Monday, July 4, 2022

Game 460: Ultimuh MCMLXVII: Part 2 of the 39th Trilogy - The Quest for the Golden Amulet (1993)

 
       
Ultimuh MCMLXVII: Part 2 of the 39th Trilogy - The Quest for the Golden Amulet
United States
Nuclear Meltdown Productions (developer); published as shareware
Released 1993 for DOS
Date Started: 26 June 2022
Date Ended: 26 June 2022
Total Hours: 1
Difficulty: Very easy (1/5)
Final Rating: (to come later)
Ranking at Time of Posting: (to come later)
    
Criticizing the output of a couple of teenagers is never terribly productive, but some wanker decided this "game" ought to be catalogued on MobyGames, and that it was an actual RPG, and thus it appears on my list, so here we are, and I have to write something.
   
As you might guess from the title, Ultimuh is a parody. Parodies really only work when a) they're "punching up" rather than down; b) the things they make fun of deserve to be made fun of; and c) the parody makes fun of them in a clever way. There's no problem here with a), of course--Origin is a multi-million dollar company, recently acquired by Electronic Arts. But Ultimuh runs into trouble with b) and completely collapses when it comes to c).

Let's start with the title. Fair hit, I suppose. At seven installments (the most recent split into two parts) and a couple of spinoff series, perhaps the series was getting a bit unwieldy. Given that there's no particular reason to keep involving the Avatar in plots on Britannia, Origin might have been better served by splitting Ultima up into separate series. Neither the Worlds of sub-series nor the Underworld sub-series needed to be in the Avatar's universe. "Ultimuh" is a juvenile way to make fun of the name, but these were juveniles. But what's with the MCMLXVII part? That translates as 1967. Why?
       
No, you make stupid games. Origin makes games that millions of people enjoy.
      
Then we have the pre-title screen, on which the authors put not their own label (Nuclear Meltdown) but a parody of Origin's name, logo, and tagline. Here, the authors lose me. "We make stupid games" is hardly a clever way to make fun of Origin, and in any event, Origin manifestly did not make stupid games. Yes, I know we're talking about subjective matters here, but when 90% of the population salivates over a game series and you don't like the same series, the proper thing to say is, "It's not for me," not "It's stupid."
  
The game's best use of satire is in its presentation of the "backstory," in which it mocks Origin's use of pseudo-Early Modern English with its thous and thees and eth endings. The joke is that the developers just threw an eth on the ends of random words, including nouns. It gets a little tiresome before the end of even the first paragraph, but the final eth on the end of "hit points and magick pointseth" still got a chuckle out of me.
   
The "story," which is hardly important, casts the player as Moo-Var, "the most clumsy wizard," on a quest to retrieve a magic golden amulet from "evileth monsters."
           
The tragic backstory.
      
Ultima's game world leaves plenty to make fun of. You could create a game in which the magic system changes on every screen, for instance. You could make fun of the gargoyle/daemon confusion. You could offer Pythonesque commentary on Lord British's claim to supreme power. There's the whole NAME and JOB thing, which Origin made fun of itself in Ultima VII. Ultima IV, Part 2 did a great job poking fun at many of these quirks.
 
Ultimuh mines none of these foibles in the backstory and continues mining none in the game proper, which abandons any pretense of being a parody of . . . well, anything. Instead of the expected iconographic interface, you find yourself on a side-scrolling landscape of childishly-drawn terrain and monsters--so childish that they're almost endearing, but not quite. Your robed wizard strides across the landscape, waving his magic wand at enemies and causing them to vanish. The only commands are arrows to move and "A" to attack.
    
Running into a tree of doom. Beyond him is an evil snake.
      
Each wave of the wand depletes a magic point; each step depletes strength; each kill increases hit points. You periodically find (enormous) potions that replenish strength and magic points.
         
A potion that would nourish a village.
      
All of this would make for an acceptable if amateurish game, except for one thing: the enemies don't fight back. The blob of death, tree of doom, ogre of anger, and evil snake just sit there as you zap them. Your hit points never do anything but go up. If this is parody, what is it parodying? If not, why issue this game?
      
Coming across an amulet.
       
After about five minutes and a dozen monsters, you find an amulet, but it's the "wrong amulet."
      
This would seem to be parodying Super Mario Brothers more than Ultima.
      
