King's Quest: Your Thoughts on Roberta Williams' Masterpiece

Matt Barton's picture

King's Quest: Your thoughts on the world's most influential GAG.King's Quest: Your thoughts on the world's most influential GAG.Well, the time has come for me to turn my attention to King's Quest, having recently finished the drafts of Pac-Man and Myst. I played through the original King's Quest and a few of the later games, though again they're blurring together somewhat in my mind (will have to go back in to refresh my memory). Naturally, a discussion of KQ will let me talk about the PcJr as well as EGA and the early PC game industry. It'll be fun to talk about the many spin-offs, though I don't want to get too far away from the original game.

You'd have to be blind not to see that KQ was hugely influential. Even today, I can really only think of three real types of adventure game--text, Myst style (first person), and KQ style (third person). Still, it's interesting that the KQ games let you control the avatar with the joystick or arrow keys; later games seem to favor the point-and-click style instead. I suppose the earlier format made sense for the pre-mouse era, though it seems quaint today.

I've also played all the way through Mystery House, the first graphical adventure, and played part of The Wizard and the Princess, the first color graphical adventure. To be honest, both of these were pretty horrible, even laughably bad. KQ was a huge leap forward, though it's not without its flaws as well. To be honest, I had a hard time playing these games, mostly because it's so punishing to die or get far into the game, then discover that you must restore a much older game to solve a puzzle. I'm really thankful to LucasArts for finally getting rid of this convention.

What are your thoughts on KQ? Anything in particular that you'd like to see covered? Ideas welcome, and I know some of you guys are really passionate about this series. Memories, nostalgia, anything is appreciated.

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Matt Barton
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CkRtech wrote:

I remember the release of Quest for Glory III: Wages of War. A friend of mine picked it up when it was released. I borrowed it from him not too long after that, and I beat the entire game in two days. I was shocked. I returned it to him and said that I found the game enjoyable but was glad that he was the one that spent the $50 instead of me. I think Space Quest V: The Next Mutation took me three days. This was also a borrowed game, thankfully. Both of these games are of the point-and-click type. Combine an easy adventure game with the fact the genre does not really have that much replay value, and you have a legitimate reason to question spending your well-earned dollar.

I guess that's where I differ from most people. I don't expect a game to last more than a weekend or two. I find that the tricks developers use to stretch that out are generally pretty awful. I would MUCH rather have 6-8 hours of quality gameplay than 100s of hours of filler or boring, repetitive crap or "gotchas." I like to have the option to spend more time if I want (such as minigames, etc.) The Sam & Max games usually took me anywhere from 3-6 hours, and I thought that was great. I actually like the episodic setup quite a bit and think it'd work for most types of adventure games.

Then again, one of my favorite GAGs is The Dig, which many fans of the genre hate. I thought it was an excellent game with good pacing, fun characters, and an appropriate difficulty level. I really got into the story.

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The last thing one has to watch out for is truly getting stuck - that point in the game where you find yourself at a dead end and upon finally cheating discover that you forgot to do something early in the game. Perhaps you forgot to pick up an item when you had the chance or talk to someone. I recall having to start over on Police Quest 3 because I reached the 3/4 mark but had not gone on patrol and pulled people over at about the 1/4 mark. This TRULY ruins the game when a simple hint book doesn't push you past your single obstacle. You have to either restore an earlier save game or start over in order to continue. No replay value? Try going through all the puzzles you *just* solved all over again and expect a different result - Yes. The very definition of insanity.

Yes, this is what I hate the most about adventure games. Thankfully, most modern games won't let you do it, but sometimes the ways they go about it suck--such as not being able to advance to the next chapter because you haven't performed some arbitrary action (such as talking to everyone about everything repeatedly). I've often been stuck in a game because I can't figure out what it is they want me to do to get to the next part. That sucks.

Some of the best GAGs I've played recently are Dreamfall (once you master the awkward controls), Scratches (good horror game), Still Life (CSI style adventure), and of course any of the Nancy Drew games. I also enjoyed the Agatha Christie games (Murder on the Orient Express). One overlooked gem is Return to Mysterious Island, a very nice game that everyone should play if it's been awhile since they've played an adventure game. It's really fun. If you're willing to back a little further, Syberia is amazing and simply a must have.

