Ultima: Escape from Mt. Drash is a computer game for Commodore VIC-20 home computer. It is maybe the most strange game ever published with the Ultima name on it.
In the game, creatures called "garrintrots" have imprisoned the player in Mt. Drash, and the player's task is to escape the dungeons.
The game itself is a very simple series of three-dimensional randomly generated dungeons, and the idea is to destroy all monsters that stand in the way and exit to the next level. There is a time limit as well. The game doesn't employ custom graphics, but rather uses VIC-20's built-in keyboard graphic characters to draw the game scene; this is not as limiting as it may sound, however, as the range of characters available on the VIC allows for some surprisingly meaningful (if primitive) graphics as demonstrated in the screenshot.
The game itself doesn't tie to the series in many ways. Mt. Drash is a location in Ultima I, but that's it.
The game was originally written by one of Richard Garriott's friends, Keith Zabalaoui, in Coarsegold, California, for Sierra On-Line, Inc in 1983. Sierra, who had just successfully published Ultima II, named the game an Ultima, in hopes that it would sell better. They did this without Garriott's permission - Garriott held the rights to the Ultima name - and due to the relative obscurity of the game, Garriott didn't hear about the incident until much later.
Sierra originally intended to publish the game as part of the SierraVenture series of games. However, it seems that someone at Sierra had noticed that the game was not going to sell well. Only one advertisement was published in Compute! magazine, but aside from that, the game was never distributed very widely. Computer Gaming World reviewed the game in 1983, praising its unique graphics and musical score. Sierra even denied the game ever existed, until Zabalaoui confirmed it actually was finished and was actually shipped to retailers. Approximately 3000 units were made, although exact numbers are not available.
Rediscovery & Collectible Status
For a long time, a lot of the details surrounding the game were very vague. For example it was believed the game was a cartridge, while in fact it was released on cassette tape. One of the rumors about the game was that Sierra sold a very minimal number of the games, barely enough to get even, then buried the remaining stock at a foot of a mountain somewhere. In fact, some retailer had dumped unsold software over a cliff, and the Mt. Drash had been found from the pile at the bottom, and this where some of the copies were eventually found.
In recent years, the game has been extremely sought after by collectors. First copies of the game were discovered and announced in 2000. The first online auction of a copy was in September 2003. Since then, there have been some very rare sightings, but due to high demand, there have been quite a few counterfeit games on the market.
The game has also been ported to the PC by fans.
- It is possible that "Garrintrots" might have been derived from Richard Garriott's name, but this is uncertain.
- The castle on the cover, presumably meant to represent Mt. Drash, is actually a detail from the lesser-known half of the Ultima II box art.
- Computer Gaming World, Volume 3.4. July - August 1983. Page 9.
- One Man's Drash... - Article in Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe
- Dino's Ultima Page - Escape from Mt. Drash PC remake