Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Game 42: King's Quest Remake - Tidying Up the Memories

Sir Graham Journal Entry 1: "The King of Daventry has given me a quest! I must find three magical treasures that were lost many years ago, and then return them to him. If I can manage this feat, then the Kingdom of Daventry will be bestowed upon me! I have therefore set out across the land, looking for any clue that might lead to the magic mirror, the magical shield, or the enchanted chest. During this journey I have been accosted by various nightmarish beings, including an evil sorcerer, a vicious wolf, a nasty witch, and a monstrous dragon! The last of these creatures sure looked fearsome, but I do believe it was the magic mirror that was resting by its side. If only I could find some way to defeat it and bring the first treasure into my possession!"

Where's my sword!? Can someone fetch my sword!

This isn’t going to take long. I figured I would treat the King’s Quest remake as though it were a completely new game, but now that I’ve ripped through three quarters of it in just over an hour, I’m convinced it will be done in three gameplay posts and one final rating post. That’s not to say that I haven’t had to think at all while playing…but more on that soon enough. Let’s begin! As you would expect, this version of the game starts off pretty much the same way the original did. It’s immediately apparent that the graphics and sound have been vastly improved, and the intro dialogue has also been expanded upon. As Sir Graham (that’s me) kneeled at the throne, King Edward had the following to say (slightly summarised): “I am an old man, Sir Graham. My bones ache, my hands tremble. I’m afraid my time on Earth grows short. Great misfortunes have befallen Daventry since the loss, years ago, of three magical treasures. I have chosen you, the finest knight in all of Daventry, to search for these lost treasures. Only then can this kingdom be restored to its former glory. And only then may I rest with the knowledge that my people are safe. The first treasure is a magic mirror that foretells the future. The second is a magical shield that protects the bearer from all mortal harm. The third and last is an enchanted chest that is forever filled with gold. If you succeed, you will inherit my crown, and will rule the Realm of Daventry as her rightful King. Go, Sir Graham, and know that the fate of Daventry lies in your hands.”

I don't suppose it told you where it would be hidden before it was lost?

How does one just lose items like these?

Um...yeah...sure...I'll return the chest as soon as I find it. Promise!

With that I was free to explore Daventry and attempt to find the three treasures. One thing I always enjoyed about old King’s Quest games was the initial exploration. The open environments meant that I could stroll through the entire game world, mapping it out with items found, dangers faced, and puzzles to be solved. Despite remembering where a lot of stuff was, I decided to take the same approach this time around, opening up an Excel spreadsheet and setting off to the west away from the castle before turning south. For those of you that have never played one of these early games, the environment loops eternally, meaning if you keep walking in the same direction you will eventually reappear where you started. On the way to the wilderness, I checked out the interface to see how things differed in the remake. The main difference was that I could now right click on items on the screen to get a description. This would be handy for those items that are difficult to put a label to, but given my previous experience, I didn’t expect it to be of much benefit to me. On entering a forest clearing, I typed “look” and pressed enter. Just as I expected, I was given a brief description: “You’re in a shady forest clearing. A large rock rests in the middle of the clearing.” I recalled there being something interesting hidden beneath a rock somewhere in the game, so set about investigating it. Typing “look at rock” resulted in “You see nothing special, Sir Graham.” Hmmm…perhaps this wasn’t the rock?

The crocodiles have been upgraded to "scaly, slimy serpents".

We're almost on a bridge Charlie!

Ahem...I believe there are two large rocks...right...here!

Looking under the rock didn’t work either, so I put “Large Rock” on my map and walked away to the south. On the next screen I was set upon by an unfriendly sorcerer! Looking at him revealed that he wanted to try out a paralyze spell on me. Often in the original game, leaving the screen and then coming back would make the various villains disappear, so I tried doing exactly that. It worked, allowing me to wander through the otherwise empty screen and onwards to the next. The sorcerer returned on that screen, and was replaced by an ogre when I tried the “leave and come back” approach. I repeated the process several times, and was confronted by the sorcerer, the ogre, and a thieving dwarf on every occasion. I remembered the dwarf being a particular pain, as coming into contact with him results in random items disappearing from your inventory forever. Eventually I managed to get through the screen unscathed, and soon found myself standing near a large walnut tree. I picked up, and then opened, one of the walnuts (which turned out to be filled with gold), and received my first points (3 points for picking it up and 3 points for opening it). The next screen to the south contained a large door built into the mountainside, but since I specifically recalled coming out of that door at some point in the game, I left it alone and moved on.