The game then starts you over on Level 2, where the only difference is that the monsters require two waves of the wand to destroy instead of just one. They still don't fight back. This cycle repeats on Level 3, 4, 5, and so forth, and the least that the authors could have done, if they wanted to insert a final joke, is make it so it never ends. You just keep incrementing levels and always finding the wrong amulet. Instead, after eight tries (I had resolved to give up on 10), the game said I had the right amulet and I got the winning screen.
 
The funniest part about Ultimuh is that it comes with a document encouraging players to register it for $12. Even as a teenager, I think I would have recognized that a non-parody that you can win in 15 minutes with no effort isn't worth the equivalent of $24 today.
       
The least-deserved congratulatory screen I've ever received.
       
I will say one positive thing about the game: it has the most fascinating soundtrack. It features numerous synthesized instruments--drums, horns, a triangle, a xylophone, a sitar, and sounds that could only come from something digital--in a cacophonous number that evokes the best and worst of "free jazz" (with free jazz, the best and worst are remarkably similar). It's one of those compositions that could have been created equally by a non-musician who has absolutely no idea what he's doing or by a master free-styler at the height of his craft. Given the group's statement that it desperately needs a musician (see below), I suspect the answer is the former, but kudos to Philip Hassey for at least making me wonder. You can hear the soundtrack (and see the game in action) in this YouTube video, which promises "100% ALL BOSSES! ALL SECRETS!" That made me laugh more than anything in the game.
   
Nuclear Meltdown Productions was a partnership between Phil Hassey (alias "Joe Snow"), Pete Hottelet, Jason Maas (alias "Clueless"), and Steve Ziegler (alias "Esteban"), four high schools students from Whitinsville, Massachusetts, an unincorporated village in Northbridge, which you've never heard of either so I don't know why I bring it up. It's interesting to me because my mother grew up there. Hassey did most of the programming, it seems, and Hottelet did the graphics on Ultimuh. There's still an active web site dedicated to the "company," although it hasn't been updated since 2008 (by copyright date) or 1996 (by appearance). On the site, the group says that it desperately needs a musician. Hottelet's name doesn't appear anywhere on the site or in the FAQ, so who knows what rift happened there. Hassey now works for a tech company and blogs passionately about breeding goats. I wrote to him but did not hear back.
       
The two authors of this game.
       
Offering a GIMLET on this game is a futile exercise, but I can't have it showing up in the spreadsheet unrated. With 0s in almost everything, I gave it 1 point for "graphics, sound, and interface" for the easy set of key commands, 1 point for having a main quest, and 1 point for at least being short. Thanks to me, Ultimuh manages to get in one final stab at Origin: The final score of 3 knockeith Richard Garriott's Dungeons and Dragons #1 off the "lowest rated" spot and thus spoileth the fun symmetry of Garriott having the highest and lowest-rated games on my blog. Bollockseth.

94 comments:

  1. I'm reminded of the PETA games, except where those were parodies that completely misunderstood the games to push PETA's message, this is just someone that doesn't like Ultima, doesn't realize that doesn't make Ultima bad, and decided to make fun of it because they don't get it.

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    1. I suppose the most impressive part about this game is that it somehow managed to become reasonably well-known. They likely spent more time promoting or spreading the game than writing it.

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  2. Watching that gameplay video felt like getting rickroll'd.

    Free jazz feels like the musical equivalent of abstract expressionism. Much of it seems like it was done by enthusiastic 5 year-olds.

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    1. That photo looks like a couple of 5 year olds. They can't be more than 10 years old. They were in High School at this time? Must be Doogie Hassies.

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    2. I actually quite like the music. It reminds me of Day of the Tentacle and is frankly better than any of the dreadful game music that I've seen commenters gushing about on here in the past.

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  3. "some wanker decided this "game" ought to be catalogued on MobyGames"

    As always, you're very welcome.

    My theory here is that they came up with a simple, stupid engine that was capable of doing simple, stupid things, and realised that they'd gone about the wrong way if they wanted to expand it and, you know, make it better and do it right. But for some reason rather than throwing it out and starting over again, they thought they would just frame it as a stupid joke and be done with it, moving on to their next production. It's certainly not an Ultima-specific parody in any sense, but at the time possibly they felt that if you wanted to make a joke fantasy computer game, the natural thing to do would be to pretend it was part of a long and distinguished legacy. They could have pretended it was a Wizardry or a Might and Magic, all equally valid targets at this time, all rather unrelated to the alleged gameplay they vaguely gestured towards, but when they were making their "duh, this is a stupid joke" bookends, they decided that Ultima was to be the theme of the joke on the package.

