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

85
Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  *Katakis* (37881)
Written on  :  Sep 23, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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Summary

King's Quest II gets ramped up a notch

The Good

King's Quest VI was the first King's Quest game that I ever played, and this was back when I got my first PC. I only played the second game years later. KQ2 was released in 1985 and had you rescue a damsel in distress who was held captive in a quartz tower. Sierra decided to revisit the same theme seven years later, but this time round they created a much bigger game, with more puzzles, great graphics, a delightful soundtrack, and lots of dialogue.

Roberta Williams was the sole designer for the first five games, but that was to change during the production of the sixth game. Roberta teamed up with master storyteller Jane Jensen who was new at Sierra at the time. The KQ6 hint book has a lot of detail on the making of the game, and it's worth a read. Jane would later go on to create the Gabriel Knight series.

This game begins right where King's Quest V left off. For those who haven't played it yet, Cassima was also in the fifth game, working as a servant under Mordack. King Graham, along with his friend Crispin, helped her get back to the Land of the Green Isles (“the Green Isles”). Before this happened, Alexander develops a crush on her and said that he would visit her sometime. Alexander was true to his word and sets sail to the Green Isles. While en route, a storm arrives which leaves Alexander shipwrecked on the Isle of the Crown, which happens to be the same island where Cassima is being held.

This is all featured in the game's introduction, and there are different versions of this, depending on whether you have the CD-ROM or disk version. The introduction to the disk version was okay, but I was more impressed with the CD-ROM version's. It is 50mb long and just stunning, and you can see a lot of effort was put into it

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. Every area has a certain theme. The Isle of the Crown has an Arabian Nights theme, while the Isle of the Sacred Mountain is based on classical mythology. 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. 

What makes KQ6 stand out from the rest of the series is the way you can solve puzzles differently, as well as letting you choose the route that will get you inside the castle. I was more satisfied with going down the hardest route, which offers more locations and slightly harder puzzles. There are also several variations to the ending – mentioned in Peter Spear's “King's Quest Companion” - that are worth replaying the game for.

There are many ways to solve KQ6, using alternate solutions for some 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, and 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.

Like KQ5 before it, the game uses 256-color VGA graphics. The hand-drawn backgrounds in KQ6 are much better, and the environments that you walk around in are great, ranging from beaches to gardens. The characters that you encounter are well-drawn, and I can definitely relate to some of them. the portraits are good as well, and the lip-synching is excellent. Like all Sierra's games that uses their newer SCI engine, the icon-driven interface is quite colorful, although I didn't like how it looks in the CD-ROM version as it just doesn't blend in. One of the “About” pages (in the Control Panel) give you an overview of the previous King's Quest games, which is ideal for players who never played one of the previous games to go out and buy the game if they are interested.

The soundtrack is well composed, and each piece blending in with what sort of environment you are in. Each bit of music is excellent if you are playing the game with a General MIDI device such as the Roland SC-88. The sound effects are also great with a cartoony effect thrown in for good measure.

The CD-ROM version also featured the “Girl in the Tower” song, well suited to the game's theme. It was written by Mark Seibert, sung by a couple of nobodies, and praised by the majority of King's Quest fans. (Okay, the singers were never credited in the closing credits, so I stand by my statement.) A snippet of the song can be heard in the disk version, and players were encouraged to call their radio station and request its broadcast. Most radio stations refused to play the song, and Sierra was threatened with legal action. This version of the game also includes a video on the making of the game.

I like the humor in the game. There are amusing tidbits on each of the islands you visit, but I found a lot of the humor is triggered when you try to talk to everything you see. And Sierra added a talk icon in the inventory for a reason, and having said that, I enjoyed talking to Rotten Tomato as he has some funny things to say. ("I've got a lawyer, you know. There's some kidnapping laws in this here kingdom.")

There is one point in the game where you have to refer to the “Guidebook of the Land of the Green Isles” that came with the game to solve The Cliffs of Logic, otherwise you won't be able to progress through the game. Not only does it serve as the copy protection for the game, it also provides some useful information about the Green Isles and its flora and fauna.

The Bad

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 getting the CD-ROM version? Yes, because you get to watch the stunning introduction, get to experience some top-notch voice acting, and enjoy some other bonuses. Can Sierra maintain the same quality for the rest of the King's Quest games? Play them and find out.