The Let's Play Archive

Ultima 1

by ManxomeBromide

Part 8: ... To Deepest Space

On our way back from our Morbid Adventure, we notice a town in Brittania we haven't visited before.

This is actually Yew! I guess the Spiritwood hasn't finished growing around it yet. I swing by mainly to show what happens if you try to sell your hovercraft:

False advertising!

Alice had some time for thought as she flew out of the lands of Danger and Despair. "I picked up some more jam in that dungeon dive. Perhaps the Lost King would like some more! He does seem to go through so much of it."

As she stepped into the Castle of the Lost King, though, it became deathly quiet as she entered. The lady in the jail cell, asleep last time, was wide awake and affixed her with a gaze of pure, burning hatred.

Perhaps a few days ago Alice would have felt ashamed or intimidated. But by now, she had stared down daemons and Balrons, and ignored the prisoner entirely.

Whoever this lady was, Gwino was still her jailer. Alice proceeded to the king and presented him with additional jam. As she handed it over, the lady in the prison began to scream:


This in fact gets us an extra Red Gem:

Unfortunately for us, we can't get away with four red gems. We need one of each color. So you can't just dive for four Gelatinous Cubes, as hilariously underhanded as that would be.

Alice, doing her best to ignore the shouting and imprecations of the prisoner, began to take her leave. But the general stream of abuse crashed to silence with one final command:


The mood of the castle changed noticeably. The guards stood up straight, like marionettes that had suddenly had their strings yanked. Gwino's cheerful demeanor was suddenly gone, replaced with a most unpleasant smile. Her lute vanished and was replaced with three wicked throwing knives. She juggled two of them while keeping the third pointed at Alice's throat.

Alice did not hesitate, and opened fire immediately upon Gwino.

Picking up the key, she paused to gather her wits as the guards drew their weapons and began to approach. "Hmmm. This lady is a prisoner, yet she commands the guards of the castle! Perhaps this is another curious piece of the looking-glass world. If I free her, perhaps her authority will be lost!"

She ducked towards the prison. The castle guards weren't expecting this, and mostly began to mill around at random. The prison guard, though, attacked at once. Alice returned in kind.

It was not remotely a fair fight.

The guards can do better than that, but this is really lopsided.

Also, they have 500 HP each, which means we can really see the Blaster let rip with its true, awesome power.

This is also the point where the game plays a mean trick on you. Gwino claims to have the key. She actually has a key.

But there are two locked doors in any given castle. If she had the key to the wrong door, you basically have to leave and come back. Alternately you can just reset and reload.

Much better.

Upon opening the door, Alice found the lady in the cell wore a tarnished crown and a cape covered with hearts. She took her by the hand and began to lead her out.

She did not resist. Even together they were faster than the guards and were able to slip past them and make it to the gate.

"You are free," said Alice, "and your power is broken."

The other woman drew herself up to her full height, which was only a little taller than Alice herself. "The Queen of Hearts does not bow to the likes of you. You have yet achieved only the sixth level. But even if you reached the eighth, you would be merely my peer. There is no task on this world that would make you my superior."

"No task
on this world, you say?"

"I do. Also, you have
ruined my cell. I shall have to relocate to the Castle of Lord British." And with that, she flew off to the southeast, faster even than Alice's hovercraft.

Note that if we pop back in afterwards the guards are fine with us, Gwino is alive and has a new random key, and the princess is re-imprisoned. It's hard to have a permanent impact on Sosaria.

We return to Britain. No task in the world will prove us worthy to gain the help of the captured princesses.

So let's leave Sosaria behind.

Alice followed Scooter's directions, to the eighteenth dock in the fifty-first harbor. Once she got there, she marveled at the craft she saw there. Taller than any castle, deeper than any dungeon, and yet only a tiny cabin in the top seemed to be amenable for humans. The cabin also was full of controls and displays she did not understand.

"My goodness," said Alice aloud to nobody in particular. "This seems much harder to use than the air-car."

A familiar voice replied from behind her. "Perhaps I can help, Milady!"

"Oh, it's you! The White Knight!" Alice smiled and nodded as the Knight bowed low. He then pulled out a good-sized scroll and began to read from it:

Starwalking posted:

Before the archmage Mondain can be defeated, one's mettle will first have to be tested in the farthest reaches of the heavens. 'Tis said that the Evil One has formed alliances with starwalking monsters of unparalleled savagery. These malicious creatures stand poised to swoop down upon our people and devastate them. The need to slay the vile wizard is redoubled in the face of this threat.

Should a champion emerge from the mists of legend, the means by which to combat this menace from the skies will appear—so say the prophets. The legends which foretell of this hero include a number of writings and several ballads sung by the bards of our Realm. Among the more recent discoveries pertaining to the coming of the starwalkers is an arcane manuscript, found on the foothills of Mt. Drash. Since it appears to hold instructions for the use of some form of transport, it has been broadcast throughout the land in hopes that it might prove useful to one engaged in the quest to rid Sosaria of Mondain. The substance of the document is as follows:

In the heavens, each vehicle has the means to control rotation, as well as thrust and retro (reverse thrust). In the front view mode one can turn left, right climb, and dive.

The starways are divided into 49 sectors on a 7 x 7 grid. In the top view mode one can see all within the current sector. A long range scan may be obtained by use of the 'Inform' control. Consult the Pilot’s Reference Manual for the symbols needed to interpret a scan.

One can jump to the next sector in the direction of current travel by using the Hyperjump capability of the vehicle.

Docking with starbases can be attained at any of the unused docking ports and should be made only at slow speeds while headed directly into the port opening. A docking fee is required. Upon docking, a ‘Base Command’ query will be issued and the pilot is expected to indicate the direction toward the next vehicle that will be used.