    But sophomoric teenaged humour needs no excuse and derives no benefit from any attempted explanation, which couldn't really redeem it. I'm sure it was fun to make, tying together a couple of computer lab homework assignments across a couple of afternoons, and that's it!

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    1. >>"some wanker decided this "game" ought to be catalogued on MobyGames"

      >As always, you're very welcome.

      That just made my day.

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    2. I must admit I thought JarlFrank was the wanker.

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    3. Calling this an "engine" is giving the developer far too much credit. This whole game could have been written in BASIC in an hour or two.

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    4. I wasn't your wanker this time. Maybe next time.

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    5. "Wanker" was a bit harsh, so thanks for taking it in stride, although you cut off your quote just before the part that actually explains why I used the term.

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    6. Heh, I confused this game with RPG Codex favourite (it has a 30 pages long thread) Ultizurk, which is why I suspected JarlFrank above.

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    7. Rowan, may I ask you why did you tell MobyGames that Ultimuh is a role-playing game? It is obviously not one. (I suppose the submitter sets the genre(s) of the game he/she submits.)

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    8. Hah, I have added a lot of obscure stuff to Mobygames recently (including Ultizurk) but this game was in the database long before I started being active on the site.

      I recently added an Amiga game that was considered lost for a long time but resurfaced not long ago, and am in the process of adding all Motelsoft games (which are already in Chet's list).

      But most of my entries are newer - late 90s to current day - so it will take a while until Chet gets to those.

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    9. To be fair to Rowan, since I probably wasn't in the entry, MobyGames makes you choose a genre, and RPG is the closest to whatever the game is.

      I know I rag on MobyGames a lot. I shouldn't, because it's a great resources. But they made some really annoying decisions along the way, including a) allowing the same game to be submitted multiple times under different releases; b) allowing comments to put that a game has "Windows" and "Macintosh" ports just because GOG sells it with a packaged emulator; and c) not better policing by genre. Any submitter who chooses more than one genre ought to get SEVERAL warnings that real hybrids are exceedingly rare and they should make sure they know what they're doing.

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    10. It really depends on the approvers and how diligent they are in checking the submission. I've had submissions returned to me where the approver wanted me to double check that my genre tags are correct, justifiedly so.

      But sometimes, with really unusual games, it's hard to pick a genre because none of them really fit. It's tricky.

      (amd I feel like the list of subgenres and themes is much too small, there should be more available there)

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    11. Mobygames is indeed a great tool. Other items of frustration :
      - For anything before let's say 1990, the year is incorrect 50% of the time. Usually it is one year off, rarely two years.
      - The all-encompassing "Simulation" genre. Pilot a Mig-21 ? Simulation. Manage an empire ? Simulation. Manage a nuclear power plant ? Simulation. Try to sleep with as many ladies as possible with nice PG-18 art ? Play Golf ? Sport and simulation. Simulation. Avoid Cylons in a top-view arcade game ? Action and simulation !

      I also wish a way to search by "date added" so I can quickly check if there are stuff I should add to my list.

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    12. Well, Ultimuh is either a "role-playing game without character development" (this is an oxymore) or a "side-scrolling platformer game without jumping" or an "adventure game without inventory".

      Whichever the genre, it lacks something essential. It makes me think of Penn & Teller's "Desert Bus". Both require neither reflexes nor thinking, just a certain amount of patience.

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    13. I missed the rest of the conversation while camping, but just to clarify, as a younger man with more time on his hands I made a hobby of enshrining incredibly niche, obscure and borderline games by documenting them on Mobygames, figuring that the bigger, more important and significant games would inevitably be covered by someone else and that these weird little mysteries and evolutionary dead-ends would be more "fun" to put down in the history books. As as been noted, MG requires games to be assigned a genre, and sometimes with marginal games offering little in terms of gameplay you need to fudge it a bit. This made me few friends among the MG approvers but like the fool who persists in his folly, I have now figured out how to slip game entries in there successfully provided I don't rock the boat too much.

