(This is part of my journey playing through King’s Quest II: Romancing the Throne. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lanes page.)
Along with King’s Quest, King’s Quest II: Romancing the Throne made up the entirety of my experience with the series. We had both of these games on our ancient IBM PC, and as with King’s Quest, my memories of playing this was mostly not understanding what adventure games were when I was nine years old, wandering around, and dying a lot. I do have a very strong recollection of the Batmobile coming out of a cave to kill me, which could have been a fever dream but I think was real.
King’s Quest II came out in 1985 and was very much like its predecessor except bigger and more popular. It still had the same crisp cartoon-like graphics, simplistic music, hilarious deaths, and text parser for navigating puzzles, although this time around it featured the efforts of future Space Quest designers Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe.
While a bit simplistic to look at and play today, it’s important to recognize how huge the King’s Quest games were for the adventure game industry back in the 80s. Prior to King’s Quest I, adventure games were either text only or non-animated drawings of rooms. King’s Quest represented a huge step forward with animated graphics, screens that could be navigated with a character, moving creatures, and “three-dimensional” objects (in that your character could go in front of, in back of, and to the side of objects on the screen). In 1985, this just made reviewers flip the heck out, gushing over what they were seeing. The King’s Quest games also helped Sierra quickly expand into an adventure game powerhouse, with the Space Quest, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Gabriel Knight, and Quest for Glory titles each growing the empire.
As with King’s Quest, I’m eager to tackle this and complete it once and for all nearly two decades after first playing it. There’s nothing to be scared of in adventure games, Syp. You can do it, man!
The title screen begins by belting out Greensleeves, although since it’s Christmastime all I’m hearing is “What Child Is This?” I guess I never realized before that they’re the same tune. Now I want Christmas cookies. Focus, man, focus!
So we pick up right where we left off at the end of King’s Quest: Sir Graham has ascended to the throne of Daventry and is totally rocking that throne. A neat little intro cutscene informs us that while everyone loves him (er me, everyone loves me, I am loved!), he’s a little worried about the whole lack of a queen. I mean, he’s been trying to make an heir for a year now, but all his efforts have gotten him is a castle full of very concerned citizens.
“He then screamed in fridge horror as he realized his face was a yellow block with rotted pits in the middle. Or at least he would have screamed, except he had no mouth. Honestly, it felt like something out of a science fiction story.”
Go slay that hideous blobby beast in the mirror? I’m just saying that for a “magic” mirror, this one has really low graphical fidelity. That portrait is beautiful only if I squint, go back in time 20 years, and lick brightly colored toads.
Graham decides enough with being the king over a kingdom of perhaps six people, so he puts back on his jolly Robin Hood cap and embarks to this new land to rescue a fair maiden from the tower.
I am then instantly transported to this new country, and because Graham is a complete dunce, I have nothing in my inventory. Great going, doofus. You’re going on a major expedition to secure the future for your throne, and you don’t pack a sword? A change of clothes? Food? A rope? I dunno… THE SHIELD OF INVINCIBILITY that you got from the leprechauns in the last game? What are you using that for, a TV tray?
So when I was a kid, one of our older friends swore to us that there was an island out in the ocean if we just swam fast enough. Of course, there was no island as he just wanted to see us drown repeatedly, but I like to think I learned an important lesson that day: I will believe anything anyone says about games if it sounds cool enough.
Actually, since the King’s Quest games are a mish-mash of every fantasy trope and fairy tale, it’s kind of a meta-game to figure out what story I’ve stepped into. Cute house in the forest… basket of goodies in the mailbox…