Life is full of challenges. Some come up and smack us in the face. Other times, we choose our own. Like porting Ultima V. To a calculator.

David Randall of Saginaw, Texas did just that very thing. He programmed U5 into a TI-89 graphing calculator. It wasn’t an overnight job; he worked on this for four years.

Oddly, he hasn’t played through the game himself. Which is a bit strange, since he released the program for download. Maybe he’s hoping a few people will play it and provide feedback. By the way, David worked from the old PC DOS version of U5, not the Apple version.

This is certainly a tour-de-force of programming. After all, the device isn’t something like a DS; it’s a scientific calculator. Although why he chose U5 – not one of the better games in the series – isn’t covered in the interview.

And it was interesting to note that what gave him the most difficulty was programming the NPCs. U5 featured what can only be called “real-world” activities, where stores were open only during certain hours, people took time off for food and sleep, and you couldn’t always get hold of someone you needed to speak to. I really didn’t like that aspect of the game myself. But it’s remarkable, when you think on this, to have that in an Apple 8-bit game.

Anyway, take a look at the interview. And if you happen to have a TI-89 handy, why not try the game? I’d be very interested to hear how this plays on a calculator.

New Handheld Version of Ultima on