­čÉ│ Featured Group: Gameplay feature: Auto-mapping

Akalabeth: World of Doom

aka: D&D28b, Ultima 0
Moby ID: 1256
Apple II Specs

Description official descriptions

Once, the land of Akalabeth was peaceful and quiet. But then came Mondain, an evil and ambitious man who created dungeons and populated them with foul creatures. The noble warrior British was able to drive Mondain from Akalabeth, but the monsters he brought with him remain.

As either a fighter or a mage, it is your job to explore Akalabeth, descend into the dungeons and vanquish the beasts dwelling within. On an overhead map of the land, one can find the dungeons, towns where one may buy supplies, weapons and armor, and a castle, where one will be given quests by Lord British. To fulfill such a quest, a certain type of creature must be destroyed in a dungeon.

Inside the dungeons, the view switches to a first-person perspective. Fight, explore and find treasure on your way to complete a quest. Each successive quest will require you to destroy a stronger monster, which will reside on a deeper dungeon level than the one before it.

Akalabeth is the precursor to the Ultima series.

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Screenshots

Promos

Credits (Apple II version)

5 People

Game Designer
Programmer
Game Art
Playbook Cover Art
Advertisement Art
Playbook Design & Inside Art
  • Robin West Design
Graphics by
Original cover artwork by

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 43% (based on 3 ratings)

Players

Average score: 2.8 out of 5 (based on 50 ratings with 3 reviews)

The start of the Ultima series - fun while it lasts but a fairly basic game even at the time.

The Good
This is the game that started the Ultima bandwagon rolling, even if it doesn't carry the name. Its hard to review a game this old in a modern context but I'll give it a go. The game is extremely simple - most of the time is spent navigating around a 3D maze fighting monsters. Lord British gives you a sequence of quests where you have to delve into these mazes and kill a particular creature. Once you complete about four of these quests he makes you a knight and the game is over. You can complete the game in about 30 minutes if you know what you are doing.

The Bad
The graphics may have been OK at the time but they are beyond extremely basic these days. Everything is made up from straight white lines - there isn't a hint of colour or a rounded edge anywhere. There also isn't any sound to speak of.

The mazes are randomly created so they don't always make much sense or have an up ladder connected to a down one. Once you've started they are all exactly the same every time though, including the positions of the monsters.

Finally, the way to win the game is just to keep using the magic amulet, and repeatedly turn into a lizard man (every time doubles your stats). If you tried to play it without doing this exploit, the game would be nigh on impossible.

The Bottom Line
Despite the age, this game is still a fun enough way to while away half an hour while it lasts. It would be long forgotten were it not linked to the Ultima saga but for a game written by a student in his spare time and not intended for commercial release it holds up pretty well. Its a lot better than Escape From Mount Drash which followed several years later.

Apple II · by Pix (1172) · 2008

Starting point for the "overworlds/underworlds" concept,nothing more

The Good
Well I suppose the game is a starting point for the "overworlds and underworlds" game design concept. The game's overworld and dungeons could not be much cruder. I'd want to play this game even if it was complete crap, to see the starting point of games like the Phantasy Star series. Of course this game more directly led to the Ultima series and the first Ultima game, released the following year, was a vast improvement on this.

The Bad
Well the game IS complete crap. Even considering its point in history. Crude graphics I can forgive and even appreciate, but the game is programmed, or rather allowed, to be an utter bastard. The random, computer controlled creation of overworlds and underworlds can create some totally unforgiving situations. I did my best to meet the game's challenge, but eventually decided that it was stupid to put so much time and effort into such a bad game. Rogue was first released in the same year I believe and of course that also gave the computer control over level creation, but I think Rogue is a hell of a lot better, despite the original having even cruder graphics i.e ASCII characters

The Bottom Line
Actually, if you're interested in seeing how RPGs began, I'd recommend watching a video of SOMEBODY ELSE play this game. Even if you love classic RPG, I can't see any point in subjecting yourself to actually playing it.

I'm saying this under the assumption that the original Apple II version is just as unfair as this Windows/DOS version i.e earlier versions of the game might be worth playing if there is some programming in them that helps you stay alive a bit longer.

Windows · by Andrew Fisher (697) · 2017

Grandfather of the Ultima series... but very primitive.

The Good
Still has the "feel" of an Ultima (almost). The magic amulet was pretty neat, too -- it had a bunch of random effects on your character each time you used it.

The Bad
No real plot to speak of, just questing and killing monsters. Also the food usage rate is horribly inconvenient, and you die the instant your food quantity reaches zero. Frustrating to imagine a battle-hardened warrior dropping dead from starvation just outside the town wall.

The Bottom Line
Play the other Ultimas first, and become a diehard fan. Then you'll appreciate this game.

Apple II · by Mirrorshades2k (274) · 2000

Trivia

Cover art

The box cover art was created by Denis Loubet and is titled "Wrong Number".

Development

Richard Garriott originally wrote this game for his own benefit but was persuaded by a friend at his local computer store to try to sell a few copies there. He hand copied the disks and put them into ziplock bags with instruction sheets and a copy found its way to the head of California Pacific, who immediately bought the rights for the game.

When he later wrote Ultima for California Pacific the entire code of Akalabeth was included as a subroutine for the dungeon levels. There were only 12 copies of the original version ever sold and Richard Garriott owns one of them. He does, however, have a box of unsold copies and did say in an interview in 1999 that he would sell some on ebay just to see the price they would fetch. As of 2000 he hasn't done it yet!

PC port

The game was originally created for the Apple in 1979 but ported to the PC in 1997 for the Ultima Collection - a compendium of ten Ultima games. Ported is too kind a word; it was completely rewritten, due to the fact that the original was written for the Apple series of computers. It includes a patch to provide music for the game.

Release history

There were actually 3 different versions of Akalabeth marketed.

Version 1 is Richard Garriott's own original disk and label and the original small batch he created were numbered. He sold less than 12 of these. They came in disk or cassette and included an 8-page booklet.

Version 2 was published by California Pacific Computer and they released a 5.25" disk version only. The cover art for this version has a hand-drawn orange castle on it. This version came with a large 4-page booklet.

Version 3 was re-released by California Pacific Computer in 1981 when after they had Denis Loubet create advertisement artwork and they used it for the new cover art. The booklet became smaller which caused the page count to increase to 8 pages.

Title

The name Akalabeth probably derives from Akallabêth, which is the title of a section of The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, detailing the downfall of the continent of Númenor in Tolkien's Middle-earth universe. The Silmarillion was published only a few years prior to Akalabeth's release.

Information also contributed by John Romero, Mirrorshades2k, Pix, Terok Nor

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Related Sites +

  • Akalabeth Remake Home Page
    Home Page of David Froy's DOS and Windows remakes of Akalabeth, including download.
  • Cellphone Akalabeth
    Akalabeth reinvented for MIDP(Java)-enabled cellphones. Includes a dungeon minimap and a god mode for when "you get annoyed starving to death all the time." Works surprisingly well.
  • The CRPG Addict: Akalabeth
    Posts about the game at The CRPG Addict blog.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 1256
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Andrew Jenner.

Macintosh, Linux, Windows added by Cavalary. Apple II added by KnockStump. iPhone added by Pseudo_Intellectual.

Additional contributors: Ola Sverre Bauge, Elwood, Pseudo_Intellectual, General Error, Havoc Crow, Patrick Bregger.

Game added April 23, 2000. Last modified July 18, 2024.