A History of Ultima
The Ultima UnderWorlds
Ultima Underworld I - The Stygian Abyss
Screen shot from PC version of Ultima Underworld I
This game has to have been the greatest breakthrough ever yet in the history of Ultima. The greatest change was that of the perspective. Origin suddenly introduced an entirely new first-person pespective system, like the one found in Wolfenstein 3D and later, Doom. The realism took a giant leap ahead from the previous Ultimas, since you now could see the world wrap around you in a way that made you feel like you were really there. The whole game idea was, shortly, ingenious. The graphics were not all too good, though, and Origin soon decided they needed an update. The story of the game must have happened somewhen between the Gargoyle threat and the first appearance of the Guardian.
One night as you lie asleep in your bed, home in England, a vision of a strange spectre displays itself for you in a dream. The vision, an elderly man, speaks of Britannia and an enigmatic danger threatening it. You can feel the ghost trying to drag you along to Britannia and, after a few moments of hesitation, you decide to follow him to your other home world. You appear in a dimly lightened bedroom, the moon shining outside, and you instantly become witness to a kidnapping. A large, brutish troll has grabbed the young maiden, who obviously lives here, and jumps out the window before you can react. You run over to the window and gaze out, only to see the two disappearing in the darkness along a narrow forest path. As you prepare to jump out the window to commence the pursuit, the door behind you is suddenly opened in a crude manner. The castle guards arrest you without a second thought, and bring you before their lord to be judged for the kidnapping. You find out that the lord is the maiden's father, and he is is mightily frenzied about what has elapsed. He seems to be sure that the troll has taken his daughter into the great Stygian Abyss, from where you fetched the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom during your trials for the title of Avatar. You are taken to the Abyss, which now serves as a prison for all kinds of felons, and are thrown inside. The huge metal gates slam shut behind you and you are left alone in the darkness of the Abyss, with but two choices: find Ariel and bring her back to her father on the surface alive, or ROT!
Ultima Underworld II - Labyrinth of Worlds
Screen shot from PC version of Ultima Underworld II
The sequel to Underworld I was relased not long after UW1's release. The perspective and the system were pretty much the same, with joystick support added, whereas the graphics had been improved a great deal, which of course brought the realism even further ahead. The story takes place not long after the first Guardian assault has been thwarted and the Fellowship dismantled.
You have recieved a letter from Lord British. He is inviting you to a banquet to celebrate that the reconstruction of Britannia after the assault is nearly complete. Honored, you travel to your liege's castle to attend. You and your Britannian friends enjoy a long evening of eating, drinking, talking and music. During the late night hours you retire to the room Lord British has set aside for you while you are here. You fall asleep without a worry.
When you awake, you hear shouting from the corridor outside, and you sense something is wrong. You hastily drag your clothes on and then find a guard to inquire from. The guard informs you that you, and eveyone else in the castle, is trapped by a gigantic dome-shaped blackrock crystal that has grown out of the ground during the night, and now encapsulates the entire castle. Lord British holds a special crisis meeting in his throne room, where the task of finding an exit from this cage is laid upon you. As the meeting is concluded, British can sense the Guardian trying to make contact with him. The crystal is obviously his handiwork and everyone stands powerless to defend against the attack the Guardian is planning on launching on the world outside. Your friends Iolo and Dupre have also made another alarming discovery. The sewers below the castle have suddenly become infested with monsters of all kinds. Noone understands where they come from, so you collect the key from your friends and descend to investigate...