user avatar

jeff leyda @hargle


Ultima I (DOS)

A grand start to a series that has entertained millions.

The Good
For the time this was released, it encapsulates everything good about early RPG games. Exploration, character building, interrogating NPCs, dungeon crawling, a variety of weapons and armours to try, and even a bit of space exploration is all wrapped up in a game that originally came on a 360k diskette. The game can be conquered in a solid afternoon, but still there's enough randomness to it for repeated playing. Character building is quick enough to avoid getting bored, and challenging enough that you'll want to try and max out the character's attributes whenever you get the chance to do so.

The Bad
The story is a tad weak-it's boiled down to simply "build up your character and then kill the boss" but there is something enchanting about this type of tile based RPG that helps me overlook such a thing. I personally believe the addition of Space exploration and becoming a Space Ace is a bit of a bolt-on that the game simply doesn't need (and thankfully any Space references were dropped by the time Ultima 3 was released) Some will claim that the lack of music is a downside of the game, but I'm not a huge fan of music in RPG games anyway-entirely because of the length of time invested in an RPG, the music will end up being shut off anyway due to being too repetitive.

The Bottom Line
The top-down tile based RPG genre was a short-lived one. Grab this game and appreciate the depth of controls and wealth of landscapes to explore, then realize how incredibly early in the history of computer gaming this title was released.
Few other games, aside from purely text based adventures, provide anywhere near as many playable hours in such a small amount of storage space.

By jeff leyda on November 26th, 2006

Summer Games II (PC Booter)

By jeff leyda on September 9th, 2002

Winter Games (PC Booter)

By jeff leyda on September 9th, 2002

World Games (PC Booter)

By jeff leyda on September 9th, 2002

Zyll (PC Booter)

By jeff leyda on September 9th, 2002

Dark Cloud (PlayStation 2)

Like an onion, this game has many layers to it, but they all pretty much taste the same.

The Good
Dark Cloud has many, many features to it, but isn't something that is so complex that a beginner such as myself would get frustrated with it. It has some in-game tutorials that show advanced features as your skill level increases, and it has a pretty good "I wonder what will happen next when I complete this stage" feel to it which made me certain I'd be playing for hours to come.

The Bad
The AI seemed to be pretty stupid. When you're exploring a dungeon and you enter a room with a bad guy, all you have to do is walk out of the room or stand behind something and it won't figure out how to get to you. Granted, I exploited this feature a lot and was thankful for it, but I thought this type of AI went away ages ago.

The dungeons/cave layout also seemed pretty repetitive. They are generated randomly, but there only seemed to be two or three types of rooms, one or two types of hallways, etc. Admittedly this is rather nit-picky, but I felt it was difficult to fully immerse myself in a game where I felt I was having deja vu walking down halls with the exact same layout as the dungeon level previously explored.

The Bottom Line
I'm probably the worst person to describe a game to another, as I haven't really been active in playing recent games, but this game felt like a quirky mix of a typical dungeon explorin' monster whompin' RPG mixed with, well, SimCity?!

To be perfectly honest, I haven't played it very much, but after returning from my first trip into the dungeon, I was surprised at the "build a village" section of the game, where you literally place houses, trees, rivers and roads in a very SimCity like fashion. The city you build then becomes a virtual 3-D world where you interact with the residents that live there and do some customizing of people's houses in exchange for better weapons to further your exploration in the dungeon.

...And there's lots more to it than just that; I read the beginning of the Dark Cloud FAQ online and I was amazed to see that I was just barely scratching the surface of the game. You could easily spend many hours exploring all the different aspects of this particular game.

By jeff leyda on September 6th, 2002

The Incredible Machine (DOS)

By jeff leyda on April 12th, 2001

The Ancient Art of War (DOS)

By jeff leyda on July 18th, 2000

Exodus: Ultima III (DOS)

This game actually made me like CGA graphics.

The Good
The packaging for this game was unlike any other that I'd seen at the time. (early 80's) A cloth map, spellbooks with textured covers, each printed on heavyweight paper. The ultima world was HUGE for a game that came on 1/2 of a 360k disk. (the other half was the character/user disk)

The Bad
Considering the timeframe this game was released in, absolutely nothing.

The Bottom Line
There was so much attention to detail in this game. From the above mentioned extras in the packaging, to being able to have a party of adventures, each separately controllable in combat scenes, to the scale of the ultima world itself, with dungeons and towns and castles to explore. The game is somewhat complex at first, with each key on the keyboard controlling different elements of the game, but the learning curve is fast enough that the keyboard control seemed natural within a few hours.

After reading the other reviews of this game mentioning the lack of music, I honestly didn't even realize it was missing on the PC version. Like the other reviewers, this was my first RPG game, and I was so engrossed in the storyline and building up my characters that I actually played this game consistently for over a year. I just couldn't get away from it. I played this game so much in fact, that I was depressed that Ultima IV used EGA (16 color) graphics. It just didn't look right to me!

By jeff leyda on June 26th, 2000

Archon: The Light and the Dark (PC Booter)

By jeff leyda on June 22nd, 2000

Syndicate (DOS)

By jeff leyda on March 28th, 2000