Sunday 15 July 2018

King's Quest VI - Isle of Punder

Written by TBD

When we last left Alexander, I had just found a ring I hadn't noticed earlier.

In the comments of that post, I was informed that the ring was mentioned either in the manual or a 'help' section of the game itself.

It wasn't in the manual, but it WAS in the 'About' section of the settings screen.

After clicking on that section, then the “Beginner Walk-Thru” section, and clicking past the spoiler warning, I get to the walkthrough (walk-thru??? spell it properly, game – you're not a burger restaurant) and the second step was the one I missed.

Yes, I may have noticed it – but I didn't.

When it takes me awhile to discover the second step in the beginner walk-thrOuGH - that doesn't bode well for my skills. Oh well.

I clicked through the rest of the walkthrough quickly but may have inadvertently spoiled myself to something else I missed. I wasn't reading it in detail, but thought (or thut, as the game would spell it) I saw something about moving an item on the beach. Hmmm.

I went back to the beach and looked more carefully at the items there.

Despite being told one thing earlier...

Then there's no point clicking on any other ship debris with my hand then, I assume.

… Alexander has total use for one particular piece of ship debris...

I still haven't gotten over Indiana Jones telling me a slab was too heavy before moving it anyway if I keep trying.

Under the plank is my treasure box, but the only thing left in it is one single coin of Daventry. I take the coin with Dad's face on it that I found in some under a piece of ship debris despite being told in no uncertain terms that I had no use for the ship debris, and made my way to the castle to see my princess, now that I have a signet ring to prove my identity.

This should be enough proof. It's not like anyone could have found it on the beach while I was exploring the town earlier.

The guards now believe I'm royalty, so get the captain of the guard, Saladin, whose fur colours are reversed between long shots and closeups.

I AM a friend of the princess, and Timmy's still stuck in a well.

I'm treated to a cutscene where Lord Alhazred refuses to let me see the princess while trying to be vaguely diplomatic about it but only succeeding in appearing sinister.

The guy in the middle's eye occasionally glints, making me think he might be the creepy guy who was staring at me in the shops earlier.

Perhaps I could distract you with a tennis ball or a stick. Some sausages, perhaps?

I go back to the town and try to give the pawn shop owner my Daventry coin.

But... you said the items on your counter... oh well. Give me a tinderbox instead.

After failing to light one of the ferryman's lamps or burn his ferry down, I swap the tinderbox for a mechanical nightingale, hoping it will grab the attention of either the Cinderella-style woman in town or Cassima herself at the castle. It doesn't work, and neither does the flute, which I now carry with me. I'm glad the merchant lets me swap items seemingly infinitely so I don't have to reload the game constantly to try things.

I then think of something else the shopkeeper might like - my royal signet ring.

Now this guy can convince guards he's the Prince of Daventry, seeing as having the ring suffices as proof of royalty in this land.

I'm told that I'll get the ring back if I find something valuable enough to swap, and am warned that the map only works when I'm in the open within sight of the sea.

As I take the map, the creepy guy takes a mint, which seems to make him intoxicated.

Seconds later, in the castle...

So the creepy guy's going to tell the other islands something that makes them hate me. But Alexander shouldn't know that yet, so I ignore it and go to the dock to use my magic map – I decide to travel to the Isle of Wonder first.

On using the map, I disappear and appear on another beach. 


On the beach, zzzz's appear from a group of oysters, but one of them can't sleep.

It took me a while to notice, but the oysters are all on tiny oyster beds.

The oyster doesn't want to talk much, as he has an ache in his mouth – I predict some amateur dentistry in my near future.

In the nearby ocean floats a string of letters. I assume trying to get the letters myself will result in another drowning game over, but try anyway.

Reloading my game, I keep thinking about what I can do with the oyster - not because I have concern for my fellow creatures, but because when it yawns I can see a pearl in its mouth.

To see if my prediction from last time proves true, I try using my boring book on the oyster. It likes the idea of getting some sleep, so I read to it. After a few yawns, I work out that I should take the pearl during the yawn. I miss the first few times, due to a combination of the pearl being small, the mouth only being open for a short time and the hand icon pointer not actually coming to a clear point.

Taking the pearl cures the oyster's mouthache, and it falls asleep. I notice at this point that the string of letters in the water is very close to the shore so I save and try to get it. This time I get it before it can move away so I don't get dragged away by the current.

I was thinking east, actually

With my new pearl and letters, I move east to explore more of the island. Before I can leave, Alexander hears something and five rhyming dwarves appear.

The dwarves stand in single file (to hide their numbers?) and seem to detect humans by their smell. Being able to control Alexander again, I save, then I try various items from my inventory, but they see thru things such as the mint and rabbit foot, grab me and throw me into the ocean.

