Well, I’ve finally gone and done it. After years of being
pestered nagged lovingly encouraged by a friend to play through the Greatest Computer RPG of All Time, I finally broke down. Using Exult to get it working properly on my non-DOS operating system, I finally installed and started playing Ultima 7: The Black Gate.
U7 is widely regarded as one of the high points in computer RPG history. (My personal pick for best computer RPG is Planescape: Torment—we’ll see if that opinion changes after getting through U7.) I can’t speak yet about U7‘s quality as a game, but I will testify that I have long considered it to have the coolest game box cover of all time:
According to rumor, Ultimas 8 and 9 were originally intended to have matching covers in red and blue. Would that they had. Clean, simple, classy: this box art told the sophisticated gamer of 1992 that he was dealing with an RPG considerably classier than the luridly-illustrated competition:
I might also note that U7‘s cover was significantly classier than at least one previous Ultima cover, which was sufficiently demonic-looking to cause my parents to refuse to purchase it for me (and the mention of “astrological influences” on the back cover of the game box didn’t help):
But I digress. What of U7? I’ve only put a few hours into it, but thus far it’s quite good. The graphics and interface are extremely clunky, but it’s amazing how quickly you get used to that when the game itself is really good—try playing the original Doom sometime and you’ll see what I mean. For the first ten minutes you’ll be marveling at the crude graphics; by the fifteen-minute mark you’re as hooked as you were back in 1993 when you first played it.
If there was a point to this post beyond aimless jabbering, I’ve lost sight of it. Excuse me; I’ve got Ultima 7 to fire up.