King’s Quest II: Death by wolf

(This is part of my journey playing through King’s Quest II: Romancing the Throne.  You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

Despite the cliffhanger I left on my last post and the misleading title above, I did not actually get eaten when I entered grandma’s house.  She was just hanging out in bed, sick as all get out, but otherwise not trying to chew my face off.  I’m cool with that.  Hang tight, granny, I’ll go get you some help!  Do you have your medi-alert bracelet?

red1I wonder why.  Is it because she’s walking around a country where every screen lurks the grim spectre of death and dismemberment?  Naw, that couldn’t be.

red2We agree to a Yankee swap: My basket of goodies for her… bouquet of flowers.  Yes.  I can totally eat these for nourishment in this strange land.  And as a bonus, I’m sure they’ll prove an adequate defense when I encounter the eight-headed Dragon Gornok, whose each head spits a different doom: fire, acid, ice shards, Diet Mt. Dew, used motor oil, Olestra, Metamucil, and political satire.

I am pretty charmed by the fact that Red is so happy to get her basket that she starts skipping along in random circles.

red3So we might as well address the 800-pound gorilla in the room of King’s Quest II, which is the poisoned lake.  The map is dominated by this huge lake that’s unswimmable — if you go into it, you die instantly from poisoning.  As a kid, I was always dying to know what was in the middle of the lake.  This might be my lucky year.

red4Lo and behold, a monastery!  The near-silence of the game is broken by a very weird sound that I guess is supposed to be the bell ringing.  Suddenly, as is typical for a monastery visit, a fairy descends from the sky to give me a protective spell.  Um, thanks for that, random fairy!  Next time do you want to ask my permission first before you spray me with your pollen?  Are my armpits going to now incubate your young?

red5I’m tickled by the fact that the inside of the monastery is obviously a Christian chapel, unless this fantasy land has its own religion with a crucifix as its primary symbol.  I also kind of wonder if every Sunday, all of the fairy tale creatures file in for service, the Big Bad Wolf sitting alongside Medusa and Snow White, all singing “Amazing Grace.”

Anyway, I pray with the monk.   The monk asks me my name and says he’s heard of my quest.  Um.. how?  God?  I guess the programmers are kind of God to these computer people, so that logic works.  The monk takes off his silver cross and gives it to me, saying that it will help ward off evil and protect me.

No thanks, Mister Monk, I reply.  I already have a shield of invincibility from the first game.  Which I didn’t take with me.  Oh… crap.  Fine.  Gimme the necklace.

red6Well, this looks totally safe.  You go first, Graham.  I’ll be right behind you with infinite save games.  Fun fact: This bridge will break forever if you cross it a certain number of times, which could render the game unwinnable.  Just one of the delightful little ways that you can totally screw up in older adventure games!

As an aside, I want to say that I’m pretty impressed with how the game looks here.  Yes, it’s really basic but the use of bold lines and bright colors give it a stylized, cartoony look that still has charm.  I read somewhere that to save space on the floppy disks, these games would draw the lines and then tell the computer to essentially paint by number — to fill in this section with a certain color and that with another, etc.

red7Across the bridge I find a magical door.  I know the description up there kind of covers it, but trust me, it’s there.  If you need to imagine it, think of something vaguely door-shaped and you’ll be well on your way to getting the whole picture.

An inscription on the door tells me that if I want the key, I need to make a big splash or something.  By the way, who sets these things up?  Who is the one that created the door and figured a scavenger hunt for the key would be appropriate for complete strangers who might stumble upon it?  This makes no sense.

Such is fairy tale world.

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