Reloading to the point where bignose wants to smell something, I instead just use my map to teleport away. I go straight back to the Isle of Wonder again, wondering if perhaps they'll give up if they find I've disappeared, but they returned as soon as I attempted to leave the beach. It seems I'll need an item I don't yet have, so I try a different island.


On this new beach I see a black feather, an ugly flower and some writing on a cliff face.

The writing states, “Ignorance Kills Wisdom Elevates” and looking at it gives me a copy-protection based hint.

Okay. So I look at the manual to see if that helps.

Only those pure of heart will be able to RISE the cliffs of logic, and only a man whose ass is narrow can get down these steps – and if mine is such an ass, then I shall have it.

Actually, that's not much help. I try taking and using the feather on the words – thinking maybe the feather will help me RISE, but it doesn't help.

I also take the flower, despite its hideous smell.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

My first thut is that the flower will help me pass the dwarf guards, but I feel like some new scenery so I visit the fourth island first


But... what if the bambi is the BEAST!!!

With the game refusing to allow me near the fawn, I go to the next screen where I find some mushrooms which Alexander refuses to take, a lamp which I expect can be given to the lampseller in the Isle of the Crown, and a small pond.

Looks like the kind of pond we should swim across. Let's go.

Come on game, using the same 'stew' joke twice in a row – that's just lazy!

Reloading, I travel back to the Isle of Wonder and try to trick the dwarf with my new smelly flower.


Yes – I'm a genius

The dwarf moves to the back of the line and the next dwarf steps up.

Time to do my voice impression of a flower...

Not being able to mimic a voice, but remembering the pawn shop owner's nightingale, I go back to the Isle of the Crown.


On my way to the pawn shop, I notice two new things
  1. There is now a real nightingale in the tree outside the town, and
  2. The pawnbroker throws some items in his garbage pot before going back into his shop.

I check the garbage pot, and find a bottle labeled “ink” that appears to be empty.

The use of the word “appears” makes me think the ink isn't empty and is actually invisible ink. I'll keep that in mind for later. I go inside the pawn shop and swap my flute for a nightingale, noticing that the merchant now calls me by name.

Please, Prince Alex is so formal – call me Your Royal Highness instead.

I take the nightingale to the tree outside and use it with the real nightingale – I figure big-ears the dwarf won't fall for the sound of a fake nightingale.

Yeah. I'm not so bad – now let me grab you and shove you in my pocket in case you're useful later.

I can't get the bird after trying a few things, so give up and go back to see if big-ears will be fooled by the fake nightingale sound.


As I wind up the nightingale and make it sing, Grovernor the dwarf dances to its tinny sound, then speaks.

Actually it's a small toy – you need bigger ears, pal.

I've gotten the point about how these dwarves work now, so which of the five senses is the fat dwarf going to use...?

So... is a mint friend or foe? You didn't answer the question!

I'd correctly guessed a mint would work for the tasting guy, and guess the next one fairly easily as I already had a rabbit's foot. Trilly Dilly's turn now...

I think we've all worked out by now that these dwarves are all idiots.

If this guy's eyes are so good, why did he have them closed until now? If he'd opened them he could have easily seen thru my 'clever' scheme earlier.

Acting on my hunch about the ink I found in the market, I poured it on myself.

I can think of many better ways for those guards to do their job, but their incompetence isn't my problem.

Now that I'm free to explore the island, I go east and find myself in an area filled with books.

No human being would stack books this way.

Before looking at the books I check out the spider in the corner.

And the spider very much checks me out too

After talking to the Black Widow and ignoring her flirting attempts to lure me, I take the scrap of paper in the corner of her web. This was a mistake.

But... we weren't even dating!!!

I reload, and this time pull on a thread of her web that was hanging out at the bottom. She moves to fix the web, giving me enough room and time to get the paper.

Um... yes... it said a single word. How is that helpful?

Leaving the black widow in her website, I try to take a book, or knock over a book pile, or somehow use my hand on a book.

Ah, a bookworm. I really should have expected that from King's Quest at this point.

The bookworm wants some kind of grammatical... thingy... I don't have any itinerant clauses, dangling participles or purple fiddlewackers for the bookworm. I offer him the incomplete sentence I found in the water, but he wasn't impressed.

Well, I'll come back when I can complete a sentence. But first, we'll see if the black widow has anything else of use for me...

Actually, I'd prefer it if you were just my GHOULfriend

I further explore the island, and find a swamp with a milkweed bush. I take one of its flowers.

Going west, after passing the dogwood tree that barks as I get close, I come to an area that has a lot of punny flowers. In fact, the entire Island's been full of puns but I only picked up on it now.

Baby's tears, wallflowers, snapdragons, clinging vines and... tomatoes? One of these things is not like the others.

I look thru some kind of creature called a hole-in-the-wall, and try to take it, but it climbs behind the wallflowers to hide.

