Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (39520)
Written on  :  Sep 23, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars4.4 Stars

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The prettiest KQ game I have played so far

The Good

The fourth installment of the King's Quest series is much better than the previous three games when it comes to, well, everything. Roberta Williams wanted KQ4 to be special, and fans were impressed at what they saw. In the last game, Alexander escaped the hands of the wizard Manannan and freed her sister Rosella from the three-headed dragon. KQ4 begins where it left off.

The introduction to the game is something, since it runs for about ten minutes, a first for a KQ game. It tells how King Graham becomes ill and Rosella traveling to Tamir to find the magic fruit that will save her father. She must also recover the talisman that was stolen by Lolotte, an evil fairy that resides in a castle high up in the mountains. It's easy to get emotional while watching the intro, since the player finds out that Genesta, the fairy who brought Rosella to Tamir, will die in twenty-four hours if her talisman is not returned. There are quite a few dialog boxes in it, but you can't press a key to bypass them unless you want to go straight into the game.

It's easy to notice that the graphics are improved quite a bit, and that's because the game uses Sierra's new SCI0 interpreter which offers a resolution of 320x200 and crisper character sprites, and the text parser at the bottom of the screen is gone. Instead, you press a key and a box appears with a prompt inside. I love this technique, mainly because it pauses the action as you type, and I can think of a few situations where something bad is going to happen to you and you need to type a command quickly without worrying what is happening on screen. A smaller version of KQ4 was released, containing the old AGI version and the same chunky graphics, but this version didn't last long.

Another plus is the improved sound. No longer do you have to play through PC Speaker, you can choose the Adlib or the Roland MT-32 as your sound card. The tunes are excellent, especially coming from the MT-32 since the device is capable of producing music using real instruments. My favorites were the introduction and the scene where you are flown to Lolotte's castle. Anyone who watched Fame back in the day will be pleased to know that the soundtrack was composed by no other than William Goldstein.

I like how KQ4 is the first – and last – game to operate in real-time. You can go in this haunted house and check the time on the grandfather clock in the foyer. Time plays a crucial role in this game, as day shifts to night at some point in the game, and you can only do certain things at night. In fact, there is only one thing that you must do at night-time before dawn breaks. Everything looks good at night just like they do during the day. Every house that you can visit is lit up, adding to the atmosphere.

People probably don't know this, but there are actually two endings. You can carry out your objective properly, or you can be selfish and eat it, meaning that you have no hope of saving Graham. There are the many references to folklore. You have to deal with the minstrel, cupid, the unicorn, and even the ogre and his wife. Finally, KQ4 may have attracted female players as it is the first to allow you to control a female protagonist.

The Bad

There are many death traps in this game, and this usually take the form of stairs that are uneven. More often than not, you can fall down and die if you don't follow a specific path. Even smaller steps can be fatal.

The Bottom Line

King's Quest IV is a massive game compared to the previous three games. It runs on Sierra's new SCI engine, meaning that it has superior graphics and sound. It also has many features that make it stand out including a ten-minute introduction, a day/night cycle, and a girl as the main protagonist. Sierra thought that due to its complexity, not many people would be able to run the game, so they also made a version that used the old AGI engine and required less memory. If you have played any games in the KQ series other than number four, now would be a perfect time to get acquainted with Rosella.