Wednesday 2 May 2018

Quest for Glory Retrospective

By TAG community

There’s something magical in Quest for Glory series, and generations of gamers have been put under its spell. With this retrospective we want to commemorate the series and honour the golden memories of people who enjoyed it. Yes, memories. Before we look at the individual games of the series, let’s listen to the story of one Quest for Glory fan.

Torch: My first meeting with QfG was when my friend got the first Hero's Quest ( later Quest for Glory: So you want to be a hero ) for Amiga for his birthday. We were already fans of the Space Quests and Larrys, but this was something new. It was sort of like the other quest games, but your hero would improve as you played, and you could fight and/or cast spells! And.... steal..?

At home, we had a small cabin in the yard, so my friend and I would have sleepovers there, and haul my Amiga out with a long extension cord, then stay up most of the night playing the game. No sooner had we finished the game with one class than we started a new. Those were the days ( and nights ).

QfG2 came out, I wanted it for Christmas, and I got it, but it was for PC, not Amiga! Luckily my dad let me play it on his computer. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the exported hero from Hero's Quest (on Amiga) over to the PC to import it to this game, so I had to start anew. Not that that put a damper on the enjoyment. Trial by Fire is still my favourite game of the series, even though I got stuck trying to catch the fire elemental and had to resort to writing a letter to one of the Amiga magazines at the time, asking for hints. ( It even got printed! )

I've played 3, 4 and 5 as well, and even though I like them very much, 1 and 2 will always have a special place on my hard drive ( or on a bunch of floppies ).

Quest for Glory: So You Want to be a Hero

Spring, the time of bloom and new life. What better season for a starting hero, walking through a green forest, full of dew-sprinkled grass and wondrous creatures, like elves and goblins. Cheeks red with a blush from first kiss, our budding hero takes on his first challenges.

The game that started it all. For many adventure gamers this was their first foray into a world of CRPGs and still holds a dear place in their hearts. How could you forget the game where you could for the first time choose your own playing style and not just follow a set-in-stone plot? On the other hand, people who fell in love with later parts of the series sometimes think the first game is a bit too simple for their tastes.

What’s your take on the first Quest for Glory? While pondering that, check out a memory from one of our readers.

Reiko: QFG will forever have a lasting and meaningful place in my childhood, because I played it with my father. He was a computer programmer in the infancy of computers, and the type of person to work for hours or days on a problem or game, using graph paper for notes as needed. He figured out the "wave rod" solution near the beginning of Colossal Cave Adventure without help. He made dozens of maps of those twisty little passages. But after Adventure, I don't know if we played any other game together more than the original QFG.

He also built his own computers, for himself and later for me, but he seemed to have a habit of using cheap parts or something. We were constantly having boot issues, memory issues, graphics issue...One memorable time we had a graphics glitch that made the screen render in only black and white. In fact, that may have been the first time we played the game, or very early on, so we didn't know it very well. So we were trying to move around the forests, but in grayscale it was incredibly hard to distinguish objects or even see where some of the exits were.

One time I was playing by myself at home, and I forgot to pause it when I walked away from the computer to do something. I came back to find my hero had died of starvation. Oops. I think I also tried to find out how long I could survive in the forest. Since there's no time limit, it was a really long time.

I can't think of any other adventure game that had more of an impact on my childhood.

Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire

Scorching heat of midsummer sun and desert dust filling his throat. Every step is a slow agony, with thirst his constant companion. Finally, the walls of an exotic city welcome him and a refreshing draught of water restores his stamina. Battling elements, our hero faces life-changing choices, to kill or not to kill?

The more structured plot of the second instalment engaged some gamers better than the first game. Many people also liked the longer side quests for the individual classes. Others preferred the liberty of the first game over the more complex narrative of Trial by Fire, which could lead to the hero spending days asleep, just waiting for the next twist to happen.

Which side are you on? Is it the first or the second game you prefer? While considering this, take a look at another memory.

