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Rayne Michelle at 21:21 Jan 28, 2009

I'll agree with all said above. The terrible opening, being choppy, etc. I've been going crazy not being able to find any solutions on how to get the skeleton key after the gate was locked behind me, on the Land of the Dead. If I have to start over, because I missed that key... I mean I played this game years ago and just simply forgot about the skeleton key, this time. I tried going back to the Isle where I first rode Night Mare, but obviously she's gone. That's where this game ultimately fails - no possibility of going back and claim certain items. At least after saving the winged ones' princess, you could go back to the catacombs and get the coins and such from the 1st level. It was nice playing this game again after so many years, for some simple entertainment - but this stupid key definitely ruined the fun.

Geoff Schindler at 23:53 Mar 11, 2009

So now the question becomes, have you played the silly yet logical spoof called Peasant's Quest at Homestarrunner.com?

http://www.homestarrunner.com/disk4of12.html

herbalife fan at 3:46 Mar 12, 2009

you shouldn't go on and on about things you know nothing about, you obviously need to get a life rather than try to ruin other peoples dreams!

Geoff S at 2:24 Mar 14, 2009

ruin other people's dreams? what?

Alan De Smet at 22:12 Mar 14, 2009

I have played Peasant's Quest, and it's pretty inspired. Brutally tough, just like the old Sierra Games that inspired it. My tolerance for Sierra levels of cruelty has faded, but I'll occasionally dip into.

As for "herbalife fan," I'm betting they're writing because of a page I wrote: "Herbalife: Scum sucking leeches". I usually get this sort of complaint by email. The fundamental business model of Herbalife is mind bogglingly stupid, and most people who get into it lose money. People who get into the business as "distributors" are almost always making a bad choice. Most lose some money, then get out. The majority of people who stick with selling Herbalife are con artists, or deluded victims. The con artists need to convince everyone that it's brilliant, since getting victims to work "under" them is how you really make money. (Because of the widespread competition, making money actually selling Herbalife products directly is a fools game.) The deluded victims are strongly emotionally invested, a state encouraged by the con artists. Sure, they're not doing well now, but just like a cult it's because they're not trying hard enough, they don't believe hard enough. This level of emotional investment means that any criticism of Herbalife feels like a personal attack, and they need to leap to its defense. Thus, the surreally disconnected comment. *shrug* I hope herbalife fan doesn't loose too much money before he or she discovers that her dream was ruined, not by me, but by an inherently flawed business model.

Geoff S at 10:29 Mar 18, 2009

Nice rant, Alan.

You should play the Grow puzzles at eyemaze.com. The logic is nearly non-existant except by trial and error, but at least the errors are also entertaining. I recommend Grow RPG and Grow Tower.

Let me know if you need a walkthrough.

Geoff S at 11:31 Mar 18, 2009

Nice rant, Alan.

You should play the Grow puzzles at eyemaze.com. The logic is nearly non-existant except by trial and error, but at least the errors are also entertaining. I recommend Grow RPG and Grow Tower.

Let me know if you need a walkthrough.

Rosella Fan at 8:57 Apr 14, 2009

I've always loved KQ4: Perils of Rosella. Yes, the game play certainly did force me to think outside of the box (or else risk getting stranded on some far away island!). But that also made it all the more challenging and enjoyable. And there really is a sort of quirky logic behind much of what happens. I would describe it as a thinking man's game. In any event, I just don't think it's practical to expect a 20 year old game to have even close the level of appreciation it deserves when reviewed by someone so far after the fact. It's kind of like reviewing the Model T and complaining that it doesn't have the comfort of a Lexus. Ya think?

Alan De Smet at 21:37 Apr 22, 2009

"Thinking man's game?" I think it's been too long since you've played. This is a game in which you clean a vacant house which causing the occupants to return for dinner. That causes them to leave a pouch of diamonds, which they inexplicably let you keep. You trade this valuable treasure for... a fishing pole. You proceed to catch a fish, which you carry around. Hopefully you did all of this before swimming across the ocean (a task that if done in the wrong location ensure certain doom). On your way back, you'll be swallowed by a whale and you'll eventually be spit up and wash out onto a small deserted island. There you'll need to give the fish, your only source of food, to a pelican, which will cause it to drop a whistle. Blowing into the whistle summons a friendly dolphin to take you hope.