Is there actually a flower or insect called a hole-in-the-wall?

The snapdragons snap at me as I approach and the wallflowers hide, covering the hole-in-the-wall. Alexander refuses to take the tomatoes or baby's tears as they are still growing.

Because I haven't made many predictions yet, I'll predict that the hole-in-the-wall will help me get into the castle – though I still feel the vines might help with that one – perhaps they'll take me to different sections of the castle.

I open the door, and find a chess world, guarded by two knights.

After a small chat, the two queens of chessboard land approach and argue about wedding presents.

They ask me to solve their problem.

I suspected I'd have to do some questioning to determine the best result of this dilemma. I'm not put off by the fact that they both think coal is the perfect wedding present largely because I'm talking to two chess pieces.

Thanks for spoiling my fun, Alexander!

The queens jump off, still arguing, and the red queen drops her scarf, which I take. The knights won't let me follow them because only chess pieces are allowed in chessboard land, so I go back where I came from.

Back in the garden, I take a closer look at the clinging vines.

Without further input from me, Alexander goes closer.

And dies.

And with that, we'll call it a day. I've got quite a few puzzles to ponder for next time, and I'm enjoying the game so far.

Session time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Total time: 3 hours 15 minutes

And to continue with something I started last post, I'll add to my list of predictions.

Predictions made:
  1. Something will be in the tree hole later 
  2. Some animal will need a flute song to be calmed 
  3. I'll need to distract someone with a fake nightingale – not a distraction - BUSTED 
  4. I'll meet a painter without a brush or need to paint something myself 
  5. I'll need light, or a fire at some point. (actually, this prediction is valid for just about every single adventure game ever made) 
  6. The pawn shop returns policy will be used to avoid the game having dead-ends - CONFIRMED
  7. I'll be visiting the legendary fourth island (which is actually the fifth island) 
  8. I'll have to solve puzzles in order to meet the leaders of each of four islands - CONFIRMED 
  9. The bookseller's free book is cursed - probably already proven wrong - BUSTED 
  10. The swimming kid had an ulterior motive - CONFIRMED 
  11. The death sequence area will be playable later 
  12. I'll need a plant growing potion or sticky substance to climb the vines 
  13. The creepy guy has a glass eye which I'll need to get - BUSTED 
  14. The pawn shop guy will throw out rubbish that I'll take and use - CONFIRMED 
  15. The boring book will be used to put someone to sleep - CONFIRMED 
  16. I won't meet Princess Cassima on my first visit to the castle - CONFIRMED 
  17. The shopping creepy guy is also the Vizier's henchman - CONFIRMED
  18. I'll be performing dentistry on a clam - CONFIRMED
  19. The hole-in-the-wall bug will allow me into the castle


  1. >whose fur colours are reversed between long shots and closeups.

    His colours matched in the original portrait.

    >Is there actually a flower or insect called a hole-in-the-wall?

    "Hole-in-the-wall" refers to a kind of low-quality, possibly criminal place.

    1. "His colours matched in the original portrait."

      I was going to bring that up as another example of why I'm firmly on Team Original KQVI Portraits. Even the ones that aren't inaccurate or lobster-red are just ugly (the mouth gnome in particular looks like Salvador Dali crafted a gnome out of clay and left it in the sun for a week). I guess the bookworm looks OK.

      I didn't know that the pawn shoppe owner left the map on the counter if you ask about it without having the ring, or that the Cliffs of Logic flat-out tell you to look at the manual. It's been so long since the first time I played this game (26 years ago or so) that's it's fun seeing little bits like this that an experienced player breezes through, er, "thru".

      The "thut" joke (and your continued use of it and "thru") gave me a good laugh.

    2. I had a quick look at the alternate Saladin picture and I find this one looks much better, though the other does match better. I haven't looked at the gnomes yet but will look at them all before doing a final rating.

      Thanks MisterKerr - glad you liked it.

      Hole in the wall is also a British term for an ATM.

    3. To be fair, the hi-res portraits do show quite a bit more detail, and they all seem to be in a sort of hyper-exaggerated style that arguably is more interesting than the more vanilla-looking original ones (though I don't think that style quite matches the rest of the game). Probably part of my preference is due to nostalgia: the old portraits are the ones I know best, and even the version I own currently (the ~2006 Vivendi King's Quest Collection) still uses the old portraits. It's all subjective anyway, I s'pose.

      When I hear "hole-in-the-wall" I think of, say, some mom-and-pop restaurant in the middle of a city or a strip mall that almost nobody knows about but serves really good food, like a "hole-in-the-wall Chinese place" or something. I think in the game they were just making a pun on the phrase, not relating it to the actual meaning. I do remember that the screenshot of the hole-in-the-wall showing the chessboard land was an image they showed off a lot in the marketing for the game back in the day for some reason. Maybe they watched Roger Rabbit recently and liked the idea of a portable hole crossed with a cartoony-looking creature?

