A couple of months ago I acquired what I believed to be one of the only publicly-known copies of Ultima VI: The False Prophet in NTSC format for the Amiga
. It took me a long time to find it. Obviously, Ultima in all of its incarnations was designed and developed in the USA by Origin, in Austin, Texas, and originally shipped on PC DOS in 1990. The Amiga port would arrive two years later.
The release of the Amiga version of Ultima VI is weird.
It was released in both the EU (ported in the UK) as well as the USA. All of the ADFs (Amiga Disk Files) online today are the UK/PAL version. If you try and install that game on an NTSC machine's hard drive, you will be able to watch the epic intro animation and even create a character. All of the artwork is NTSC-based and looks to be directly lifted from the NTSC MS-DOS version. But as soon as you try to play the game you’ll be confronted with a region block. This is pretty stunning, as all of the art is obviously ported from NTSC art and animation so the region block is strange to say the least. It's essentially a very light-handed attempt at copy protection.
Ultima VI for Amiga consists of 3 disks: 1 Install Disk and 2 Data Disks. The NTSC disk versions are extremely
rare. To be fair, the PAL versions are very rare, too, but can be found more easily by an order of magnitude if you’re willing to send enough money to the EU. And, the ADFs of the PAL versions are easily obtainable, as I mentioned before.
Here in the US, however - the place the game was created - the ADFs were nowhere to be found.
As I mentioned before, two months ago
I found and acquired (after a very, very long search) the only NTSC boxed copy of Ultima VI I’d ever
seen and greedily began to install it. Unfortunately, the Install disk was corrupted
from age, and was even potentially damaged by the original owner when he tested it before shipping after sitting in a box for several years. For him, it worked fine. But that test apparently killed a few tracks on the disk preventing it from installing.
I was able to install most of it but hit an impassible Read/Write error near the end of the Install disk. Not ready to give up, I discovered a disk recovery program
written by Amiga legend Dave Haynie that I then learned to use to try and salvage the Install Disk’s data. This program allowed me to move most of the data intact to a new disk.
I then compared the PAL version to the NTSC version, file-by-file. I was able to determine that only a few files had differences based on byte sizes, and over-wrote a functioning PAL install with my new NTSC files. It worked! I, and some of my friends, were elated.
After hearing half of “the scene” explode in vigorous applause and the other half tell me everything I did wrong (it can be so thankless sometimes with the finger-wagging), I personally was happy to have successfully identified and removed the region blocks on the NTSC version regardless of my methods. I created a downloadable package
anyone could use to install Ultima VI to their NTSC Amiga when using the PAL version. I’m not a hacker, but I hacked it, yo!
The Quest Never Ended, and the True Prize Finally Found
te goal was to find an undamaged and original NTSC Install disk and create an ADF of it for everyone to enjoy in the land in whence the game origin
ated with original hardware. I recognized not everyone would be willing to copy the files I identified and isolated on top of PAL installs. Work is work. It’s gotta be as frictionless an on-ramp as possible, right 2019? It took me ages to find the game to begin with, but I decided to keep my search active in the background.
Incredibly, insanely, improbably… just 4 weeks after my initial revelation, I found a new NTSC Install disk!
And it was only $40!
At that price, I didn't even have to weigh if the risky purchase was worth the investment. I instantly bought it.
However, the day the box arrived I became completely engulfed in a different project preventing
me from coming up for air and focusing on this new highly coveted prize.
Until now. Guys:
THE INSTALL DISK IS PERFECT! All three of the disks are perfect. They are 100% NTSC and installed flawlessly to my machine's hard drive.
I've created the ADFs.
(there is no copy protection, because the game relies on words in the manual to be typed in instead - thank goodness!)
And I've confirmed that the ADFs that I created work.
As of right now, this very second, NTSC Ultima VI (6) is 100% available for download. I have not “cracked” them or tried to insert my ego onto these disks in any way shape or form. They are 100% identical to the original disks, and ready for the community to enjoy (if you love them, and think they should be submitted to some organization in a different format - go for it!).
Please download them, share them, and enjoy them. I know I will! But I need to play and finish Ultima V first.
You will be able to find these downloads in the Games Library
after the game has been played and reviewed (which will be some time from now).
In the meantime, here are the 3 disk ADFs for download today:
Data Disk 1
Data Disk 2
Once you move the ADFs to floppy disk, the Install Disk must be booted in order to start the installation process. Simply putting the disk in your drive with Workbench running won't do anything. Boot from the Install disk.
I most recently installed the game to my stock 16Mhz A3000 (running 1.3 and 2.0) with 16MB Fast, 2MB Chip. I had previously installed the game on my beefed up 40Mhz A2000 with similar stats. The game does seem to respond better on the 32-bit bus of the A3000. But it plays fine on both. I've not tried it on a stock 1000 or 500, but as long as you have 1MB RAM you should be good to go. Playing it on the 1000 might be a stretch but worth checking out. I loved playing Ultima IV on my 1000. Worth noting that Ultima VI uses a completely different game engine, so the requirements are not 1:1.
Please remember that you'll need to use the Compendium to get past certain conversations in the game in order to progress. It was the only means of copy protection added - and this is not a cracked game. It's 100% original and untouched.