This project, brought to my attention by Radogol (in the comments) and Ceearrbee (via Twitter), was, according to lead artist and project designer Stephane Belin: “a reboot of Ultima IV on Nintendo DS. The idea was to make a brand new interpretation of my favorite game of all time. I wanted to shine a completely new light on the Ultima universe, while keeping all the great core values of the original game. We wanted to make it on [the Nintendo DS] which cruelly lacked [for] good western RPGs. The project was canceled 6 months after the original pitch.”
His take on Ultima was…different, to say the least, and ultimately crept toward the JRPG template rather than remaining more Western in nature and style:
All images copyright Stephane Belin and/or Mathieu Latour-Duhaime.
Some of the artwork was also contributed by Mathieu Latour-Duhaime. The game was pitched to, and began development at, EA Montreal at some point in 2008. These various art assets (mostly concept sketches) are likely all that remain of the project.
As I’m sure most of you are thinking, almost nothing here has a particularly Ultima-esque feel to it, especially as regards the odd dress of the various female characters. I mean…a basically nude Druid and Mage? And what’s with the dominatrix Shepherd…is that even remotely humble? Honestly, I’m rather surprised that EA Montreal greenlit this project at all, given that right out of the gate it seems to have failed in its goal to establish a Western-style RPG feel and style. It does capture a couple of Ultima-like elements in some of the screenshots, most notably the one glimpse of what I would assume is the overland map (in the style of the early Ultima titles).
Still, it’s an interesting glimpse into how at least one particular Ultima fan interprets his most favourite series.