Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 22, 2017

Super Mario Odyssey has the worst ending

Peach is such a bitch.

You Nintendo devs think you are being cute, but no way would I ever buy this game.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 22, 2017

Gameboy Classic

Nintendo filed a patent that suggests Gameboy Classic is on its way.

Above: We oldschoolers were so badass that when robots summoned us and gave us a Gameboy, we killed them as thanks.

A Gameboy Classic is extremely interesting to me, more than the NES and SNES Classic. All the NES/SNES Classics did was a nostalgia plastic shell of the old console, with some roms pre-loaded in Generation 1 fashion, who could play to modern TVs. The value of the Classic Mini was in the included games, old-school appearance, and the HDMI connection.

NES and SNES gaming had the problem of their games being way too expensive today and not connecting to HDMI television sets. Classic Lineup solved those problems.

The Gameboy won’t be connecting to a TV (or will it?). So the main value issue of the Classic Line up is not there.

Also, Gameboy games are not expensive outside a few. The retro scene around NES and SNES is intense and profitable, but Gameboy does not have such retro scene.

If I was sitting at Nintendo, and Reggie came to me and asked, “What is the value of the Gameboy Classic?” I would reply:

Modern Screen- Gameboy games are very fun, but a big reason why the games are not in higher demand is because no one wants to play on shitty handheld screens from 1989. It was only until DS Lite that Nintendo handhelds got a backlit screen (and that was 2007!). A 2018 screen would be god-like. Also, handheld tech has come down significantly in price. The original Gameboy sold in 1989 with Tetris and headphones for $89. Even for factoring inflation, you can get very nice handheld hardware for $90 today (2DS with a game retails as that today). Remember, no touch screens, wi-fi, and such are needed. I do wish blue-tooth would be put in, but oh well.

Wireless Link Line- Gameboy games are really fun to play in multiplayer such as Tetris. The wire line could be wireless which would increase its value.

Longer Battery Life- Given an option to play in 2 colors, I can imagine the battery life with 2018 technology of Gameboy to be measured in months, not days.

Kickass Games- People underestimate the Gameboy library. Here is what I think will be included:

Tetris– If this one isn’t included (due to licensing), Nintendo shouldn’t even bother with a Gameboy Classic. However, Nintendo finds a way to get what it wants. Nintendo originally got Tetris from the Soviet Union during the Cold War because its handheld line needed it, I doubt licensing issue with the Tetris Company will pose much of an obstacle.

Super Mario Land- You know this is coming.

Super Mario Land 2- Cool game. It is coming too.

Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land- Yes, let it come.

Zelda: Link’s Awakening- For gameboy, it is a great game. It will be included. You know it.

Metroid 2: Return of Samus- Sakamoto may try to block this, but fuck him. Play the only Sakamoto Free 2d Metroid.

Pokemon Red and Blue- Gameboy has Pokemon which NES/SNES Classics do not. Old Pokemon games have high price tags in retro scene are in high demand. Pokemon, alone, will sell Gameboy Classic.

Kirby Dream Land- First Kirby game will be there for sure.

Final Fantasy Adventure- Expect this one. It is the first Mana game as its sequel was on the SNES Classic.

Gargoyle Quest– I wouldn’t be surprised to see this gem appear on Gameboy Classic.

Mega Man IV- A Mega Man game will be on there. Hopefully, Nintendo will put on a good one. IV and V are the super high demand ones. I, II, III are considered generic and are not in high demand.

Zelda Oracle of Seasons and Ages: Both of these Zelda games could be there. I expect Gameboy Classic to cover Gameboy Color games too. I expect Link’s Awakening to be the DX version.

Donkey Kong– Miyamoto and Nintendo will want to push this. It is as if the arcade version of Donkey Kong evolved to greater heights. Very much worth seeing.

Dr. Mario- Put in for the multiplayer.

Super Mario Brothers DX– I can see them including this for the multiplayer. Look!

Faceball 2000- This game would work well in a four player multiplayer mode. Legit fun today.

Operation C- This is an original Contra game for the Gameboy!

Survival Kids- Konami’s survival game is unique on handhelds. It would give value to the library.

Final Fantasy Legend III- Gameboy needs a big RPG so why not this.

Mega Man V- Fuck it. Mega Man IV and V are too good to leave one out. Put them both on.

Kirby in Dreamland 2– Bring on the sequel!

Castlevania: The Adventure– We like Castlevania!

Qix Adventure- Developed and published by Nintendo. It was also one of the best selling Gameboy games. I hope Qix makes an appearance. It had an adventure mode where you went around an overworld map!