      The Addict's sass originates from my having been responsible, through my period of MobyGames abuse, for throwing several memorable pseudo-RPGs in his path, problems he needed to come to terms with -- speed bump games like Girlfriend Construction Set, Operation Overkill, Bob's Dragon Hunt and Braminar. I first discovered this blog by looking up to investigate whether more information had since surfaced about that latter game after I gave it its first online summary anywhere on MG to find the Addict questioning which idiot had thrown this obstacle in his path. While I wasn't actively trolling, giving that kind of feedback to an impish personality is very vindicating. I'm very glad to see my perverse spree is still paying dividends.

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    14. I think it's a deconstruction of the form. "Desert Bus" is a pretty apt comparison. It's absolutely not intended to be fun, or interesting, or clever. It's value is in it's existence.

      It reminds me of the web comic Pokey the Penguin.

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    15. Desert Bus is also not a standalone product, but one of multiple entries in a "video game" intended as a practical joke. Not really the same thing.

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    16. Thanks for explaining Rowan

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    17. "Pokey the Penguin" is a deconstruction of the comic strip artform, but its humor lies in its absurdity.

      "Ultimuh" is not absurd, it is merely childish. And therein one does find a certain charm.

      Absurdity can be fascinating—especially in its ambiguity, and ambiguity can be an important characteristic of art—and it can be extremely humorous. Childishness is not fascinating, nor is it humorous.

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    18. Oh, I don't know -- I can find a lot of amusement and fascination in Daisy Ashford's The Young Visiters [sic], which is incredibly and unintentionally humorous, or even the likes of "Tails Gets Trolled".

      On the other hand, Pokey is too self-aware for my taste. That's kind of the problem here: one can perceive the Ultimuh authors patting themselves on the back, and for a lot of humor, that's lethal.

      The topic of how and when incompetence/crudity is amusing, when it's not, and how deliberate incompetence can be essential to the effect of a piece of art is a fascinating one; a lot of the time I think the appearance of unselfconsciousness is crucial.

      In any event I don't see absurdity as an elevated form of childishness, but I'm not a huge fan of baking value judgments into descriptive terminology anyway.

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  4. " "Ultimuh" is a juvenile way to make fun of the name, but these were juveniles. But what's with the MCMLXVII part? That translates as 1967."

    I guess what they are poking fun at is the use of Roman numerals in the title, which is just as gimmicky as the thys and thous, and starts looking kind of silly once you are past the initial ones (incidentally, next Final Fantasy game will be XVI...) , as well as the high numer of sequels.

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    1. I get that, but why 1967 specifically? It's not funny if you just make up a random number. At least use the current year. Othewise, you make it funny by, say, putting the letters out of a sensible order, like MXICVMLVI, or but putting letters in there that aren't actually roman numerals, like MCMLHJRXII. Or picking a number with some significance. Make it Ultima LXIX. It's not very funny, but it's SOMETHING.

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    2. Give them a break. Like I said earlier they were only 5 years old.

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    3. It's not that hard to write an invalid roman numeral if you don't know what you're doing. Since it's valid, maybe they just copied it from somewhere.

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    4. I'm assuming they were also making fun of the fact that Serpent Isle had not only two different numbers in the title, but that one was in Roman numerals and the other was just the word written out. Ultima VII part TWO, instead of part II. I don't know though.

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    5. The thought process was probably something like this:

      * Those giant Roman numbers from movie copyrights always start with "MCM". So start it with that, I guess.
      * Roman number usually end with a bunch of "I"s? Okay, stick a couple of those on the end.
      * What are the other things you can put in a Roman number? "L", "X", and "V", right? Yeah, stick one of each of those in the middle somewhere.

      So it's kind of the maximally generic Roman numeral, fitted to a gestalt prediction of what a humorously large Roman numeral ought to look like, while omitting any superfluous elements. It's kind of like what an "AI" babblebot would probably generate for you, if you just asked it to generate a Roman number.

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    6. Maybe the II at the end was supposed to be !!

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    7. If I had to speculate again, I would assume that rather than putting work into working something out or devoting resources into being clever, they simply looked up a valid large Roman numeral from the credits of a VHS tape they had handy (maybe it was, I don't know, Cool Hand Luke), to fulfil their arbitrary requirement of an unfunny punchline for an unfunny joke.

