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Video Game: Ultima VII Part II

Ultima VII Part II: Serpent Isle is a PC game released in 1993 by Origin Systems. It is considered one of the best games in the Ultima series besides its predecessor, Ultima VII.

Though its name would suggest it's a Gaiden Game, or that Ultima VII was so long that it needed to be divided into two games, it's actually neither. It is a stand-alone game that contains events important to the overall series. The only reason it was not officially named Ultima VIII is because Richard Gariott wanted all Ultima games to have different engines; Serpent Isle, however, uses the exact same one as Ultima VII. Thus "Part II" was slapped on.

Eighteen months after the events of Ultima VII, Lord British finds out that the Guardian has sent Batlin to a place called the Serpent Isle. Fearing the worst, he sends the Avatar, Iolo, Shamino, and Dupre after Batlin to find out what they are up to. As the Avatar and his/her companions search for Batlin, they quickly become involved in the Cosmic Horror Story going on behind the scenes.

Like Ultima VII, Ultima VII Part II comes with an Expansion Pack, The Silver Seed. Here, the Avatar uses an amulet to travel back in time and collect a bunch of very useful items.

Ultima VII Part II was also released on DOS, and can be played on modern systems with the fan-made engine, Exult. It is now available to all along with its predecessor over at Good Old Games.

This game has examples of:

