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.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Most games are about heroism; the protagonist rides into town, takes some damage, gets some goods and saves the day. Nothing wrong with this formula, but it’s always a treat to find a game that diverts, even slightly, from this linear approach.

“Majora’s Mask” really isn’t that different from the above scenario; the goal is to stop the moon from crashing into Clock Town and to save the town’s residents from certain doom (and to rescue a misguided imp from his own worst impulses), but the difference is in the little details.

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The King’s Quest Adventure, Part 1

Well, the nostalgia train continues here at Film Cannon. This time, I’m staying in the Sierra games family, but switching to the kiddie games with The King’s Quest series.

I don’t remember what my first Sierra On-Line game was; the memory’s gotten a bit foggy over the years, but it was most likely “King’s Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder,” which to this day is my favorite of the series (even if I recognize that it’s not a *great* game).

But getting that one game was enough to turn me on to the loveable (not to mention frustrating) world of Sierra games. From there, I played every “Gabriel Knight,” sampled the “Quest for Glory” series, and even convinced my mother to buy me all seven “King’s Quest” games (I got the eighth one later on).

Now, I have played a lot of these games, but it’s been a long time since I delved into this childhood love of mine, mainly because these games are a lot of fun, but they are also unbelievably frustrating (especially if you play the versions that require typing…shudder).

But it’s summertime, and it’s just miserable weather, so what better time to turn on the air conditioning and see just what was behind all the glory.

Let’s get to it.

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The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery

One of my biggest pop culture fears is that something I cherished when I was younger will not hold up as an adult (which is why I will not rewatch “Punky Brewster” or “Rescue Rangers”). Some heartaches are better avoided.

But then again, sometimes the call of nostalgia is so strong it will not be denied, so I found myself playing (and tweeting about) my favorite computer game from my younger days, “The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery,” or simply Gabriel Knight 2.

I’ve had this game for a long time, I’ve played it a lot over the years, but this is my first play through since leaving college, and it’s still as amazing as I remember. Truthfully, it’s even better.

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Mass Effect 3

I bought my Xbox so I could play “Mass Effect.”

I lusted after that system and saved up my change for a year to be able to finally buy myself one, and “Mass Effect” was the first game I bought.

It took me a bit to get used to the controls (I’m more used to fighting with swords, not guns), but when I finally finished the first game a few months after getting it, I bought “Mass Effect 2″ that very same night.


(spoilers on the jump)

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Stuff I Like…or what I’ve been doing in the months I’ve been away.

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. A lot of the reason is that I really haven’t been watching movies lately; I’ve mostly been geeking out on books, comics, games, TV and all manner of things that have only served to keep me away from my neglected blog.

But no need to dwell on the past. Here’s some snippets of things I’ve discovered in the past months.

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Spider-man Season Three

Aside

This season was quite the ride. Now I love me some “Spider-man,” but this is the season where things start moving from good to great.

The season starts off with both Peter Parker and Spider-man on the hunt for the missing Mary Jane, who has been sucked into a cult. In a cunning (and realistic move), this cult leader thrives on lonely folks who have lost someone and uses that pain to keep them under control.

Here begins “Sins of the Fathers” arc, the first of 14 episodes all about dear old dad and how he messed up and/or helped his kids during their formative years.

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X:Men Season One

As you already know, I’ve started
rewatching “Spider-man,” but in between those reviews, I’ve also
decided to go ahead and write about its sister series “X:Men.” I
was a huge fan of this cartoon when I was younger, so much so that
when I got my first job, a large portion of my paycheck went toward
buying comic books just so I could revisit a series I never got to
see end.

From what I remember, the show placed a
lot of emphasis on the characters and the relationships, not all of
them romantic. Here was a kids’ show that was willing to stretch the
definition of a kids’ show and tell some more adult stories without
pandering to their young audience.

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“Spider-man” Season Two

Last time I was here talking about
“Spider-man,” I made the claim that while the standalone episodes
can be good, the show works better in the season-long arcs.

And now I get the chance to defend my
claim as we dive into the second season, “Neogenic Nightmare.”

Spider-man has recovered nicely from
his season one adventures, but all is not well in Spidey land. On a
typical patrol, he loses his spider powers. After a trip to visit his
old scientist pal Doctor Connors, Spidey discovers that he’s still
mutating, and that when the mutations stop, he won’t be human any
longer.

That would be bad enough, but Spidey
also has to deal with Kingpin massing a small army of super-villains,
all intent on killing our hero; the return of the Hobgoblin (when
will people learn to just pay that guy???); the arrival of the
Punisher and Blade, two supposed heroes intent on murdering
Spider-man; and probably most importantly, Mary Jane dumps Peter
after he blows her off one to many times.

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A look back at “Spider-man”

When I was a kid, I could have easily
and with no hesitation told you what my favorite cartoon was -
“X-Men.” I wasn’t always as good at catching the
episodes (it was a lot harder in the pre-Internet dark ages), but to
my 12-year-old self, there was no better TV than “The Phoenix Saga”
(although that really does hold up).

I was such an “X-Men” nut that when
they were going to appear on “Spider-man,” I gleefully made the
time to check out that other Marvel kids show. Lucky for me, I kept
watching that show about a wall-crawling wisecracker.

After a while, I had to admit that
while my heart will always be with the “X-Men,” “Spider-man”
was the better show. And now that they are both on Instant Watch,
it’s time to look back at both these kiddie shows that left a lasting
impression on this young geek.

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