King's Quest

aka: KQ1, King's Quest 1, King's Quest: Quest for the Crown
Moby ID: 122
PC Booter Specs

Description official descriptions

Sir Graham is a brave knight who is sent on a quest to retrieve three treasures that were stolen by deception and stealth: a shield that protects its bearer from invaders, a mirror that foretells the future, and a treasure chest that is forever filled with gold. If Graham takes these treasures back to the royal castle, then the ailing King Edward the Benevolent of Daventry will hand over the crown. During his travels, Graham will meet characters that will either help or hinder him.

King's Quest is commonly considered the progenitor of third-person-perspective adventure games. As opposed to earlier graphic adventures, the player is able to navigate the protagonist on screen in eight directions, creating an effect of three-dimensional exploration. The player character can also be obscured from view when hiding behind an object, is subjected to gravity, and has different animations for actions such as picking up an item, falling, swimming, etc. Graham can be moved around with arrow keys and perform various actions when the player types commands, normally consisting of noun and verb combinations (e.g. "Take flower", "Talk man", etc.).

The game world consists of a cyclic outdoor area with places of interest (houses, characters, etc.) that must be found through exploration. Much of the kingdom is accessible to Graham from the beginning, and there are only a few restrictions imposed on traveling. In order to complete the game, the player has to procure certain items and use them in correct situations or with specific characters. Some of the puzzles rely on fairy tales, and a good knowledge of those makes them easier to solve.

The game awards the player points for most of the actions he makes Graham perform. Since some of those are not crucial to completion, it is quite possible to finish the game without having attained the full score. Some of the tasks in the game have multiple solutions, though the game may grant the player less points if he chooses the simpler one. Many hazards await Graham on his journey, and death is frequent if the player is not careful. The game can also be rendered unwinnable by failing to collect a specific item or wasting it.

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Screenshots

Credits (PC Booter version)

11 People (8 developers, 3 thanks)

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 68% (based on 19 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 186 ratings with 12 reviews)

The original King of Computer Games.

The Good
When I read reviews that give King's Quest a bad impression, it makes me as a grown man want to cry like a little girl with a skinned knee. It also makes me mutter things like "Kids these days wouldn't know a good game if it jumped up and hit them in the face!", even though I'm not yet 30 myself.

I can only assume, for own peace of mind and faith in the human race, that anybody slamming King's Quest is doing so by today's gaming standards, and not the gaming standards of its time. Because in 1984, when Sierra first revolutionized the computer world by releasing this game, King's Quest was the crowned King of Computer Games, and remained so for many years.

From a technical perspective, Ken and Roberta Williams and the Sierra team broke so many new levels with this game, and then again with its next few sequels over the next decade, that it seemed to me as a kid that Sierra would rule the gaming world forever. In a time of text adventures and blocky monochrome arcades, they released a full color multi-dimensional game where you could actually physically MOVE the hero around a detailed fantasy world, in front of, behind, and around objects, and interface with items, terrain, and other characters in an involving storyline and several challenging quests.

Later, when other game companies picked up on the technology, Sierra released sequels that were not only more and more playable, detailed, story-rich and entertaining with each game, but made new technology headlines every time. As KQ1 was the first game to ever make use of a CGA color, PC speaker musical sound and comprehensive text parser interface, KQ4 was the first game to use detailed EGA graphics and support for the new (back then) Adlib/Soundblaster rich audio and music. And when that very quickly became commonplace, KQ5 was released with vivid 256 color VGA graphics and a previously unheard of point-and-click mouse interface instead of the old text parser.

But back to the original. A few of the MobyGames reviews for King's Quest 1 say that the game is noteworthy only for these technology breakthroughs and its historic significance in the gaming industry, but as a game in and of itself, it has almost no merit. This could not be further from the truth.

While the storyline, gameplay and quests of KQ1 may seem pale and pointless by today's standards, imagine yourself as a child in 1984. This game wasn't made for hardcore teen/adult gamers in the 21st century, it was made for kids in the early 80's. And in that light, it was magical. With dragons to slay, magical artifacts to collect, and all manner of mystical creatures from fairies to trolls to leprechauns and everything in between, King's Quest was like an interactive movie or book where YOU get to be the hero. As a kid in 1984, who grew up on films like NeverEnding Story, Legend, and The Dark Crystal, bringing the fantasy world of wizards and warriors, dragons and princesses, magic and intrigue, to the interactive medium of computer gaming - that in itself was more remarkable than the actual technological breakthroughs Sierra made with this game.