Run away! Run away!

Sir Graham was especially famous for his gold nuts.

Just dropping in to see my good old friend Bilbo. Perhaps he'll let me borrow that nifty mithril armour!

The final screen I visited before things looped back on themselves contained an enormous oak tree. I climbed it (2 points), made my way along the branch to a nest situated at it's extremity, and then picked up a golden egg that was lying there (6 points). When I say that I “made my way along the branch”, I should point out that it was a little bit challenging to manoeuvre Graham all the way along without falling off. It was already clear that the new development team had decided to leave the tricky movement sections in place, despite how frustrating players found them the first time. The tree branch would be far from the worst example! As mentioned earlier, when I left the large tree screen to continue south, I found myself back at the forest section with the large rock. I therefore went one screen west with the intention of covering the game world in a zigzag fashion (go south as far as possible, then west one screen, then south as far as possible, then west one screen etc.). The screen I was on now held a little beach with a bunch of pebbles in the sand. I picked up some of the pebbles (1 point), and then departed. I passed through a screen containing the rear end of a cottage, knowing my exploration pattern would eventually bring me to the entrance. Typing "look" on the next screen revealed that there was a “small hole at the base of one of the craggy boulders”. Inside the hole was a “faint greenish glow somewhere far inside”, which I knew would be the home of the leprechauns. I couldn’t remember exactly how I was supposed to get inside their home, but I knew I couldn’t do it now.

Spiderman, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can...

I can't see you, so you mustn't be able to see me! Right!?

You never know when there might be someone, or something, to throw them at.

The next three screens were fairly uneventful, being a gloomy, ancient forest, a crystal clear lake, and a seemingly vacant clearing. Just as I was about to leave the clearing though, a vicious wolf darted out of the bushes and tore me to shreds! I restored, and since leaving the clearing to the south brought me back to the beach, I moved on to the west. This brought me to a serene lake, but since there was nothing to do there, I walked to the south and arrived at the entrance to the cottage I’d seen previously. I recognised it as the woodcutter’s house, and despite knowing that I didn’t have the item I needed to complete the puzzle inside, I wandered in to see what it looked like. The room inside had a totally different perspective to the one in the original, and the woodcutter was resting on a bed with his wife rather than the two of them sitting at a table. The poor man had the following to say: “We would welcome you to our home, Sir Knight, but we have had no food for so long, my beautiful wife cannot even rise from her bed. I fear she may die soon.” This was a similar story to the one heard in the original, but the woman’s weak repose made things seem much more desperate this time. I knew that giving some food to the woodcutter would allow me to take the fiddle that was sitting on the table nearby, but I also knew that I didn’t yet have the bowl that I needed to do it. I’d have to come back later once I’d found it.

This guy really ripped into me!

I knew I couldn't get it, but I still had to try!

This really is a sad story. No, really, it is!

Continuing my travels, I arrived at a swamp where a large green snake hung above a swamp. I couldn’t recognise the screen from the original game, nor I could I find anything to do there. That wasn’t the case for the next location, which was the gingerbread house where the creepy green witch lived. I couldn’t remember whether I ever tried eating some of the house during the original, but I gave it a shot now regardless. “As you begin to eat the house, a squeaky voice from somewhere says, “Nibble, nibble, little mouse. Who is nibbling at my house?”” (2 points) Clearly she was home, but I opened the door and walked in anyway. Once again the view of the room was very different to the one I remembered, but the general contents were the same. I didn’t have much time to look at said contents however, as the witch raced towards me at great speed. I left the house quickly, thinking that I might be able to keep re-entering until she wasn’t there. Oddly, no matter how many times I went back in, she was always there to confront me. I knew of a way to defeat her later on, so I left the gingerbread house behind for now and continued my exploration. I passed through another vacant ancient forest before stumbling upon a well in yet another clearing. I knew exactly what I would find at the bottom of the well, but couldn't recall whether I had everything I needed to survive down there. I saved my game and hopped in the bucket to find out! (2 points)

I don't recall the snake from the original. I'll have to take a peak at my screenshots to see what screen this replaced.

