Ultima VII: The Black Gate (SNES) Review

Ultima VII: The Black Gate for the SNES is a good port of a classic game from a classic series of games.

Ultima was first written in the late 70s on old computers like the Commadore. Every Ultima game was first written for a computer platform and later ported to game consoles. I have played Ultima II on the NES, however, I could only find the Japanese version and it soon became fustrating to say the least. I have played Ultima III on the Macintosh, a port from the old Ultima III from the 80s. I have also played Ultima IV on Windows, this was actually not a port and it ran in DOS.

The game play of Ultima VII is similar to most other RPGs (if NetHack and Rogue were the fathers of RPGs, Ultima was like the cool, hip uncle who drove a Porsche). You wander the countryside, sent by Lord British on a mission to find out who has committed many kidnappings and murders in the local country side. Evil is slowly taking over the land and a dark force from beyond comes to you on your quest, harrassing you whenever you come closer to solving the puzzle. Is the new religious cult that seems to help people and has popped up since your last visit to Britannia (Ultima VI) helping the dark force from beyond?

The SNES version of the game turns the combat real-time but cuts the other 7 members of your party of explorers. You wander around, finding better weapons and armor, killing monsters in underground dungeons, solving parts of the puzzle, gathering items to banish the dark force, and growing more powerful. You learn new spells on the way, but the SNES version cuts the herbs and items necessary to cast certain spells like in the computer version. The story, plot and towns are the same, but certain mechanics are different. The graphics are very good for a SNES game and it runs very fast for such a process intensive game. The music is awesome and I listen to it on my computer almost every day.

All in all, I give Ultima VII: The Black Gate a 4 out of 5. There is a reason that Ultima is the most popular RPG series ever made. There are more than 12 different games, from Ultima I to Ultima: Online. I love Ultima and this game is good enough to wear the name proudly.