Pix Finishes Ultima 7 For the Super Nintendo


Origin historian Pix has completed his playthrough of the Super Nintendo port of Ultima 7. Of course, he didn’t do it in two parts; the completion of the game came in the third part of the article series, whereas the second part…seems to have been mostly an exercise in discovering just how brutally divergent from the original this port of Ultima 7 is:

The real strengths in the real Ultima 7 were the virtual world both in terms of the dialog and the interactivity. The dialog here is so cut down that it barely even gets the plot across. I can’t claim to be overfamiliar with Ultima 7 and this is so far removed from it that my memory is barely being jogged so I’m not the person for a detailed comparison. I can say that with so little text, the NPC’s have no personality and the game degenerates into a series of dungeon fetch quests. It’s a horrible waste of the source material. Plenty of other RPG’s on the SNES were so much deeper than this.

As for the world interactivity, it’s reduced down to a handful of useless items that can be picked up, carried around and then dropped again when you need the space for something relevant. The open world is still there I suppose so it does get credit for that and I have stumbled across the occasional treasure chest in the wilderness but for the most part the world is compressed down so much that there is nothing of interest to discover. I’m not seeing any particular incentive to explore when I can crack on with the quest instead.

Still, his overall impression of the game, though tinged with disappointment, isn’t wholly negative:

Ultima 7 is a game I’ve always wanted to return to and play through again but the SNES version hasn’t fulfilled this. There just wasn’t enough of the original here for it to be the same game. Whether it deserves its terrible reputation depends on your point of view though. Anyone who bought this expecting a port of PC game (which would hardly be unreasonable) would have been sorely let down. Putting the original game and the rest of the series to one side, I’ve had a decent enough time with it. The combat is silly but quick and simple so it doesn’t get in the way. The dungeons where I spent most of my time offered a puzzle/exploration side to the game which worked reasonably well. Combat aside (never a highlight of U7 in any version), the game engine appeared to be capable enough and worked well with the SNES controller. I could have lived without the constantly respawning creatures but other than that I think this is a passable hack and slash RPG-lite. It should have been a lot better but there were plenty of games on the SNES that were worse than this.

So basically…skip the port and play the PC version.

4 Responses

  1. Sanctimonia Sanctimonia says:

    If Exult supports a gamepad with programmable buttons/axes you could have the best of both worlds. The Ultima games started getting really mousey around VI, though, so the gamepad may not fit well without some engine tweaks. I loved Ultima Exodus for the NES, but once I got my hands on the IBM-PC versions I mostly ignored the console ports. I played some of Quest of the Avatar for the NES and was left pining for the black background and bright lines of color on my computer.

  2. Sergorn says:

    Ultima VII for the SNES is a decent game all things considered – it’s just a terrible port, and really shouldn’t even be considered a “port” per se, it ‘s more like a complete different game that build on the same basic premise.

  3. Cromulus Prime says:

    I suppose if I were to look at the game objectively, I’d have to admit it’s not *terrible* if it stands on its own. However, when you’re expecting a filet mignon and you get spam instead, it tends to skew your opinion.

  4. Kilthan says:

    It reminds me of Ultima IX in many ways. Taken as something other than one of the numbered games, it is fun experience, but not a top-tier title. The game engine for the Ultima VII on the SNES is a version of the SNES Runes of Virtue II engine (at least it appeared that way to me when I played it). Had they named it Runes of Virtue III, and tweaked the plot to run prior/concurrent/post Ultima VII, it wouldn’t have the negative reputation it has today.

    I enjoyed it, like I enjoyed Ultima IX, but both left me with the feeling that it was lacking in something fundamental. But that feeling comes from the expectation of the name.