Ultima II: The Revenge of the Enchantress is the second installment in the Ultima series. It was released on August 24, 1982 and published by Sierra Online for the Apple II, IBM-PC and Atari 8-bit. Later conversions for the C64, Atari ST and Macintosh followed. Graphics and gameplay changed only little from Ultima I, making the game very similar to the previous one.
The game deals with several different time periods on Earth, has numerous pop-culture references, science-fiction elements, and travel throughout the Terran Solar System. The game as released is also quite buggy, and has many areas that are simply empty (some of the planets of the solar system have literally nothing on them). This mix of themes seems odd today, but wasn't that strange in the early 80s.
Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
The Player, again as the Stranger, doesn't have the task to save Sosaria, but instead Earth itself from the Enchantress Minax. Being the lover and apprentice of Mondain, she is quite angry over his death by the Stranger's hand, and swears revenge. Manipulating the timeline to this end, she let Earth die in an atomic holocaust in 2111 - all life on Earth perished in the Aftermath.
The Stranger, having escaped from the changes in the timeline at the last moment, has to decipher the mystery of the Time Doors, which enable time travel, to reach Minax and prevent these horrible events from ever happening. Gathering the only weapon that can kill Minax, the Quicksword Enilno, and wearing the protection of the Force Field Ring, the Stranger travels back to the Time of Legends and confronts Minax in her castle to kill her. With her death, the timeline returns to normal, with no one remembering the horrible events that occurred in the changed timeline - all except the Stranger.
Spoilers end here.
Sierra On-Line, located in California, was chosen to publish Ultima II because they were the only company willing to spend the money needed to include the cloth map with every game Richard Garriott insisted on.
After a number of difficulties dealing with Sierra, the Garriott family founded Origin Systems in their home state of Texas. Afterwards, their former publisher refused to sell the rights back to Origin for many years, and never relinquished the original cover artwork. Because Origin never acquired the rights to the original Ultima II cover art, a stand-in was used for subsequent anthology re-releases of the game. The stand-in is a cropped version of the original cover for Akalabeth.
Differences between platforms
Ultima II was released on platforms with a wide range of abilities. The Apple II Series, DOS-PC, and Atari 8-bit releases were limited to 4 colors. Areas seen in "black" in 4-color versions were filled in with color on the Commodore 64's 16-color release, and with bright white on the 16-color Atari ST. Fitting its display at the time, the Macintosh port was entirely in grayscale.
Most ports relied solely on a keyboard interface; however, the Macintosh and Atari ST both were heavily mouse and menu-driven.
Japanese computers NEC PC 8801 and 9801 supported a maximum of 8 colors, while the MSX-2 capable of 16 total; both saw an Ultima II that looked and played far more like console games of the time. The FM-Towns release supported 32,768 colors (though it's unclear how many were used) and stereo sound, making it the most advanced of the many ports.
Although this game was never remade or updated for the PC platform, a little-known upgrade (similar to what was done for Ultima I) was made for the Apple II. It was only released as part of the Ultima Trilogy I II III anthology of the first three games, and is extremely rare today. (Only the Apple version received the update. The versions of the Trilogy boxset for the PC and Commodore 64 contain the original, unaltered Ultima II for their respective platforms.)
For more information, see Computer Ports of Ultima II.
Ultima II was highly praised for its fast-paced gameplay, quality graphics, and realistic worlds. Ultima II was quite a success in 1982, and sold well enough that Richard Garriott could found his own company, Origin Systems, which in the future was the publisher for all the Ultima games developed.
This game was included in several compilations:
Included with the game
The release of Ultima II included these things with the game:
- The book The Second Age of Darkness.
- A cloth map of Earth in Ultima II, together with the codes for the Time Doors.
- Ultima II Galactic Map.
For the DOS PC, the fan-made Ultima II Upgrade Patch converts the CGA-graphics to 16-color EGA graphics, builds in a frame limiter, fixes a number of bugs and inserts new commands into the game.
Apple II Patches
Two patches for the original Apple II version (not the remake) exist. One will fix the bug that prevents ever increasing the "Strength" stat once the character creation process is over, and the other makes the game a bit harder by forcing the player to enter the dungeons and towers, because an important resource will now be found only in there.
- For bugs in this game, see Ultima II Bugs.
- For easter eggs and real-life references in this game, see Ultima II Real-life references and easter eggs.
- For a map viewer, see Ultimatrix.
- For a saved game editor, see Ultima Saved Game Editor.
- Richard Garriott has said on multiple occasions that the Time Doors and map in this game were inspired by the movie Time Bandits; this likely goes for the existence of Minax's castle in the Time of Legends as well.
- When the game begins, Lord British will heal you 300 HP for each 50 GP you give him. Later on, after you've become stronger, it drops to 100 HP per contribution. This is done so as to decrease the likelihood of "rolling over" the HP counter, which will instantly kill your character if it happens.
- It is little known that the front and backside of the original box are one big picture, and the effect got lost in the new editions. The advertisement seen on the right shows the art in its whole design.
- This is one of the first games (apart from text adventures) ported to the Atari ST.
- This game is the first original release of a Ultima game on more than one system.
- This is the last Ultima NOT published by Origin, unless one counts Escape from Mt. Drash.
- The Official Book of Ultima: 23
- Softline, Volume 2.3. January 1983. Page 40