Solar Striker– A Gunpei shmup. Include it!

Donkey Kong Land- It had a GBC port.

Mole Mania- Developed and published by Nintendo. One of Miyamoto’s least known games. Why wouldn’t Nintendo include it?

F1 Race- For 4 player fun. It was racing before Mario Kart.

Defender/Joust- Published by Nintendo. It was a good adaption.

Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters- Never came out in Japan so I expect it to be included.

Shantae- Came out at the end of the Gameboy Color life-cycle. Capcom published it. Put it on the Gameboy Classic.

Those are just 30 games. I think Nintendo should load the Gameboy Classic up with games as their games are smaller than even NES games. I suspect Nintendo might, to spicen things up, put on games that were never released in some areas such as Balloon Kid or X. I hope Nintendo doesn’t do this because those games were Sakamoto games and, of course, suck just as Sakamoto sucks.

Would you buy a Gameboy Classic with that line-up, reader, with modern 2018 handheld technology? I certainly would! I’d be more excited to buy that than the NES or SNES classics. Even with a flashcart, a Gameboy is still just a Gameboy. With Gameboy Classic, we can get modern tech to our handheld console.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 22, 2017

Email: The corruption of game websites…

Just wanted to join in with you on the celebration of Neogaf imploding Malstrom and to give you a heads up on something you probably already well know.

All those other game sites and their forums?

Corrupt as hell too and I know first hand.

I was an IGN poster and lurker for years.

IGN houses a tremendous amount of pedophiles, transsexuals and garden variety homosexual users many of whom are moderators but this is of course the same for gamefaqs and Gamespot as well as for whatever reason sick fucks seem to gravitate to the gaming hobby these days along with we few halfway normal people.

Anyway even way back when I was a bleeding heart libtard (before my inevitable red pilling) I too was always perplexed at why IGN and all the other game forums seemed to have such a heavy leftist bias to them.

Eventually I concluded it was because the entire tech industry is basically housed in California thus it only takes that awareness plus a couple of brain cells to rub together and your heart quickly sinks as you then realize that these creeps basically own and run the internet which is why freedom of speech and our first amendment rights are on the way out as I type.

When I was a young naieve internet user I actually thought that game forums were for you know? Talking about, debating about, arguing about and even dare I say sometimes “discussing” GAMES!

Noooooooooooo, Malstrom.

Thats not what they’re there for at all I soon found out.

Gradually you discover subtle unwritten rules about how the IGN forums are both moderated and administrated.

If you’re particularly bright you then come to realize that if you treat the board as what it seems to be intended as ie a place to discuss/critique/talk about games you are persona non grata ie the scum of the earth and you are soon punished.

“Games talk?”

What foolishness!

You’re here on the gaming forum foolish lowly IGN user only to utilize the forum as a social club and place to wage endless popularity contests against your fellow users, anything to distract you from actually using the forum for what you initially THOUGHT it was intended for…oh and PS we’d also like you to buy an overpriced IGN insider subscription while you’re at it.

Thats the not so hidden but hidden message of IGN and other game forums Malstrom.

My going theory is the big gaming companies either pay these sites the big bucks to have their moderators shut up their own users (using various griefing tactics from banning to trolling) or perhaps more likely have simply somehow given the message to the game sites that if they want interview “access” they’d better toe the line and shut up their site’s forum goers as telling the truth about one game series or another is just bad for business right?

Once enough users get the subtle “message” then only the corporate kiss asses, sycophants and paid viral marketers have any say whatsoever and are treated like royalty by the mods/admin but from one or two mods every now and again you can tell that they hate what they’ve become but are too weak of character to leave their volunteer position and thus “e-popularity” behind. Well ok SOME do but MOST don’t.

Its really all quite pathetic.

This is why I enjoyed the GamerGate fiasco so much, it really shook things up if only momentarily and sent the message to the more aware and the dim bulbs alike that the gaming industry has become entirely corrupt save for sites such as yours that don’t have any money exchanging hands for nefarious purposes.

Malstrom I tell ya I’ve seen countless lengthy heartfelt review/critique threads locked and or deleted on IGN over the years and the user/s banned and keep in mind the posts I’m talking about didn’t “bait” any users (so as to provoke flaming/fighting/forum wars) or in any way be construed as what the chan websites refer to as a “shitpost” but these certain game/game company criticizing threads would be shut down anyway and I’m standing behind my theory that these lowlife game companies simply don’t want their shitty products exposed and big corrupt sites like IGN (among others) are more than willing to help them to maintain their pathetic “access”.