I don't think any amount of thinking would have allowed me to forsee that result. "Oh, of course! I forgot to clean a vacant house! How foolish of me! Naturally I'm unable to make off this deserted island!" It is only a "thinking man's game" to the extent that doing everything Rosella possibly can, even if it's nonsensical (Let's brave zombies to lay ghosts to rest!), is "thinking."

Infocom was showing with games like Enchanter, five years earlier that it's possible to have a game in which solutions can be deduced though consideration and investigation. Roberta Williams was cranking out gameplay and puzzles that were already out of date. The King's Quest games, on the whole, got by because they did usually have good graphics for their era, and on name recognition. But the gameplay sucked.

That the game is 20 years old is irrelevant. I first saw Casablanca 60 years after it was made, and it's still a brilliant movie. It doesn't need to be protected from reviews because it's timeless. Part of why I replay old games is to seek out the underappreciated gems, to find the timeless classics, to find games that broke new ground. This means I play a lot of crap in the hunt, but I do sometimes find gems. For example, on the whole I was unimpressed playing Infocom's old games, but some, like Enchanter, aged quite well. I haven't yet played it, but reportedly Trinity is also timeless.

POPO at 15:19 Jun 19, 2009

no no, you are wrong Alan. You cant get swallowed by the whale unless you have the fish. KQ4 doesnt allow you to get stuck and have to go way way back like KQ6. Which is why KQ6 sucks ass. If you dont talk to the clown Jollo, you cant win, If you wear the peasants clothes into the castle, you lose. If you talk to Cassima too early, you lose. If you dont play the xylophone in the underworld and get the skeleton key, you die at the very end. Talk about frustrating. KQ6 is by far the worst of the series and I cant believe it got great reviews. KQ4 is best followed by 5 then 3.

Eric L at 16:43 Jul 18, 2009

Personally, I found the king's quest series quite enjoyable. (Not including the mask of eternity or whatever, yay more mindless killing) Heir today, gone tomorrow has to be my favourite. I always managed to get through it. And I was about 3 at the time I started playing (About 1994) and I managed quite well. The only trouble I had was with puzzles similar to the cliffs of logic. I never found the game overly cruel-provided you take the advice "Save often" and kept track of places you die upon entering the area (Ie. Making a map of the catacombs)

Explore, interact with everything-and keep in mind it is an old game.

Well, that's my two cents anyway. Everyone has their own opinion.

Now for some corrections. POPO, you are quite mistaken. You can complete KQ6 without talking to Jollo, you can get in wearing the dress beauty gave you and win and I've never lost because I spoke to Cassima too early. Furthermore, you do not need the skeleton key to survive.

In my opinion, the lastest King's quest is by FAR the worst. Followed by 7. 6 is best, followed by number 5.

POPO, did you ever manage to get to the end? Cause it sounds like you never got anywhere, claim the skeleton key is needed otherwise "you die at the end." I don't mean to be disrespectful or anything and mean no offense, but it sounds like you don't entirely know what you are talking about making those claims.

Celeste at 19:56 Aug 15, 2009

Wow.

Who in the world let you near these games??? I suggest that you never play these games ever again if you clearly have such resentment of them. The things that you mentioned (in other words, WHINED about) were part of what makes the game challenging. Honestly, you people are so brutal. You hate it if it's too easy or you hate it if it's not easy enough. Make up your mind or never play these games again, clearly you do not belong in the KQ realm.

Celeste at 20:03 Aug 15, 2009

Hmmmmm....after reading your review of KQ6 I have come to conclusion that you merely looking for the bad about the games rather than the good, because apparently you seem to think of yourself as oh-so superior.

You only occasionally mention the good about the games, but 90% of your rants/reviews are basically just you bitching about how you "This was too hard" or "I missed this object and now I'm dead WAH WAH!"