I still have nightmares about having to "come a little closer" after Future Wars!

I'll get you my pretty!

No true adventurer could stroll past this well without climbing in to see what was at the bottom.

I descended into the well before jumping out into the water once the bucket reached the bottom. I typed “dive”, and swam down towards the chest I could see on the ground below (4 points). The chest was a distraction, so I left it alone and swam west into the tunnel, eventually emerging from the water and out into a cave. As I entered the next screen, I had my first glimpse of the mighty green dragon that was guarding the magic mirror(1 point). I recalled there being more than one way to defeat the dragon, but could only remember throwing water at it. *Facepalm!* I was supposed to bring the bucket with me, but had left it attached to the rope in the well. It was at this moment that I realised there was an item I was supposed to bring with me into the well but hadn't! To cut the rope and take the bucket, I would need a knife, and I hadn't yet come across one in my travels. Perhaps I could have climbed back out of the well, but I decided to restore back to the top instead, assuming I would eventually find the dagger and return for the mirror. The well was the last screen in this column, returning me to the serene lake as I exited it to the south. I once again journeyed west, arriving at a lush grassy area with a log lying on the ground and a promising looking tree stump to one side. I found nothing in the log, but there was a small leather pouch inside the stump (1 point). I picked it up (3 points), and then opened it to find it contained a bunch of “sparkling and flashing diamonds” (3 points)!

Samara was patient, waiting for the sound of the VCR to start recording...

Just a slightly more convincing dragon than the original

Who thought it was a good idea to leave their precious jewels inside an open stump?

Leaving the stump, I wandered past a non-descript lake before entering a field full of colourful wildflowers. I thought I needed to pick one, but trying to do so resulted in “It would be a shame to pick the lovely wildflowers.” Slightly perplexed, I ventured onwards until I reached a cave. Wandering inside, I found that the path was blocked by a large boulder. My memory informed me that I would pass through this cave from the other side at a later time, and my failure to move the boulder strengthened this belief. Exiting the cave, I journeyed south to the last screen in this fourth column, the goat pen. I could see the goat wandering around inside, but knew for certain that I needed to find a carrot prior to opening the gate. This last screen was the 24th one I’d put on the map so far, and since there are a total of 48 in the grid for the game (8 columns by 6 rows), could be considered the halfway point in my initial exploration. So far the game is almost identical to the original, and if I ignore the updated technology, has only a few changed perspectives to differentiate it. That being said, I’m surprised by how much I’ve forgotten during the two years that have passed since I last played the original. I really do think the puzzles and solutions from a lot of other games I’ve played since have merged together to confuse me into imagining puzzles that aren’t there. I keep recalling things that I later realise were in King's Quest II or III, and even in completely different series! I’m sure it will all fall into place once I’ve finished the exploration stage and know exactly what I need to progress.

oooohhhhh, preeeetttyyy!!!!!!

Perhaps if I go and work on my strength stat for a while, I'll be able to...oh, wrong game!

A map covering half of Daventry (walking off the bottom reappears at the top and vice versa)

Session Time: 0 hours 45 minutes
Total Time: 0 hours 45 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: I've written a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. I just read through this post and I fear it's really not very interesting. I'll put that down to me still suffering the after-effects of my weekend, but it probably has just as much to do with the fact it's all so familiar to me. Given how much you guys enjoy watching me struggle and have to figure things out, reading about my comfortable trip through Daventry isn't likely to be all that exciting.

    Still, the show must go on, and I'll do my best to make the next few posts somewhat entertaining.

    1. You were lucky with the timing of your trip. Imagine taking a session of Les Manley or Shadowgate after your binge. ;)

  2. It does read like you're leisurely strolling through a familiar magical place but surely that can't be helped? I still find the game strangely charming after all these years. Maybe it's because everything's so simple here. You see a tree stump, reach inside - there, diamonds. Simple, pleasant, that's KQ for you. (Well except for the dead ends.)

