King’s Quest is a classic graphic adventure game released on many platforms. This post focuses on the Atari ST version of the game. Whilst not the first graphic adventure game, King’s Quest established the genre and brought prosperity to Sierra who went on to produce many graphic adventure games.
For those who weren’t alive in the 1980s, or didn’t take up video games at an early enough age, before the days of modern video games with real-time 3D graphics there were text adventures. As technology progressed developers introduced graphics to video games, whilst still incorporating text components due to the limits of technology and “Point and Click” video games were born.
The video game industry was in its infancy and literally anyone could write a video game and many different types of people took to writing video games. The King’s Quest series was produced by a video games company Sierra, who made a name for themselves with point and click adventures. The game established the company and the series was written by Roberta Williams, her picture is featured on the back of the large cardboard box the game came in.
Yours truly started playing video games from the age of 2 so I grew up with King’s Quest on the Atari 520ST. I never managed to complete it as a child due to the sheer difficulty level. I dug the Atari out the attic a few years ago and completed it, twice.
The game starts by placing our hero, Prince Graham, in a field next to a castle. There is a bridge across a moat leading you into the castle. Very simply, you have to walk into the castle without falling in the water and being eaten alive by the crocodiles. Easier said than than done when you are an infant using a mouse and I cannot tell you how many times Prince Graham got eaten.
Inside the castle you meet King Edward who tells our hero to go and collect the three lost treasures of Daventry; The Magic Mirror, Magic Chest and Magic Shield. When he does he will become King of Daventry. You then explore the mystical kingdom of Daventry, solving puzzles and collecting items. The difficulty is brutal to the point of cruel at times and there are an amazing number of ways to die, some of which are extremely humorous when playing the game as an adult. Rather than go through the whole game, for those of you who have played it and those who haven’t, here are a few highlights:
The egg serves no purpose whatsoever and is almost a cruel joke by the developers. You get a few points for collecting it, but that is it. You don’t need it to complete the game and unless you want 100% complete you can skip it. Collecting it is a pain in the arse and requires constant key tapping using the arrow keys. Forget using the mouse or you will be there forever.
There is a gnome and you have to guess his name. He is also a pain in the arse. It is basically impossible to get this one without the internet. The only clue in the game is a note in the witch’s house “sometimes it pays to think backwards”. The gnome’s name is “ifnkovhgroghprm” which is not Rumpelstiltskin backwards, but Rumpelstiltskin with the alphabet reversed (so A = Z, etc.). Video games were hard in the 80s.
If you run into him, scary music starts playing, you have a few seconds to leave the screen and if you don’t, he eats you alive. Terrifying as a little kid.
There is a giant guarding the magic chest. Either you can put him to sleep with the magic ring which takes effort for maximum points or just kill him with the slingshot. Playing the game again as an adult, killing the giant is hilarious.
There is a dragon inside the well and you can either kill him by throwing the dagger at him or disarm him by throwing your bucket of water at him. Unless you plan to kill the dragon you don’t need to go to the effort to pick up the dagger and you get more points for throwing the water at him so throwing the water is the obvious call.
Upon collecting all the items and returning to the king, he then dies spectacularly in front of you, leaving you as king. The game then freezes. That’s it!