I stand by what I say, never play the KQ games ever again if your merely going to look for whatever is wrong with them instead of enjoying what's good about them.

derukugi at 7:41 Aug 18, 2009

@Celeste:

Somehow I finished King's Quest 2 back in the day, but I didn't really remember much apart from the doors within doors. I'm replaying it now, and was quite enjoying myself until I just died on that darn bridge.

My actions went something like this:

1. I found the bridge

2. I crossed the bridge and noticed that my score went up!

3. Interested, I walked back and noticed my score went down!

4. I walked back across and my score went up again. Satisfied with understanding that mechanic, I went on to the rest of my quest.

...

...

...

78. After opening the second door, I read the inscription. something about a Stout Heart. Interested to seek the next puzzle, I go to explore...

79. I cross the bridge and it breaks.

80. I restore the game and try crossing different ways and it breaks each time

81. Rage quit and google "WTF those bastards KQ2 bridge"

Seriously, I was ENCOURAGED to cross the bridge multiple times by the score mechanic, there was NO FEEDBACK that it was damaging the bridge, then MUCH LATER I found out that I basically have to re-start the game. Even allowing for the fact that it's an old game, that's still bad game design.

Even Space Quest 1 (A much more frustrating and "cheap" game in many ways) gives you positive feedback that the limited crossing bridge is cracking a little each time.

Then, I read this review about the snake / sword / bridle / horse thing. I can't believe it. Again, I'll summarize my actions:

...

58. I have a snake in my way.

59. I look at my inventory, and think "maybe I can rub the lamp again?"

60. Rub the lamp and get a sword.

61. Look at the sword - it has a picture of a snake on it

62. Think "OK, the game is obviously telling me to use the sword to kill the snake"

63. Have second thoughts, knowing that genies grant 3 wishes, then rub the lamp again.

64. Get a bridle, and think "OK, A bridle can't be used on a snake. I guess there is a horse later that I need to use this on. I'll kill the snake with the sword afterall.

...

...

...

82. What the hell do you mean that I'm NOT supposed to kill the snake with the sword (the sword that has a picture of a motherfucking snake on it!), but I'm supposed to put the Bridle on the snake? WTF? And then there will be no feedback later that I made the wrong decision?

BAD GAME DESIGN, regardless of when it was made.

Alan De Smet at 10:23 Aug 19, 2009

Celeste, you can rest assured, I have no intention of replaying the King's Quest series again. (Well, maybe VI, whose strengths outweigh its flaws.)

So why did I play the series? Because I find video games fascinating and choose to study them. The King's Quest series was an important influence on later games, and I wanted to see how they influenced them. What proved to be timeless and what aged poorly? What influences can I see from earlier games, and what later games were influenced by it? What lessons can be learned about game design? It's been a fascinating study, I reported my findings in my reviews, and I've moved on.

I went in hoping to find timeless classics, something I could recommend to others. I tried to keep an open mind, but they simply aren't very good games.

"...clearly you do not belong in the KQ realm."

I take it, then its not for me? Should reviews and criticism limited themselves to discussing things they liked? Every game would get a 10 out of 10. I suppose it would make insecure fans happier, but wouldn't really help people either looking for good games to play, or looking to learn from the past.

Celeste at 15:06 Aug 21, 2009

To me all of them seemed like nothing more than smug snobbish rants, a way to show off your intellect by making fun of games for their obvious flaws (which of course they would have, nothing is ever made PERFECT). So that leaves me to ask, are reviews supposed to look at the positives and negatives equally or just look at the negatives and point them out in a 'bitchy fashion' as you did? You seem assured that these games have more negative things about them than positive, that's where your wrong.

I stand by what I say, your sole purpose for playing those games was simply to whine, bitch, and moan about the flaws they have (because god forbid they EVER have any flaws, they must always be 150% perfection, huh?) Perhaps you just have too high of standards and those games should be taken away from you immediately and given to someone who might actually appreciate playing them.

