After the enormous success of laser arcade game Dragon’s Lair, Rick Dyer and his RDI Video Systems company created another groundbreaking laser coin-op game in 1984, called Thayer’s Quest. Its story was more closely based on Shadoan, the Tolkien-esqe source material that Dyer had conceived earlier and from which he had spun off Dragon’s Lair.
Rick Dyer, circa 1982
Thayer was an astounding attempt to produce a sword & sorcery RPG epic for the arcades. Eschewing joysticks and buttons, Thayer had a full-size membrane keyboard mounted on the cabinet, which players used to input choices during the game. At the start, you could enter your name, and then be personally referred to via speech synthesis. Shown on the keyboard were various inventory items that Thayer could use at certain spots to advance the plot. The game even had a save game system, where the last ten players could return to continue their progress after losing their last life.
The innovation found in Thayer’s Quest makes it a very special and unusual arcade game indeed. Posted below is our gameplay video.
While I love the game Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, I always have to sit through the lengthy cinematic at the beginning and chuckle at the horrible voice acting. It’s unfortunate too, because in all other respects it’s an exciting and visually stunning intro that I’m sure amazed a few people back in the day on their x486 PCs.
Once the sprites start opening their mouths though, whoo boy. It sounds like the programmers just recorded a rather dull high school play and just animated to that.
Here’s our gameplay video, judge for yourself whether the actors should be thrown into the Stygian Abyss:
gameranx.com has relayed some information gleaned from the official Skyrim forums, where a user has posted highlights from an preview of the game in the Official Xbox Magazine. Details include info on a couple of the new Dragonshout abilities in the game, one of which apparently slows down time, Matrix-style. Another interesting tid-bit is that creatures you stumble across while traversing the world, including dragons, won’t immediately give chase, unless you give them a reason to notice you.
The article contains spoilers on the storyline, but they are labelled and placed at the bottom, so you can safely read it up to that point.
Play Ultima IV online, complete with saves, with this link. It is a slightly updated, but completely faithful version of one of the best Ultima experiences ever. Ultima IV was the first of the vaunted “Avatar” trilogy of Ultima games, and its feeling of epic accomplishment was a gaming revelation.