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Computer Ports of Ultima I

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Ultima I comes in two versions. The original game from 1980 was released only on the Apple II and later converted for the Atari 800 (same code used). The later remake created in 1986 had ports of the game for various systems.

The Original Game Edit

The Apple II Original Edit


Original title screen


Original game

The very first incarnation of the game, the one that the first time held the name "Ultima".

For a 1980 game, the programming feats that went into this game are impressive. Even more if it is taken in consideration that Richard Garriott and Ken Arnold did all the work themselves. The game sported a for the time impressive representation of the terrain with the help of tiles. However, nothing was yet animated (that would first happen in Ultima III).

The whole game was programmed in Apple BASIC, making it virtually impossible to export it to other systems. The game is also plagued by glitches and other programming errors (something that was common at the time).

It was released on a single 5.25" floppy disk.

U1 Title Atari8bit

Atari Ultima I Title

The Atari 8-bit Port


Atari 800 wilderness

In 1983, Sierra Online re-released the game on the Atari 800. The game was converted by Sigma Micro Systems. The game is virtually unchanged from the Apple II release. This was the only Ultima that utilized the Atari's color graphic modes for the main window. Though numerous colors are available the developers decided to match the Apple II look as much as possible. This version of Ultima should look the same across the Atari 8bit line. Im not sure how the towns are handled in the other releases, however in the Atari version the single overhead view does not look good and lacks any mystery found in the towns, villages, and castles of future Ultimas.
U1 Castle Atari8bit

Interestingly enough, all of the glitches were converted 1:1 to the Atari 800 port.

It was released on a single 5.25" floppy disk.

The 1986 Remake Edit

The Apple II Port Edit


Apple II title screen


Apple II in-game

Compared to the original version of the game, the remake is a lot better. It was written entirely in assembly language, making porting issues trivial. A new title screen and some text screens were added, many aspects of the game were revised. Wandering monsters on the overworld were now included.

The graphics, while still looking a little like the original, are much better and more colorful and tiles are now animated. All of the original's glitches were removed as well.

The game was released on a single 5.25" disk.

The C64-Port Edit


C64 title screen


C64 in-game

The port for the C64 is in many ways a lot like the one on the Apple II.

The two ports share much of the code, so the similarities are no coincidence. One difference is the graphics. The graphics of the C64 port make full use of the system's capabilities. Everything is much more colorful, and the colors are not as distorted as they sometimes are on the Apple II. The improvement in color is especially noticeable in the towns (just look at the walls).

The game was sold on a single 5.25" floppy disk.

The IBM-PC Port Edit


IBM-PC title screen


IBM-PC in-game

The port for the IBM-PC was finished one year after the other two.

Right from the start, the graphics of this port are clearly superior to the ones on the C64 and Apple II, despite only using 16 colors (the same amount as the other two systems). The port also got a new title screen, which looks nicer than the one on the other two ports.

The port however does have a problem: there is no frame limiter built into the game, which makes it virtually impossible to play it on a modern system, unless artificially slowed down.

The port was sold on a single 5.25" floppy disk and still in commonly available on various compilations.

The MSX-Port Edit


MSX title screen


MSX in-game

This port was created in 1989 and only released in Japan. Unlike other Japanese ports of Ultima games, there is no English version available.

This port offers a whole new tileset which is much more colored than the original graphics and in higher (512x212) resolution, as well as totally original music. Outside of these cosmetic differences, the game is an exact copy of the 1986 remake.

The Apple IIgs Port Edit


Rare screenshot of the Apple IIgs port.


IIgs screenshot featuring a Ranger.

(Text from [1])

In 1994, IIGS programming master Bill Heineman assembled the same team of programmers, musicians and artists who ported "Out of this World" to the IIGS, with the goal of creating an updated GS/OS-specific version of Ultima I for the IIGS. With Super Hi Res graphics and a synthLAB-based musical soundtrack, Ultima I for the IIGS was brought to market by Vitesse, and it received critical acclaim from Apple IIGS game players.

Ultima I for the IIGS was available for sale for only a short time, as Vitesse is no longer in business. But, in order to assure that even new IIGS owners could partake in the same joys as previous generations of Apple II users, Bill Heineman and Joe Kohn teamed up again, to make the IIGS version of Ultima I is available from Shareware Solutions II.

The FM-Towns Port Edit

Ultima I FM-Towns(1)


Ultima I FM-Towns(3)


Ultima I FM-Towns(2)

Lord British

Ultima I FM-Towns(4)

Mondain's hordes

This port of Ultima I was made as part of the FM-Towns Ultima Trilogy I II III compilation. As such it offers redrawn graphics with a new tile set that was also used for the FM-Towns version of Ultima II and Ultima III.

In addition it also offers newly composed music, thus making it the only version of Ultima I with music. Like the graphics, this music was also used for the other two titles of the compilation.

Like most FM-Town ports, it is also offers a new hi-resolution introduction the player can watch outside the game, but unlike the game it has no English translation and can only be watched in Japanese.

The game was only released as part of a compilation, and only in Japan. Outside of Japan, it is nearly completely unknown.

Computer Ports
Games Ultima I Ultima II Ultima III Ultima IV Ultima V Ultima VI

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