GOG.com literally giving away Worlds of Ultima: Martian Dreams and Savage Empire

Get your virtuous ass to Mars!

My undying love for the Ultima series began with a big-box copy of Ultima 8: Pagan, long considered the bastard red-headed stepchild of the series until Ultima IX: Ascension came along to show us the true meaning of godawfulness. Say what you like about Pagan’s awkward platforming mechanics, complete lack of a party system and other shortcomings, I loved it to bits and it holds a special place in the calcified husk I call my heart. Pagan was my gateway to the rest of Ultima series and the main theme still fires a delightful shudder down my spine whenever I hear it.

Two Ultima games I somehow never got round to playing however were the two Worlds of Ultima spinoffs: Savage Empire and Martian Dreams. Unlike the core Ultima games, predominantly set in the otherwise traditional fantasy world of Britannia the Worlds of Ultima series thrust the series’ virtuous protagonist, The Avatar, into deliciously non-traditional settings. Savage Empires had you exploring an Arthur Conan Doyle-esque lost world of dinosaurs and amazon tribes while Martian Dreams, the second and last game in the series, dumped you on Mars among a bevy of real-life famous turn of the century personalities such as Sigmund Freud and Nikola Tesla. Alas, by the time I could surreptitiously “acquire” these games my PC had evolved beyond all hope of ever getting them to run properly, forever excluding me from the simple joy of killing dinosaurs and Martian fauna with Warren “Deus Ex” Spector.

So I was delighted to discover GOG.com have released both Savage Empire and Martian Dreams to download guilt-free, gratis and ready-to-run, which is precisely what I did as soon as I got home from work today. After some initial hassle getting to run, simply because I stupidly hadn’t kept my video card drivers up-to-date, I was soon on my way to Victorian-era Mars in a sturdy metal bullet-ship fired from a giant cannon. After chilling with my homeboy Nikola Tesla and chums for a spell I then spent an hour or several roaming the red wastes of Mars, killing Martian jumping beans with a Belgian Combine and stuffing my face with psychic berries that enabled me to talk to inanimate objects. It’s every bit as weird and wonderful as I imagined it would be all those years ago.

The interface is clunkier than we’re perhaps used to in these pampered, hand-holding times but if you’ve ever played Ultima VI you’ll be right at home. For Ultima virgins GOG have kindly included all the manuals, maps and other documentation you’ll need to start your own expedition to the Red Planet. So what are you waiting for? Seriously, go get them. If you call yourself an RPG fan and don’t take this opportunity to grab these two underrated classics right this instant then you, sir or madam, are a liar and a bounder! I don’t care if GOG say both games will be available to download free forever, thus giving you all the time in the world to savour them. Go and bloody get them right now!

While you do that I’ll be strutting around Mars with Warren Spector and a rifle-toting Nellie Bly, tracking down Percival Lowell, Vladimir Lenin and H.G. Wells. How many modern RPGs let you say that?


About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.