First post, by NewRisingSun
I recently received something I previously had never known to exist: a special PCjr version of Ultima II, released by Sierra On-Line sometime in 1984 (the normal PC version was released in 1983). A similar copy is for sale on eBay right now (at a rather ridiculous price). Notice that the label only says "PCjr", not "PC/PCjr" as would be expected. And it is indeed different from the normal PC version!
First, there is no copy protection. It has the same copy-protected sector from the Copylock protection that the PC version uses. The executable file (ULTIMAII.EXE) however does not contain the protection envelope, so the presence of the copy-protected sector is never checked for. Apparently Sierra originally intended to use copy protection but found out that it did not work on the DMA-less PCjr.
Second, all graphics have been adjusted to yield proper color on the PCjr's composite output. Attached file compareu2.zip contains screenshots from both the regular PC and the special PCjr version, both with RGB and Composite outputs. Playing the PC version on the PCjr would yield completely nonsensical colors on the composite output (and is not included in the archive). Unfortunately, Sierra did not bother to implement an actual 16 color RGB version, likely because that would have required rewriting all graphics code for mode 9, which has a different memory layout.
Sound is also identical, from what I can tell, to the regular Sierra On-Line PC version. (The 1989 Origin version replaces the PWM sweeps during the intro with silence and the in-game PWM sweeps with glissandi.)
Therefore, there are now at least four versions of PC Ultima II:
- 1983 Sierra On-Line version for PC (original release with "Copylock" protection)
- 1984 Sierra On-Line version for PCjr (no copy protection).
- 1985 Sierra On-Line version for PC (revision with Softguard 2.0.3 protection). Other than the different protection code, the game code is byte-for-byte identical to the 1983 version.
- 1989 Origin Systems version for PC (OSI-1 protection) as part of the Ultima 1-3 Trilogy collection
And of course the two broken CD-ROM collection versions that are based on the 1989 version.
There may be yet another PC version out there with a later version of the Copylock protection, as I had found such an executable on a now defunct fserv.