  • 0% Approval Rating: Lord British is liberally (and sometimes literally) demonized by the denizens of the Isle. Everyone hates him for all sorts of crimes, there's a libelous poem found here and there, and the trial in Fawn has one of your companions almost executed for mentioning British's name (and the trial itself tosses all sorts of baseless accusations at you and Lord British). All because their ancestors thought the Virtue system was a bit oppressive.
  • All in a Row
  • Animalistic Abomination: The three snake gods.
  • Apocalyptic Log: There's a lot of these left behind by the Ophidians, like the Hierophant scroll which you get in the hidden cave right at the beginning of the game. Also, there's a very disturbing diary in White Dragon Castle that details how the king brutally tortured everyone to death.
  • Artistic License - Economics:
  • Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence:
    • The surviving Ophidians fled through the Wall of Lights when they realized the Imbalance would destroy everything.
    • After his Heroic Sacrifice, Dupre becomes one with the Chaos Serpent.
  • Asshole Victim: Batlin is killed by the Guardian, and almost all of the Jerkass NPCs are killed by the banes.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Armageddon Imbalance spell, which kills everyone except you.
  • Bad Boss: Erstam's assistants often find themselves going to pieces while working for him.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Ale the parrot is actually a shepherd named Edrin who got hit by a Transmutation Storm
  • Bag of Spilling: Explained here, as your items are taken away by a magical storm.
    • Also a The Dev Team Thinks of Everything moment. If you try and subvert this event by dropping all the affected items then walking to the trigger point for the storm, the results are the same. There are two copies of that starting beach. You begin on one, and are transported to the other one as the Teleport Storm happens. Justified as otherwise the early plot to recover them would make no sense.
    • As to why your party is back to level 3, The Black Gate notes that returning to Britannia has the effect of sapping the Avatar's experience, essentially bringing them back to the state they first entered the land in (and also returning their virginity). Possibly the same thing applies to travelling to the Serpent Isle.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The religion of Fawn centers around this.
  • Big Good: The Great Earth Serpent.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: The Gwani
  • Bubblegloop Swamp: Gorlab Swamp.
  • Commonplace Rare: One of the common reagents you use for spellcasting is mandrake, and indeed it can be found and bought in plenty of places. Later in the game, an NPC gives you the task to obtain mandrake. For some reason, only mandrake from one specific location qualifies, all the other mandrake doesn't work; and you can't get to that spot yet (semi-justified in that he wants fresh mandrake, and the stuff you can buy is presumably dried: it doesn't make a difference as a spell reagent, though).
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In the previous game, repeatedly tapping a parrot with a mallet will eventually have him tell you coordinates where a treasure was located. Doing it in this game, the parrot eventually says "That will not work this time!"
    • As well as the cause of the impending disaster. It's actually a side effect of events in the third game.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Averted here, as your characters will complain about the heat in Furnace and lose health if you don't cast Chill on them. But played straight in that you can walk right up to lava pools and not burn.
  • Crapsack World: If the magical thunderstorms weren't bad enough, most of the people living on the Serpent Isle are a bunch of bloodthirsty, treacherous, vain assholes.
  • Cypher Language: The Ophidian script is essentially this - the design of the letters and the presence of the Transcribe spell makes it obvious that it wasn't designed for easy reading (Erstam even lampshades its non-intuitiveness in the manual). It has a 1 to 1 correspondence to the Latin alphabet, too.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Despite being a specialist in death magic, Mortegro is one of the few half-decent people in Moonshade.
  • Darker and Edgier: Arguably more so than even The Black Gate
  • Dead All Along: The ranger you meet in the Mountains of Freedom. Gwenno is also dead, but you get to revive her.
  • Debug Room: Claw Island, which you can only get to by teleporting.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Beating Luther's overconfident self into the ground, in Monitor, makes him your eternal friend. (Sadly, he won't join your party, though.)
  • Depraved Bisexual: Frigidazzi comes close when she tries to cast a love spell (or rather, a love dance) on the Avatar. She DOES apologize for getting you into trouble and gives you important Plot Coupons later.
  • Dialogue Tree
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: You can go after a guy pirating Origin video games in a sidequest.
  • Disc One Nuke: The Silver Seed Expansion Pack offers some (such as the Ring of Reagents, which allows the player to cast any spell without having to have all the necessary ingredients). You can start it not too long after you arrive in Monitor.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The settlers of Serpent Isle were former citizens of Sosaria who fled in the aftermath of the first three games, after they decided that Lord British's attempts to unite all of the individual feudal kingdoms under a single rule (HIS rule) to be questionable. So they're basically the puritans, leaving to the New World so they can practice their individual beliefs without persecution from the Monarchy. And like those original American colonies, each of the three towns have got historical links based in a place in the 'mother land', named for Britannian towns in fact, even if the citizens themselves are by this stage no longer wish to be subjects of the crown and celebrate their individuality more than the things they share in common.
  • Doomed Hometown: When you finally reach Shamino's castle, you find that it's been in ruins for a very long time.
  • Dream Land: You'll be transported here when you enter Gorlab Swamp.
  • Endless Corridor: The Mountains of Freedom has one. You have to search for a randomly generating invisible passageway in the right wall.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave:
    • Upon reaching Shamino's Castle, you find out that everyone there died a long time ago.
    • Upon confronting Batlin, nearly everyone on the isle dies after the Banes of Chaos are set loose.
