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Opinions of King's Quest I

Started by Sir Perceval of Daventry, September 30, 2011, 05:59:21 PM

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Sir Perceval of Daventry

Continuing my series of retrospective reviews and opinions on each KQ game, how do you feel about King's Quest : Quest for the Crown? It's the game which launched the series, launched the graphic adventure genre into the mainstream arguably, launched Sierra's career as a big time developer, and was a massive hit upon it's release. It was truly revolutionary for it's time upon release in 1983.
What are your opinions on it now, looking back? Opinions on story, art, music, etc, memories, reviews, anything.


Truth be told, I never liked KQ1 all that much.  I think the major reason was because my family never owned it.  I grew up on KQ2.  The first time I ever played KQ1 was when we finally got the King's Quest Collection which was 1-6.  So KQ1 missed the nostalgia train for me and was already eclipsed by what came next.

I understand that KQ1 created this whole genre.  That said, even though I respect that, there are still technical issues that bug me.  Some of the art is very primitive, even compared to KQ2.  The clovers spring to mind.  The parser interface needed tweaked a bit more.  It always drove me crazy, for example, that the game won't respond to the command "look."  You need to type "look around" or "look at room."  Daventry in general is largely empty and has always been difficult to navigate for me.  I know Kolyma, Tamir, any land you can name back and forward.  I've never been able to get a mental map of Daventry and I think that's because there's just too few points of interest in too much of an area.  One could argue it makes Daventry eerie and run down.  I would argue that's just a perception coming from the fact that you already like King's Quest and are invested in its universe.  In reality, I think the creators just didn't tighten up their delivery quite enough.  And speaking of the delivery, everything in KQ1 was fairly disjointed.  Yes, KQ2 was somewhat disjointed too, but they were making the attempt to tie things together a bit.  Grandma has a history with the count.  God knows what it is, but she does.  Hagatha wants the nightingale.  God knows why, but she does.  You stumble upon Neptune's trident, but at least it's on the beach.  Where it would have washed up.  KQ1 just has random things.  A bowl in the middle of the woods that is magic.  Creatures with magical treasures.  And the fact that you just take these treasures is a bit odd.  Edward wants the shield and chest and mirror and you're authorized to take them by any means necessary (even by killing their rightful owners.)  Yes, I know the lore eventually expanded by stating that the treasures were really stolen, but the original game didn't have that explanation.  You just took the treasures.  You were a pretty realistic medieval knight in that way.

My point is that KQ1 is a very primitive game.  Yes, I know it was supposed to be because it was the first of its kind.  And I can cut it slack because of this and say it's a classic.  But it's also not a game that I'll sit down and play unless I've decided to just play through the entire series.  And the remake was just unnecessary and I strongly disliked it, but you can refer back to the SCI vs. AGI topic for my opinion on that.


KQI isn't the best game in the series, but it did exactly a series starter should do -- and it did it perfectly: it gave us a not-too-complex story to introduce a world, a tone, a mood, and character all of which the whole rest of the series would build off of. Could not ask for it to be better.
"If your translation is correct, that was 'May a sleepy hippopotamus lie down on your house keys,' but you're not sure. Unfortunately, your fluency in griffin-speak is too low."

We're roleplaying in the King's Quest world: come join in the fun!


I don't play it really.  Groundbreaking game but it was before my time.
Deep Thoughts with Connor Mac Lyrr
"Alack! The heads do not die!"


I'll tell you - a lot of stuff was before my time.  Doesn't mean I don't love it and cherish it.  Books - hell, half my library of books were written before I was born.  Films - Many films I love were released before I was born.  I love Star Wars, that came out in 1977.  I was born in '78.   Music ?  Uh, yeah, just about everything I listen to comes from the 60's and 70's..... way before I was born.

You're doing yourself a disservice if you don't consider things that were "before your time".  Your time is what you make of it.

"You've got to keep one eye looking over your shoulder
you know it's going to get harder and harder as you
get older - but in the end you'll pack up, fly down south, hide your head in the sand.  Just another sad old man, all alone and dying of cancer." - Dogs, Pink Floyd.


The remake (Sierra's remake) is fantastic and I play it when I want to experience KQ1. The AGI original is just fairly ugly.

I wonder, an interesting project might be to beautify up the AGI backgrounds a little. That might be cool to experience. Say Gold Rush quality, instead of, well, KQ1AGI quality which is pretty awful.


