The Super Nintendo port of Ultima VI came out three years after the original game was released. The port was surprising in that it stayed quite faithful to the original game, something that wasn't a given after the NES-ports of the earlier games.
While the graphics for the intro and outro were re-drawn, the in-game graphics are very similar to the PC version (tile graphics of the world and inventory screen), although with a slightly improved color palette (notably the roads and dirt lose the reddish aspect of the original PC version for a better looking brownish look). The music is the same as well and also includes a few more track from Ultima V that were not in the original PC version such as Britannic Lands. The graphics are better in a way, since the world is seen in fullscreen. However, the sheer size of the original game (several megabytes) meant, that Origin had to cut several things out of the port, or it would have never fit into the limited memory of the module.
Also the limitations of a console controller rears its ugly head. Since the original Ultima VI was fully mouse driven in combination with the keyboard, the control scheme on SNES had to be significantly changed, making the game harder to control.
Listed are the changes to the game, apart from the graphical and audial representation. These had to be done to fit the game into the module, or because of technical limitations, or to have the game fit into Nintendo's standards, or to make the game more marketable to SNES users:
- Several pictures and texts from the intro were removed.
- There is no character creation, the player only enters a name. There is also no option for a female Avatar.
- The conversations use a tree-system, meaning that the player actually has to learn about a topic, before they can ask the person about it.
- There are no character portraits.
- Also all NPC dialogue had to be streamlined and shortened in order to fit the game into the module. This was used for censorship as well (see below).
- Since the game is fullscreen, thus logically no mouse support, the control scheme is much more complicated with several sub-menus.
- The world is less detailed and less interactive.
- EG: Can't sit in chairs. Paintings don't elaborate on details when looked at.
- Doors automatically open by running into them (which means no more closing doors on enemies and locking them in).
- Can't move objects in the game world (eg: can't move chairs around). Since you can't move in-game objects, they made it so you can pretty much walk over anything and everything that normally blocked your path (eg: can walk over chests, boxes, barrels, etc). Likewise, you can't attack or destroy those items anymore either (since no reason to now).
- Interacting with most game-world objects is done using a universal "look" command (looking at a potion asks if you want to take it, looking at a chest auto-opens it and asks if you want to take the loot, looking at hiding places will reveal things hidden underneath and ask if you want to take them, etc).
- The following spells are missing:
- Buildings and the overworld are all separate maps, so you can no longer look in windows to see building interiors.
- The maximum party size is reduced to six instead of eight.
- Dead party members turn into white clouds that follow along like party members until resurrected. Can't leave behind corpse or remove party member until resurrected.
- Oil is now utilized like a grenade. You cannot ready it as a weapon. Instead, you go into inventory, select it for use, then select a place on the map to throw it. When it lands, it has a one-time 3x3 blast damage instead of lighting a single 1x1 tile on fire for a period of time.
- The monetary system has been significantly "JRPG'ed"...
- The cost of everything is about 10x more. (eg: Magic Armor costs 3800. Most spells cost thousands of gold each. Reagents cost 10-50 gold each. Crossbow bolts cost 10 gold each. And so on.)
- Killing enemies auto-disposes of corpse (see censorship below), and may leave behind a single chest that contains a single item (gold, weapon, armor), as opposed to the hordes or items typically found on enemies in the original game.
- Selling items still go for the typical amount, though. (EG: selling a leather helm gets you 2 gold).
- So, all of that combined with the single-item-in-chest loot you get from monsters has turned the SNES port into a significant grind-fest, typical of most SNES RPG's of the time.
- Dropping items from inventory removes them permanently instead of dropping them on the ground. However, you're not allowed to drop certain items .. like keys. So, inventory management can have more overhead, as you don't want to lose things by dropping them, and can't drop other things you don't care about.
- Combat can get initiated with an "Attack" command, but you can not manually stop combat anymore. You must eliminate all enemies nearby, or head through a moongate.
- Attack AI is dumbed-down, with both friendly and enemy characters shooting weapons and casting spells into walls instead of stepping out from behind them to target properly.
- Sherry the Mouse is no longer a potential companion. Now she's an inventory item. Once used, you can control her until you pick her up again.
- Music transitions every time you switch screens (eg: in and out of inventory, in and out of buildings), which can become very aggravating as it starts to sound like a jukebox stuck playing small music snippets before fast forwarding to the next song.
- Karma (KR) is directly shown in inventory screen as a number you can track instead of being a hidden value.
- Stealing counts against Karma, but has no other repercussions (Owners don't attack you, Guards don't show up.)
- Certain areas seem to have had item counts toned down (presumably to preserve space). EG: ant mound dead body storage seems to have significantly less bodies and items lying around (since most aren't intractable anyways, this makes sense.)
Additionally, the game was censored. This was due to Nintendo of America's censorship policies at the time, since they wanted to be a "family friendly" company. The following censorship was done:
- Several text changes in the intro. Also the picture of the Gargoyle priest with the crossbow bolt in his head was removed.
- Also the Gargoyles no longer have horns (possibly the censors felt they looked like devils).
- Killed enemies don't leave any bodies behind. They just vanish.
- There is also no blood.
- The text during the combat was changed. "X barely/lightly/severly/heavily wounded" becomes "X gets Y points of damage". "X killed" becomes "X is defeated".
- It is impossible to attack civilians.
- The spells "Kill" and "Mass Kill" were renamed to "Destroy" and "Mass Destroy".
- It becomes clear that most of the removed dialogue was critical stuff, for example the preparator in Empath Abbey. The remaining dialogues were changed to eliminate words that were on the black list.
- Alcoholic beverages (mead, ale, etc) have been replaced with family-friendly alternates (juice, milk, spring water, etc).
A Japanese port of Ultima VI was also released for the Super Famicom. It was identical to the SNES port except the text was translated into Japanese.
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