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Pagan: Ultima VIII

Published by
Developed by
Released
Platforms
MobyRank MobyScore
DOS
76
3.8
PC-98
...
4.7
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Description

Ultima VIII: Pagan begins where Ultima VII: Part Two - Serpent Isle ended. The Guardian banishes the Avatar to the land of Pagan, a world under his control. Stranded in this unknown land, without his companions to help him, the Avatar's goal is to find a way back to Britannia. He has to confront four Titans in this world who are embodiments of the four elements, as well as master different styles of magic and fight many opponents on his way.

The gameplay is significantly more action-oriented in this installment than in the previous Ultima games. The Avatar is able to jump and climb, and some puzzles are based on these abilities, adding platform-style elements to the game. There are no companions to help him in battles; combat is action-based and relies on the player's dexterity. The game also abandons the leveling system of the previous entries, utilizing instead a training-based approach, similar to the one implemented in Quest for Glory games: the character's parameters are increased by continuously using correspondent actions (e.g. the Avatar's strength gradually increases as he swings his weapon).

Magic occupies an important place in the game, also departing from the style of the preceding games. The player still needs to gather reagents for spells; however, the exact preparation and casting of the spell differs depending on the elemental school it belongs to. There are four different magic schools in the game, and mastering their spells bears plot-related importance as well.

Like in the two previous Ultima installments, the game features physical interactivity with the environment: the player is able to take, drop, and move most objects from place to place. As opposed to the topic-based dialogue style of the earlier games in the series, Pagan uses conversations with selectable responses. It also reduces NPC interaction, focusing more on exploration of a hostile world and combat.

A speech pack was released separately, which added voices to some of the major game characters. It was included in the CD-ROM edition of the game.

Screenshots

Pagan: Ultima VIII DOS The Guardian will banish you, Avatar.. (from the opening intro)
Pagan: Ultima VIII DOS Fighting myself ? ... No, it is a Changeling, who has taken our shape
Pagan: Ultima VIII DOS Just inside a house
Pagan: Ultima VIII DOS We have created a Golem to open a door - he is ready to take our orders

Alternate Titles

  • "Ultima VIII: פגאן" -- Hebrew spelling
  • "Ultima 8" -- Informal title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Avatar, Avatar, what hast thou done?.. DOS אולג 小奥 (168701)
The Avatar loses his virtues as he goes the route of action hero. DOS Ray Soderlund (3500)
Welcome to the dark and dangerous world of Pagan DOS Chris Wright (99)
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. DOS Indra is here (19699)
Hard to get past the short-comings but ultimately immersive and rewarding... DOS Tibes80 (1495)
Umm... ah... well... DOS Vance (98)
Not very Ultima, but still a great game DOS WWWWolf (422)
Good Sequel, The last good Ultima... DOS Paolo Cumin (14)
A big stretch, and a big departure from the previous Ultimas. DOS Mirrorshades2k (273)

The Press Says

PC Games (Germany) DOS Apr, 1994 94 out of 100 94
MikroBitti DOS May, 1994 92 out of 100 92
PC Player (Germany) DOS May, 1994 89 out of 100 89
The DOS Spirit DOS Dec 23, 2008 5 out of 6 83
Power Play DOS Apr, 1994 80 out of 100 80
PC Zone DOS Jun, 1994 78 out of 100 78
PC Gamer DOS May, 1994 78 out of 100 78
High Score DOS Jun, 1994 3 out of 5 60
All Game Guide DOS 1998 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars 60
Techtite DOS 2000 2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars 40

Forums

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Trivia

Cancelled add-on

The planned add-on The Lost Vale was all but finished and ready for duplication before it was cancelled in September 1994 due to poor sales of the main game. In September 2005, a prototype of the game box appeared on eBay and was sold for almost 2000 dollars. Its authenticity was confirmed by Origin artist Denis Loubet. More information on The Lost Vale, including a scan of the box, is available at PC Games That Weren't.

Engine

The Pagan game engine was recycled in Origin's Crusader series.

Pentagram

Richard Garriot used pentagrams as gameplay element because he thought the superstitions - many people believe pentagrams summon the devil - are ridiculous. During development, a few people actually left Origin because of this. After that, Garriot used the pentagram on the cover which caused some US retailers like Walmart to refuse carrying the game.

Plot

In the previous games, Avatar is rated mainly on compassion and doing good deeds. In Ultima VIII, the Avatar must turn all four planes of existence upside down by destroying the Titans of each plane, in order to escape. Many fans believed that this storyline ran counter to the spirit of the Avatar and the entire Ultima series.

Reception

Pagan was not well-received by long-time Ultima fans. A large number of them ridiculed the action and platform elements of the game, dubbing it "Super Avatar Brothers". The alternate nickname this game was known by is "Super Mario Avatar". Only a different wording, but still making a point about the gameplay and jumping puzzles.

Richard Garriott, the producer of this game, admitted himself that it was released too early, incomplete and with too many bugs. The patch Origin released soon afterwards corrected most of the issues and made jumping easier. The CD ROM release is already patched.

References

  • Like Ultima VII, the game contains a reference hinting at the mighty corporate power of Electronic Arts. In Mythran's abode, a magical, morphing object appears, which continuously changes shape between cube, sphere and tetrahedron, and labeled differently during each change. These are the items the former EA logo was made out of.

    When double-clicking the item, the avatar kneel and says: "I have not the strength, nor the wisdom to master such power... but one day I shall!". Obviously, Richard Garriott was behind this.
  • Check out the graves on the graveyard - on one of them there is the following epitaph: "Here lies Arnold. Hasta la vista baby!" An obvious reference to the movie Terminator 2.

Release history

At least in Europe, there were two different releases of the CD-ROM edition (not counting the budget releases). The first one came in the same box as the floppy disk release, with a "CD-ROM" sticker added to distinguish it from the floppy-based version. It included the speech pack, but was the same otherwise.

The second version had a redesigned box and was released in 1995. Unlike the first CD-ROM edition, this one was fully patched to fix all the bugs and plot holes that the game originally had.

Titans

The names of the four Titans are Greek words, that correspond to the elements the Titans represent:
  • Pyros (fire)
  • Lithos (earth)
  • Stratos (air)
  • Hydros (water)

Tumbling Avatar

In the original release of Ultima VIII there was the feature, that the Avatar, when hit hard in combat, fell on his back and had to get to his feet again before he could continue fighting. They later removed this in the patched version because players considered this very annoying. But you can still watch this feature when fighting a creature named Changeling. If the Changeling has taken the shape of the player and so you are fighting "yourself", the false Avatar will still fall on his back when he gets hit.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #20 Worst Game of All Time
Information also contributed by Kasey Chang, Sciere, Terok Nor, Unicorn Lynx, WildKard, WindowsKIller and xcom1602

Related Web Sites

Contributed to by Terok Nor (18355)