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King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow (DOS)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  *Katakis* (37860)
Written on  :  Sep 23, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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“Alexander, I feel so alone. I don't know what to do. Oh, Alexander, I wish you were here.”

The Good

At the end of King's Quest V, Graham's son, Alexander, asks Cassima if he could visit her in the Land of the Green Isles (LOTGI), and she said that he could. It seems that Alexander was true to his words. One day, he looked in the magic mirror, and having seen a distressed Cassima, sets out on a journey to the LOFGI with his crew. How he gets there is by navigating the stars. Unfortunately, a storm arrives which caused the crew to be swept away and leaving Alexander shipwrecked on the Isle of the Crown, an island belonging to the LOFGI.

So King's Quest VI is an adventure game that has the same “rescue the princess” theme that plagued King's Quest II, as well as other fantasy adventures. Unlike these games though, KQ6 delivers an ultimatum to the game player, along the lines of “If you don't rescue the princess in time, something unpleasant will happen”. In this case, Alexander finds out that if he does not rescue Cassima, then her keeper, Abdul Alhazred, will marry her. The plot gets even better. You see, there are four other islands in the LOFGI, but instead of them keeping peace between them, they are feuding, thanks to Alhazred's marvellous work.

There are many ways to solve KQ6, using alternate solutions for situations that you will face, and you will be awarded more points if you happen to take the best route. Your end goal is to get inside the castle. Likewise, there are multiple ways that you can get inside, and more points are also awarded if you choose to take the difficult path in. The multiple solutions make KQ6 highly replayable.

KQ6 is, in some ways, similar to King's Quest III. You see, besides playing Alexander again, you use a magic map, but you are given the freedom to teleport to different areas (in this case, the islands), and therefore are not restricted to just exploring the one place. Another similarity between the two games is the fact that depending on the path you take, you may or may not be required to prepare and cast spells. The easy thing about this is that you only have to put the ingredients together and use a spell book to cast the spell, rather than typing the incantation.

KQ6 was also released on CD-ROM. I assure you, the CD version contains extra shit like the 50MB introduction and full speech. You also get the Windows version, where the introduction is slightly different and the FMVs of all characters look a lot detailed than they are in the DOS version. When the Windows version is installed, you also install The Making of King's Quest VI, which features Roberta Williams and Jane Jensen, her co-designer. I favor the CD-ROM version because of these features. The full speech is great. The voices that I like include Gate (from the Realm of the Dead), arch-Druid, and Alhazred.

Like KQV before it, the game uses 256-color VGA graphics; support for common sound cards such as the MPU-401, Adlib, and Sound Blaster; and mouse-driven point-and-click interface. KQ6's graphics have a better detailed look. I quite like the color that Sierra used for the interface I thought that it was quite like the one that was used in Laura Bow: The Dagger of Amon Ra. The environments that you walk around in are great, ranging from beaches to gardens. The characters that you encounter are well-drawn.

The music and sound effects are great. As I said in my trivia, the CD version also includes the Girl in the Tower song, specifically designed for KQ6. This song suits the game's plotline very well. A sample of the song is also heard in the disk version of the game, but it being a sample, it only lasts for five seconds. A dialog is displayed afterward, telling you to ring up US radio stations if you want to hear the entire song – a disadvantage for those who live in another country.

The Bad

During the game, you are required to consult the Guidebook to the Land of the Green Isles to solve some puzzles in order to climb a huge cliff, whether you play the disk version or not. Too bad if you lost it.

So Sierra made the effort of making the introductions of both disk- and CD-based versions different from the rest of the game. But why didn't they just bother doing the same thing to some parts of the game, what other companies did to their interactive movies. Sierra may have limited its cut-scenes to fit its files on a single disk, but back in the early 90's, CDs had a 650MB capacity, so there was no reason why Sierra didn't do this, especially to the CD version.

There are always inconsistencies among the voices in Sierra's CD-ROM games. Different actors have played the same role. The voice of Alexander is not the same voice that you hear in KQ6, and the same goes for Cassima, Rosella, and Valanice as well. The characters are played by two different people, and I don't think that's right. There should be the same actor playing a certain character throughout the series, like what Sierra did for Graham.

The Bottom Line

Although KQ6 has the "rescue the princess" theme, it has a much, deeper plot. The game is similar to KQ3, in which the tasks that you did in this game are also repeated here. It is worth it to get the CD-ROM version, because you get to watch the extended introduction and listen to the fine speeches that are delivered by international actors. A similar introduction is available in the disk version, but it is very small due to the size limit of floppy disks. Unfortunately, whichever version you have, you are faced with copy protection, requiring you to use the documentation supplied with the game to work out some puzzles.