The Bad
As several other reviewers have noted, there are aspect of the game that can seem bland and frustrating, not just by today's standards but even back in 1984. I feel it's important to note though, that these for the most part were simply the effects of technological barriers that even Sierra couldn't break through at the time, not design flaws in themselves. The text parser, for example, is frustratingly limited. Things need to be worded a certain way. You might see a brown CGA lump on the ground and want it, but typing "PICK UP ROCK" could very well yield you a "You can't do that - at least not now." error (prevalent throughout the first three KQ games!). But a little patience and a logical mind can always overcome this limitation. "LOOK AT THE GROUND". You'll see it's not a rock after all, it's actually a walnut. Don't try and be verbose - the parser isn't as intelligent as today's gaming AI technology. You can't tell the game "Offer to help the woodcutter with his poverty issues" without getting a "I don't understand 'offer'." error, but "HELP MAN" does the trick.

Also, one or two of the puzzles were a little too complex with too few clues for a child's mind. The only clue, for example, to the gnome's name, is a completely unrelated note found in the witch's house that says "Sometimes it is wise to think backwards". However, simply writing the most likely name for a straw-to-gold spinning gnome back to front is not the answer - at least not until the EGA remake of the game was released.

Overall though, these are tiny flaws in what was and remains to be one of the greatest computer games of our time. Even today, two decades after its original release, I once in a while dust it off and play it again - even though I know the game by heart better than I know my own mother's birthday!

The Bottom Line
"Kids these days" {evilgrin} think they're "old school" if they remember finishing Doom or the original Wolfenstein. In my personal opinion, you're not even a gamer unless you've played King's Quest. In a world where most of today's games involve fragging the crap out of your friends with a multitude of high-tech weapons over a LAN or the internet and watching the blood and brain fragments fly, I'd like to think there are others like me out there who remember when good gaming involved using your mind, not your minigun, and a good game was good because of the storyline and gameplay itself, not just because it uses the latest ultra-fast 3D graphics technology, has heaps of powerful weapons and needs 2Gb of RAM and a $700 video card to play. As much as I hate to say it, but "those were the days"! =)

DOS · by Vaelor (400) · 2004

Truly one of the classics

The Good
Everything. The gameplay was complex and new for the time of release, as were the graphics. In a time when computer games consisted of black screens with dots on them and a lot of numbers to keep up with, Kings Quest showed what a computer game could be. I, along with many, many other people, was completly engrossed in this game for months during 1984 and 1985.

The Bad
The hardest thing about Kings Quest is that when compared to todays games it appears very old and dated. This is not a fault but something to be understood. The gameplay strongly overplays this and a good run through Kings Quest will give a modern gamer an understanding of his roots.

The Bottom Line
At the time of release Kings Quest was everything that a computer game tried to be. Over the test of time the gameplay has paled, as have the technical elements; but Kings Quest is still one of the classics, as it will always be. Anyone interested in where the computer games of today come from, why Sierra is a major player in the computer game world today (despite their recent work and reputation) and why the Kings Quest series of games have sold millions and millions of units should take a look at this game.

PC Booter · by Andy Roark (263) · 1999

King's Quest 1: The first of a series that started it all

The Good
As Sir Graham, help King Edward recover the three lost treasures of Daventry - a magic mirror, a treasure chest of gold, and an enchanted shield, while meeting Rumplestiltskin, the Leprechaun Kingdom, Goliath, and the witch from Hansel and Gretel.

This game like Police Quest, used the "text to action" format. That works so well, but also had the point and click of such adventure games like "Monkey Island" and "The Flight of The Amazon Queen" (Both great games/game series check them out).

The Bad
This game was a bit repetitive and had a mediocre point scoring system, but that's understandable for the time this was designed and coded. It was the first adventure game to feature object blocking to allow a moving character on screen to go behind and in front of objects, thus creating Sierra's "3-D Animated Adventure".

The Bottom Line
This game, has great graphics for the time and it has rich sounds. This game will fill you with the same feeling as when you first play Zelda64 Ocarina of Time (I'm reffering to the lush deep graphics and bright forestry atmosphere)

Amiga · by phil buckley (19) · 2006

[ View all 12 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Year PCjr? Edwin Drost (9195) Mar 21, 2017
Any other adventure games like KQ1&3? Lain Crowley (6630) Mar 30, 2012

Trivia

Code Decryption

The developers used encryption to hide code from prying eyes. The encryption key was Avis Durgan. However, according to PC Gamer (July 2000), nobody can remember why this key was chosen or who Avis Durgen is -- not even Ken Williams!

.. but Al Lowe does remember:

Avis was Jeff Stephenson's wife's maiden name. I guess he was in love!

Development

Originally developed by Sierra On Line and produced by IBM as a show piece for the IBM PCjr. The game was later produced by Sierra and was the foundation of the best-selling King's Quest series.

