The original version of the game follows the adventures of Sir Grahame, who is called by King Edward to seek out three legendary treasures hidden throughout the land of Daventry. If he succeeds in finding all three treasures, Edward has promised to make Grahame king of the land.
In later versions of the game, Grahame's name was changed to Graham. Also, starting with the 4th release, the back story of Daventry's trouble was expanded on, giving players much more story.
The game utilized an AGI (Adventure Game Interpreter) engine, which utilized typed commands via the keyboard to interact with the game. This would become the heart and soul for several of the iconic Sierra games of this era with its impressive, but limited color graphics. In 1990 the graphics of the game were given an update to SCI (Sierra Creative Interpreter) which allowed for 16 colors.
Because the PCjr from IBM was a commercial flop, King's Quest didn't take off as Sierra had hoped. Fortunately for the company Tandy Corporation released the Tandy 1000 later that same year, which allowed for IBM PC compatible games to be easily converted. With this, King's Quest quickly became one of the most popular games for its time, selling more than half a million copies. It was from this point on that Sierra changed its focus, and developed primarily for the PC platform.
King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne was released in 1985. It utilized the same AGI engine as the first game, and continued the adventures of (the now) King Graham.
The magic mirror (which you obtain in the first game) shows Graham a beautiful woman who is being held captive by the evil Hagatha the Witch. Graham is teleported to the world of Kolyma where he faces the challenges of finding three keys that will unlock the doors to the ivory tower in which she is being held.
A fun fact about the game is that the music and hint book were both done by Al Lowe, the creator of the future Sierra hit, Leisure Suit Larry.
Romancing the Throne was scheduled for a reboot in 1990 using the new SCI graphics, but due to the poor sales of Quest for the Crown, the project was cancelled.
In 1988, Kings Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella (twin sister of Gwdion) begins where the events of To Heir is Human ends. King Graham has suffered a heart attack. His daughter, Rosella, is contacted by the good fairy Genesta who teleports her to the land of Tamir where she hopes to find a magical fruit that can heal her father.
Along with needing to find the magical fruit, Rosella must also help Genesta get her magic talisman from the evil fairy Lolotte before she can be returned to Daventry, and help her father.
An interesting twist to the game is that there are two possible endings. You can actually complete the game without finding the magical fruit, which leads to a very tragic ending, or you can complete all tasks, and return to save Graham.
Another unique twist is that there is a day and night sequence. Only specific tasks can take place during the day, and likewise, only specific tasks can be done at night. The game takes place in real time, and must be completed over a twenty-four hour period.
The game was initially released in AGI, and later in SCI0. This was because the SCI technology was rather new, and Sierra wasn't sure of the reliability of the engine. KQIV is also one of the first PC games to support a sound card.
The game once again puts the player in the role of King Graham who is away from his castle when it is lifted to the sky by Mordack, brother of the evil wizard Manannan from King's Quest III.
The act is witnessed by Cedric, who brings Graham to the land of Serenia. The entire story revolves around Graham trying to rescue his family, and returning his castle to the land of Daventry.
King's Quest V was later ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System, but several alteration had to be made in order to meet with Nintendo's family friendly guidelines. Much of the violence had to be toned down as well as all of the religious and sexual themes. An Atari ST version was scheduled for release, but cancelled shortly after the initial announcement.
King's Quest IV: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, which was released in 1992 is critically acclaimed as the high point for the King's Quest franchise. It was released with SCI1.1 graphics, and included full voice over acting for Prince Alexander by Robby Benson (Beast from Disney's Beauty and the Beast). It was the last King's Quest game to be released on floppy discs. A CD ROM version of the game was released in 1993 which included even more voice over acting.
The game opens showing Prince Alexander haunted by his memories of Princess Cassmia who he met at the end of King's Quest V. The game takes him to several islands such as the Isle of the Crowns, the Isle of Wonder, the Isle of the Sacred Mountain, the Isle of the Beast, and several more hidden locations. The game focuses around Alexander freeing Cassima from the evil vizier.
