The King’s Quest Adventure, Part Two

We finished the first half of this series a while back, so now we enter the era of interfaces and no remakes of this beloved series.

Let’s get started.

King’s Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder

This is not a good game. I know I’m backtracking from my original statement, but it’s time to acknowledge what everybody else already knew.

It was my first KQ game (and possibly my first Sierra game), and I loved it, and because of that game I’ve played and bought all the others, delved into other series’ and had a great (and frustrating) time learning how to play DOS games in Windows.

But still, it’s not good.

But I get what happened; the Sierra team got some new graphics, adopted the new gameplay interface (a vast improvement from IV), got to use voice acting for the first time and they went nuts with all their shiny new toys, but neglected to craft a story with any depth.

The basic ideas here are solid: the evil villain from III, Mannannan, had a brother, Mordack, and Mordack was a bit angry that his brother is now a cat for all eternity. So Mordack shrinks King Graham’s castle down to bottle size (including all Graham’s family members) and kidnaps them in an attempt to get his brother back in human form, and Graham goes on a journey in a distant land to rescue his kingdom.

Good stuff, but there is no sense of urgency anywhere in the script. Graham doesn’t sound worried or angry about what’s happened; he just completes the same old puzzles he’s always had to do (and he gets to do them this time out with an annoying sidekick).

V really is all about transitions. The game fails in a lot of places, but it did set the groundwork for the good times ahead.

King’s Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow

This is the game I’ve been waiting for. Sure, I’ve played it before, I’ve recommended it and cursed and scowled at it, but I’ve never really gotten just how good this game is. The hype is true; this is the best of the series.

Picking up a bit later from the last game, Prince Alexander has been pining for Princess Cassima (who he met at the end of game five); he’s tried to find out where she lives, but he can find no mention of the Land of the Green Isles anywhere…until the magic mirror Graham found in the first game shows him how to get there.

But when a storm hits the ship he’s on, Alexander is alone in the strange new place, his lady love won’t see him, and his spidey sense keeps telling him that something very bad is going on around here.

He’s right, and Alexander spends the rest of the game working to heal the wounds caused by the evil Alhazrad and his genie pal. And like the previous games, the seemingly unconnected puzzles and gathering do make sense; everything you do comes together to make this moody and sad adventure something joyous…and hey, you’re even given the choice to make things Disney-levels of happiness if that’s what you want for your ending.

Because of all the troubles I had playing when I was younger, I couldn’t love this game then, but now I can say that I do. It’s an amazing experience (especially if you save your game at all the right places), and its ending is worth the struggles to get there.

Next time: We finish up with VII and VIII, as soon as I can figure out how to get the Queen skin to stop being green.