DS: My first Quest for Glory game was Quest for Glory II, way back in 1990. I was seven years old, in probably the second grade, and met a kid who was talking about this new game he had just gotten: Quest for Glory II.

Arrangements were made and we spent several days together after school struggling, as two seven-year olds, to master the game. Couldn't be harder than
Super Mario Brothers, right?

What I didn't know (or know how to identify) was that his family was very strict religious conservatives. That they had a computer at all was likely a (ha) blessing. That the kid dressed business-casual for second grade might have been a hint something was up.

So one afternoon we're playing the game and happen to discover, for the first time, that one of the Katta NPC's, Shema, dances on certain nights. Not knowing what to expect, we instructed our character to sit down and the following scene came as quite an interesting surprise.

But not just to us. Lured by the catchy music my friend's mother had unknowingly entered the room and bore witness to a cat-lady shaking her assets at us. I forget what she yelled exactly, but the computer, not the mouse, not the keyboard, but the entire 386 desktop, was suddenly yanked off of the desk, power, peripheral, and video cables flying about, giving me a scare that wouldn't be equaled until I experienced my first child's birth 25 years later.

My friend's mother called my mother and demanded an immediate pickup. What happened to my friend or the computer is a mystery, either I never found out or I've forgotten. I don't remember talking to him afterwards, but I do remember he left our public school soon after.

I did chores for three weeks straight after that day so that I could purchase my own copy of
Quest for Glory II, spending weeks by myself getting lost in the streets of Shapier. I wound up not beating it for probably another eight years or so, but by then I had all the games and still play them to this day, even Dragon Fire.

So that's my story about a $2,000 PC getting potentially ruined over a 16-color cat-butt gyrating to a single-tone PC speaker. Also about how I discovered the
Quest for Glory series, of course.

Quest for Glory III: Wages of War

Humid air of the jungle and perspiration make clothes stick to his skin. Eyes filled with beads of sweat, he looks at the tropical lush and tries to spot the ferocious beasts hiding in the vegetation. Or are they his new simian friends? Friends he will surely need, when taking on the role of diplomat, healing wounds between warring factions.

Wages of War has often been ridiculed as the weakest of the series. Isn’t it just too linear? And there’s almost nothing to steal! Yet, we have seen that despite being almost an afterthought, Wages of War is still loved by many due to its beautiful graphics and alluring African setting.

Do you love Wages of War or is it a game you’d rather forget? Before you answer, let’s read another memory.

Ziggi: I played through many Sierra games as a kid in the late 80s and early 90s, (I didn't really get a LucasArts game - Monkey Island 2 - until the mid 90s). QfG was my favourite series of all of the adventure game series', specifically b/c it was so different. I loved the RPG elements, the character grinding and the mini-games.

I played
QfG2 first, after I successfully lobbied my parents to upgrade to a 286 with EGA graphics, although they were probably just fed up with driving me to my richer friend's place to play on their PC. QfG2 ate up a lot of my time, I even went as far as to map the desert, thinking there were secrets to find in there.

But it wasn't until
QfG3 came around that I was really hooked on the series, it was my introduction to VGA graphics (followed closely by Conquests of the Longbow, another game that I adore). I loved the setting, and identified with it and the characters, as I was living in South Africa at the time.

QfG3 made intuitive sense to me, perhaps b/c of the setting, perhaps b/c I was older. And for the first time in my life, I finished the game in one sitting without any help from an adult. I proceeded to play that game to completion a further 20 or so times in the next few years. My most memorable moment has to be the mancala game, I would sometimes just load up the game simply to play the mancala game.

QfG3, I found the QfG1 remake and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, enough that I sought out the EGA version and played that too. I didn't love it as much as QfG3. The setting didn't appeal to me and the story was a bit childish.

Finally I was gifted
QfG4, and that became my new favourite QfG game (after #3), I have a Slavic background, so the setting appealed to me and I identified with it. I don't remember too much of that game, except for an Igor...perhaps. But I did love the cartoon like graphics, not as much as the initial VGA graphics of QfG 3 and Conquests of the Longbow though.