A significant aspect to the game is its multiple endings. There is also an option part way through the game to pursue the short route or long route. Depending on your choices determines the outcome.
The game puts you in control of Queen Valanice as she desperately searches for her daughter Rosella in the land of Eldritch. As the game progresses, you learn that the entire land is in danger of the evil sorceress Malicia. An interesting aspect to the game is that it makes no reference to King Graham unless you have version 1.4 of the game.
A new feature to the series was the ability for certain section to pan from one side to the other as opposed to older entries that had the ability to only pan entire screens. The game also featured multiple endings - a good, and a bad one.
The game was met with mixed reviews. Several fans criticized it for its cartoony look, and also being too easy. The game did away with its complex gaming style from prior entries, and focused more on simply clicking "hot spots" on the screen. This did away with the majority of challenges that prior installments offered. Many felt that it was more like watching a cartoon as opposed to playing a game.
King's Quest: Mask of Eternity was the last official game in the series from Sierra. It was released in 1998, and faced several challenges from the starting gate. The biggest problem was that while creator Roberta Williams was hard at work on the game, several of her managers felt that the game in progress wasn't very conservative. They handed the project over to another group of game designers who quickly went to work on taking the story in a different direction, dropping most of the violence and religious aspects. When that concept was cancelled, Williams reasserted her control, and quickly went back to work on finishing the game. Despite this, the game was critically met with great reviews, specifically for the newly added RPG elements.
The game opens in Castle Daventry from the perspective of King Graham, but quickly changes to that of the new hero, Connor of Daventry - A peasant and knight. The mask of eternity is destroyed by the evil hands of Lecerto, turning the majority of Daventry's people to stone, including King Graham. Connor must restore the mask in order to restore Daventry to its former state.
With varying difficulties in combat (easy, normal, hard), this offered an opportunity for new players to accustom themselves with the fighting aspect, and presented a challenge to veterans at the same time. This added replay value to those who were interested in the challenge of combating enemies on various difficulties.
Though a ninth King's Quest was announce, it was cancelled shortly after, and never put into production. Only two renders of playable characters were ever leaked to the public. Since then, fans have released their own versions of the original games as well as several retellings of the series. See the last section of this post for further details on some of those versions.
While we're fans of the King's Quest series, the series we're much more fond of is Mark Crowe and Scott Murphey's (also known as The Two Guys from Andromeda) Space Quest series which follows bumbling janitor/hero of the galaxy Roger Wilco. From the start, the two knew they wanted to create a series that parodied such sci-fi classics as Star Wars and Star Trek, and also pop culture in general. Wilco, who is consistently considered a loser among his fellow fleet members often times finds himself in the position of saving the galaxy - rather by accident of course, only to find himself being reprimanded for violating minor Starfleet regulations, or simply being ignored completely.
Roger is found adrift in space by a garbage hauler which takes the ship in. When the ship is brought in, the life support systems wake Roger from his sleep status.
Crowe and Murphy introduce themselves to the series playing the Two Guys from Andromeda, who are discovered by Wilco when getting the high score in the arcade game Astro Chicken, which can be played at Monolith Burger. He then sets out for Pestulon, a small moon of the volcanic planet Ortega to infiltrate the ScumSoft offices in an attempt to rescue the captive duo.
The Astro Chicken game can be a lot of fun to play it's not required to complete the game. The controls can be rather annoying to several gamers as it plays much like the original arcade game Lunar Lander. The objective is to land your chickens on a trampoline without being propelled back into the air. This has to be done multiple times in order to obtain the high score on the machine, and see the hidden message. Each game also costs a Buckazoid, the money system in the game, which is limited. Saving and restoring often is recommended for those attempting to complete this sequence of the game.
Another fun tidbit of the game is that the soundtrack was composed by Supertramp drummer Bob Seibenberg (and all the kids say, "Who?").
