The Collectible ULTIMA

ULTIMA: Runes of Virtue

The Runes of Virtue games were a special series that Origin did specially for the Nintendo Game Boy. Unlike the mainstream Ultima titles, which are basically role-playing games with lots of character interaction, these two games are closer to level-based puzzle games with a little combat thrown in. The adventurer tries to get a rune from the bottom of each of eight dungeons using tools they find along the way, reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda. In both, your enemy is "The Black Knight" (who threatens to destroy Britannia by using hackneyed dialogue and silly facial expressions), and you have to fight your way through various "bosses" to finally defeat him. And yes, you can even pick up "hearts" to get your life energy back. Neither is particularly Ultima-esque, but then what do you want in a Game Boy game? War and Peace? The second game was ported to the Super Nintendo, but is still basically the same. Both of these titles are still available if you know where to look. (Hint: look online, at vendors such as FuncoLand.)

Ultima: Runes of Virtue Ultima: Runes of Virtue
  • Platform: Nintendo Game Boy.
  • Publisher: FCI/Pony Canyon, © 1992.
  • Characteristics: UPC 22909-30004. Cartridge.
  • Includes: Instruction manual.
Both of the Runes of Virtue games are multiplayer. That makes them the only multiplayer Ultimas, other than (of course) Ultima Online.

Ultima: Runes of Virtue II Ultima: Runes of Virtue II
  • Platform: Nintendo Game Boy.
  • Publisher: FCI/Pony Canyon, © 1993.
  • Characteristics: UPC 22909-30008. Cartridge.
  • Includes: Instruction manual (32 pp.).
As with the mainline Nintendo Ultimas, Origin did all (well, nearly all) of the development work on these games. FCI was merely their licensor, allowing them the right to develop a game for Nintendo. In fact, someone has reminded me that Dr. Cat did work on the Gameboy Runes games.

Ultima: Runes of Virtue II Ultima: Runes of Virtue II
for Super Nintendo
  • Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
  • Publisher: FCI, © 1994.
  • Characteristics: UPC 22909-40006. Cartridge.
  • Includes: Instruction booklet (28 pp.).
Be sure to look for the "secret" Origin headquarters located under the town of Jhelom in this game. It's... well... er, you just have to look for yourself. It's rather strange. At times in the game, it's strange enough that you'll think you're playing a bad Japanese translation. No, it really came from Austin. Go figure.

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