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Ultima: Runes of Virtue II

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Ultima: Runes of Virtue II picks up where Ultima: Runes of Virtue left off. This time around the Black Knight is bored and decides to kidnap some mayors to annoy Lord British. Once more it is up to one of the Avatar's companions (Iolo, Shamino, Dupre, Mariah) to rescue them and restore order. As each is rescued another is kidnapped, until finally the Black Knight runs out of victims and confronts the hero himself.

As with the previous game this is quite a departure from the series' norms; rather than a game heavy on role-playing and puzzles and relatively light on combat this game is the reverse. Both Runes titles are clearly Zelda clones, right down to giant hearts to restore health. Unlike earlier Ultimas where someone would resurrect or rescue the Avatar and his companions when they died in battle, in this game death results in a screen-filling skull-and-crossbones, with the option to either quit or continue (and restart that room or area). Due to the limited memory rooms' contents reset as soon as they left, allowing players to find a suitable room and repetitively harvest weapons or money from it.

The SNES conversion was completed the following year and features greatly improved visuals as well as the SNES's famous Mode7 effects. Unusually for a console title the sprites and tiles are all 32x32 (rather than 16x16); this means the amount of the game world visible onscreen is roughly equal to the Game Boy's screen, so that the player can only see what the designers originally intended. The larger sprites allowed the graphic artists to include a significant amount of detail.

Despite its graphical overhaul no changes were made to the world or gameplay. Due to their simplicity, many Ultima fans consider the Runes titles to be very poor entries in the series, if they even count them at all.

Interestingly, the Game Boy versions of both Runes titles support two-player cooperative/competitive play, predating Ultima Online.

Game data

Game Boy

  • Published by FCI/Pony Canyon in 1993.

Super Nintendo

  • Published by FCI in 1994.


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