Usually IGN, Neogaf, gamefaqs and Gamespot get away with their censorship bullshit via the “arbitrary” judgement rule just about all of them have.

Thus sad to say but the only way gamers can ever get justice and to spread the truth is to either start up a blog like yours or start making videos on youtube reviewing games there.

Ha, youtube…even that place is becoming a censorship nightmare.

I’ve thrown around the idea in my head from time to time about somehow getting the US government to start up it’s own line of constitution based message boards but thats a joke in the extreme considering who really controls our government which is to say the most evil and malevolent group of free speech hating psychopaths who have ever existed on earth.

So to conclude barring a total collapse of the industry we’re probably doomed to endless festering corruption Malstrom.

We all know that perversion and corruption infest Hollywood. Who was surprised by Harvey Weinstein? People say, “Power enables people like Weinstein to be perverted,” (by definition of perversion, I mean doing things society wouldn’t accept if it were not his protection of media mogul power). But yet, we see perversion all over the entertainment industry… including gaming. Perhaps it is not the power that enables the perversion, it is the perversion that seeks media power. The cause isn’t the power. The cause is the perversion itself. Perverted acts are caused by perverted thinking.

One thing I have learned about money is that it is an amplifier. Rich people can amplify who they truly are. There are many demonic rich people just as there are really nice good rich people too. It’s not the money that is causing the problem no more than the getaway car that causes the bank robbery.

Why does the entertainment industry attract perverts? With Hollywood, I would say it would be due to access to models. There are no models in gaming. However, there are many young boys and innocent children. Gaming would be a ripe target for pedophiles.

Here is a link for the NeoGaf Demise MegaThread. Let’s see how this shapes up.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 22, 2017

Neogaf Melts Down; Malstrom Celebrates

Above: I feel like celebrating!

Readers, it is time to celebrate! As you know, I dislike ‘gaming forums’ and consider them poison to gaming. Gaming got along just fine without ‘gaming forums’ corrupting your thoughts and telling you how to think. If you say something Neogaf doesn’t like, they immediately ban you. To give an idea of how corrupt it is, consider that in the off-topic political threads, if you post anything but leftist, you immediately get banned. They work with leftist politicians and media for… who knows… ‘for the cause’ and all that.

This website is banned on Neogaf. This blog is too scary for them.

Amir0x, a moderator there since 2005 or earlier, was arrested for child porn. Evillore (who owns the site) claims ignorance about Amir0x despite them being best buds and Evillore sending him money.

The story is that Evillore may be a Harvey Weinstein junior. Details about it are in this story or that story or this reddit thread. Go there for the details, reader. Going back to Amir0x being arrested for child porn (and who knows what other deviancy), there is a saying that ‘birds of a feather flock together’. We’ll see how this all shapes out.

Already, moderators have resigned. Currently, the site is offline.

Don’t feel sorry for Evillore, reader. The guy has become extremely wealthy from Neogaf (we’re talking millions). This will be interesting to see where it all goes.

“But Malstrom,” asks the reader. “What if you get accused of sexual harassment?”

Women constantly get angry at me for what I don’t do. I would rather play another video game than entertain them. They don’t like that. So, no, the reader doesn’t have to worry. When harassment claims begin to include “He’d rather play Zelda than date me! Grrrrr!” then we’ll need to worry!

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 21, 2017

“Jumping peppers!” it’s star control time!

The top five PC games I keep returning to are Master of Orion, Master of Magic, Ultima (one of them), Star Control (one of them, usually II), and Paradroid. Keep in mind I did not say these games are my ‘favorite’ or ‘best’. It is simply that I keep returning to play them for whatever reason.

A sequel, spiritual or otherwise, to any of these games gets my notice very, very quickly.

What to make of Stardock’s Star Control Origins?

One big pro, one big con. Let’s get the con out of the way.

The big con is the art style. Star Control 2 did not have cartoony graphics… except for the aliens. The planets and atmosphere were very ominous. The artist for Star Control 2 was a pornographer. The aliens looked interesting on purpose, but they never looked like they belong in a mobile game. The art style for Origins just sucks and will probably be a game breaker.

The big pro is the creation tools. This alone will sell copies. People would rather make their own ships and stories for we know Stardock won’t have the talent to pull off what Paul Reiche III did.

For those who do not know, Star Control 2 is an Open World game set in space. Star Control 2 was the inspiration behind Mass Effect. If you like Babylon 5’s storyline arc, you will love Star Control 2 because the storyline is virtually identical (the writers must have used the same sci-fi sources). In fact, I think Babylon 5 copied Star Control 2 in many places.

