From the manual: Escape from Mt. Drash is a game of life, and unless you can prevent it, a game of death. You are a prisoner of the evil, wretched, Garrintrots whose stronghold is high atop the treacherous Mount Drash. The mountain is honeycombed with old mining tunnels that have been long since abandoned by humanoid life. The Garrintrots have stocked the caverns with all manner of creatures, and now use the caverns as gaming arenas where you are the main attraction.
According to the manual, the story goes that you are held prisoner of the Garrintrots in Mount Drash, where you must fight your way through like a gladiator. However, the Ultima History by Ophidian Dragon seems to contradict this, stating that you are on a quest to rid the place of its evil. The manual is likely to be more reliable.
Ultima: Escape from Mount Drash was a VIC20 game made in 1983 by
Keith Zabalaoui, who was a good friend of Richard Garriott. It was only 20 years later,
on 11th June 2003, that Kasper Fauerby, also known as Telemachos, ported it to the
PC. It has been thought lost for a long time, and in fact became known as the
"holy grail of classic game collecting" because of its rarity.
This game is considered a non-canon Ultima, meaning that it is not considered part of the Ultima series. And rightly so, it is not an Ultima, despite the name. The "Ultima" name was added because Sierra thought the game would sell better with it. It is widely believed that Richard Garriott was not aware of this, but this view is disputed by this overview at Giant Bomb:
From Giant Bomb's overview: The original Ultima games had been a great success, and the name Ultima was added to this title as an attempt to drive sales. Contrary to rumors, Garriott was fully aware of the game and consented to the use of the Ultima name to help out Zabalaoui, whose game would not otherwise have been published by Sierra.
Learn more about it at:
To escape from Mount Drash, you need to beat 15 levels. Each level is similar, but gets harder as you go along.
From the manual:
- Level 1-4 - All the same and easy to overcome.
- Level 5-12 - Gems appear and you must get one before you enter the next level.
- Level 7 - Overhead view of the maze disappears.
- Level 9 - Monsters can no longer be seen.
- Level 11 - Direction indicator now absent.
- Level 13 - Use your instincts and get both gems.
- Level 15 - This level is your only obstacle left.
Each level is a maze, and you must make your way through it to enter the next level. You start at the bottom-right corner of the level, and you get to the next level by reaching the top-left corner. From level 5, the other two corners (top-right and bottom-left) will contain a gem, and you need one of them to be able to access the next level. Level 13 onwards is harder, and you have to get both gems to proceed.
This is even more difficult because by level 13, the minimap won't show you where the gems are any more, and you cannot see it in the '3D dungeon view' either. Just remember that gems are always in the 2 corners other than those where the level starts and finishes.
For each level, you have just 99 seconds to get through. If your time runs out, you lose and you have to start all over again. If you die in combat 3 times, you lose as well.
Levels are randomly generated, so it is useless to try and map them because they change every time.
The screen is divided into 4 main parts:
These names are not the official names for those parts of the screen; they are names I have given to them to distinguish them more easily.
The three circles in the middle show how many lives are left.
The '3D dungeon view' is similar to the dungeon views you see in Ultimas 1-5, but it is much less advanced because all it will show you is the walls and the corridor you are in. You cannot see monsters or gems in the '3D dungeon view'.
The minimap is useful for getting around the maze, because it will help you locate gems and the exit even when the minimap details are gone (as long as you know that they are in the corners). This is the key to the symbols on the minimap:
The 'action bar' shows your current ranking among all the rankings when you are not fighting. When you are attacked by a monster, you will be shown fighting it, and you will need to fight it.
Finally, the status bar will show you your current activity; if you are fighting, it will tell you what monster you are fighting, while when you are not fighting, it will tell you the level you are exploring.
Combat in Escape from Mount Drash is different from that in any Ultima you might know. You actually control the hero and his fighting moves! These are the keys involved in fighting:
Note that combat in the PC port of Mount Drash is easier than in the VIC20 original game. Telemachos has explained why:
"It is correct that the game is quite a bit easier than the VIC20 version... I didn't really notice that myself until I tried playing it a bit. The thing is that the VIC20 version only would accept input from the player once every combat "turn" - ie. every time a monster moves, approx 1 time per second... and my port allows the player to move and change combat stance more often. I did that because the controls feels so 'laggy' in the original. However, this gives the player the advantage to quickly run in and kill the monster."
If you keep alternating quickly between Z and C, you should dispatch any foe easily. However, don't let them get too close or they can kill you.
The selection of monsters in this game is very small, and there is no information that can describe them. None of them have particular fighting methods, but you may benefit from their weak point if you can find it. Each monster will die immediately if you hit its weak point - the ones I know are mentioned below. The monster will not die until you hit its weak point - until you hit it, you are destined to remain fighting it.
Each monster is shown in its two instances: active (left) and touché or aggressive (right).
Floating Orb, apparently a primitive form of a gazer (though not nearly as dangerous).
Gremlin, an apparently lively little monster.
Dancing Demon, a mysterious little demon dwelling deep within the mountain.
Phantom, an undead creature whose eyes are initially the only visible part.
Purple Slime, a gooey creature that tends to lurk within the deepest levels of the mountain.
In Ultima: Escape from Mount Drash, there are three spells you can cast. Spells will only work when you are not in combat mode, and there is a limit to how many spells you can cast. Spells are cast by just pressing the corresponding button on your keyboard. The available spells include:
Magic is often useful - it can allow you to escape unwanted combat, and can take you to the exit of a level when you are stuck. You can only cast three spells per level, so use them wisely.
You can cast spells by pressing the first letter of the spell on your keyboard, which means that pressing B will cast Blast, pressing S will cast Sleep and presing T will cast Teleport.
You can find the original documentation:
Here are some pictures of Ultima: Escape from Mount Drash to show you what the game is like if you haven't seen it already:
The MS-DOS Project has the Ultima: Escape from Mount Drash soundtrack in a YouTube playlist.
Ultima: Escape from Mount Drash can be downloaded from:
These are other places on the net with something related to Ultima: Escape from Mount Drash:
Special thanks to Kasper Faeurby (also known as Telemachos) for:
Thanks also to Natreg Dragon for pointing out an error in the Bestiary.