    Also, spotted the The Ring (American remake) reference.

    1. Economy of Daventry must really be something - there's gold and diamonds lying everywhere, and the only ones that seems to work are the wood cutters, who will soon be famished (apparently that one carrot patch just isn't enough for every one). Me thinks Sir Graham would do a much greater deed by tilling the land than searching for some magical trinkets.

    2. Gold must have been was devalued to commonplace due to the aforementioned chest of filling. Heck, even the food is gold.

  3. A reminder:

    The score for Circuit's Edge was guessed by Ilmari who won a King's Quest Collection and Secret of Monkey Island.

    Ilmari hosted a quiz which I won (thanks Ilmari, and my Dad's taste in movies) and I decided to keep the King's Quest but re-quiz the Monkey Island to whoever can guess the adventure game I'm thinking of.

    The clues so far:

    It starts with a man in a tower
    Writing notes in his very last hour
    And then comes a fall
    From that tower quite tall
    The return of malevolent power

    On the trail of a killer who's one step ahead
    In both England and Wales I will search
    Every night while I sleep a new person is dead
    An old mine travels under the church

    And now, a new clue...

    I dig up a grave for a key
    Five symbols, in red, I must see.
    The title; a home
    In which I must roam
    The series of games totals three

    1. I'm truly stumped... :-(

    2. The headaches I have are getting much worse
      The key to my room came from Bates
      I need to escape this family curse
      In his study Robert awaits

    3. I'm surprised no-one has got this yet. The answer is clearly reflected in TBD's lengthy riddle, even if it is shrouded in darkness.

    4. As game's end becomes ever nearer
      Samuel's destiny becomes clearer
      To be different this time
      You can fill in the rhyme
      The name of the game's...

    5. At first, I thought it was a game about the Hunchback of Notre Dame, but found no such game at all.

      Then I thought it was about the Ripper but it has nothing to do with churches but more with hookers.

      With the new clue, I thought it might be for a prominent trilogy and guessed Myst but it totally doesn't fit the earlier clues.

      But I finally got it in the end. Since I already have Monkey Island, I'll not be submitting my answer.

      Great riddle though!

    6. Oh, geez!! It's gur oynpx zveebe, isn't it!

    7. We have a winner!

      I'm gonna hand out some CAPs for a superb riddle TBD. Outdid my weak efforts!

    8. Woohoo. Thanks Charles. As became obvious, I was seriously running out of words that both rhyme AND vaguely relate to the game.

      Enjoy the Secret of Monkey Island.

      I played The Black Mirror a few months ago and quite enjoyed it, despite Samuel's annoying tendency to end almost every conversation with a badly voice-acted "I will go now." or similar.

    9. Yay! Thanks, TBD. It was indeed a great riddle. I was racking my brain and going through all the adventure game trilogies I know of, don't know how I could possible miss TBM :-D

  4. ", I should point out that it was a little bit challenging to manoeuvre Graham all the way along without falling off. It was already clear that the new development team had decided to leave the tricky movement sections in place, despite how frustrating players found them the first time. The tree branch would be far from the worst example! "

    I've mentioned this before (KQ IV), but in sections like this I've always found it _much_ easier to click and move with the mouse. You basically just have to click and move directly to an intersection, then the next intersection....

    1. The mouse controls in this do make those sections far easier than the original, I didn't have any problems with movement during my recent play-through.

  5. Out of the parser SCI games I've played, this, Colonel's Bequest and Quest for Glory 1 are my favourites. They all have a detailed open area to explore, the freedom to solve many puzzles in any order, and completely optional yet satisfying things to do. Many other Sierra games from this era are either too linear or limiting in comparison.

    About the snake in the tree: Lrc, arj nqqvgvba. Nyfb nofbyhgryl hfryrff. V jbaqre jul jnf vg rira nqqrq?

    1. Sierra games too linear? I'll bet you haven't tried Dino Quest!


  6. It really is pretty in comparison to the old... I'd never actually played this remake before now! But as you've already surmised, it wasn't that long a game to beat beforehand - and that was without knowing all of the solutions to puzzles for the most part (Fbeel, ohg fbzrguvat gryyf zr lbh'er abg sbetrggvat Ehzcyrfgvygfxva onpxjneqf.. qbhoyl fb tvira lbh qba'g arrq gb erirefr gur nycunorg guvf gvzr.)