Above: A lone human spacestation is the birth of a new alliance powered by a new type of ancient alien starship design, whose captain marries one of the aliens, to defeat two very ancient super-power aliens locked in a war of doctrinal conflict. Yep, that’s Star Control 2.

The game needs to come to Switch. Stardock will make excuses, but give me a break. Losers make excuses. Star Control came to Genesis, Star Control 2 came to 3DO. Switch audience will like Star Control Origins and buy it. PS4 and Xbox One crowd will not.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 21, 2017

An example why Zelda BoW “Wow!” feels like a NES classic game

He tries to follow the portal where the dragons go! In the NES Era, we did this shit all the time. Super Mario Brothers had its ‘Negative World’ which we swore would go somewhere. Metroid had its ‘hidden areas’ when we broke the game.

Can you imagine the shock if Link COULD go through the dragon portal? Where would Link go? What would be on the other side?

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 21, 2017

Email: 3D Mario Kills Mario’s Jump

Hey Master Sean,

I highly recommend this video. If you’re low on time, start at 2:00 minutes:

I find it extremely interesting just how far-reaching the weakening 3D games place on platforming are. The fact that you can beat Mario 64 without jumping is astonishing. Nearly every example of a 3D platformer comes with some additive that weakens the effect of simple platforming rather than adds to it. This is why the whole 3D platforming genre fast turned into “durr colect-a-thuns” instead of focusing on its supposed main mechanic. 3D platforming just isn’t as fun or precise in most cases.

I actually enjoy the explorative style of Mario 64 and expect to enjoy Odyssey. There’s definitely fun to be had. But it comes nowhere near to the focus on platforming 2D Marios have.

It’s not as replayable either. I finished the Galaxy games and now have little reason to return to them. I keep them around but the thought of replaying them doesn’t excite me like, say, replaying Mario 3.

Nintendo is very bitter that 3d Mario still hasn’t been accepted as 2d Mario is.

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 21, 2017

Email: Aonuma taking the Sakamoto path?

Here’s a translated interview from some french gaming website

This part has me worried:

Metroid: Samus Returns, the remake of an important yet not the most popular episode in the series, was announced at E3. Do you think that a remake of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, which has a similar history, would be a good idea?
Eiji Aonuma: Would you like that? We’ll think about it.

Will Aonuma follow Sakamoto into 3ds exile?
I quite like Zelda 2 the way it is. It would break my heart seeing all of the towns people turn into Twin Peaks characters.

The Zelda game that needs to be remade is Wind Waker to be an ‘Open World’ like BoW “Wow!”. Wind Waker has a good world premise, but the dungeon design was terrible as was the ‘story’.

I would never, ever buy any ‘Zelda 2’ remake. Fuck Aonuma. Zelda 2 sold great and still sells great (it is part of NES Mini, GBA Classics line, and Virtual Console).

Posted by: seanmalstrom | October 21, 2017

World 5: NPCs That Live

Ultima IV is the Transcendent Role Playing Game (the only one known to be made) based off of a system of virtues. You become the Avatar of this new religion. Where do you go from here?

What if Virtue was twisted by good intentioned people? What if law tried to replace virtue? A dystopia would appear. And this is Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny.

Above: This isn’t the intro. This is just the title screen!

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny

Generation 3 (8-bit Era)

Released 1988

With Star Trek spanning so many decades, it had different generations that hail different shows as ‘the best’ and ‘the definitive’ of the series. With Ultima, it is no different. I divide Ultima fans into four groups. The first group centers around the earlier Ultimas and hail Ultima IV and V as the best. The second group, many of them kids during the 8-bit generation, hail Ultima VII Part 1 and 2 as the best. The third group hails Ultima Online as the best. The fourth group is a compilation of different sects of those who grew up with Ultima VIII (and loved it) or Ultima Underworld or another spin-off.

The first group sees Ultima IV and V as the apex of the series as the two both deal directly with the Virtues with both games complementing one another. While Ultima IV has a weakness of little story, Ultima V seeks to counter that. Both are the last ultimate RPGs written for the Apple II. Technology was marching on, and the time for the first PC was in its last days as a viable platform.

Programming Ultima V

Richard Garriott used to, pretty much, write the code for all of the Ultima games. Now as the games were becoming larger and more complicated, he began to hire additional programmers.