A floppy disk version of Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers was initially released in 1991, but quickly followed up with a CD ROM version in 1992. The CD ROM version was far superior to the original floppy disk version as it now included full speech support, with narration by Laugh-In announcer Gary Owens. The game was one of the most expensive games at the time created by Sierra, costing over one million dollars. This paid off in the end as the game sold more than its predecessors combined.
The game was the first Space Quest (with the exception of the remake for The Sarian Encounter) to utilize point and clicking, and do away with the keyboard. The taste and smell icons were not used to complete any sections of the game, but instead were added as humor fodder for the narrator.
Several Easter Eggs are included in the game which allow Roger to travel to some of the planets from prior installments, though there is little to no interaction allowed. Attempting to leave the time capsule in some of these areas can even result in death.
In this installment, Roger is chased through time by a virtual form of Sludge Vohaul who is attempting to kill him once and for all. The chase takes Roger back to several prior installments from the series, as well as a hypothetical Space Quest X: Latex Babes of Estros. While visiting a mall in this future world, Roger can also enjoy the arcade game Ms. Astro Chicken, a sequel of sorts to Astro Chicken, and a clear nod at the Ms. Pac Man franchise.
Its interesting to note that none of the gameplay actually takes place in Space Quest IV, but rather the other various "games" that you time travel to. This is denoted by the name being displayed at the top of the screen in a white bar with your score.
SQ6 was created using the new SCI12 - often referred to as the SCI32, which meant it incorporated 32 bit graphics into the game. This allowed it to use Super VGA graphics with 256 colors, and a 640X480 resolution. An interesting aspect is while Space Quest V was developed by Mark Crowe, this sixth was developed by his counterpart, Scott Murphy. Also worth noting is that the game didn't use a roman numeral such as the prior installments did, but rather just went with a standard number "6".
This final installment in the Space Quest series finds Roger court marshaled, and stripped of his Captain status, demoted all the way back down to the position of Second Class janitor, and stationed on the SCS DeepShip 86. Later in the game the entire crew is awarded with shore leave for a job well done, it is at this point that it is revealed that a very old woman, Sharpei is plotting the demise of Wilco.
The story never really seems to come together, nor does any of the character's motives. It feels thrown together, and isn't a very satisfying conclusion to the series. The latter is probably because the end ensures players that Roger will take his next mission soon, which to date has not happened.
Sierra attempted to revive the Space Quest series several times during 1997, and even announced Space Quest VII: The Return to Roman Numerals. A trailer for the game was included in the Space Quest Collection which included all six games. A final attempt was made in 1999 to revive the series, but was unfortunately turned down by management. Little is known with regards to what the game would have been about.
In 2002 Escape Factory began work on a new Space Quest series that was intended for the Microsoft Xbox. The project was cancelled in 2003. This may have been a good thing as it was rumored that while Wilco would be a playable character that the story would actually revolve around a new character, and depart completely from prior Space Quest games.
LEISURE SUIT LARRY
For as much as we love Space Quest, we love Al Lowe's Leisure Suit Larry even more! The series follows clueless Larry Laffer as he searches for a true love...And a little extra nookie on the side. Despite everyone around him knowing, Laffer just doesn't seem to realize that he's a 40 some year old balding, dorky loser. It is a true underdog story. The series stands out in the Sierra catalog as being the only games they produced with strong sexual themes.
What's funny to note is that while the game was all but condemned by activist groups for its raunchy satire and sexual themes, the series doesn't actual reveal anything worth blushing about - Especially not by today's standards. If the video game rating system existed in the 80's, Larry would have easily been slapped with an "M" or even the very rare "A" rating. Today, it would probably be rated "T".
Speaking of Al Lowe, he has been quoted as saying that Sierra unknowingly created share ware with their games. When asked how he knows this, he responds with, "Because we sold more hint books than we did copies of games." Because the majority of the older Sierra games didn't rely on codes or other forms of inputs to enter into the actual game, people were making copies of the disks, and handing them out to just about everyone they knew. It's because of this that later Sierra titles required the manual, and relied heavily on answering a specific question from a specific page to gain access. The questions were random, and very seldom would you get asked the same one twice.
