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Untima IX: Descension (DOS)

Untima IX: Descension DOS Title screen

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Description

A competent one-man experiment into the top-down CRPG, pulled off with all the panache of Vampyr: Talisman of Invocation or, say, Ultima 3. The difference here is that the author rebels against the established conventions instead of playing to them, exposing the arbitrary design and story cliches plaguing the genre from the start and having a good time taking it down a few notches with a wicked discordian Subgenius sense of humour.

Unlike the irrelevant + unrelated mockery of Ultimuh, however, there is substance behind this parody: Descension's homage delivers a credible game experience, albeit one a decade or so behind the times -- the look and feel of the stickmen's tile-based overland and palace maps could easily pass at a casual glance for actual screens from early members of the Ultima series... it's only in the fine details that you can tell that this isn't being played straight. There's nothing so very unusual about being sent on a quest by Lord Finnish (guess they couldn't afford British)... until he tells you that he needs you to recover his children's book from the dreaded monster "Bunnicula." Is he making fun of you? No -- actually he directs you to the dungeon where it can be found. And sure, maybe "Mustard" is a peculiar name for a dungeon... but so is the canonical "Hythloth", so who am I to judge. The next weapon up from the Mace is the Herring? Well, I'm sure its smell is quite offensive. And while it is true that I've never seen a game with an esoteric (P)ush a plant option among the character's possible single-key actions, it's implemented beautifully and functions precisely as you'd expect. Goofy, but no worse than Space Quest 4's tongue and nose action icons.

In short, it's no less a game for its lack of stony respect for its source material, delivering everything the originals did plus a hefty dose of doesn't-take-itself-so-seriously humour to mellow the repetitive (however classic) find-the-McGuffin, kill-the-Foozle gameplay.

Screenshots

Untima IX: Descension DOS I'm sure I played through this quest in another game before. Quake?
Untima IX: Descension DOS Three on one just isn't a fair fight!
Untima IX: Descension DOS Your liege is also an accomplished healer, though his technique is quite unorthodox.
Untima IX: Descension DOS Possible actions

Alternate Titles

  • "Untima 9: Condescension" -- Alternate title

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Trivia

The game claims to be part two of the ChesterLand adventure series, though it mercifully bears no resemblance to part one, a "Hello, World!" exercise in a Roguelike wrapper. Curiously, immediately following this claim, the author asserts that the entire thing was coded from August through November 1995 -- four years before Ultima 9, its namesake, was released, and likely well before its name was known to the public (or perhaps even to Lord British!) Since there is no reference to "Descension" within the game, it is possible that it was merely another stupidly-high-numbered spoof of the early Ultima games generally, later re-released with a slicker introduction sequence once its numerical designation became relevant as the main series "caught up" to it.

Related Web Sites

  • Untima downloads (Free, legal downloads of two ports of the game as well as their respective source codes.)
Pseudo_Intellectual (43947) added Untima IX: Descension (DOS) on Jun 02, 2006
Other platforms contributed by Pseudo_Intellectual (43947)