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Thread: Ultima Underworld PSX English Patch

  1. #1
    New Member
    Registered: Mar 2005

    Ultima Underworld PSX English Patch

    After almost 27 years of being inaccessible to the west (original PSX release date 14th March 1997),
    the Japanese PSX port of Ultima Underworld has now received an English translation patch.

    Playing the PSX version may be worthwhile,
    because there are some notable differences to the PC version:
    - Different cinematics
    - Creature models are in 3D
    - Anime portraits
    - Fullscreen 3D display
    - Control scheme for console controller
    - No typing, all spells, mantras, replies can be selected by a menu
    In addition to that, the PSX version can be played in emulators, which for example makes the game available on portable systems like 2DS/3DS.

    PSX Controls:

    Romhacking release page:

    Romhacking thread (general discussion and bug reports):

    YouTube demo videos:

    GitHub project (software tools created to make this ROMhack):
    Last edited by Gertius; 27th Sep 2023 at 13:10.

  2. #2

  3. #3
    New Member
    Registered: Mar 2005
    During development I had completed the game twice with the speedrun on YouTube to check that it can be finished and that there are no bugs preventing the game from being completed (apart from the existing ones, looking at you, Judy and inventory bug).

    Now that it's all finished I have taken my sweet time to do a regular playthrough and finished it today. I wanted to experience as much as I could and these were my takeaways (bit of a mix of a PSX version review and a general Ultima Underworld review). WARNING, may contain minor spoilers:

    - I had only replayed it 1-2 times in the last 30 years and I was looking forward very much to finally playing the PSX version. And I did so lying on the couch, playing it on a New Nintendo 2DS with a PSX emulator, which was an awesome way to replay the game. There were minor slowdowns due to the emulation and the 2DS' CPU power every now and then but in general it ran satisfactorily. Would probably run even better on PSP. The controller interface is complex and took a bit of time to get used to, but after a while it gets like second nature. I preferred it to the original PC interface. There are some smallish bugs with the strings every now and then, like strings not wrapping aroung correctly, or an extra linebreak here and there. These have been already mentioned in the romhack readme. Most of these can't be fixed within the scope of this translation, but by and large my feeling was that it doesn't detract from the fun, and certainly not from accessing the game. If you want minimal amount of text glitches in dialogues, it's recommended use a character name with 4 letters.

    - the story and dialog content of the PSX version is identical with the PC version. There had been tiny differences sometimes in tone of the Japanese conversations (as far as Google translate/lens was accurate), but more along the lines how the same thing would be worded differently in Japanese. Essentially expressing the same thing though. It was my impression (also from Google translate), that Garamon is a bit less cryptic in the dream-cutscenes in Japanese. All the cutscenes look a lot better than in the PC version.

    - the 3D models are in general a good thing for me. Sometimes they look a little goofy, like the goblins or outcasts. In general they work well though and make the gameworld more cohesive/immersive. The 3D model of the spiders is pure horror, especially when they appear in groups :-D

    - the way that mantras and secret spells are handled is that you have to find the information in the gameworld, before that mantra/spell gets added to the menu of possible choices. This is different to the PC version, where you could just type in the mantra or combine the runes for the spell, even if you hadn't heard about it in that playthrough yet. Spells/mantras being added is handled through the text that is being read. E.g. you might find a scroll that explains a spell, and then it contains an invisible command to add that spell to your menu (you still need all the runes for it to appear). So in theory it would be easy to devise a cheat, that adds all the spells and mantras in an early sign or scroll by adding the commands to the text. But I haven't tried that out yet.
    On the plus-side, I liked the spell menu, as it seemed less tedious than combining the runes manually and it works well with the controller interface.

    - also typing certain keywords in dialogues has been replaced by choosing strings from a menu. This makes some puzzles easier on PSX than on PC.
    (Garamon conversation, learning lizardman language)

    - Ultima Underworld is still a marvel of a game for me, even all these years later. OK I do have a healthy amount of nostalgia for the game, playing it at release 30 years ago. But even objectively (as much as I can) I think it's still a great experience: the exploration, secrets, atmosphere, story, dialogues, puzzles/riddles, combat, the simulation etc etc. So deep! Granted, some puzzles are way too cryptic and I used a walkthrough from time to time (in addition to knowing some item locations from the speedrun). I'd say that using a walkthrough doesn't subtract from the fun, just the opposite, as it helps smoothing over of the irritating aspects of the game. The shortcomings surely have been mentioned in other places, and they still exist: extensive backtracking, arcade-y jumping bits, cryptic hints for riddles, confusing leveldesign in later levels, targeted ranged weapons and spells. But all these did not spoil the good bits for me.

    - I noticed a lot of Looking Glass' DNA in Ultima Underworld, something that I never noticed so much before. When you know the successors, sometimes I got a familiar feeling or spotted design elements that I know from their other games (i.e. emergent storytelling through notes, stealth, freedom and choice in problem solving)

    - it's emergent storytelling, while great, might be easy to miss. I read up on certain story elements in a walkthrough (backstory Garamon/Tyball, and it seems too hard for me to piece that together from all the disconnected storybits (notes and dialogue) that can be found in the game. Again this is something, where using a walkthrough at the appropriate time actually added to my enjoyment of the game.

    - I sometimes explained it to younger friends who didn't know the game as a mix between Minecraft and Skyrim :-D
    I know the comparison is not really too accurate. But I am mentioning it here, because then it got me thinking, that while Ultima Underworld is clearly showing it's age in many ways, I like some aspects even better than in modern open world games. You only get this one dungeon, but everything is more meaningful and dense than in an open world game. Also some of the puzzles are more elaborate and at times even felt like a point & click adventure game e.g. learning to play the flute and playing it, finding and combining the tripartite key, destroying Tyballs orb, creating dragonskin boots, rotworm stew, lizardman language etc

    All in all I had a lot of fun, first of all creating the translation and then doing playthroughs with it. It was great to return to that gameworld for this period of time, and it surely wasn't my last visit.
    Last edited by Gertius; 31st Oct 2023 at 05:17.

  4. #4
    New Member
    Registered: Apr 2022
    Wow! Thank you for doing this! I've played UW1 since the early demo version first released and been a big fan of it. I've only ever played the DOS version, but I wonder what the difference is in other versions, now I can find out.

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