    • When you go back to the Gwani village after the Wall of Lights is opened, you find that Hazard has killed all the Gwani except the chieftain, her mate, and their baby daughter.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Even though the mages from Moonshade are largely Jerkasses, even they couldn't abide by Vasculio's cruel, unethical experiments, and sentenced him to death. It didn't work.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Naturally, lots of penguins are found in the polar regions. Your Magebane sword even gets switched out with one of their eggs. Watch out though, they'll peck you to death!
  • Fetch Quest: Varo leaves, blood moss, mandrakes, etc.
    • Twenty Bear Asses: You need "worm hearts" to make Soul Prisms, which are dropped by ice snakes. Thankfully, you can get them from other sources too, such as Frigidazzi's lab.
  • Find the Cure:
    • After getting poisoned by Lydia, the party must make a trip to Fawn to get the cure.
    • You also have to get the blood of an Ice Dragon to cure a baby Gwani.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: The main theme of the game. Fire represents chaos and water (as ice) represents order.
  • Five-Man Band: There's only four members, so Dupre has to fill two slots, but other than that:
  • Fur and Loathing: Hazard. Even moreso since he has no problem with wearing the pelts of fully sapient beings. He also prides himself on the fact that every animal he ever skinned, including the sapient Gwani, he skinned alive.
  • Gay Option: If your Avatar is female, you can have some Les Yay with Frigidazzi.
  • Genre Shift: Despite being made on the same engine as The Black Gate, the gameplay of Serpent Isle is very different from that of its predecessors, playing more like an Eastern RPG.
  • Get on the Boat: Traveling to Moonshade. To reach Erstam's lab, you have to Get On The Turtle.
  • Global Currency: Averted here, as each town (including the fortress in the Silver Seed add on) use different currency.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Ophidian civil war.
  • Guest Star Party Member:
    • Selena, who joins your party when going to the mint. She suddenly (and suspiciously) leaves when your party is ambushed by a group of hired thugs.
    • Stefano, who joins you in the Mountains of Freedom. He leaves after you break out.
    • Sethys, who you have to take with you to find the Chaos Hierophantnote . As soon as you exit the Temple of Tolerance, he dies due to being Really 700 Years Old.
    • Mortegro, who got teleported to the Temple of Tolerance thanks to a storm. As soon as you leave the temple, he gets killed by a lightning boltnote .
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Averted. The strongest weapons in the game are (in order) an axe, a hammer, and a staff. You do need the Black Sword for the Banes battle, but it does less damage than the one-handed sword!
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Dupre sacrifices himself to restore the Chaos Serpent so that the Avatar doesn't have to.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Batlin is killed by the Guardian, whom he was trying to betray.
    • After killing the Chaos Serpent, the Order Serpent became brain dead thanks to the resulting imbalance.
  • Hookers and Blow: When the Avatar is in the dream realm, s/he comes across Stefano, who is sitting on a throne surrounded by naked women (some of whom are playing tag). After discussing plot points with the Avatar, Stefano tells him/her to lighten up. If you have a ranged weapon you can kill his dream form and force him to wake up; he is not amused.
  • Hospital Surprise: Played with here. If the Avatar is killed, s/he is teleported to Monk Isle. The monks try to teleport you back to where you were, though they do miss sometimes.
  • Hub Level: The "Dark Path" that connects all the Serpent Gates.
  • An Ice Person: Frigidazzi
  • An Interior Designer Is You: The Dark Path is perfect for this.
  • Ironic Name: While Frigidazzi's name fits with her magic specialization, in romantic matters she's anything but frigid.
  • Jerkass Gods: The Chaos and Order serpents are more concerned about killing each other and becoming Top God than the universe they're supposed to be sustaining.
  • Kangaroo Court: TWICE. Dupre is put on trial in Fawn which is being manipulated by Kylista and Voldin, and the Avatar is put on trial in Moonshade.
  • Kill the God: After Exodus kidnapped the Great Earth Serpent, the Order Serpent killed the Chaos Serpent.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: The game practically encourages it. Lampshaded in the Kangaroo Court in Fawn, when the prosecution points this out as suspicious behavior.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Shal the Fiend from the Silver Seed.
  • Isometric Projection
  • Lethal Lava Land: Furnace and the larger Ophidian ruins.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Like teleport or transmute things. It is explained that these storms are magical, however.
  • Light Is Not Good: When the Hierophant of Balance was mysteriously murdered, the followers of Order blamed it on the followers of Chaos with almost no evidence at all. They used this as a excuse to wage a genocidal war on the latter.
  • Lost World: The Serpent Isle itself.
  • Mad Scientist: Erstam the Mad Mage, who is obsessed with immortality. His experiments often include cutting up his own assistants and seeing if he can put them back together again.
  • The Maze: The labyrinth in the Silver Seed add on.
  • Minus World: The "land of the dead" where dead characters are sent. You can get there through the teleport cheat.
  • The Mole:
    • Lord Marsten and Spektor give secrets to the Goblins so that they can kill off the Bear and Wolf clan members.
    • Simon is secretly a Goblin spy.
    • Selina is working for Batlin.
  • Monster Town: The Goblin and Gwani villages
  • Moving The Goal Posts: Trying to pay the fine at Bull Tower will result in the pikemen demanding a sum higher than what you carry. If you come back with enough money to cover their demand, they just demand more, no matter what. This is because you're supposed to go on a little side quest to find gold bars, which they immediately accept. Hilariously, the gold bars aren't that valuable, and certainly don't measure up to the regular money you're likely to have available.
  • Muggles: The "Mundanes" of Moonshade.
  • No-Gear Level:
    • Subverted several times here. In the places where you are stripped of your inventory, you quickly come across replacements.
    • It's also possible by abusing the Serpent Bond spell to enter some of these areas without losing your gear at all.
  • One Size Fits All
  • Optional Sexual Encounter: You have a couple here. You can have some in Monitor and with Frigidazzi in Moonshade.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The quite literal war between Order and Chaos is the main theme of this game. Your task is to restore balance between these two forces.