One was Dallas Snell (Ultima players will recognize the name ‘Snell’ from the Jhelom fighting school in Ultima VII). In 1984 and 1986, he produced adventure games The Quest and Ring Quest published by Penguin Software. When he was hired for Origin, he programmed the artificial intelligence for Origin’s game, Ogre. He would also help on the 1986 rewrite of Ultima I.

Also from Penguin was Dr. Cat (real name David Shapiro) who dropped out of high school to focus on computer science. He helped write Caverns of Freitag, Cat Graphics, and produced Expedition Amazon and Sword of Kadash. At Origin, he would convert Moebius and helped rewrite Ultima I.

Another was John Miles, from Oklahoma, who got the job at Origin by sending in a demo of a role playing game demo he wrote.

As the fandom of Ultima grew, such talent was drawn to Origin as they wished to work with Lord British to make the next great Ultima game. While Origin officially stayed in New Hampshire, Richard Garriott was going stir crazy. To the ‘Game Industry’, Ultima V was being made at a secret development studio unknown to anyone else. This location would be Austin, Texas.

Invention of the NPC Schedules

“How do you make a compelling story for the Open World?”

Ultima 1-4 had ‘story’ but nothing truly compelling. After all, they were open worlds. A ‘compelling narrative’ would create a linear gameplay destroying the Open World. The solution? Making the NPCs come alive.

From page 68 in the Official Book of Ultima:

To enliven the latest incarnation of his fantasy land, Garriott ushered in dynamic characters like Jeremy, who rises every day at 9 a.m. from his bed in a little room at the inn in the town of Yew. He strolls down the street to visit his brother, who has been locked up for heresy by Blackthorn, and then returns to the inn and cooks for the customers. Each character has a daily routine and drops by for meals at different times. After work, Jeremy checks in on his brother once more before falling asleep back in his room, only to awake and repeat this routine the next morning. In addition to augmenting the reality of Britannia, these daily routines presented Garriott with fresh opportunities for puzzles. No longer could the player count on finding a character lounging at the same pub where he first made his acquaintance, for the guy might be across town having dinner; this meant players now had to observe the patterns of individuals in order to learn their secrets.

What I find so interesting here is that this is the opposite approach the Japanese took. The Ultima III clones of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest began to look toward a ‘compelling story’. They made the story first and the game second. Garriott did the opposite.

This notion emerged naturally from Garriott’s approach to game design. Rather than come up with a story, then develop a game system for it, he says, “I first create a world, and then give the world a purpose, and then let people go and explore another life in that world.”

Perhaps inspired by Final Fantasy, Ultima VII: Part 2 Serpent Isle would be the rare example of a story written first with the world written after in the Final Fantasy fashion of grand narrative.

Precise Time Enters The Open World

In order for NPCs to have schedules, the world must have precise time.

Other graphic and audio nuances branched from his introduction of a precise time element, which was integral to the implementation of daily routines of the people in the game. Garriott went to extreme lengths in this regard, incorporating a grandfather clock that ticktocks when the player draws near, and chimes to indicate the correct time of day or night. As the seasons change, farmland transforms from bare ground to crop’ covered fields. And for the first time in an Ultima, the daylight dims at dusk and night slowly cloaks the land of Britannia, illuminated only by the rotating beam of an occasional lighthouse. At specific locations, one of a dozen different original musical compositions plays.

Keep in mind that Ultima’s world, despite written for the Apple II, was so nuanced that the positions of the moons determined whether a moongate would appear and what destination it would send you, the direction of the wind (very impactful when you have a boat), change of seasons, and even the orbits of the planets in the solar system (which are to represent the Virtues).

Beaten at his own game

There is an amusing story about how Garriott was beaten by his own game. After each Ultima, Garriott races others to speedrun it. Since Garriott knows the game so well, he always wins. But this time, he raced against programmer John Miles.

Their strategies varied dramatically. Garriott played by the book, solving every miniquest and seeking out battles to build up his attributes before tackling the final dungeons. “John’s strategy,” Garriott concedes, “was quite slick: to ditch everyone in his party and play with a solitary character.” Miles never tried to build up his character, for he knew where to find the Magic Axe-a powerful weapon that was the one thing in the game whose location Garriott didn’t recall. “John beelined it for the Axe,” Garriott remembers, “and did so kind of quietly, because we could see each other’s monitors, and he must have realized I didn’t remember where it was (in a hollow tree stump by the castle).” Then both adventurers tore out for the Invisibility Rings, invaluable artifacts that enabled them to avoid combat. Because he had only one character in his party, Miles got more mileage from his Rings than Garriott’s party of five, which used them up five times faster.