Since his final Sierra days, Larry has seen new life on the original Xbox (Magna Cum Laude), as well as the Xbox 360 (Box Office Bust). Unfortunately the games themselves haven't lived up to the success of the original adventures of the old leisure suit wearing loser. In fact, they've been considered some of the worst games out there.
We were never big fans of Jim Wall's Police Quest series, but even so, they're is no denying that the series hit it big with fans. While the play mechanics were the same as your average Sierra adventure game (for the first four games anyway), what set Police Quest aside was the in depth nature it took player into the role of an actual police officer. When pulling suspects over, or booking them in prison, you had to refer to the manual for the specific arrest or ticket code. Input the wrong one, and you fail at making your arrest or accessing a ticket.
In Pursuit of the Death Angle was released in 1987 utilizing Sierra's already established AGI engine. The game spawned two direct sequels, and in 1992 was updated using the SCI engine for a much cleaner gamer which replaced the typed command with point and click options.
The game lacked in your traditional sense of Sierra style puzzles, and actually fell under a lot of criticism for depicting police work as dry and boring. It was also rather difficult for many players because the game demanded that you adhere to standard rules and procedures of actual police officers. A perfect example of this is when booking prisoners you must first store your firearm in a gun locker. Failure to do so will result in the criminal taking your weapon from you and killing you.
The game takes place of the course of several days, and for the most part has you issuing traffic tickets, taking police reports, and other fairly bland play elements. All of this of course leads to the eventual promotion of Officer Sonny Bonds to Detective, where he is put on his first undercover case to take down the Death Angel - A drug dealer named Jessie Bains.
The game was boasted as one of the most realistic games produced by Sierra in the late 80's, but unfortunately was also dubbed the least enjoyable by casual adventure game players.
Still, the game was popular enough to spawn a second game in 1988 entitled The Vengeance. Utilizing the new SCI0 engine, the game was far more enjoyable, and much better visually than the prior installment. Though you still typed your commands in, the SCI0 engine brought up the white box which froze the game, allowing players all the time they needed to actually think through scenarios.
Bond's has once again been promoted, this time to the homicide division. His career is well on track, as is his personal life as he starts dating Marie Wilkins who helped him in tracking down the Death Angel from the first game in exchange for the dismissal of prostitution charges. Unfortunately his life is quickly turned upside down when Bains escapes prison while in route via a patrol car to a retrial hearing. Vowing vengeance on Bonds, Bains kidnaps Maria.
Though the game ends in a shootout, depending on who shot first will depend on which one of the two possible endings you will get. If Bains shoots first the jury will determine that Bonds acted in self defense. If Sonny shoots first he is repromanded for violating the law, and acting in a reckless manner.
The game was widely received by critics who consider it to be the highlight of the series. It combined just the right amount of puzzles, humor, and what many consider to be an excellent story.
Police Quest 3: The Kindred was released in 1991 utilizing the newly updated point and click version of the SCI engine. One of the aspects which was addressed in this release was the horrible driving aspects from the first installment. The Kindred updated these elements, which simplified and streamlined it.
The game also implemented a copy right protection by way of requiring the player to input a five diget code from the manual when booking arrested suspects. As mention above, Al Lowe had stated that Sierra unintentionally created shareware by making it so that their disks could be copied and handed out. Sierra began utilizing the manuals to help stop this. Games would require players to either input codes such as in The Kindred, or reference specific words or symbols at the start of the game just to be able to play.
Sonny is moving through the ranks quickly at the Lytton Police Department. He's now a Sergeant. The town has also expanded itself into a full-fledged city. With the increase in size, so too has increased the crime rate.
Marie and Sonny are now married, but their happiness is short lived. Micahel Bains, the brother of Jessie Bains - AKA the Death Angel, wants revenge on Bonds for killing his brother. If that weren't bad enough, he also has to deal with a cult group that has risen, and a corrupt partner at his side.