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    8. Here I agree with Rowan. If you don't know Roman numerals, you're probably not going to create one that has a valid sequence of characters, even if you start with some basics such as Ms at the beginning and Is at the end. The number MCMDXXVII specifically succeeds in satisfying a couple of tricky requirements, particularly the correct combination to give 1900, and also the correct use of the uncommonly-occurring numeral D.

      It's most likely that this number was cribbed from the publication data found on the copyright page of a book. A randomly selected book from off the shelf of a typical middle-class American home in the late 1980s would have quite probably given a date of 1967 in Roman numerals.

      It is also somewhat probable that one of the game's creators had a birth year of 1967. So the number might have been chosen for that reason, and if that was the case, perhaps one of the creators had that Roman numeral available on some personal memento or memorabilia.

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    9. I've zero qualms about speculating, so I'll offer another likely possibility: The Roman numeral was on a diploma or other official document that was hanging upon the wall of the office or room in which the computer (in the photograph of the two young gentlemen) was located.

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    10. Making fun of hippies and the "Summer of Love" is another option. (Do any famous records from 1967 display the copyright year in Roman numerals?) Hagiography of the 1960s usually focuses on that year above all others.

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    11. (My MCMDXVII is not a valid Roman numeral. An elementary mistake on my part.)

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  5. Parody roles A&C for sure but “only for things that deserve to be parodied” is a strange one unless you’re making a particular distinction between parody and satire. Some of my favorite parodies are about things I love. In fact, I’d argue Ultima parodied itself in the best way with the “Avatar’s” dialog in the play within Ultima VII.

    This game looks terrible of course.

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    1. Wish Blogspot would let me log in so I could delete the previous comment.

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    2. "Deserve" wasn't the right word. Sure, you could make fun of something you're fond of in a friendly way. What I'm trying to say is there needs to be a logical connection between the satire and some characteristic exhibited by the source. If you were trying to parody my blog, you could, I don't know, do something with my penchant for making lists of things, or my inability to skip a game like Ultimuh just because someone else put it on a list. But if you make fun of me for liking beef jerky or driving badly, that doesn't make any sense. Neither of those things have been mentioned on my blog, nor are true. There's nothing logical about the game style presented here and what they're supposedly making fun of.

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    3. I might have made fun of how you are unwilling to shorten the titles of the games you cover !

      Of course, I understand you wanted to keep their joke.

      Waiting for your coverage of Ultima VII Part 2 : Serpent Isle and especially Ultima VII Part 2: Serpent Isle : The Silver Seed

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    4. Mmmmh, beef jerky...

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    5. Parodies really only work when a) they're "punching up" rather than down; b) the things they make fun of deserve to be made fun of

      That's not true at all! There is a whole genre of shows like Trailer Park Boys and My Name Is Earl that punch down all the time, and nobody has any problem with it. I think you should amend your statement to say "parodies that punch down work when everyone agrees that punching down is funny." It is the entertainment industry speaking truth to the powerless. They're afflicting the afflicted and comforting the comfortable and it is 100% acceptable in polite society.

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    6. You can add 'little britain' to the list. The point is that those people are seen as 'white trash' by the taste-makers, so not porblem. Also it is very illustrative the episode of 'trailer boys' which had Snoopy Dog as guest start, his drugs and (implied) pimp antics were treated as the coolest of the cool.

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    7. Trailer Park Boys and My Name is Earl are both sympathetic towards their working-class protagonists. Yes they're regularly silly/absurd, but they're ultimately presented as decent, fully realised people you wanna root for.

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    8. As for Little Britain, it engages in most -isms (including classism, which it was criticised for) and -phobias at one point or other, and feels pretty dated as a result.

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    9. Almost nobody will neither write or endure a whole series hating the main characters, so just the format imposes a bit of sympathies for them. It is like saying that (late) Homer Simpson is not portrayed as a brain dead because is a lot of sympathy of them as one of the main characters. Likewise in trailer boys the portrayal is what is and in the US it would not tolerated for another racial group. Unless is portrayed as gansta-cool, like in the case of Snoppy Dog persona.

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    10. That'll be news to the people who watched those punching down shows and laughed long and hard at the little guy being made a fool of onscreen. The point being that classism is acceptable while all other isms aren't. Thus, a rare thing happens: punching down is not only acceptable, but applauded, while everywhere else it is recognized as an act of disgusting bullying.

