Part 9: CheckmateAlice climbed out of her shuttle and called out to Snowdrop. "Kitty said she'd be heading to Lord British's castle. Let's meet her there. Then we can find Delilah and go home."
To win Ultima 1, here are the list of absolutely critical tasks you must accomplish.
1. Get access to a time machine
- Survive 3,000 turns to unlock the Shuttle.
- Acquire a shuttle.
- Fly to space in the shuttle and defeat at least 20 enemy spaceships.
- Accumulate 7,000 XP to become at least level 8. (If you're short, chain-rescuing princesses is a pretty good way to do this.)
- After doing all the previous things on this list, rescue a princess.
- Acquire transport that will let you cross water. You can do this immediately or wait until the Shuttle unlocks and buy an Aircar instead.
- Take the four "kill a monster" quests from the appropriate kings of the four continents.
- Complete those quests, any or all of which may be done in any dungeon.
- Turn in those quests in exchange for the four gems.
- Keep health up by doing safe dungeon runs and donating to kings
- Keep food up by buying or stealing food
- Keep shields and fuel up in space by docking or cutting trips short
It's not mandatory to max out your stats and equipment, but it's a pretty good idea to. That becomes feasible immediately after acquiring water transport.
We're almost done with that checklist. To finish it off, first we'll need to rescue another princess. Gwino wasn't as cooperative this time; it took quite a few tries before I got a key that actually works. My stats will be all over the place this update as I have to reset and try things again.
Also, the guards seem to be hitting a lot harder today.
"There you are, Kitty." Alice picked her up and started scolding her once again. "Why did you turn the Lost King's men against me?"
"I want to go home. If the game is over, we can go home."
"Well, then. Let's just win the game. Our side has two queens."
I was asked to kill Lord British. Imagine about five minutes of this:
I'm fairly certain I did over 32,767 damage, and I may possibly have done over 65,535. I suspect Lord British may be cheating here. He doesn't fight back, at least.
Lord British finally spoke, loud enough to be heard over the furious coruscations of Alice's blaster. "Enough."
Alice paused. "Yes?"
"I concede the game. You have indeed won a checkmate. Now pay the prize and you should be on your way."
"I beg your pardon, Your Majesty?"
"The prize money. You won the game, so you pay the prize money."
"Oh, yes," thought Alice. "They would do that differently here. Well, I shan't need all this gold anyway. How would I explain it to Mum?"
We'll want maximum hit points or nearly so for the final battle, so dumping gold into the Kings ends up being the most efficient way to do that.
I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here. We're actually still rescuing the princess here.
Kitty spoke up as they left the castle. "I actually found Delilah while you and Snowdrop were gone. She's already gone back through the looking-glass. It's moved from east of Britain to up by the Pillars of Protection."
Alice flew them up there and found a neat little mantelpiece hovering in midair well above the treetops.
Alice shook her head. "I can't go through it like that. It's too small and too high up. You and Snowdrop go back home. I'll be along directly." She helped each of them through the little window, then considered her next moves.
Without the four gems you can't operate the time machine, or, indeed, make any sense of it at all. Let's go pick up the rest of those gems.
Those first two quest rewards cover important ground that the tavern keepers already told us much earlier—ironically, as best I can tell, only the tavern keepers will tell you how to become a Space Ace.
The last reward is, well, a bit different.
We get to steal from the storerooms without consequences?
Oh wait, no, in fact, that's a filthy lie and now all the guards are trying to kill us.
We have been foully betrayed.
They're both Garriott self-inserts; if we can't kill LB, we can at least take out Shamino.
What you're supposed to do here is actually use that Get command:
This doesn't do us much good at all. If we're can make it to levels 9 or 10 and take out Balrons, we really don't need random weapons or a few pence worth of food.
One last thing before we trigger the endgame. Let's go rescue the princess again.
On the way back, we get ambushed by a monster we haven't seen yet this LP: the Hidden Archer. Can you find him?
This re-rescue goes relatively smoothly, and we get an identical message:
But that wasn't just a reminder, oh no. If we head to the northwest...
... there are indeed two time machines waiting for us.
Alice took the souvenirs she had been given by the Kings of Sosaria and put them on the floating mantelpiece. It obligingly sank down to a level where she could climb up on it and reach the looking-glass. Once again, it had gone insubstantial, like silver mist, and she could push right through...
She landed with a thump in the drawing-room. There was a dreadful row just outside.
We come crashing down, 1000 years in the past. Mondain's putting the finishing touches on his Gem of Immortality in the next room over.
Alice headed over to the next room to see what was the matter, only to find Delilah, Snowdrop, and Kitty all fighting over the same ball of yarn, tangling it horribly.
As we approach, Mondain sets up some kind of force field around the Gem and moves into combat mode.
Alice struggled to separate the cats from the yarn as they yowled. "Quiet! You'll get us all sent to bed without supper!"
Mondain's special attacks don't mess around. This is a major part of why you really want to get your stats up to 80 or so before you take on Mondain.
Mondain's non-special attacks, on the other hand, are pretty laughable. He'll alternate between fleeing and launching attacks at us. We try to get him cornered against a wall and unload with our blaster.
With effort, Alice managed to separate cat, kitten, and yarn.
After we do enough damage to Mondain, he will turn into a bat, or a corpse. This is temporary, since the Gem of Immortality is still functional, albeit not yet invincible.
But now's our chance.
We get up next to the gem, and now we Get it. Prior to this run, I thought this was actually the only use in the game for the Get command. Shamino proved me wrong.
Augh, worst idea ever. This is why we maxed our HP going in.
I take it back, best idea ever.
Alice untangled the yarn, and divided it into three separate balls. Meanwhile, Delilah, Kitty, and Snowdrop all tore around the room.
Once the Gem is destroyed, Mondain can actually be slain. The bat form doesn't attack and is aggravatingly difficult to corner.
Alice gave one little yarn ball to each cat, and once they were all worrying their own little toy, peace finally once again reigned in the house.
Without the gem, dropping Mondain below 0 HP wins the game. If we haven't grabbed the gem, he turns into a corpse for awhile but will eventually turn back into a bat, and then a wizard.
Hooray for us! We have won a glorious victory. We certainly did not:
- Trigger catastrophic seismic events that shatter the realms of Sosaria, sinking entire continents and hurling others into alternate universes
- Abandon Shamino on Brittania during the above, where he was presumably being resurrected by Lord British after we got finished with him
- Open a path back to Earth for his student and lover Minax to wreak an apocalyptic revenge that will tear our timeline completely apart
- Leave Mondain's skull and gem shards around to remanifest as unspeakable evils later on
- Cruise down to the other side of the world to randomly murder members of a peaceful and highly accomplished civilization built on the principles of the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom
But it won't be us, because our machine soft-locked at the victory screen after one final helpful message:
In the modern world, that would actually be Ctrl-F9 to terminate DOSBox.
Ultima is really a museum exhibit by this point, and this port is a product of both its original era and the era of its port, but part of being a museum piece is that it is still pretty interesting to look at. Thanks for coming along on the tour!