Despite diverse approaches to the quest, Miles and Garriott ran fairly even until the final dungeon, where Garriott’s larger party proved less maneuverable and whose Rings kept wearing out in mid-combat. This slowed him down considerably, and Miles screamed through the final maze and emerged considerably sooner than Garriott, who proclaimed Miles “the first person in history to finish an Ultima before Richard Garriott.” They’d played continuously for 14 hours, morning to midnight, and Garriott had learned the true meaning of the phrase “beaten at your own game.”

Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny would release in 1988 and become a massive best seller. Glowing reviews called it the best RPG ever. During that year, Super Mario Brothers 2 is released in North America as is Zelda 2, Phantasy Star, Dragon Quest III, and Pool of Radiance.

Electronic Arts and Origin

Electronic Arts was the distributor for Ultima IV which was a great deal for both EA and Origin. But big companies like Electronic Arts would use the logistics as leverage to crush small companies like Origin. In the clause of ‘overstock adjustments’, or better known as returns, if EA over-orders games that Origin produces but cannot sell, the bill comes back to destroy Origin. But if Origin refuses the over-order, EA can claim ‘breach-of-contract’. To top it off, Electronic Arts was making their own Ultima clone called Deathlord.

Origin saw this coming and made a deal with Broderbund to publish the remaster of Ultima I. Broderbund was, at that time, able to go toe to toe with EA. A settlement was reached with EA. EA’s game Deathlord was released to mediocre reviews and flopped.

Richard Garriott added Electronic Arts to the list of swear words in Ultima V. Speak ‘Electronic Arts’ in the game and you will hear “With language like that, how didst thou become an Avatar?”


Above: Here is your text saturated introduction.

If you don’t wish to read that text (who does?), what happens is that on Earth, you see the symbol of the Codex appear which is an amulet. You pick it up and go to the circle of stones outside your house. Eventually, the blue moongate appears which you go through and appear in Britannia.

On your arrival into Britannia, you have a ‘sense of wrongness’ about the world. Shamino greets you as he and Iolo summoned you. He tells you to come with him fast because others will know you were summoned. The three Shadowlords appear, attack Shamino, but disappear on sight of your codex rune. You take the wounded Shamino to Iolo’s hut where he heals while Iolo fills you in over a mug of warm broth.

After the events of Ultima IV (where you go down the abyss to visit the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom), the Great Council is formed as a type of representative parliament in addition to King Lord British. The Great Council seal the eight dungeons to prevent further increase in monsters. The Great Council also creates a task force of wizards to raise the Codex to the surface of the world. While they were successful in bringing the Codex to the surface, it destroyed the Abyss and made it into a raging volcano. Worse, it collapses ground beneath the world creating the Underworld.

Some of the monsters birthed in the Underworld would make their way up. Hearing stories of these creatures, Lord British takes a group of warriors and goes into the Underworld. Only one of them returns with written events of their journey (which is in the manual of the game). Blackthorn, who was appointed to rule in Lord British’s absence, gets influenced by the Shadowlords. All the Virtues become enforced by law.

Blackthorn’s Code of Virtue

Honesty – Thou shalt not lie, or thou shalt lose thy tongue
Compassion – Thou shalt help those in need, or thou shalt suffer the same need
Valor – Thou shalt fight to the death if challenged, or be banished as a coward
Justice – Thou shalt confess to thy crime and suffer thy punishment, or be put to death
Sacrifice – Thou shalt donate half thy income, or thou shalt have no income
Honor – If thou dost lose thy honor, thou shalt take they own life.
Spirituality – Thou shalt enforce the laws of virtue, or thou shalt die as a heretic
Humility – Thou shalt humble thyself to thy superiors, or thou shalt suffer their wrath.


Areas of Note

Above: Cloth map for Ultima V’s overworld

Ultima V is a very large game with much going on inside it (let alone the individual NPC stories). There are many ways to move around in the world including the introduction of the flying carpet.

There are many areas of note of Britannia. You have the eight cities that represent one of the eight virtues, you have the three ‘holds’ that contain one of the three underlying elements of this virtue system (Lyceum [large library] holds the flame of Truth, Empath Abbey [monks] holds the flame of Compassion, Serpent Hold [trainer place for fighters] holds the flame of Courage).

There are, of course, the various dungeons, villages, and other towns. Let us not forget the shrines or areas like Buccaneer’s Bay (home for the pirates).  I don’t think any other RPG really showed off a civilization with so many varied town-places as much as Ultima did.