      I have to say, it's pretty sus defending the right of the powerful to ridicule the little guy. Distasteful and worthy of an apology at the very least.

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    11. Juvenal, "the Father of Satire" wrote "whatever men do—prayer, fear, rage, pleasure, joy, running about—is the gist of my little book." He did not feel obliged to punch or avoid punching in any particular direction.

      The assertion that "satire should avoid punching down" is most often made by those who consider themselves or their allies at the top of the progressive stack, and therefore invulnerable to criticism because of their nominal oppression by society.

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    12. The talk of satire drawing a logical connection to make fun of brought up memories of the time the Simpsons tried to parody Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Essentially the only statement they made was that it had too much talk of politics and trade disputes, while leaving out literally every other major problem with the film (issues with the writing, issues with the acting and directing, ethnic stereotypes, more or less being made for children, etc.). I was a lot younger when I saw it and even at the time I remember thinking, surely this isn't the primary problem with the movie, is it? Is this everyone's biggest issue?

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    13. stepped pyramidsJuly 5, 2022 at 5:27 PM

      "Good comedy is about punching up" is a moral claim. I have no doubt that people pissed themselves laughing at minstrel shows. Maybe another way of saying it is that comedy is a weapon, and it should be sharpened according to the deserts of the target.

      As far as satire goes, I think it's more about (perceived) proportionality, accuracy, and aptness. Judging by those standards, this game's attempted critique of Ultima is somewhat disproportionate (saying Origin makes "stupid games"), highly inaccurate (the actual contents of the game have literally nothing to do with Ultima), and largely inapt (the "-eth" language lands, but not much else, because of the inaccuracy).

      It seems likely that this was just an RPG that one of the kids made in QuickBasic or something of that sort and then decided to recast as a "parody".

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    14. Truly, there is no such thing as "overthinking" on this blog.

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    15. For me it's very simple. Good parody should be fun, first and foremost. If it's offensive, it should offend in a way that makes sense, no matter whom it offends.

      This thing doesn't really "punch" anywhere though. It has no real bite, because it's completely random. A parody's humor is derived from its references to the source material, and this barely has any.

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    16. It's also simple for me. When it comes to creative works, try not to do stuff that perpetuates the ideas that already cause harm. I would have thought primum non nocere was a pretty uncontroversial rule of thumb but here we are.

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    17. What I would say about punching up and punching down and comedy in general is this: yes, it should be permissable for comedy to pick any target, BUT, Scalzi's law is particularly applicable when punching down: the failure state of "clever" is "asshole". If you punch down and you miss, you punch yourself in the dick. Everyone who punches down for comedy goes into it thinking that they are so clever that their joke will be funny enough to cancel out the fact that they are comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted. There is no necessary reason that they must be wrong about this, but they usually are.

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    18. I had never heard of Scalzi's Law (the failure mode of 'clever' is 'asshole')... I don't agree that's true 100% of the time, but it's certainly applicable to the concept of "punching down".

      Not sure if you came up with the phrase "if you punch down and you miss, you punch yourself in the dick", but I love it.

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    19. The idea of not "punching down" is laudable in principle, but the reality is more complex. Key and Peele have a funny skit about the issue:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlTbJZ64sVM

      When we treat someone as beyond ridicule because of their group membership, we risk dehumanizing them, patronizing them, and ignoring their own wishes. Of course it can spectacularly backfire (as we see in the skit above!), but even so, a lot of the rhetoric about "punching down" seems to be a way for members of the elite to signal their elite status to one another, rather than an accurate representation of the expressed wishes of marginalized people. Many marginalized people specifically don't want to be treated with kid gloves or deference; many find that kind of treatment to be crushingly depressing and don't want anyone speaking on their behalf to the contrary, no matter how well-meaning. Also see this anecdote from Mel Brooks:

      https://cfolger1.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/mel-brooks-most-embarrassing-moment/

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Cullen#Physical_disability

      To many people, equality means having your chops busted as mercilessly as anyone's. And while they don't speak for everyone in their constituency, that's exactly the point: no one can speak for everyone in their constituency, or for that constituency en masse at all. Everyone speaks, and should speak, only for themselves.

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    20. I appreciate the nuanced, thoughtful response. In a blog comments section, no less! I must be dreaming.