Though the game was critically acclaimed for its graphics and realism, fans and critics really disliked the game as a whole. It received poor reviews at best, and was faulted for its excessive load times when changing screens.
An interesting tidbit is that prior to the game's release, Jim Walls left Sierra. To date those reasons are unknown by the general public, and probably contributed a lot to the failure of the game.
The series was revisited in 1993 under the watchful eye of Daryl F. Gates. Rather than continue the story of Sonny Bonds, Gates introduced officer John Carey as the leading role. The series also doesn't include the number "4" anywhere on the box or in the game. This helped distinguish it as a new series, while at the same time was inviting to fans of prior Police Quest games. The game was simply titled, Police Quest: Open Season.
The game featured several more changes from prior games. For instance, the story was moved from Lytton, and instead took place in a real world Los Angeles. The majority of screens used were comprised of actual photographs of the Los Angeles area. The game also featured voice over narration on the CD ROM version, which replaced the text based narration from the floppy disk version.
The games gritty realism greatly depicts the gory life of a homicide detective. This in turn made some scenarios down-right gruesome to investigate. A perfect example of this is the body of an eight year old boy found in a dumpster at the start of the game.
The story involves Carey tracking down a mass murderer, which takes elements from several books, such as Silence of the Lambs. As a whole the story pays off well, but is very difficult to complete due to the in depth police procedures that must be followed to pass the majority of scenarios.
Two nods to Jim Wall's trilogy can be found in the game. The first is that the name of the police server is called, "SONNY". The second is only in the CD ROM version of the game. In the Short Stop Bar the two arcade machines have high scores held by Sonny Bonds.
Because it doesn't technically fall into the genre of adventure gaming - though some elements do exist, we've included this here as more of a nod of acknowledgement that the Police Quest series did technically continue after the forth installment, Open Season. The game was also still developed by Open Season's Daryl F. Gates. It would be his last Police Quest entry.
Game designer Susan Frischer produced a second SWAT game which was released under the Police Quest banner in 1998. Rather than repeat its mistakes from the first SWAT installment, the second favored a more real time strategy play style, which completely removed it from the genre of adventure gaming. Though the series would spawn two more sequels, the Police Quest banner was removed completely for these 3rd and 4th installments, officially making SWAT its own series.
To date there have been no new Police Quest games. Because the series went on to become SWAT, there were also no titles in the works that were cancelled.
So, you want to be hero? Then join the hero's quest! We really enjoyed the first Hero's Qust game (which would later become Quest for Glory), and sadly never got the chance to play the remaining installments until just recently. Despite their age, they still stand as true classics in adventure gaming.
You'll find classic Sierra humor from start to finish in this game, all while utilizing the all too familiar point and click aspects of the 1990's Sierra style. If you enjoyed any of the titles above, and if you (hopefully) still do, then this is one title to not miss!
Over the years the games have been collected into volumes, and re-released for the various Windows operating systems. Unfortunately, it is frequently reported that certain areas of some of the games are riddled with bugs due to not being able to run properly on high end systems. One of the biggest complaints is that due to the increased speed for the game some of the puzzles are rendered un-passable.
In addition, several remakes of some of the titles have been produced over the years by various other game developers. Some of the more notable ones are AGD Interactive's King's Quest I, II and III, as well as their remake of Quest for Glory II: Trial By Fire. They are available to download for free "HERE".
Infamous Adventures produced a remake of Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge which can be downloaded for free "HERE".
Finally, the entire Leisure Suit Larry series is coming to PC's everywhere starting with a complete overhaul of the first game, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards from Replay Games who acquired the rights in 2012. Legendary game designer and creator Al Lowe has been personally involved in the series in an effort to ensure the best possible game. Although the Kickstarter pledge has ceased, the company is still offering gamers the opportunity to purchase the game by clicking "HERE". Sorry, this one's not free.
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