Quote from: MusicallyInspired on October 21, 2011, 05:57:23 PM
I wonder, an interesting project might be to beautify up the AGI backgrounds a little. That might be cool to experience. Say Gold Rush quality, instead of, well, KQ1AGI quality which is pretty awful.

Yeah, AGI has the capacity to actually be quite beautiful.  KQ1 however, is not.  It's a pretty darn ugly game, even by AGI standards.  Imagine if KQ1 AGI looked like this:  ;)


Holy kick-awesome picture, Batman!

And yeah, I loved the remake.  I don't play it much, but it's definitely superior to the AGI version in every conceivable way.  To cite one example, the death scene for Edward is just laughable in the original version; it still didn't carry much weight in the subsequent SCI and fan-made VGA remakes, but in the AGI version, he pretty much writhes around whilst Graham jacks his crown and sits down in his throne, not even bothering to scrape him off the floor.  Not a very good first impression of Daventry's next king...

And if I recall correctly, in the SEGA version of the game, Edward never leaves his throne at all, he just says his last words and then dies while sitting upright.
I have no mouth, and I must scream.


I completely forgot about Edward's death!  That was hysterical.  And it's not just that Graham grabs the crown and has a seat while the body is right there.  Edward also has this bizarre, "I'm dead...wait, no, I'm, no I'm dead" thing going on when he falls over.  Even though the AGI graphics are primitive and ugly in some rooms, the programmers actually went overboard with that bizarre little death animation.  It's like the programmer had a choice between making clovers that didn't look like they were drawn by a child, or making sure Edward had a final death kick.  Clearly the priorities were with the latter.

Still, I'd rather play the original, flaws and all, to the Sierra remake.


It's okay to like the original more.  I grew up playing the SCI version and didn't actually play the AGI version until a couple of years ago.  Upon entering the first screen outside of castle Daventry, I pretty much thought, "Oh man...that landscape looks terrible..."

My previous experiences with Daventry in the SCI version was that it was already pretty nondescript, and the AGI version was even harder on the eyes.  I was so used to that dragon taking up the entire chamber, and when I reached that part in the AGI version, I had a bit of a "lol, wut?" moment when I realized that it was no bigger than an average bear, though probably smarter.  (Yes, I DID just make a Yogi Bear reference.)

That was one of my main gripes with KQ1: not enough of the screens served a purpose, other than being scenery.  As the games went on, there seemed to be fewer and fewer screens like this.  King's Quests VI and VII in particular are almost completely devoid of "scenery" screens.

My other main gripe was the then-too-primitive parser system.  As seen in Paw Dugan's retrospective of the game, there are several times where you just want to type in: "ENGLISH MOTHER****ER, DO YOU SPEAK IT?"  To which it will respond: "I don't understand ENGLISH"
I have no mouth, and I must scream.


Even KQ5 is void of scenery screens except for the occasional maze which doesn't really count. Every screen has a purpose whether there are characters to talk to or items to pick up.


KQ4 was also a major movement in that direction.  There's probably only one or two screens total that nothing happens in, near the coast.  Everywhere else has the potential for something to happen (the unicorn, minstrel, or ogre possibly showing up.)

I completely agree that Daventry was too empty.  There was just no need for it to be as big as they made it.  It's also, for some reason, the one King's Quest map that I can't keep mapped out in my head.  I can tell you exactly how to get around any other land.  But Daventry, I just can't keep it straight.  I will walk that stupid goat around forever until I figure out how to get to the bridge, or wander around far too long trying to find the flower bed to plant the beans.

Oh, and for the record, Paw's "ENGLISH MOTHERF&#*ER DO YOU SPEAK IT?" joke was hysterical.  I could not stop laughing.


To get to the bridge with the goat you just go left, up, left, and up again. But yeah, it's totally harder. Probably because it is infinite in all directions. In KQ2, KQ3, and KQ4 at least there were borders on the east and west sides.


People say KQ1 is ugly, but I happen to love the simple charm of it's graphics.  It's probably because I'm in love with it in it's time. 

You have to remember, at that time - graphics were mostly limited to static images and descriptions.  These were so colorful and charming - I remember the joy I felt as a kid, just being able to explore somewhere!

Hell, half the time I spent as a kid playing KQ1 wasn't about completing the game.  It was about getting lost in the environment..... just exploring.  Every screen didn't NEED to have a purpose, but it was all the most mysterious and awesome when it DID!