Alan De Smet at 21:51 Aug 21, 2009

Critical reviews are tough, Celeste. These are video games produced by corporations. They're not little children whose feelings are going to be hurt. I like plenty of games, as my reviews show. (A number of games I feel should be heralded aren't present in my reviews; I need to replay them before reviewing them as it's been too long.) I also dislike a lot of games, because, yes, I do have high standards. I'm a firm believer that video games are (or at least can be) art. They're not going to get any better if we coddle them like discouraged children. We should identify the best and point them out to others. We should identify the faults and encourage others to learn. The King's Quest games, on the whole, are riddled with faults. There are better adventure games.

"those games should be taken away from you immediately"

I'll take that for, no, these games aren't for me. They weren't meant to stand up to the harsh glare of criticism and review. Of course, if Sierra didn't want them reviewed, perhaps they shouldn't have shipped millions of copies across the country. Celeste, I'm not a bully picking on your children! I'm a nobody with an irrelevant web site critically reviewing the products of a major game company. I'm pretty sure poor little Sierra can survive my rantings. And I approached the series sincerely looking for lost gems, hoping to find something to herald. But I didn't find that.

Why does this shake your soul so much? Why can't you believe my sincerity? You're engaging in an ad hominem attack to sidestep the actual issues. When you cross the line into assuming criticism of the thing you love must mean malice on the part of the critic, you've ceased honestly debating the topic and become a fanboy/fangirl.

Manualess at 3:37 Oct 11, 2009

I can has manual?

Peter Marklin at 22:58 Apr 28, 2010

The best evaluation I've ever seen. I almost agree wholeheardedly. KQ 5 and 6 are great though! But I didn't comprehend how the quality of a game coming from the same people can differ that much. makes me wonder who is actually behind it....

John at 4:17 Sep 27, 2010

I grew up with these games. KQ3 and 6 were my favorites. Yes they are very near and dear to my heart and the nostalgia is oozing, but if were to step back and view them from an objective person many years later I would agree with many of the points you made in your reviews. There were many flaws with the games. One of my only disagreements with you is....cmon...you HAD to know those stone snakes looked dangerous in KQ5...I sure as hell was thinking twice about walking between them. Haha. However flawed they might have been, they shaped adventure gaming for the better.

Kings Quest at 15:20 Jan 17, 2011

I read your King's Quest reviews and thought to myself that I will prove you wrong - that I will play all the games without any walkthroughs or so on and show that this is a beautiful collection of good adventure games. I had a lot of spirit on my mission, but it fell flat after I started playing the first game in the series.

It was terrible! I died about 10 times in the first twenty minutes. But that is not the worst thing, I love games where you can die (Space Quests, Indiana Jones), but most of the time the lack of good controls just causes you to die. Like, it took several tries to even get pass the first bridge to the castle. (actually, my first game play lasted around 3 seconds and the guy fall to the water)

At the very beginning, you have to push a stone to get a dagger. How am I supposed to know that I should push this stone, when it is just like every other stone in every other room?

If I give some object to the troll, it goes away but I lose points? Does this mean I should not give that object to the troll?

What about the evil dudes that you sometimes see and sometimes not (like the sorcerer)? Should I do something against them or not?

I think the text input is a problem too since you can never be sure that you have tried "everything" in one room. Also, for us foreigners some of the words are a bit problematic. Also, the "look around" or that sort of commands doesnt really give anything interesting (KG1). So one has troubling time understanding what the different pixels try to represent.

I must admit, that I have played the KQ7 without any help when I was a kid.. so when I get to the graphical interfaces with no text input, I think I try to do my best not to use any hints at all. Lets see.

Richard at 7:24 Jul 28, 2011

Nice reviews. I remember playing KQ series as a kid, and KQ5/6 were my favorites.. I remember when KQ7 came out, I was so excited expecting something along the line or better than 6. I was so disappointed by KQ7, never played the series again. I hear new KQ is in the works -- hope they pick up where 6 left off. (and dump that cartoony mess of a game 7 was)

This review brought a lot of nostalgia. Thanks

Gavin at 10:17 Sep 21, 2011

The King's Quest series is punishingly hard, but I wouldn't call it a bad series. You are going to die and you are going to screw up. Once you figure that out, progress in the game becomes infinitely more rewarding.

