’s the possibility that the patch either didn’t apply properly, or that the version of Ultima II I used was either incorrect or corrupt. It’s a pity that the GOG version doesn’t come with the patch already applied, because it does make a big difference, but since it’s not an authorised patch I guess it couldn’t be included. I don’t think I could play the GOG version with the CGA graphics. They’re just too ugly for my liking. If I had a preferred version to play it would probably be the 1989 Apple II remake of Ultima II. If the upgraded DOS version didn’t have the bugs I might have said that one…

More: Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress on Wikipedia
GOG: Ultima 1+2+3 on GOG.com

Ultima II keyboard commands:

a = Attack with the weapon you’re holding
b = Board a plane, ship or other form of transportation, or mount a horse
c = Cast a spell. You must first prepare the spell, using Magic. Spells can only be cast in dungeons and towers
d = Descend a level in a dungeon or tower
e = Enter a town, castle, dungeon or other landmark, or read a sign
f = Fire your ship’s guns
g = Get an item
h = Hyperspace your spaceship to the coordinates you specify
i = Ignite a torch
j = Jump up and down
k = Climb up a level in a dungeon or tower
l = Launch or Land in a plane or rocket, but only on grass
m = Readies a magic spell you know for casting
n = Negate the passage of time for all things farther than one square from you – if you posses a specific magic item
o = Offer gold as payment or bribe
q = Quit and save your progress to disk. Available only while on Earth and on foot, in the countryside
r = Ready a specified weapon
s = Steal from a store without paying for it
t = Transact business, or just start a conversation. Must be followed by a direction command
u = Unlock doors if you possess the keys. You must indicate the direction of the door
v = View to toggle between normal view and bird’s-eye view of town or planet. You must possess a specific magic item
w = Wear a suit of armour that you own
x = Exit or dismount your current transportation
y = Yell anything you can type. Often used in combination with Jump
z = Stats to display your vital statistics, possessions and spells. Also pauses the game
Spacebar = Pass time and eat

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