It was a simple time, I suppose.  Sometimes I think just being able to explore is one of the most fun things about adventure games.

"You've got to keep one eye looking over your shoulder
you know it's going to get harder and harder as you
get older - but in the end you'll pack up, fly down south, hide your head in the sand.  Just another sad old man, all alone and dying of cancer." - Dogs, Pink Floyd.


Yeah, it's good to remember that KQ1 is a product of its time.  Simplicity was where it was at back then.  When Pong first came out, it was limited to Arcade stores and people would line up for HOURS to play it, despite the fact that (a) they had to pay for it, and (b) they could lose within seconds.

Interestingly enough, I think that the main antagonist in each game is an accurate reflection of the game as a whole. 

KQ1 and 2 had Dahlia and Hagatha respectively--both pretty simplistic and one-dimensional, like the games themselves.  Manannan was a pretty impressive bad guy, appearing in the first game that had a legitimate plot.  Lolotte was also one of the better villains, and while she was a bit cheesy ("With Pandora's Box, I WILL BE UNSTOPPABLE!"), she was certainly more threatening than most.

Mordack was flashy, but didn't exactly have Oscar-worthy voice acting (a fairly accurate representation of KQ5 as a whole).  Alhazred was more complicated, kind of like an Iago-type character.  He didn't appear threatening, but he was constantly working misdeeds behind the scenes, which you only get little hints of until the end of the game.

At this point in time, games were beginning to get more complex, and I think this was one of the shortcomings for the 7th and 8th games.  KQ7 was fairly shallow, much like Malicia (who looks more like a cross-dresser than any evil sorceress I've ever seen).  Her motivations were pretty much entirely explained in a paragraph or two of dialogue at the end of the game.  Lucreto, meanwhile, doesn't seem to have any motivations at all.

And of course, Shadrack in TSL is dramatic and psychologically-oriented, just as the game itself is.

Okay, I'm done now.  You may proceed.
I have no mouth, and I must scream.

Nowhere Girl

For me the original version was just UGLY. "Poor graphics" would be too delicate. Actually late AGI games, the last games made with this engine - "Manhunter" miniseries, "Gold Rush" and the AGI version of "King's Quest 4" - already looked quite decent (in case of "Gold Rush" I didn't notice it was AGI at the first glance), but the earliest games really looked crappy. However, I like the SCI remake very much. I generally really enjoy good-quality EGA graphics, certainly more then 3D graphics (I'll have to see how I like TSL graphics, but when looking at most natural sceneries in 3D, I tend to think: "A world after a nuclear disaster..."). I guess I'm just old-fashioned when it comes to games...


did anyone here ever actually figured the Rumpelstiltskin puzzle by themselves?


Not I. :( I think that was a bit too "outside the box" for me.

Steve Abbott | Beta Tester | The Silver Lining


I heard of the puzzle long before I'd played the game, so I never had a chance. :P
I'm a princess even if my kingdom is pixelated.

Official Comfort Counselor of the TSL Asylum © ;D

It's funny how you find you enjoy your life when you're happy to be alive.


My first contact with KQ1 was as part of the KQ1-6 collection, so I was naturally drawn to 1 (the game that started it all) and 6 (the most recent and by my childish logic therefore "best" of all of them). Needless to say, my picky child-brain took one look at 6 and went "oooh, pretty", then took one look at 1 and went "ugh, is this broken or something?" I was also annoyed that I was punished on the very first screen: walking over a bridge should not be that difficult. XD

Now I'm able to appreciate it as a product of its time, and I'm particularly impressed at the fact that it has 3D graphics (ie. you can walk around stuff), is relatively open-ended (there are lots of hidden treasures and you can choose when to use your fairy-godmother protection, to an extent) and the fact it has three quests that you can complete in (I think) any order. Having said that, I totally agree with every gripe other people have levelled at it. I would like to add: being crushed a rock when you push it, that darn falcon jumping section and the fact that it doesn't pause when you're typing. (I know that last one wasn't fixed until KQ4 but it was a serious barrier for people who couldn't type fast, given how dangerous the game-world could be.)
Prince of the Aquitaine. Duke of York.

Knight errant and consort to Her Grace the Empress Deloria of the Holy Roman Empire, Queene of all Albion and Princess Palatine.