This got your attention, didn't it?
You already know that I'm a huge fan of the Ultima saga. No surprise then if I say that I'm also a fan of its spinoffs, the Worlds of Ultima games.
We're talking about two games, The Savage Empire and Martian Dreams, both based on the Ultima VI graphic engine and both featuring the Avatar as their main character. This time tough, instead of being drawn to Britannia by the usual moongate, he is taken to strange worlds inspired by pulp novels.
Martian dreams is inspired by the works of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. The Avatar is transported back to the Victorian era, nonetheless than on a spaceship traveling to Mars, together with the likes of Sigmund Freud and Nikola Tesla.
A third game was initially developed, Arthurian Legends, set during the King Arthur era. It was unfortunately never completed.
Now let's talk about The Savage Empire. The setting is probably reminiscent of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World: the Avatar is accidentally transported to the Valley of Eodon, a jungle-like stone-age world inhabited by 13 tribes, magically drawn there by different Earth historical periods.
The place is under attack by the Myrmidex, some kind of insect-like creatures. In order to survive, the Avatar must find a way to forge an alliance between the 13 tribes. Easier said than done, of course.
A little different from the classic fantasy setting from the Ultima saga we're used to, right? That's probably one of the most interesting aspects of the game: you have a complete new world to discover, its inhabitants, its lore, its magic system. The thrill of this kind of discover is what every fantasy fan is after, right? Here we've got plenty of that.
I remember when I first played The Savage Empire I was quite puzzled. I didn't know what to make of this new strange world, how to move around it, what to do. Progress was very slow. But after a while I took the hang of it and I really started to enjoy it. There's a level of detail and a freedom of action that probably even Ultima VI itself cannot match. For instance, you can get some clay from a riverbank and make some kind of ball with a hole in it and bake it in the primitive pottery in one of the villages. Then you may search for wool, make a cloth out of it. Then you look for saltpetre, sulphur and coal to make gunpowder, put it in the ball of clay, together with the stripes of cloth. Use fire on the concoction and... BOOOM! You got a self-made rudimentary bomb.
Oh and did I mention there are dinosaurs?
I was lucky enough to find a copy of this little gem for 40 euros. Here are the box contents:
Ultimate Adventures a.k.a. the game manual
Getting Started Guide
Paper Map (16x16" / 40x40 cm). Well, it's not a cloth map, but still. I'll never complain about a map in a game box.
Four 3.55" floppy disks (meh)
Disk Exchange Form
Step after step, my Ultima saga collection is slowly taking shape :-)