(This is part of my journey playing through King’s Quest. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lanes page.)
You voted and I accepted the challenge to tackle the Sierra adventure game classic King’s Quest for my next retro journey. Like with Wasteland, I did play King’s Quest way, way back when, although this was even further back around 1984. We got a lot of copied games with our original computer, so this was simply part of the pile of disks that I would explore. However, I was at a near loss as how to play, since there was no documentation and just about everything in this game got me killed. I’d load it up a few times, make a half-hearted attempt to wander around, and then do something else.
Not this time. This time I will rise to the occasion and get that dang crown back for the king. I shall!
King’s Quest is a 1983 adventure game by Roberta Williams that draws upon public domain fairy tales to create the magical kingdom of Daventry. It’s not, as I recall, as hugely narrative driven as later entries became, but there’s a lot of humor and trial-and-error with death-defying acts. While installing this, it amuses me that the first three games of this series are 19 megabytes combined. Here we go!
So here we have the start of the game, where Graham stands in front of the castle. One thing I forgot about the game is that when you start walking in a direction, you’ll keep on going until you tap the direction key a second time. So it’s pretty easy to accidentally walk into your doom — for instance, that moat right there. With the crocodiles.
So according to the manual that I actually got to read this time, I am Sir Graham, a knight that the king is going to task with a mission to recover three priceless treasures that were swindled from the throne: a future-telling mirror, an endless chest of gold, and a shield that makes its user invincible.
There’s that darn king. Well, he certainly is giving me good incentive for this quest: If I can get all three treasures, apparently I then get to be king. Like he could stop me if I had unlimited wealth, invincibility, and the ability to tell the future. Heck, I could go found my own kingdom.
One good thing about this game off the bat? Multiple save files. You’re already better than Wasteland in that regard, King’s Quest. What I don’t like is the sloooo…ooooo….ooooow walking pace of Graham. Two days later, a new screen. Two days after that, another screen.
Next to the castle (four days later) is a lovely field with a lovely little rock that is just… lovely. Hey, I wonder what would happen if I gave this smallish rock a little nudge?
That. Smoosh. That would happen. And for the record, yes, I’m definitely going to be recording as many of the deaths of Sir Graham as possible, just because I’m running an experiment to see if there’s a sentient AI lurking in his code that will snap and turn on me if I keep throwing him into mortal peril.
Anyway, pushing it from the north reveals a hole with a curvy dagger inside. Why the king didn’t equip his best knight with armor and a full complement of weapons for this extremely important mission, I have no idea. But now I has dagger!
If you’re curious, the overland map of the game is 8 by 6 screens in size (48), with various interiors. It wraps around so you can think of Daventry as a very tiny planet. With a rock.
Moving on, I grab a carrot from a nearby field and then go to a lake. This peaceful lakeside vista is suddenly ruined by the appearance of…
Well, the game wouldn’t let me kill the elf with the dagger. If only I could’ve, then no more elves would have infested fantasy video games after 1983! I would have saved the entire genre by killing their sinister ancestor!
Anyway, when I talk to the elf he gives me an invisible ring that works just once. It probably gives me syphilis too, because that’s how elves like their pranks. No way I’m putting that diseased thing on my finger if I can help it.
I guess this is the land of litterers, because on the very next screen is a bowl lying around. I pick it up and see the word “FILL” on the bottom. Fill with what? Blood? Elf blood? Dude, I tried. You have no idea how hard I tried.