I only played 10 mins of
QfG5, the 3d graphics didn't appeal to me, but I've recently watched a longplay online and want to try the game again.

Presently, I'm playing the AVG Interactive remake of
QfG2, and loving it. The QfG bundle is in my GOG wishlist, I'll purchase it when I have time to play them all again.

Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness

Putrefied odour of fall and decay fills the marshes. Rotting corpses and lost souls scourge the lost valley, which has forgotten all heroes. Left alone and helpless, our hero must face the darkness and battle an ancient evil.

A darker game than its predecessors, it is generally heralded as the high point of the series. Complex plot, intricate and often hilarious characters and the best combat mechanics of all Quest for Glory games. Still, it did have an inordinate amount of bugs and… Well, really there’s nothing substantial to complain about, unless you confused it with Quest for Glory 4 ½.

Can you find anything bad to say about Shadows of Darkness? Or is it just perfect? Here’s another memory, before you decide.

Brad: I was thrilled to learn you were honouring the QfG games and the Coles by inviting us to submit our memories. I certainly have a certain fondness for the series.

I was in primary school in the mid 80’s when I saw the first
King's Quest (lovingly rendering itself on the screen before the player could move), which combined my favorite text adventures with a graphical interface and a moving protagonist in Graham. I don’t know how many times he fell prey to arbitrary death by on screen enemies! My best friend (and eventual best man) and I bonded over Space Quest I at his 10th birthday, since I knew where the Arcadia bay door keycard was, and he didn’t.

Quest for Glory arrived, suddenly those on screen enemy deaths weren’t arbitrary – I could fight them back! I enjoyed playing a thief character who was able to cast and fight and do the stealthy things. In-fact, I never did anything but this combination for all of my playthroughs (which were many). I ground the stats constantly with a daily routine of sneaking, picking, throwing, climbing and mashing those goblins. Every playthrough saw me freeing the Baronet from the bear by the second morning. My patented combination of “calm, dagger, dart, dart, dazzle, dagger, dart” could fell a troll and steal his beard before we ever saw melee.

I borrowed
QFGII from a friend, on a massive stack of 3.5” disks. It wasn’t until my second playthrough that I discovered you could buy a map and fast travel, so I got to know the streets very well. Also, I learned a new word, “haggle”. I very much enjoyed that eventually the Hero could defeat his mentors – the swords master, Uhura and Erasmus once their abilities were high enough, and there seemed to be challenges for every stat and play style.

I do not remember that much of the third game, but I remember being in awe of the fourth. This was my hero, still, but the game had taken a dark and beautiful (VGA) twist. My friend and I still quote “the werewolves!” at each other to demonstrate an unknown threat.

There’s a lot more I’d like to say, but instead simply thank you for promoting this retrospective, and an opportunity to tell the Coles that their games made my childhood (and early adulthood) something fantastic.

Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire

Brisk, salty wind invigorates our hero in his journeys from one island to another. Swimming in the ocean chills, but flames of passion and war heat things up. No longer a wide-eyed rookie, this world-weary traveller must test his skills and meet his final destiny.

Not made with Sierra’s traditional point & click system, but with new 3D mechanics, Dragon Fire certainly seems different and its look might have alienated many fans of the series. And isn’t there a bit too much combat? Then again, there are many side quests and alternative plot lines and you’ll definitely meet many old friends from previous games.

Do you like Dragon Fire? Or have you even played it yet? Let's look at one more memory.

ChadI first played Hero's Quest in 1989 at the impressionable age of 11 and was instantly hooked. Being 11, my first play through took me more than a year and I didn't get full points. However, playing it multiple more times over the following years I eventually had a disk with a .sav file for all 3 classes and a hybrid with max stats and max points. However, I didn't realize the name changed or the reason behind it which caused me to get QFG2 in about 1993 and then I didn't play 3 and 4 until 1996 and, going off to college then, didn't play QFG5 for the first time until I purchased the GoG version back in 2014.

