Kings Quest I - Quest for the Crown

Title             Kings Quest I - Quest for the Crown
Genre             Adventure
Company           Sierra
Players           1
HD Installable    Yes, see the end of this review
Compatibillity    All(?)
Submission        Joachim Froholt Profiled Reviewer

Review (based on the Original AGI version of Kings Quest)
In 1983, a group from IBM approached Sierra and told them that they were
coming out with a new computer, the PCjr. To help launch this computer
into the market, they needed a great new game which would show what this
amazing system was able to do. They told Sierra that they would fund the
development of this game as well as feature it in their tv-adverts. As
Sierra was in deep financial trouble at the time, they were very excited
with IBM's proposal, and accepted it. A year later, Kings Quest was
finished. It was immediately the industry's hottest game - with ground
breaking graphics and gameplay. Instead of being limited to still
pictures, this game featured a character you could control with the
joystick as he walked around in the animated game world (He could even
walk BEHIND objects!!). No adventure gamer had ever experienced anything
like this before.

The Kings Quest I story goes like this: The kingdom of Daventry was once
rich and prosperous. This was because they had three great treasures: A
magic Chest filled with an endless supply of gold, a magic Mirror that had
the power to show the future, and a Shield which made it's bearer and his
army invincible. But these items were lost and Daventry grew poor and
weak. Fearing that the country would fall into even greater disorder when
he died, the old and weak King Edward sent for his favourite Knight, Sir
Graham. He told him that if he could retrieve the three magic treasures,
he would inherit the throne.

You play the role of Sir Graham as he explores the kingdom of Daventry in
search of the three treasures. You can control him using a joystick or the
cursor keys. When you want him to do something, you will have to type it.
If, for instance, you want him to climb a tree, you must move him close up
to the tree and type CLIMB TREE. Unfortunately, the game doesn't pause
when you start typing a command, so you sometimes have to type very
quickly and avoid spelling mistakes at all costs or it's game over time.
This feels unfair.

The commands you use to control Sir Graham are very simple, usually two
words (VERB, followed by OBJECT) will be enough. This is probably due to
memory restrictions on the PCjr which had a whopping 265 kb Ram. While the
simple parser is, in itself, no problem, Kings Quest recognizes too few
words. This mean that you'll often have to search for synonymous words
when the game doesn't understand you (which happens often). This can be
really annoying, especially if English isn't your native language.

As this is an adventure, there are plenty of puzzles. They are usually
very simple (again, probably due to memory restrictions) - use the right
object at the right location and get another object in return. The
majority of the puzzles are actually pretty easy, but some are insanely
difficult, and rely on chance encounters or dubious logic. Some times,
important objects are also hidden well among what seems to be unimportant
scenery. Some of the puzzles have been inspired from various fairy tales
and folk stories, and if you don't know many of these you'll probably have
great difficulties getting anywhere in Kings Quest. The situation is not
made better by the very generic "You can't do that, or at least not for
now" response which you're given when you do something wrong - no hints at
all about whether you're on the right track or not.

A good thing about the puzzles is that there is often more than one
solution. Every time you solve a puzzle or get an important object, you
receive points, so you can immediately see if you've done something wrong
if these points go down. Also, if you get few points for solving a puzzle,
chances are that there is another, more clever, way of solving this
puzzle. There are also some optional puzzles which means that it is
possible to finish the game without visiting all the locations.

Unlike many (non-Sierra) adventure games, the player character can (and
will) actually die in Kings Quest. There are countless of occasions where
the wrong command or a step in the wrong direction will kill your
character. While it is true that this adds a certain tension to the
gameplaying experience, it has to be said that all it does in this game is
to make it frustrating and extremely annoying in the long run. Players
with low amount of patience should steer well clear of the early games in
the Kings Quest series. The general rule of thumb is to save often and not
overwrite older saves immediately (because it is possible to reach dead
ends if you do things in the wrong order - while this is a very nasty
design flaw, it's not as bad as it could have been, because you will
probably understand that you're headed the wrong way fairly quickly).

The game world isn't very believable. The kingdom of Daventry is very
small and there are few characters to interact with. Besides, character
interaction is far too simple, and communicating with the other
inhabitants of Daventry can be a very difficult task. It doesn't seem as
if Sierra put much thought into where they placed the various important
locations and objects, as they are scattered around Daventry in a very
unconvincing manner. A final major flaw is that there are no barriers
where the game world ends. When you go north or west enough times, you
will eventually arrive at your starting point. Apparently, the kingdom of
Daventry is located on it's own little doughnut shaped planet... strange.

As I said before, Kings Quest was originally created for the PCjr.
Unfortunately, the Amiga version is practically identical to the PC
version, and the graphics stink even by A500 standards. While the game
animates smoothly, the resolution is terribly low (160x200) and there are
only 16 colours on the screen. But the graphics do their job, and some of
the scenes even look fairly decent, especially when you take the
limitations of the engine into consideration. The less said about the
sound, however, the better.

Kings Quest is a landmark in the history of computer gaming and it stands
out as one of the most important releases ever. But compared to other
adventure games, there is nothing really great about Kings Quest. Story
and character interaction is virtually non-existent, and the game feels
like one big treasure hunt. Thanks to this and Roberta Williams' strange
desire to kill the player at every possible location, Kings Quest remains
today a very average adventure game. If you're not interested in the
historical value of the game, then there's no real reason to obtain it,
though it has to be said that it can be an enjoyable little game to play
through on a particularily rainy night with a walkthrough at hand.

*About HD Installation*
Sierra shipped this game with a really painful copy protection. On the KQ
disk you'll find a file with a read/write error. This can't be copied, and
KQ needs it to run. Luckily, a patch can take care of this. You can
download it from the Aminet: Note that you
still have to copy to HD manually.

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