I've mentioned many times over the years my deep love and affection for the Commodore 64 RPG classic Legacy of the Ancients by Electronic Arts.
It came out in 1987, and it was one of the only games I ever finished from end to end back in the day.
It offered a wild blend of fantasy role-playing with a touch of sci-fi. For a single-player RPG experience, it blew me away.
Back then my best friend, Jason, was a Commodore 64 computer genius. Or, at least he was to me. He came from a family that, from my point of view, was upper crust. They had a large and beautiful two-story house next to a water canal. Living next to a body of water in a landlocked place like Arlington, TX, was pretty impressive to me at the time.
Jason had a large bedroom filled with computer equipment including a modem, which was a device I'd only previously seen in the movies and magazines. He would get online late at night - calling all over the country - and download vast hordes of games. He'd soon copy and hand me disks at school, which I could never repay him for and he never expected me to. He was insanely generous. Sometimes he'd hand me a game that wasn't even for sale yet; I distinctly remember getting Top Gun a week before it made it to retail, which still boggles my mind to this day.
I can't even imagine what his parents' phone bills must have looked like.
Legacy of the Ancients was a game I actually bought with my preciously scarce saved-up money. It was one of the few. Disk games back then would run from $30-$50, and sometimes even more. In today's economy, just double that. And this was a time before I was old enough to work. So money was hard to come by, especially since my brother and I were raised by a single mom.
In any case, I got Legacy of the Ancients, and by the next day Jason did, too (wink). So, we each started to play the game - he at his house and me at mine. It was part competition to see who could beat it first, part collaboration.
For those that don't know, Legacy of the Ancients was an Ultima clone of sorts, but it wasn't made to be impossibly hard. In my opinion, it was made to be enjoyed and beaten, and was actually more fun. It also had much better graphics, especially in the dungeons. It even introduced betting casinos where you could gamble to win gold. If you stuck with it, you could pretty much break the economy using those mini-games to dominate the game.
From what I can tell, LotA isn't very well known outside North America, which I originally found shocking. But then, back then there were several titles that I never heard of either, which today might make some Brits choke (I'm looking at you Dizzy).
If I could only take one C64 game with me to to a deserted island (with electricity), LotA would be one of the top 3 finalists without hesitation.
I've had a love affair with this game for a very long time...(and have beaten it several times as I love it so).
A few years ago I hunted down the artist who painted the iconic art found on the EA flat box. His name is Dave McMacken, and he was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. He currently resides in the cute little town of Astoria, Oregon - the same town where Goonies and Short Circuit were films. I even shared some correspondence with him in 2017, which was a personal thrill for me.
I bought a re-print of the artwork back then, which Mr. McMacken hand-signed, which was cool. In fact, I kept looking for the original artwork and actually found it, too.
I offered the owner of that painting (over two years ago) something like $500 and he virtually laughed in my face. I don't blame him, of course, I was just curious if he would be willing to sell it. He was not.
Recently I contacted him again and offered him $1,000 - just to see where he might be in life these days. You never know. He thanked me for the offer, then mentioned someone else had offered $15,000 for it, and he'd turned them down! To be fair, if I owned it I'd never sell it, either. But $15,000? Those are two seriously crazy people right there. This time I did the laughing.
Over the summer, though, I came across and snagged the next best thing. I acquired a never opened, shrink-wrapped and perfectly pristine copy of the original game. Naturally I have another version I can use to actually play the game, which I'll keep, too. But this right here went onto one of my display shelves.