  2. I'm of 2 minds here... one, I'm impressed with the good use of a Ghostbusters reference. But I'm also dismayed at your Anti-American English usage of the term "thru". I suspect you also prefer the formal "doughnut" to the more common "donut"...

    But an enjoyable read so far. :)

    1. :) I'm happy with donut so my grammar naziness is not completely consistent. But I HAVE been known to deduct points for bad grammar - just ask Martian Memorandum :)

      Is thru actually the correct American spelling? I know words like colo(u)r and humo(u)r are different but thut thru was just a lazy/sms way of spelling.

    2. The correct formal spelling is "through" even in America. "Thru" is, like you said, more for informal situations (drive-thru) or texting, so I think the point stands even in the States (for example, searching the web for "walkthrough" brings up a whole lot of dictionary-type pages, but searching for "walk-thru" gives me a hip hop song and a "read the Bible" site, so...)

    3. I agree, I was just giving TBD a little bit of a hard time :)

  3. I still love that gnome puzzle; I think it's one of the best puzzles in the King's Quest series up to this point.

    1. Best I've found so far - I like puzzles that give me a clear quest.

  4. I was watching a Pushing Up Roses video on King's Quest VI earlier today: (spoilers, obviously). She mentions a few things I'd never thought of when playing, including the name of the Vizier as Abdul Alhazred, which is the same as the writer of the Necronomicon (from HP Lovecraft's writings).

    1. I'll make a note to watch that when I've finished playing. Thanks.

  5. But... you said the items on your counter

    He said one of the four simple items, and the magic map, while on the counter, is far from simple. (I don't know that I would call a mechanical nightingale simple either, but there you have it.)

    1. Yeah - I knew the map wouldn't count but when I saw it on the counter I couldn't resist trying to take it :)

  6. Alright, the Tales from the Crypt joke actually got me. Well done. Other than the initial beach, the puzzles seem to be pretty logical so far, which is a nice change for King's Quest.

    1. Thanks - yeah, I already find the puzzling much better than King's Quest V, which is a promising sign.

  7. The Cliffs of Logic, the only thing standing between me and finishing the game back in the day. If I ever find my family's copy of the manual I gotta see if it solvable even though it was in french (well obviously it is, but more if a kid without any knowledge in french actually could piece it together).

    Also, gotta love the voice acting from Tony Jay as Saladin.

  8. By some stroke of dumb luck I had all the items necessary to pass the five guards when I first met them. A really nice puzzle, I think.

    The flower garden and the chess world beyond have a distinct Alice Thru (ahem) the Looking Glass feel to them, no?

    I noticed the color mismatch with Saladin's portrait (how did that even get through QA?) and assumed it had to do with me playing an enhanced version. I think the original portraits have more charm, but then again I love the low-res look of early adventures.

  9. I agree regarding the quality of the gnome puzzle. It also strikes me that this first part of the game does a good job striking a balance between giving the player some freedom to explore, but also providing some constraint to give the player some guidance regarding what to do next. Both the game design and puzzle design are a step up from KQ5 (not that that's a high bar, IMO).

    1. It's a very good puzzle. It has a memorable, creative theme, and it has clear phases (5 separate gnomes) so it's satisfying to see how you progress in it. I could see it as a candidate for Puzzle of the Year. The only flaw is that the sense gnome doesn't seem to accept the feather as an alternate solution, with no proper explanation.

    2. Does anyone know whether the gnomes are from some fairy tale? The idea of using different things to confuse people with different senses seems familiar, but I can't really place it.

    3. Not quite the same, but similar enough to the story of the blind men and the elephant:

    4. I don't know about fairy tales, but the different powers of the gnomes and the way they complemented each other strongly reminded me of the Baron Munchausen's companions.

    5. Not sure about fairy tales, but there is a puzzle from another famous adventure game, not yet covered by TAG, that plays on the five senses as well. It'll be interesting to compare the two whenever we get to it.


    7. I am not sure how seriously to take the article. I guess the central question is what to mean by "sense". For instance, I can well believe that we have some sort of internal time keeping mechanism, but why on earth should we call it "chronosense", if it doesn't work at all like all the five "regular" senses?

    8. I don't know if there is a specific "5 Senses Gnomes" fairy tale, but it feels like the type of thing that would appear in a Lewis Carroll story (which the Isle of Wonder is clearly referencing), especially since teaching a concept like the 5 senses using gnomes that, if you think about, make no sense at all, is a *very* Lewis Carroll thing to do. This, even more than the more obvious Wonderland references (like the chessboard), fits the spirit of Alice in Wonderland more than anything else on the rest of the island (which is mostly either puns, as TBD pointed out, or taking phrases literally, like "hole-in-the-wall or bookworm"), which is one reason I think it's so memorable.