Graham

Sir Graham was so named because of designer Roberta Williams' fondness for graham crackers.

IBM Front Cover

Check out the IBM box's front cover--it has a completely wrong description and picture of King's Quest; this is because the box ad copy was written before the game was completed.

Novels

From 1995 through 1996 Boulevard Books published a trilogy of novels inspired by the King's Quest game setting of Daventry and featuring members of its royal family as the main protagonists:

  • The Floating Castle (1995), by Craig Mills, dealing with adventures Prince Alexander experiences between the events of King's Quests V and VI;
  • The Kingdom of Sorrow (1996), by Kenyon Morr, filling in some blanks regarding King Graham's activities between King's Quests II and III; and
  • See No Weevil (1996), also by Kenyon Morr, taking place seven years after the Kingdom of Sorrow and giving Graham's daughter, Princess Rosella, a chance to rule as regent during a crisis.

References

The flag of Daventry, as seen in the throne room, is in fact the flag of Sierra Leone. This is actually a pun referring to the development company, Sierra On-Line.

References to the Game

The website Homestarrunner.com created a game named Peasent's Quest quite similar to King's Quest. It has EGA graphics, text based typing, and the main character Rather Dashing is designed a little like Sir Graham.

Re-release

A complete version of King's Quest is available on Classic Games Collection CD featured with the July 2000 issue of PC Gamer Magazine.

Rumpelstilskin Puzzle

One puzzle, naming the gnome's real name must have been deemed too hard (or obscure) in the original version of King's Quest. I believe the clue was "Think back-wards" or something along those lines. The answer? The player had to write out the alphabet as follows:

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
ZYXWVUTSRQPONMLKJIHGFEDCBA
Substitute the letters from Rumplestiltskin with the letter below on the line. Of course most people entered Rumplestiltskin spelled backwards (logical) and this didn't work. In the SCI (1987) re-release of the game, the puzzle was made simpler with Rumplestiltskin backwards being the correct answer.

Technology

King's Quest was the first Sierra game to use the AGI game engine, which was used in Sierra's later games throughout the '80's. The way the engine was setup made it easy to port a game written with AGI to other computer platforms.

Awards

  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 01/2007 - One of the "Ten Most Influential PC-Games". It managed to link texts and graphics and caused the rise of Graphic Adventures.
  • The Strong National Museum of Play
    • 2020 – Introduced into the World Video Game Hall of Fame

Information also contributed by Andrew Shepard; Indra, Joakim Möller, Pseudo_Intellectual, Ricky Derocher, rstevenson, Shai Greenberg, Tibes80, and Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe.

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Related Games

King's Quest: Quest for the Crown
Released 2001 on Linux, DOS, Windows
King's Quest: Collector's Edition
Released 1994 on DOS, Windows 3.x
King's Quest II: Romancing the Stones
Released 2002 on Linux, Windows, 2010 on Macintosh
King's Quest I+II+III
Released 2010 on Windows
King's Quest: Mask of Eternity
Released 1998 on Windows
King's Quest 7+8
Released 2010 on Windows
King's Quest III: To Heir is Human
Released 1986 on DOS, 1987 on Atari ST, Amiga...
King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human
Released 2006 on Windows
King's Quest 4+5+6
Released 2010 on Windows

Related Sites +

  • AGD Interactive
    Download King's Quest 1 remake for free
  • Game Map (Sega Master System)
    Images with maps of all locations and their position to each other.
  • King's Quest Realm
    An interesting sight devoted to the entire King's Quest series. It offers hints, a message board and a superb section devoted to the history of these popular games.
  • King's Quest at Wikipedia
    Includes an entire history and list of creatures, games in the series and more.
  • ScummVM
    supports the DOS, Macintosh, Amiga, Atari ST, Apple IIgs versions of King's Quest under Windows, Linux, Macintosh and other platforms.
  • Sierra Gamers
    The Official Website of Ken Williams and King's Quest creator, Roberta Williams.
  • The King's Quest series at Game Nostalgia
    An illustrated overview of King’s Quest 1984 up to King's Quest: Mask of Eternity (including various fan games).

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 122
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Contribute

Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Andy Roark.

Amiga added by POMAH. Apple II added by KnockStump. Macintosh added by Martin Smith. SEGA Master System added by Katakis | カタキス. Apple IIgs added by Garcia. Atari ST added by Belboz.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Paul Budd, Indra was here, Katakis | カタキス, Jeanne, Guy Chapman, Andrew Shepard, game nostalgia, Macs Black, Picard, Patrick Bregger, Jo ST, SoMuchChaotix.

Game added May 18, 1999. Last modified February 13, 2024.