Reentry takes place when your ship passes over the lands of Sosaria. NOTE: Only the shuttle craft has heated shields. Any vehicle will incinerate if it collides with a star.

One may encounter and engage in combat with hostile beings in the heavens. Once combat has begun, the pilot cannot return to the top view mode until all enemy craft have been driven from the current sector or the pilot has chosen to hyperjump to the next sector. IMPORTANT: Changing from front view mode to top view mode at high speeds will surely result in a fatal collision. Be wary of fuel levels and shield condition. A ship without fuel drifts forever and a depleted shield spells certain death.

Our most learned scholars have translated the document into the common tongue of the Realm, but certain terms and phrases have no meaning even to the most erudite sage. Nonetheless, such is our desire to be rid of the scourge of Mondain that we make this information available to all.

Alice nodded. "Most of those controls are part of the air-car, as well. I don't suppose that this 'Pilot's Reference Manual' was discovered near this message?"

The Knight shook his head. "That, I cannot say. You will just have to puzzle it out yourself."

"Actually," said Alice, "this shuttle seats two. Would you do me the honor of being my co-pilot?"

He knelt. "I would be glad to. Go on up; I will see to the launch and meet you there once we're aloft."

Welcome to the space scenario.

That's Sosaria on the left, a starbase in the lower right, our shuttle in the center right, and a star in the middle.

Up and down thrust you forward and back, and left and right rotate you. Each of these actions costs fuel.

What we actually want to do here, though, is dock with the starbase by lining our nose up perfectly with an open slot and then colliding with it at minimum velocity. Messing either of those two steps up deals us a considerable amount of damage.

As Alice and the White Knight boarded the starbase, the door clanged behind them and sealed shut. Three doors out were available, and each was marked with a slot into which one could feed gold.

They would have to purchase their way back onto their ship, but it seemed that any ship would qualify as theirs.

Once we're docked, we select which ship we want to fly and we get our shields and fuel maxed out. Each ship has different stats. We want the bottom ship because it has fantastic shields and decent fuel. Also, it looks like the Galaga fighter and that's awesome. Less awesome is that only the original shuttlecraft can actually land, docking is the only way to change ships, and docking costs you 500 gold. Do not go to space without at least a thousand gold to hand, and preferably two.

The White Knight looked through the stores in the Starbase. "Aha! They do have a vaccuum suit my size. One moment, my Queen, while I change into a more appropriate suit of armour."

Alice busied herself as the Knight changed by studying the starmap.

Pressing Inform and Search while in space calls up the starmap:

Sosaria is in the center, The plus signs are starbases; the diamonds are stars; the starfields are empty sectors. Hs represent sectors with enemy starwalkers.

"All right, I'm ready." Alice turned around, and after all the others she'd met here, she wasn't surprised to find that the White Knight was a cat too. But he wasn't just any cat.

"Snowdrop!" cried Alice. "How did you get into Looking-Glass world? Delilah will be worried sick!"

"Delilah saw you and Kitty go in and decided we should follow. I saw you and Kitty leave the Castle of the Lost King, and she went off to Lord British's Castle..."

"So Kitty is the Queen of Hearts? She turned the whole castle against me!"

"I think she's unhappy about Mom—I mean, Delilah. We've been searching the world, but we can't find any trace of her! Maybe we'll find something out here."

"Good idea, Snowdrop. If not that, maybe we'll do something exciting enough that she'll listen to us when we try to get her to help. Let's take this ship instead; it looks built for adventure!"

The View command toggles top view and front view. We've seen top view. Here's front view:

In front view, we can move the crosshairs around the screen with the arrow keys, or teleport it to the center with the space bar. We can also Fire our ship's lasers, but this is a bit spendy with fuel. Altering our crosshair direction costs fuel tool. Kicking our fuel supply from 1,000 to 2,500 is another reason to take the Starfighter. (The Cargo ship, the one on the left, has tons of fuel but uninspiring shields.)

That leaves travel from sector to sector. Looking at the starmap, we can do a sweep through six sectors of enemies if we head west for three sectors, then one south and back to Sosaria. To travel, we need to go to Top View and begin moving in the direction we want to travel—for us, straight west. Then we kick back to Front View and hit HyperJump!

We immediately enter combat with enemy ships. We can't return to Top View until they're all destroyed. Any sector with enemies will have one to three ships.

Enemy ship motion is partially a "moves past you in three dimensions" deal like the starfield, and partially moving away from your crosshairs. The impression is, I think, supposed to be like pursuing a ship by altering course without actually modeling anything like three dimensions.

They shoot back randomly too, which does several hundred damage to your shields if it hits. You can't save in space, so keeping your shields and fuel at safe levels is absolutely imperative.

We're not in any real danger, though. We're a crack shot with our laser cannons by now:

Once enemies stop appearing we can go back to top view and adjust our course:

We keep our momentum from the previous sector, so if we want to keep going the same direction we don't need to do anything. In fact, as long as you're OK going the same direction, you can actually HyperJump out of combat. You only have to clear sectors where you plan on changing directions.

Combat isn't that tough, though, and the XP is fantastic. We were level 6 when we launched, and we're already level 8 after just a few sectors:

Note that we've also got a kill count in our stats. We've got a way to go.

We complete our loop and return to Sosarian space. We've used over 80% of our fuel, so we dock and leave in the same ship. At this point we've taken out 11 ships. For our second sortie, we head east and then north for another loop around.

And soon enough, we defeat our 20th TIE Fighter enemy starwalker:

We'll have to fight through a few more to actually get back to Sosaria, though. The game politely reminds us that we're done here each time we do:

This is the wrong ship for atmospherics, so we return to Sosarian space and dock.

I sure am. Now we just have to fly back to Sosaria proper:

We're level 8 (9, really) and a Space Ace. Mondain awaits.