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    21. While I concede PK Thunder's point, I still think my original trio stands as good advice because of what Ross said. If you can crack a joke about a mentally disabled person or a Holocaust victim that those people themselves would laugh at, more power to you, but 99% of the people who try are just looking for the freedom to be insulting, and 99% of their attempts will come across that way.

      Anyway, this entire discussion is largely moot because it doesn't apply to this situation. After introducing the point everyone's debating, I said immediately that it's not an issue with Ultimuh.

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    22. A good tip to any type of speech is "not be a jerk". However this is NOT what "punching down" means, this is a dog whistle to say that the groups which the dominant ideology dissaproves are fair game. So you can laught about the antics and follys of white poor but you are not allowed to do the same of black poor.
      "Punching down" is only a justification of this ideoligical double standard.

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    23. Well, brave anonymous, as the person who used the term, I can promise you that is not what it means.

      This discussion, having reached the apex of absurdity, is now over.

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  6. This parody missed a great parody opportunity in the soundtrack. They could have made their music using the various Ultima game music instruments where you could play your own notes with the number keys. I always liked those instruments even though they were a bit silly. :)

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  7. Errata corrige: you wrote Each wave of the want depletes a magic point. I think it should have been Each waveth of the want... :P

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  8. I always disliked Origin's use of pseudo-Early Modern English

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I agree. That was completely a fair hit. It was just a little obvious.

      Delete
    2. Aw, I felt so smug in my English literature class when we got to Shakespeare and I knew what thy or thou meant.

      But yeah, it is a bit silly.

      Delete
  9. I remember playing this, among most of the other proper Ultima-clones on a shareware disc. There are so many of those I didn't realize this would be the non-game one. Even with some of the dumpster fire titles on this disc, this one stuck out roughly as horribly broken garbage. Since I didn't really know what Ultima was back then the jokes had less effect on me than they had on you. Stuff like this was the stuff you only played after you had gotten as far as you could in titles like Skunny. Skunny, one of the worst things to come out of Belgium in the 20th century! You didn't even play that until after you beat all the good games, three times...

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    1. Early to mid-ninetees, two Skunny games (Save our Pizzas and Back to the Forest) were one of the better things installed on our school PC. There were no RPGs, no adventure games, no Doom or Wolfenstein 3D. But I admit that their popularity among my schoolmates was still lower than Prince of Persia or Prehistorik 2. Or Cosmo's Cosmic Adventures. (And I also admit that once I had my own PC at home, I didn't bother to get Skunny;-)

      Delete
    2. I kinda liked the Skunny game set in the wild west. It's pretty terrible, and difficult for all the wrong reasons (awkward controls and all that), but I liked the western setting and the music. And as a kid I didn't really understand the concept of bad games yet. Someone made this and distributed it. Why would someone make something bad? No, the fact I got stuck on level 2 isn't the game's fault, I just have to get gud.

      I wastoo innocent and had too much faith on game devs to believe in bad games.

      Delete
  10. Since this isn't really an RPG, it probably should have been a BRIEF and therefore no GIMLET required. After all, where's the character development?

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    Replies
    1. The purpose of the BRIEF is to document games that because of technical issues or their non-RPG status, I'm not going to finish. If I can finish the game in 15 minutes, there's no point in BRIEFing it. I might as well document the whole thing.

      Delete
  11. Wait, is that the snake of "Adventure in Serenia/Wizard and the Princess"? Following the good old tradition of amateur games of stealing other games' assets!

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    Replies
    1. Looked for 5 seconds more and it's not. Leaving the comment for my own public shame.

      Delete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  13. stepped pyramidsJuly 4, 2022 at 6:16 PM

    "MCMLXVII" felt very familiar to me. Then I remembered that there is a Mystery Science Theater 3000 riff on a very similar Roman numeral date: "MCMLXXXVI [pronounced 'mick-ma-licks-vee']? He's the Scottish guy in charge of copyright!" (Episode 318, Fugitive Alien II, 1991)

    Seems likely that the numeral in the game is either a direct reference to the MST3K riff or based on the same underlying joke. Certainly the "MCMLX-" prefix would have been very familiar to filmgoers.