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yakumo9275
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The biggest dislike I have

The biggest dislike I have of the Kings Quest series is that there is no true story behind it, its a handful of faerytales. Lets all hail Roberta as the greatest women in computer games because she can weave a couple of disconnected fairy tales together?

KQ3 was intersting. 1+2 and anything after 4 was dreck. Let me restate, 3 was good, every other entry in the series was dreck and unoriginal. I was always dissapointed they never did a conversion for the c64, as all the other home computers of the time had a conversion.

-- Stu --

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Bill Loguidice
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yakumo9275 wrote:

KQ3 was intersting. 1+2 and anything after 4 was dreck. Let me restate, 3 was good, every other entry in the series was dreck and unoriginal. I was always dissapointed they never did a conversion for the c64, as all the other home computers of the time had a conversion.

-- Stu --

Well, they stayed away from the 8-bits really by then outside of the Apple II and Color Computer 3. It was probably a memory issue and not wanting to deal with 64K (128K minimum, 512K preferred). I imagine if the Commodore 128 or Atari 130XE had taken off then they would have entertained the idea of ports to those platforms.



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Matt Barton
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Most KQ fans seem to prefer

Most KQ fans seem to prefer 4, "Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow." It's one of the few I've played all the way through, and outside a few irritants I enjoyed it. There are some really memorable puzzles and zones in that game; reminded me strongly of Disney's Alice in Wonderland.

I think what happened to a lot of the old developers is that they felt behind the times; they were used to leading the pack (Garriott, Roberta Williams, etc.) and then fell behind once 3D got big. They tried to up the ante, but they fell flat. IMO, they'd have been better enough sticking to what they were good at rather than trying to jump on the bandwagon. The innovators had become (desperate) imitators, and it didn't work out well for either.

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yakumo9275
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If Lucasarts could get Zak +

If Lucasarts could get Zak + Maniac Mansion working just fine on C64, then so too could have Sierra with KQ1.

Zak had same memory requirements as the DOS version (256kb), tho the booter required 128kb. They also made it for the sega master system which only had 8kb ram! I'm sure they could have written an interpreter for the c64.

-- Stu --

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Bill Loguidice
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Sierra = Just Business
yakumo9275 wrote:

If Lucasarts could get Zak + Maniac Mansion working just fine on C64, then so too could have Sierra with KQ1.

Zak had same memory requirements as the DOS version (256kb), tho the booter required 128kb. They also made it for the sega master system which only had 8kb ram! I'm sure they could have written an interpreter for the c64.

-- Stu --

Well, no one was saying it wasn't possible - hell, just about anything is possible - it's just a matter of having the will. I don't think Sierra had the will to go below 128K anymore and also to support increasingly second tier platforms. It's probably why PC came first, followed by Amiga, ST and Mac in the far distance, with the occasional bone thrown to the IIgs, II and CoCo3.



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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Rowdy Rob
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Quest For Glory II Fan Remake

By the way, for those interested, a freeware fan-made remake of "Quest For Glory II: Trial By Fire" was released last month. I just downloaded it, so I haven't tried it, but it looks like it faithfully follows the original in all important aspects, but introduces new (improved?) graphics, streamlined interface tweaks, and a few miscellaneous (but not game-changing) additions. Check it out at:

http://www.agdinteractive.com/

Kings Quest I & II also have freeware fan-made remakes, so those might be worth checking out too for the uninitiated (like myself).

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Chris Kennedy
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QFG2
Rowdy Rob wrote:

By the way, for those interested, a freeware fan-made remake of "Quest For Glory II: Trial By Fire" was released last month. I just downloaded it, so I haven't tried it, but it looks like it faithfully follows the original in all important aspects, but introduces new (improved?) graphics, streamlined interface tweaks, and a few miscellaneous (but not game-changing) additions.

I have recently been eying that page, myself. I haven't acquired the game yet. I am curious if you can import a legitimate "Sierra" save game from QFG1 into this fan made QFG2 as well as if you can export your character at the end of this QFG2 and import it into QFG3. I guess they have it in a FAQ somewhere on that site.

I have only played through QFG2 once (Fighter) - it would be interesting to play through the series again as a different class and use this game as the QFG2 bridge.

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