King’s Quest I VGA Enhanced Edition

Monday, 9 February 2009

 

Perhaps it is inevitable that if we do something of value in our life time, it will be ultimately be emulated, adapted, changed or updated by someone else. It may not be an exact replication or it could even be a shadow of the original work but chances are, if you made a contribution of value, some one will eventually be looking to flatter you with their imitation.

The same could be possibly said about early Sierra adventure games. Sierra before it was purchased by Vivendi Games, was considered the leader of the adventure game industry and was a different breed of company as compared to its current form. Whilst many reviewers of the day may not have always agreed that Sierra always produced the perfect adventure game (often due to the ease in which players died and the need to constantly save) , what made Sierra the leader of this industry was their dedication to invest in the latest technologies to support their games, the volume of adventure game titles that where created and sold and because they produced the very first graphical adventure game title that effectively started the adventure game industry.

 

                             choose1                        Fighting Fantasy

                                        Choose your Adventure / Fighting Fantasy (Game Books)                  

So which title was the very first adventure game? Well that’s hard to discern, it might very well be argued that game books / choose your own adventure games are the very first, owing to the multiple choice type of play or it could possibly be text computer games of the 70’s enjoyed by US college students, what I do know is that one of the first adventure game released commercially on a computer which combines a text adventure with vector graphics, was a title called Mystery House, which was released by Sierra in 1980. This particular title expanded the scope of what was possible in gaming by implementing graphics along side a text based adventure and with its success on the Apple II, eventually lead to the development of the very first animated graphic adventure game in 1984 which used sprites and allowed you to play in a third person perspective, this game was called King’s Quest.

 

                 End of the Road     Mystery_House_-_Apple_II_render_emulation_-_2

                                1970’s Text Adventure                                              Mystery House

 

To me Kings Quest really is the very first Adventure Game, the game that really shaped the genre to which most modern adventure games have been based upon. The same kind of format or vehicle that was used in King’s Quest has been used time and time again to portray the adventure game story. Whilst it’s true the interface has improved over time, the nuts and bolts of adventure gaming really stem from this one crucial title.

King’s Quest is based in a fantasy land called Daventry and borrows heavily from children's fairy tale stories, for inspiration of many of the games places and characters. Of the fairy tale themes portrayed in the game, some where borrowed from children tales such as Jack and Giant Bean Stalk, The Hansel and Gretel and the Ginger Bread Man.

In this tale you are Sir Graham the knight, who has been sent forth in the Land of Daventry to recover three magical artefacts for his King. The King with out much time to live and no heirs to bestow and has set the task so that he may pass on the order of rule to whom ever returns to the castle successfully with the artefacts. The magical artefacts are destined to restore the Kingdom to its former glory.

The game provided a number of different challenges in order for it to be completed, the player had to solve several puzzles which involved interacting with the environment, collecting items and using those items at the appropriate time in order for them to get to the end of the game. There were also situations that required the player to answer questions correctly to either to progress, get the best outcome or simply not die.

To date there have been three versions of Kings Quest released: low-Res EGA & CGA, High Res EGA and a more recent remake in VGA.

 

boot_023 5176_0 

                       CGA Low Resolution (4 Colours)                                    EGA Low Resolution (16 Colours)

KQ1EGA4  KQ1 - Draw Bridge

                        EGA High Resolution (16 Colours)                                 VGA High Resolution (256 Colours+)

 

The low resolution version was obviously the very first incarnation of the game and whilst still playable today through programs such as DOS Box (DOS Emulator), it can be seen that graphically the game is some what basic and whilst this may appeal to those who love retro graphics, for the rest of us it doesn’t make for very appealing play.

 

 

 

 

The second and far easier on the eye version was produced by Sierra in 1990, which expanded the EGA graphics and utilised a higher resolution mode, it was made to reflect the quality of other existing EGA titles that were being produced around that time and was slightly improved in terms of the in game scripting  and character dialogues.  Sierra wanted to ensure that their original key title was still playable by newcomers to the genre.

 

KQ1EGA1   KQ1EGA2

KQ1EGA5   KQ1EGA8

                                                                   King’s Quest EGA Screenshots

 

The third version was made back in 2001 and wasn’t produced by Sierra at all. It was made under a fan license by a group called AGD Interactive. AGDI collectively used a program called Adventure Game Studio (AGS) to remake the game free of charge in VGA, as a fan game. Many fan projects where beginning to appear around this time, but very few were up to standard and quality of AGDI’s edition of King’s Quest. Had it been released back in the mid nineties, it would have easily garnished the praise of a commercial product.

  KQ1 Throne Room   KQ1 House 

  KQ1 VGA Field   KQ1 - Candy House

                                                                 King’s Quest I VGA Screenshots

 

The initial release of the VGA Kings Quest remake, was more or less just a slight improvement over the EGA title, whilst some scenes would appear to be completely re drawn,  many of the scenes that were in the EGA version were left intact and re-coloured using greater texture or colour that the VGA pallet allowed for. The main character sprite was also replaced with the King’s Quest V sprite, which now gives the series a more unified look. The most profound change that occurred was in the move from the traditional text phraser (typing commands) to the more user friendly point and click interface.

 KQ1 The Well1 kq5newvga13

                                  King’s Quest I                                                                 King’s Quest V

 

Fast forward to 2009, several years later after the release of remakes for King’s Quest 2 and Quest for Glory 2, AGDI have gone back and taken another look at their first classic remake and made some changes.

The first is a completely integrated speech pack, with full narration and character dialogues all through out the game. This is quite a nice touch, even though there was previously a speech pack available as an add on, it only added speech to some of the main characters in the game and didn’t provide any narration for the game at all.

Another has been to double the game resolution and retouch the backgrounds to improve the overall visual quality, along with tidying up certain visual elements and fixing a number of minor bugs along the way.

The third and final change has been to add in an option which removes the games dead ends, So if you miss an item or forget to do something along the way your not forced to start right from the beginning again.

 

The Kings Quest Series in my opinion is one of the most enjoyable and classic series that can be found on the PC and the remakes made by AGDI, only serve to complement the series even further.

The game remains faithful to the original classic while delivering new and rejuvenated graphics and an easy to use point and click interface to boot.

If you haven’t tried it yet, why not download it from

http://www.agdinteractive.com/games/kq1/

http://www.agdinteractive.com/

It’s free and ready to play!

Overall Rating 90%

 

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