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  14. Strange women hanging about in caravans asking questions is no basis for a system of inter dimensional immigration

    And Lord British! How’d he become that, eh? By exploiting the gamers. By hanging on to outdated roleplaying dogma. If there’s ever gonna be any progress, we've got to sell Origin to an anarcho-syndicalist commune of electronic artists...

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    Replies
    1. I mean, he gets to go to Britannia just because some Roma chick lobs a potion and some cards at him?

      Delete
    2. wasn't as clear as i could be - chet asked us to make fun of ultima using monty python and life of brian's dialog is just really made for this https://sluggerotoole.com/2018/04/18/strange-women-lying-in-ponds-distributing-swords-is-no-basis-for-a-system-of-government

      Delete
    3. Funnily, medieval Britain actually had communes more or less like Dennis describes; it's not just political sounding gibberish. The Pythons have done their homework!

      Delete
    4. Gamerindreams- that was from Holy Grail, not Life of Brian

      Delete
  15. I thought that the wrong amulet thing was also a reference to Super Mario Brothers with "the princess is in another castle" until the eighth castle. Though Ultima has the eight virtues, so either it was an accident or perhaps they did have a little further knowledge of the series.

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  16. I've been looking forward to this entry so I can say I had the dubious honor of being Pete Hottelet's roommate for a year in college. I had actually "played" Ultimuh before, so I was slightly star-struck, despite the clear lack of effort that had gone into it. I mean, I guess that was kind of the point. I'd known him for a while before that came out... How did it even come up?

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    Replies
    1. That's a funny coincidence. Any chance you still have his contact information? I wouldn't mind hearing from him about the music if nothing else.

      Delete
    2. Sadly, no, it was almost 25 years ago, and I have barely kept in contact with anyone from college. I did find this article about him, though:

      https://www.fastcompany.com/3035479/the-art-of-defictionalization-turning-fake-movie-and-tv-products-into-a-re

      Which means this is his company:

      http://www.omniconsumerproductscorporation.com/

      Delete
  17. Origin: We Create One Overused World

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  18. Your comment about the music was intriguing so I had to look up the gameplay video. Then, instead of doing an assignment I have due, I ran the audio through a program that creates a MIDI file from audio, imported it into Cubase, and had that infer chords. I took all of that and assigned the one big messy MIDI track to different instruments with different ranges and the chords to some others and came up with something from the first minute of the title screen music that sounds like a deep cut from an 80s Zappa instrumental album: https://vimeo.com/727096633 - probably the most obscure procrastination cul de sac I've been down, but here we are.

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    Replies
    1. You had me intrigued there, but: "login to watch", so nope.

      Delete
  19. Since this game has been more commented then it honestly deserve, I would like to open a debate with this community (the game are all 2020 or so, so no impact for the Addict, purely theorical discussion).

    Is "The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante" a RPG ? I just played it and was impressed by the writing, but it is also pretty "fresh" : it has stats that you can improve and which have a critical impact on progression, it is most definitely focused on playing a role, there are a lot (like a LOT) of choice & branching. On the other hand, it does not have equipment, and combat is purely textual choices. (but then neither does Disco Elysium).
    My opinion : Arguably yes

    Other tricky cases :
    - A Legionary's Life : Absolutely a RPG for me.
    - Cultist Simulator (stat & equipment & meaningful choice) : Still no.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. stepped pyramidsJuly 5, 2022 at 5:10 PM

      I haven't played Cultist Simulator, but I know it's by one of the creators of Fallen London and resembles it in a lot of ways. FL is maybe the game that stresses the Addict's filter the most, because it really fundamentally does not feel like an RPG despite thoroughly meeting all of the requirements. One obvious deviation is that FL has neither victory or failure conditions*, but that's not part of this site's definition (and a number of early games that were rated do not have official win screens).

      It's also unclear whether web-based games will be considered as having been "released for personal computers".

      (* Aside from one infamous example.)

      Delete
    2. Legionary's Life is the only one from the list that I played, and it's definitely an RPG. Its structure is somewhat like a CYOA game but a lot of those also have RPG qualifications.

      Delete
  20. The enemy sprites wrapping around so that they're simultaneously ahead of you and behind you when they first appear is somehow very disturbing. Or are you perhaps running around in a circle?

    Another disturbing thing is how you can see through yourself, except for the hair/beard/whatever that black squiggly line is.

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    Replies
    1. That is called "not knowing how to write a basic sprite clipping function".

      Delete

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