The later Ultimas were more well known. But here is where it started. First released in 1981.
Actually, that's not true. It all started with a game written by Richard Garriot called Akalabeth. In Akalabeth, a young man named British defeated the Evil Wizard Mondain, but there were all of these Dungeons left behind; so your character basically went on a number of Dungeon Crawlings to clean up the surviving monsters. This was in 1979, and apparently, No Ontological Inertia hadn't been invented yet.
This is not that game, however. Ultima was a Video Game Remake. Lord British is staying in his castle, Mondain's been a terror on the world for 1000 years, and he's completely and utterly Immortal because of his Magic Gem he made 1000 years ago. I know what you're thinking, but no, the Gem is indestructible too. It's too late. The Bad Guy Wins. He has filled the world with demons and Aliens and Monsters (yes, aliens. From outer space), and the world is a bizarre mish-mash of high technology and medievalism. There's even talk of a Time Travel machine somewhere.
...wait a minute.
- Anachronism Stew: Even for a fantasy world.
- Damsel in Distress: The Princess.
- Dungeon: Interestingly, there's only one or two that's actually necessary for plot, and even then that's just "Go down to such and such level and kill such and such monster"; a throw-back to Akalabeth. They're just mazes with monsters that spawn in them.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: She doesn't have a name or a backstory, saving her is required to get the Time Machine.
- Expy: A lot of the names and monsters were lifted wholesale from The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Dungeons and Dragons.
- Faux First Person 3D: The dungeons, and perhaps the space shooting segments count as well.
- Immortality Inducer: The problem with Mondain. In fact, when you finally do fight Mondain, you have to destroy his partially created Gem of Immortality first. Otherwise, he'll keep coming Back From the Dead. Pity you don't think of destroying the Shards.
- Random Events Plot: You got to kill an evil wizard, find his immortality gem that does exactly what it's supposed to do and makes him immortal, and so you have to travel back in time to kill him. Doing so, among other things, involves flying a space shuttle into space and become a Space Ace by shooting Tie Fighters. No joke.
- Schizo-Tech: Best weapon in the game? Laser blaster.
- Time Travel: The goal of the game is level up and do enough quests to show the local rulers that you are tough enough to go back in time and kill Mondain before he becomes immortal.
- Unexpected Gameplay Change: In order to prove your worthiness, you have to find a spaceship; fly into space, and shoot down enough.... Tie Fighters to gain the title "Space Ace". No really.