Stonegate was a keep created by the Shadowlords in the middle of the swamp below Minoc. To give you an idea of game connections, Stonegate appears in Ultima VI, VII, and XI. In V, Stonegate is a nasty maze that holds the Scepter of Lord British (which Avatar needs to get to enter dungeon Doom where Lord British is held). But in VI, Stonegate still stands but is inhabited by a pair of cyclops and their human kid (and holds the Vortex Cube which is a quest item the Avatar needs). In VII, Stonegate is just ruins in the swamp but holds the Magebane weapon. In XI, Stonegate is rebuilt by Hawkwind and is where he takes you when you re-enter Britannia.

In Ultima IV, you fished the Skull of Mondain out from the sea in the middle of three volcanoes. In Ultima V, this location has created an island called Terfin. It is on Terfin that Blackthorn’s Palace rests (and where the Crown of Lord British is at. The crown is necessary in order to survive the daemons of the Underworld). [To give continuity connections, in Ultima VI, Terfin is the place where the mad wizard Sutek resides. In Ultima VII, the gargoyles create a city there. In Ultima IX, Terfin is the palace of the Guardian and the Endgame.)


Above: The Underworld of Ultima V. Dungeon Doom is in the center island.

The Shadowlords

Ultima V is really about the Shadowlords. Back when you killed Mondain and shattered his Gem of Immortality, the gem shattered in three pieces. These three pieces sank into the ground and festered until the formation of the Underworld after the book of Codex was removed.

Captain Johne on his boat was pulled into the Underworld by a maelstrom. There, his crew discovered the pieces of the Gem of Immortality which drove them mad. They killed one another and spread their blood onto the pieces of the Gem which created the Shadowlords.

The Shadowlords immediately attacked Lord British on his journey in the Underworld and confined him to dungeon Doom. Then, the Shadowlords twist Blackthorn’s soul to turn him evil. Last, the Shadowlords keep assaulting the towns in the game.

Ultima V is ‘beaten’ by first slaying the Shadowlords. To do this, you go to each of the three flames of Virtue, yell out one of the Shadowlords’ names, watch it appear, then throw its corresponding gem into the fire destroying that Shadowlord.

If you attack the Shadowlord, you cannot flee. You ‘win’ only if the Shadowlord flees (where it comes back the next night). If you have the Scepter of Lord British, the Shadowlord will take it and return it back to Stonegate.


After you go through literal hell of the Underworld and Dungeon Doom to get to Lord British, you are essentially trapped with him. If you bring his box, Lord British will tell you that he has an artifact in it that was what originally brought him to this world from Earth. British says it fell from the sky. It is the ‘Orb of the Moons’. He uses it, and a red moongate appears.

The introduction of the Red Moongate is the climax of Ultima V. Moongates have always been blue, and they have become a staple of the series by now. Why is this one red? Blue Moongates travel across the world. The Silver Moongates of Ultima II travel across time. But Red Moongates travel across worlds.

The Avatar exits the Red Moongate to return to Earth, to his house, only to find out that he was robbed in real life.

In a dream, the Avatar finds out what happens in Britannia. Lord British assaults Blackthorn’s Palace, but Blackthorn awaits his fate. But Blackthorn wasn’t evil, he was twisted by the Shadowlords. Lord British offers him a choice. Blackthorn either must go on trial and accept verdict of the Great Council or face exile on another world through British’s red moongate. Blackthorn chooses exile.

The game ends.

What People Said of Ultima V

I remember the hype for Ultima V. A preview of the game would show the new features of Ultima V such as ‘night time’ (blackness around your character) or talking across a table. Pictures of these amazing new features were in the magazine and was considered ‘big advances’ at the time! Ultima V satisfied the fans and was a bestseller.

Everyone remarked how at the beginning, they thought the Avatar would dispose Blackthorn. Any other RPG would do that. But not Ultima. No. Lord British reclaims his own throne. You just save Lord British, and he disposes the tyrant. People thought that twist was neat and just.

The bosses of Ultima V do not sit in a room waiting for you to come to them. Instead, they interact with you and the world. The Shadowlords routinely attack the cities and sometimes attack you. Blackthorn will taunt you, and he will imprison you. Blackthorn will threaten to kill a party member and go through with it. This ‘death’ of the party member is not just death, it is permanent deletion from your disk! Your party member cannot be resurrected!

At the end of the game, a note tells the player to mail Lord British to tell him of your accomplishment. I did this. People still do this today, however they use Twitter to contact Lord British of their victory. Lord British still responds.


One of the famous traditions of Ultima is Smith.