  • Organ Drops: Animals usually drop meat if they are killed - including a wolf you have to fight early in the game. The deer, for some reason, drop five deer legs.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Vasculio. He's not a vampire proper, but an undead wizard who needs blood as one of the raw materials to cast the spells that keep him "alive". However, he does otherwise behave like a traditional vampire, with habits such as sleeping in a coffin, and writing bad emo poetry.
  • Pass Fail: Simon is actually a Goblin in a human disguise. He is outed by his love for Fawnish Ale.
  • Pixel Hunt: Happens a lot, especially with finding the Ring of Shal amidst a pile of rubble.
  • Plotline Death: Generally a lot of people, but Dupre in particular.
  • Power Glows: Most magic weapons glow. The Helm of Lightnote  glows so brightly, it lights up a room (justified, as it was explicitly designed to do just that).
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Magic Axes and Juggernaut Hammers, as well as regular boomerangs.
  • Precursors: The Ophidians
  • Ragnarok-Proofing: Both Shamino's castle and the Castle of the White Dragon are in excellent shape despite having outlasted two burgeoning civilisations.
  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • Columna is actually an old woman. If you take away the Comb of Beauty before she dies, she'll go back to her true age.
    • There's also the realization when you find Shamino's old castle, which predates even the Ophidians. Just how old is he, really?
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Played straight with the Wildmen, humanoid enemies with snake heads. Averted with the Great Earth Serpent, who is the Big Good of the game.
  • Script Breaking: You can do this by talking to the ghosts at the burnt out factory, providing you're not using any mods that fix that glitch.
  • Self-Deprecation: The mocking of Lord British, especially in books.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: The resolution to finding Batlin, the whole reason you travel to the island in the first place, ends without you having to do anything. Batlin attempts to use the parts of the Chaos Serpent to become a god and overthrow the Guardian, who won't have any of that and fries him. Exactly what the Guardian's original plan on Serpent Isle is isn't stated either.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The black "magic orbs" are Magic 8-Balls
    • The killer rabbit in The Mountains of Freedom. His crazy owner also called him "Bugs."
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The northern region of Serpent Isle.
  • Stealth Pun: The Sleeping Bull Inn is built on the ruins of an old town, from which it gets its name. The map of Ultima I indicates the town was called Bulldozer.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option:
    • When you go to get a tattoo from Lydia, she poisons you. It's pretty obvious that's what she's going to do, since she ;;has a poison dagger in her hand''. However, you need to have the tattoo in order to advance.
    • Another example is Frigidazzi. She flirts with you the second she sees you, and it's pretty obvious what she wants to do when she asks you to stop by her house after midnight. And being that she's the Mage Lord's girlfriend, you just KNOW you'll be caught. However, you still have to see her and get caught in order to continue.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement:
    • The Black Sword is needed to leave the Mountains of Freedomnote  and to capture the Banes.
    • You need all of the Serpent gear in order to get through Sunrise Isle.
  • Take Your Time: Don't worry, the universe won't come apart at the seams THAT quickly...
  • A Taste of Power: You start out with good gear only to have it swiped by a magic storm.
  • Technically Living Zombie: Boydon was chopped into pieces then put back together, but since he was kept alive the whole time by magical means, he's not undead. He still smells like rotting flesh, however.
  • Underground Monkey: Arctic-themed versions of enemies appear in the polar regions, such as ice snakes, Ice Dragons, Ice Trolls, and timberwolves.
  • The Unfought: Batlin. He's killed at the Wall of Lights in a cutscene.
  • Unobtanium: Stoneheart. It's needed for instant-death spells.
  • Unwinnable by Design: The number of plot-critical items in this game is simply crazy, and dropping or consuming one by mistake will leave you stuck forever. By the end of the game your characters' backpacks will be filled with layers upon layers of random items. Things are only made worse by the fact that the game world is still so huge that you're extremely lucky if you even remember where to begin looking for it.
    • The Fawnish ale you picked up by the Goblin hangout is important to the plot because it gets Simon to reveal his true identity. If you drink the ale by accident, you may have to start over or resort to cheating because you can only get the key to the Goblin village by defeating Simon. Casting Vibrate on him will not work, as he only has this key as a Goblin.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: The game release was rushed, so there are many bugs left in the game that can break the plot.
    • Supposedly, talking to the factory ghosts way too early could accidentally seal off certain places.
    • Similarly, touching any one of the reused black pillars throughout the game will trigger the Test of Purity - which then drops you off somewhere you're not supposed to be just yet. Not only does this break sequence, it can break the whole game.
  • Vendor Trash: Gold nuggets, gold bars, jewelry, and gems. You can also sell leather armor in Monitor.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: There's plenty of opportunities in this game for Evil Avatars.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The event at the Wall of Lights. Batlin dies, your friends get possessed, they run off, and kill generally a lot of people.
    • Dupre's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Who Needs Their Whole Body?: When you first meet Boydon, he's a living head on a table. This doesn't stop him from having a conversation with you.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Invoked. In Furnace, Iolo complains about the snakes and demands to know why Lord British couldn't have sent them to someplace like Daisy Isle instead.
  • Wizard Needs Food Badly: In this game, you directly feed the characters with a food item. How full the character is depends on what you feed them. Fruits and vegetables are hardly filling, and it won't be long until the character is hungry again. Meat and cheese, however, are very filling. Just watch out for the characters saying they're hungry when they're actually not.
  • Your Cheating Heart: The mages of Moonshade do this constantly. It's hard to keep track of who's sleeping with whom. One of them even tries to cheat with you!
Ultima VIIWestern RPGUltima Underworld
Ultima VIIVideo Games of the 1990sUltima VIII
Ultima VIIWebsite/GOG.comUltima VIII

alternative title(s): Ultima VII Part II
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