Playing these games retrospectively is very tough, because we've been spoiled by significantly easier games. Not to say that games nowadays are easy, but they want you to succeed, whereas King's Quest is happy to let success be its own reward.

They aren't meant to be played quickly. They are meant for you to explore and to try everything and look at everything. They encourage patience and discovery and outside-the-box thinking. By reviewing these games twenty years after they came out, you've been exposed to what modern games are like and thus even subconsciously, you're comparing King's Quest to them. That's the biggest fault I can find with your reviews.

There certainly are "cheap" or "cruel" moments in the games - King's Quest II with the bridge (you absolutely don't need the sugar cube to pass the brambles - you just need to walk very carefully), King's Quest V with the wand, and with saving the rat. But these aren't long games at all - if you weren't smart enough to save your game appropriately, that's really your fault. It's unforgiving but solvable.

My parents and I used the hint book to get past certain tough parts. Very rarely, however, did we say "Oh pfft, how could we have known to do that?!"

Respectfully, I think that you lack the context to properly understand these games retrospectively.

Alan at 15:37 Sep 21, 2011

While the original King's Quest was having player's guess at Ifnkovhgroghprm and discovering that being invisible makes nearby giant's sleepy, Infocom had released the far more logical Enchanter the year before. When King's Quest V was busy punishing you for failing to save a rat for no purpose, Loom and the Secret of Monkey Island were willing to reward experimentation and realized that repeatedly saving and loading doesn't constitute gameplay.

I played some of these games when they came out. Of course I loved them. There wasn't anything like them. But even at the time I was regularly frustrated. A hint book was practically mandatory. I fell off those damn stairs down from the cloud kingdom in King's Quest I far too many times. I tried shooting and otherwise dealing with that damn hijacker in Police Quest II for hours before a hint book revealed that while I had been practicing shooting, I apparently hadn't been practicing enough. Having to restart the game just so I could practice more often may have added an hour or two to how long the game took to beat, but it doesn't count as more gameplay.

The first King's Quest use of graphics and an on screen avatar in an adventure game was innovative. But that's just about all that Sierra brought us. Casablanca doesn't require me to appreciate the context of movies in its era, it's a brilliant film that stands the test of time. What's the value in holding the King's Quest series to a lower standard? How will it help people decide what classic games to play for enjoyment? How will it help identify what makes games good or bad?

Mickey at 6:07 Aug 2, 2012

In KQ7 the prince that Valanice wants Rosella to marry is "throckmorton", not "Edgar" who was previously introduced to rosella in KQ 4. :)

Dev Chand at 1:37 Oct 24, 2013

Good analysis, Alan! The King's Quest series has indeed aged very poorly. In fact, I partially blame the nonsensical puzzle design in a lot of poorly developed adventure games to this series.

Have you heard of Retsupurae's series on King's Quest 5 and King's Quest 6? You should check them out, they're funny in my opinion, and really show the poor design decisions in those games.

Dev.

Alan at 15:08 May 16, 2014

Penny Arcade broke all of their links because apparently they're still new to the web. Grr. Anyway, the "it's not for me" links should all go to this Penny Arcade comic.

Lisa H. at 15:17 May 13, 2017

In KQ2 it is possible to get through the poison brambles without the sugar cube, it's just very difficult.

I wonder if the thing with the bridle and the snake is supposed to reference Pegasus being born from the blood of Medusa when Perseus beheaded her, although in that case you might expect the horse to appear when you *do* kill the snake. The KQ games like to reward nonviolent solutions, though.

And a lot of the nonsense stuff is because especially earlier on, they're basically a soup of fairytale characters and settings. I'm not exactly defending this as a design choice because it does often come off disjointed, but at least it makes some of the puzzle solutions a little less bizarre if you keep that in mind.

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