The developers forgot to put in an important clue to help finish your game in Ultima IV. So they put that same exact clue in Ultima V as a joke. To help deliver the joke, a talking horse named Smith would tell you the ‘clue’. (Smith the talking horse is owned by Iolo and tends to hang out near his hut.)

In every Ultima hence, Smith appears and gives the ‘vital clue’ which is a vital clue for the previous Ultima!


Ultima V is also the first time we hear the song ‘Stones’.

Above: Ultima V’s “Stones”

Remember, this is 8-bit music. Just like the ‘Mario Theme’, or ‘Zelda Theme’, or other themes that the 8-bit franchises used as their flags, ‘Stones’ becomes the Ultima theme. Any Ultima fan will react emotionally upon hearing Stones.


Above: A good playthrough of Stones

The characters of Ultima are actually real life friends of Richard Garriott. Iolo and his wife, Gwenno, are real people. In the game, Iolo and his wife write the song ‘Stones’ and its lyrics. They did so in real life too.

The lyrics to Stones:

Long ago ran the sun on a folk who had a dream
And the heart and the will and the power:
They moved earth; they carved stone; moulded hill and channeled stream
That we might stand on the wide plains of Wiltshire.

Now men asked who they were, how they built and wonder why
That they wrought standing stones of such size.
What was done ‘neath our shade? What was pray’ed ‘neath our skies
As we stood on the wyrd plains of Wiltshire.

Oh what secrets we could tell if you’d listen and be still.
Rid the stink and the noise from our skirts.
But you haven’t got the clue and perhaps you never will.
Mute we stand on the cold plains of Wiltshire.

Still we loom in the mists as the ages roll away
And we say of our folk, “they are here!”
That they built us and they died and you’ll not be knowing why
Save we stand on the bare plains of Wiltshire.

And people still play it today.

Above: A Ripley clone plays and sings ‘Stones’. Ultima fans respond by immediately re-installing one of the games.


As I said earlier about different generations of Ultima fans, the first group think IV and V are the peak of Ultima. A few fans remade Ultima V in the Dungeon Siege engine and called it Lazarus. This took YEARS of their lives!!!

Ultima V is perhaps the ultimate RPG for the Apple II. It is also an extremely difficult game even back in that time which would scare today’s players.

Copying another trait of Wizardry, Ultima V also allowed you to import your character from Ultima IV essentially making Ultima V an Ultima IV Part 2. Ultima V was the eleventh game ever made to incorporate such a feature.

The ‘World’ Revolution of Ultima V

Ultima V is not remembered as ‘revolutionary’ due to being sandwiched in between Ultima IV and VI, but it should be. The changes to the NPC and time schedules are radical.

“What’s the big deal?” snorts the reader.

There are no ‘small towns’. There are houses with multiple floors. There are conversations that can be highly personalized depending on what word you type. There are tables, chairs, beds, fireplaces, and other real world objects. You can interact with objects in the world! People thought that innovation came in Ultima VI or VII, but it came with V!

Ultima V is a massive, massive world, where it is easy to get lost and distracted doing other things (does this sound familiar?). The game is also the hardest Ultima game ever made which may explain why it doesn’t get replayed as often (hard games of the past seem to be extremely hard in the future). Ultima V with its NPCs and real-time play transformed the static video game world into a dynamic world that is alive.

…all on an Apple II.

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Image result for switch house roof party karen


Image result for switch house roof party karen

Above: I’m still waiting for this amiibo

One year ago, the Switch reveal trailer was put up.

“Is this where you mock the hardcore gamers and their babbling forums, Malstrom?” asks the reader.

No. That part comes later during the full reveal where they show the software, and they all say, “Dead On Arrival!”

The most incredible reaction to the Switch reveal trailer came from Nintendo employees. Check out a post I did on it about a year ago. (Should I re-release posts in ‘Mastered HD Mode’ and call it a day like the Game Industry does? Perhaps I should charge for DLC: ‘For additional commas and paragraphs, pay an extra dollar or two!’) Nintendo employees were shocked over the trailer’s reception. They couldn’t believe it!

It also amazes me how everyone gets in a habit of having their head stuck in the current generation. Just because Nintendo did badly in Gen 8 doesn’t mean Nintendo will do badly in Gen 9. Look at the Nintendo difference between Gen 6 and Gen 7! Truly remarkable.

I am having deja vu sensing a ton of butt hurt and scowls coming from Nintendo competitors including AAA big industry people. “Just because the reveal has a ton of views doesn’t mean it’s another Wii!” No one said it did. But the fact they are lashing out like that tells us what they truly fear.

BTW, I am going to try to get caught up with email… one day.

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