In any case, my pre-teen/adolescent years were absolutely impacted quite a bit by the first two games, largely due to the story telling. In the majority of games (RPG or otherwise) of the era the graphics and story were generally just reasoning for pushing you on pre-determined paths with pre-determined solutions. Outside of Ultima IV there was really no mechanic in games that made you feel "bad" for doing things that were less than heroic nor did games spend a lot of time showing the human factor when you do good things. Sure, more could have been done to show the impact of stealing as a Thief, but at least the game reacted by telling you the l.o.l and sheriff barred their doors after being burglarized. On the other side, the heroic pose after accomplishing certain feats showed the Hero's pride in his accomplishment and little touches in story showed the impact the Hero has on the world and it's inhabitants. The first example I remember of this is the Baron having the hero stay for dinner and sleep in the castle after rescuing the Baronet from the Kobold. In most games you'd get the reward and move on, but in the case of QFG multiple NPC's have explained to you the Baron became a shut in after losing his children. You felt through interactions with other inhabitants of the valley the pain and suffering over a decade of this absenteeism and in speaking with the Baron and Baronet after defeating the Kobold you get a sense of having accomplished a major act of heroism. This, in my opinion is a greater reward (for the player and the prospective Hero PC) than the 50 gold pieces, even if you have been saving up for a suit of Chainmail!

This type of story telling (alongside my parents of course!) helped a young me form morals as to the reason to act good and helpful to others. Because I saw the impacts in game, much as children's books often show positive and negative impacts of right and wrong. Having this type of moral compass associated within the
QFG series is a hallmark of the Cole's work in my opinion. Their Interactive Fiction site (The School of Heroes) had a similar approach. Having fun, solid RP, but also with a moral hidden in plain site that teaches us all to be a bit nicer to each other. The world would be a better place if more of us learned from playing Quest for Glory!

And speaking of old friends, let’s not forget all the wonderful people in Quest for Glory games. Who is the most memorable person in the whole series? Suggest your favourite character from the whole series in the comments and tell us why you like her or him. Later on, we will have a poll from all the candidates mentioned in the comments. Whoever nominated the winning character will definitely receive some CAPs.


  1. Excellent walk down memory lane. That story from DS about the religious mom really cracks me up

    Most memorable character: Keapon Laffin. Because puns. Also, I have a feeling that he might be Corey Cole's alter ego.

    No, actually strike that. I'm gonna go with Erana, since her presence is felt through the entire series, always providing safety and respite for a hero in need. She's the hero's hero, so to speak.

    1. I suspect that the Gnome Anne's Land Inn from 5 deserves an honorable mention for puns.

  2. I am playing QfG5 now and am loving it despite some flaws. It certainly is more combat-oriented, even for non-fighter characters, and "spamming flame dart" is a solution to too many of the puzzles as my magic-user. That said, there ARE adventure game puzzles and solutions and a feeling that you are improving the world... but there could be more. I'm in a sort-of boring middle part where I keep doing Trials but have to solve under-hinted adventure puzzles to move between each one and some of the trials are a bit too much combat. I'm hoping the game opens back up again soon.

    My favorite character overall has always been Erasmus/Fenrus. From your first interactions with him in Spielberg, to the important role he played in Shapeir, to the surprise teleport to him at the end of QfG4, he's a fun guy. Not deep, of course, but very memorable.

    As a kid, I was always partial to Rakeesh. At the time, I had a pet ferret named "Rackie" (short for "raccoon"), but after the little kid called Rakeesh "Raki" in QfG2, I changed his spelling to that in honor of the Paladin.

    1. QfG V disappointed me at first playthrough. When I returned to it after some years, I was blown away. It IS a worthy conclusion. It could have been better, but dang it, at least we got closure. It’s a flawed gem; off-hand id give it a 7.5 out of 10.