    1. V nyjnlf ungrq gung anzr chmmyr va gur bevtvany, V jnf tynq gurl znqr gur punatr sbe gur erznxr. Vg'f fgvyy dhvgr qvssvphyg gubhtu, naq gur bayl pyhr vf uvqqra njnl.

    2. Jryy, gung vf evtug sebz gur bevtvbany snvel gnyr, fb vs lbh xabj gur fgbel vg fubhyq or rnfvre, evtug?

  7. Why do I find Hero Quest prettier than KQ1 remake?

  8. Jane Jensen's new Kickstartered game, Moebius, is now available for pre-order on GoG: http://www.gog.com/game/moebius

    It's also 20% off, and if you pre-order you get the GoG-exclusive 2-chapter demo to play with until the release.

    1. I'm waiting for the sequel: Windwalker.

    2. It's an exciting time for Adventure game kickstarters.

      Not quite available for sale yet, but...


    3. Moebius is also available on Steam


      And for anyone unsure whether they want to buy or not, the demo appears to be available on Steam without a purchase by clicking on the "Download Demo" button to the right

    4. Update: The Steam demo is different to the GOG-exclusive demo. The GOG demo contains chapters 1 and 2 while the Steam and other demos only include chapter 2.

  9. Man, those lines on the screen (vertical and horizontal) are driving me nuts. Were they in the origonal, or are you using some filter to make it look like a cheap CRT?

    1. What lines? The screenshots only contain dithered pixels, which could cause artifacts in your browser when resized into small previews. Are you sure you're looking at them in full size? Click on the thumbnails to get the full image. (Or right-click and open in new tab.)

    2. The lines created by the use of light and dark pixels in what should be blocks of colour. The worst ones are the river which has grey and blue mixed together in a regular pattern, and the tree. It looks like a scan of a magazine before you hit it with descreen.

    3. Looks like normal dithering to me, although the effect does look worse (creating strange patterns) in the small previews.

    4. Yeah, it does make horrible patterns when small. The hard lines are annoying, but I guess they were really limited back then.

    5. Interestingly, while I agree that it looks terrible, I didn't notice it in Space Quest III.

      Looking back through this blog's posts on SQ3, only some objects seem dithered whereas in this game they decided to dither almost every pixel.

      Apparently, images like this looked much better on the low-res monitors of the time when the dithering actually tricked your eyes into thinking it was a different colour. Now that monitors are much higher resolution and screens are much bigger you can see every pixel clearly and it looks terribly unimpressive.


      These days, I much prefer to play these games undithered. http://imgur.com/gallery/voWdq

    6. Ugh, I think those de-dithered Sierra screens look horrible. I'd much rather use one of those pixel shaders that mimic a CRT: http://i.imgur.com/WOsYljZ.png

      (Of course, you don't get any of the real benefits of CRTs, such as true blacks, great colour, resolution independence, zero input lag...)

    7. I'm still using a CRT, I see no reason to throw out a CRT that can handle any resolution my PC can handle, that has served me well for a decade (it was a really good CRT at the time) to replace for a flat panel that will die in under 3 years (again), and lose all the benefits you mention for... what are the supposed upsides of flat panels again?

    8. Ishtar: Much lower power consumption and smaller desk space are the main ones. Also, you can get them in much larger sizes, and in much wider aspect ratios. I also like ones that rotate for when I'm reading documents, though they are pretty rare.

    9. Also, if you are like me and have had to lug 40 CRTs around a building before....

  10. New adventure game: Ether One http://store.steampowered.com/app/265950/ Ether One is a first person adventure that deals with the fragility of the human mind. There are two paths in the world you can choose from. At it’s core is a story exploration path free from puzzles where you can unfold the story at your own pace.
    The graphics look solid, but a bit pedestrian, abusing cell-shading to make things cheaper. On the other hand, it does remind me of Myst a bit in the style of the ships.

  11. Ron Gilbert just posted some Monkey Island design sketches he found...

    I wonder if we can get him to comment here during The Secret of Monkey Island?