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Over a thousand years ago, the wizard Mondain, intent on world domination, created an evil gem which made him invincible and immortal. The protagonist, known as the Stranger, has to travel the lands in search of a time machine, go back in time to the days before Mondain created the gem, and then destroy him. The land of Sosaria is depending upon this lone warrior.

Considered one of the most influential progenitors of the role-playing genre, Ultima is a follow-up to Akalabeth. It utilizes a similar basic gameplay system, including graphical 2D world map and town exploration, and 3D vector-line maze-like dungeons. The player controls a single character who must complete a number of quests, vanquishing monsters and leveling up in process. Equipment and food are available for sale in towns. World map graphics are tile-based and have significantly more detail than in Akalabeth. The game mixes medieval fantasy and sci-fi elements, and includes a few space combat simulation segments.


Ultima Atari 8-bit Main game screen
Ultima Atari 8-bit World exploration view
Ultima Atari 8-bit In town
Ultima Atari 8-bit Trying to steal goodies in a castle.

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Alternate Titles

  • "Ultimatum" -- Developer's original title
  • "Ultima I: The Original" -- Sierra's name
  • "Ultima 1" -- informal name

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Critic Reviews

Happy Computer Apple II Jun, 1985 Unscored Unscored
Computer Gaming World (CGW) Apple II Jan, 1982 Unscored Unscored


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The original Ultima was distributed by California Pacific Computers for the Apple II in 1980.

It did not have any box or luxury like maps etc. like the later games but was released in a simple ziploc bag containing the disk, a play book, reference card and a nice 'cover' art page - amazingly they still sold about 50,000 copies this way. This first release has the line 'top of the orchard software' printed on both the cover as well as the disk.
Contributed to by Terok Nor (27128) and Jeanne (76509)