Wednesday, September 21, 2011

8-Bit Banter: King's Quest 3!

OK friends and foes, lets turn back the clock for this one... King's Quest III: To Heir is Human. Released in 1986 for MS-DOS, this story driven text adventure left a huge impression on the industry as well as my own life. Some of my earliest gaming memories are of my brothers struggling to beat the evil minotuar. For some reason this is forever embedded in my memory, much unlike the maze path to that damn minotuar!

So let me tell you a bit about the game. It was a PC title at first and came on like a dozen floppies. You play as Gwydion, a young man enslaved by the evil wizard Manannan. Gwydion is a wimp who lets Manannan push him around too much. He's forced to empty Manannan's magical poo and prepare his wizardly meals. You're a slave. So what do we do with a bully? Beat him up and take his wallet, but unfortunately Gwydion is too much of wimp to try that. So you turn him into a cat, run away now forced to complete your quest before the spell wears off. (This adds a cool timed element to the game.) So now we follow the classic story of saving princess and realizing you're royalty. But trust me, it's pulled off so well!

Now let's talk mechanics. KQ:3 is like every other Seirra game; screen with player and environment, map, text bar and inventory. Players type their actions and Gwydion performs them. One of my favorite things about text adventures is learning the game's dictionary. Some are real thin but Sierra seemed to have an extensive vocabulary and the quality of the game was proof! So, going back to the spell that was cast on Manannan... eventually it wears off. And when it does... POOF! He appears and BOY is he pissed. So what you need to do is complete all of the game's puzzles and quests in less than that time. (3 hours I believe)

So why is the third installment the best? I have a few reasons for thinking this. First off, the overall quality in graphics, sound and vocabulary was far superior to the previous titles. Also, unlike future titles, the story was just much better. It's an easily accepted story about the underdog. This title was also the funniest in the series. Characters and dialogue was unforgettable. Example: "Gwydion, my chamber pot needs servicing. Go empty it, immediately!"

Here's a video of some ways to lose. There's tons. And only one way to win.

But here's a question. How did this impact the industry and why should it be remembered? Well for one it's wonderful reception. It was a hit and even decades later, it has a handful of remakes both official and unofficial. But it's also important to mention that it's a masterpiece in a dead genre of gaming. As technology advanced, games like King's Quest became obsolete. Sure, there's still adventures similar in style but none as raw and user driven as these. Unfortunately, I don't see these games ever having a comeback. The genre simply doesn't have a place in this industry anymore. But it's undeniable that it didn't help shape RPG's and Adventure games into what they are today! 

So everyone, raise your goblet to the fine developers of King's Quest! We may never see anything like this wonderful title again!

If you're interested in playing some Sierra adventures on iPhone, iPad or on browser they're available free here: And don't worry it's an authorized port!

I don't have a clue for next week's game because I want to try something new. You'll just have to wait and see!


  1. by the way, I messed up the font and spacing on this one. Can't seem to get it back to it's original settings. Sorry if the fonts a bit small

  2. The "cool timed element" you speak of DROVE ME NUTS! You would wait 5 minutes for Manannan to leave before you could start the game. If I knew how to save back then, it wouldn't have been an issue... but I probably played this game for 5 years before I knew you could save. I would always just start over and see how far I could get. And that was usually abotu 6 minutes into the game when I fell down the mountain because your view is entirely obstructed by a massive boulder!

    All of those Sierra games were tons of fun. Police Quest too.

  3. LOVED this game, and KQIV too. Not to mention Space Quest, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry...all these types of games. Such a charm and so much fun. As soon as the typing was replaced by point and click, though, *poof* not as fun. Too easy.

  4. @ Stryder agreed. The point and Click is what ended an amazing era in gaming. Instead of having to take your time and think things out it people just clicked on every damn thing.

    @ J remember the trick to beating the wizard in his own game was to be back in the house before the spell wore off. Asl long as you did, you could recast the spell And get more time to go explore.