  3. 1 is an enjoyable romp, if a little short. Great for an evening's speedrun.

    2 has an amazing illusion of freedom due to the NPCs and conversation parser.

    3 was my first, great atmosphere, though again a bit short, yet feels longer because of the larger overland scale.

    4 is pretty amazing in all respects, if a bit intense for a younger player.

    5 wraps it all up well, although the Quicktime FMVs just flat out hang the game just a little before the end, so I only ever finished the game once... a pity, because the closing soundtrack's final repeat of the Hero's theme and the Dragonfire theme is among the most epic musical moments in the series. (Only rivalled by the overall soundtrack of 4.)

    Most memorable character?.. Well, whoever made the biggest emotional impact. Rakeesh, Erasmus, Fenrus, and Erana may be the most important in terms of story, but Katrina's the one I'll never forget... (^^;

    1. I suspect most of them are a bit short when you know what to do. Half the fun though is living in their worlds and exploring and that takes much more time.

      I haven't seen the hanging issues in 5 yet, though I am playing the GoG version on Windows XP so maybe I will luck out. My favorite moment of the game so far was when the Hero's theme started playing with the Kattas outside the magic shop. With so many graphical changes and characters that didn't look quite "right" (not to mention TINY character portraits after the previous beautiful ones), that was the first moment where I realized I really was playing a QfG game.

  4. Favorite character is a toughie, as there are truly some good ones, most of which have already been mentioned (Rakeesh, Erasmus/Fenrus, Erana, Katrina, etc.), but I want to also throw Elsa von Spielburg into the mix. Mostly because she's an interesting mix of the noble fighter with some thieving shadiness (she was raised by bandits, after all) and in V she's probably the most pro-active character behind the Hero (and maybe not even then). I always found her the most interesting of the romance options in V, and considering she's up against Erana and Katrina, that's saying something.

    I also want to give a shoutout to Erana as portrayed in V especially. I love that she's not simply just an ethereal force for good, but she's actually pretty shy and her motivation was less "fight evil" and more "spread flowers!" which gives her some depth.

    I also wanted to give an honorable mention to Arne Saknoosen (or however you spell it) the earth-pig, and am sad that neither Alex nor Chet ran into him during their playthroughs.

    1. Spoilers! Wait, it's okay to spoil a two-decade old game. I didn't realize Erana came back in QfG5 since she's... er... dead. I'll have to wait to see how that happens.

    2. @MisterKerr

      There’s still time for me to run into good ol’ Arnie...

    3. Arne the Aardvark's name comes from "Arne Sakknussemm" in Otherwise the character was inspired by Lori denies it, and she wrote the dialogue, but I also sense some W. C. Fields in the character. But mostly we've always had a fascination with aardvarks, and I used to have a plush aardvark.

    4. Fun fact, 'aardvark' is Afrikaans/Dutch for earth-pig. You're welcome to use that for trivia night :)

      Arne was great, I really liked Rakeesh too, but Keapon annoyed the heck out of me, but that was b/c I played QfG 2 so much that his tune got stuck in my head for years, YEARRRS. I had to mute my PC when playing the AVG QfG2 remake b/c I was getting flashbacks

  5. There are so many great characters, but I’ve got to go with Rakeesh. He’s the grizzled, honorable mentor, the weathered gunslinger who has seen it all, done it all, and is always there to help, and be a role-model. Plus he’s willing to throw down when need be.

  6. Only played the remakes of 1 and 2, then 3 and 4. I would say the remake of 2 is the best playable of the games with a a story that pushes you forward all the time, but I would say 4 has the best story, and that could be that some characters makes a return together with a very dark and serious tone, contrasting the earlier adventures more lighter tone. It gets dragged down a lot since it was hard to play at times when the bugs where ever present. Will see if I ever get 5 to work.

    But I would say Toby from 4 is the most memorable character for me, but then again, I'm weak for those kind of stories.