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King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella

aka: KQ4
Moby ID: 129
DOS Specs

Description official descriptions

King Graham and Queen Valanice were glad to have their children back. Graham thinks that it is time to pass onto them his old adventurers' hat. When he throws it across the room, he suffers a heart attack and collapses on the floor, and he is carried off to bed. The only way that Graham's health can be restored is by retrieving the magic fruit in the faraway land of Tamir. A beautiful fairy called Genesta offers Rosella the chance to be transported to the land, and find the fruit. But once she gets transported, she cannot be sent back unless she helps the fairy regain her talisman that was stolen by the evil witch, Lolotte.

King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella is the first game in the series to have a female protagonist. Rosella will meet characters that will either help or hinder her. The player moves Rosella around with arrow keys, and have her perform actions by typing commands. Unlike the previous King's Quest games, which used the AGI engine, this installment uses the new SCI engine with more detailed graphics; the most visible effect is that the game is paused while the player is typing, giving unlimited time to complete even the longest commands. An AGI version of the game, however, was released as well.

Gameplay-wise, the game is similar to the first two installments of the series, with a large interconnected world open for exploration and no time limit imposed. The game is the first in the series to have a day and night cycle; certain actions can be performed only during a specific time.

Spellings

  • King's Quest IV: המיסתורין של רוזאלה - Hebrew spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

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Written by
Design
Programming
Programming (AGI)
Programming (intro and ending movies)
Interpreter / Development System
Graphics / Artwork
Animation
Music
Executive Producer
Director
Graphics System
Cavalry Coding
Wrangling
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 77% (based on 24 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 93 ratings with 8 reviews)

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.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43086) · 2012

Possibly my personal favourite of the King’s Quest series

The Good
Remember when you where a child, tucked up all cosy in your bed, and your mother / father would read you a bed-time fairy-tale story? Well, this game brings the atmosphere of all those cosy fairy tales to life.
Seven dwarfs, an ogre’s house, a hen that lays golden eggs, witches… it’s all there.

From the rather plain original, the series had really evolved, and in this instalment things really start to come alive and find their stride.
Each of the King’s Quest games were traditionally bigger than it’s predecessor, but KQ4 is much, MUCH bigger than any of the previous games, by far the largest and most complex game in the series up to this point.

The thing that really stands out with this adventure is purely the great atmosphere it has to it, really sucking the player in, and having a lot of good ideas and various areas to explore.
It’s also much more intelligent than the first couple of games, with the magical land of Tamir feeling much more like a “living” world.

One of the notable things about this game was it’s having a female lead, Princess Rosella. Not only a first for the King’s Quest series, but one of the firsts for PC gaming in general. (There are a couple of sections where this is used dubiously, though. For example, at one stage, to you have to wash and tidy the seven dwarfs house!!)

One of the best elements of the game - and once again, a first for the series - is that it has a day/night-time cycle, with night-time arriving after you’ve completed certain puzzles and mini-quests.
The night has a great effect as it makes everything look creepy, and it revolves mostly around a run-down haunted house, where you have to help some restless ghosts by retrieving various things from their grave, avoiding zombies in the cemetery along the way. It’s much spookier than anything previously seen in any of the previous KQ games, and quite probably stands out as my personal favourite sequence of play within any of the King’s Quest games.

It is the last game in the KQ series to have EGA graphics, and undoubtedly contains some of the best EGA graphics ever seen in a game, in my opinion. Far sharper and better looking than anything seen in any of the previous KQs (or for any other Sierra game of the time, for that matter), the game looks stunning considering it’s EGA limitations.

It’s also the first game in the series to support sound cards. Originally when I played it, I only had the standard PC speaker – and even on that it sounded good, but when I re-played the adventure recently, I heard the sound card-driven effects for the first time, and, considering their age, they sound great.

Also, the last KQ entry to have text interface – I’m one of those who feel the series really lost some of it’s involvement when it was replaced by point-and-click.

This was actually the first King’s Quest game I played (though I dutifully filled in playing the previous instalments afterwards), as it stands as one of my favourite Sierra adventures.

**The Bad**
There's little I didn’t like about this one; a few nit-picky points at most.

It uses Sierra’s (then) new updated text interface. On the whole it’s good, and the way it pauses the action as you type is handy, not meaning you don't have to frantically finish typing before something fatal happens as in previous adventures. But the way it automatically pops up a window in the centre of the screen is a little distracting – bottom of the screen (as in some other adventures to use the engine) would have been better.
But more annoying is that, is how it stops dead any sound as soon as you enter a single letter, spoiling any background tunes that are playing at the time.

As with the previous KQ games, things are somewhat random driven at times – for example, at one stage, you need to deliberately get swallowed by a whale, but it’s appearance is very random, and as you look for it you’re just as likely to get eaten by a shark

It’s also easy to miss something important, leaving the game unfinishable as a result. For example, at one stage, you find yourself washed up on a small island. A bridal that you need to harness a unicorn elsewhere is actually on the island, but it is actually obscurely located in the ‘V’ of a ship-wreck, and the game gives you no hint that it’s there. You wouldn’t know if you missed it, and worse, it's impossible to return back to this island once you’ve left it.

And of course, as with just about all Sierra adventures of the era, there are several screens that that will see you plummeting to your death if you step one pixel out of place - and there’s plenty of them in this game. Twisty paths, dark caves (with a deep chasm that appears with warning from nowhere)…
And as with most Sierra games of the era, saving your game regularly is vital. Sierra obviously seemed to think such screens were “fun” to play; I guess no-one had the heart to tell them that they weren’t!

Oh, one more thing – the ending just seemed to stop dead. On the closing scene, after King Graham’s life has been saved, the animated picture and music just loop around and around, not having the usual closing credits as with most Sierra games.

**The Bottom Line**
One of the very best of the ‘King’s Quest’ games, and quite possibly my personal favourite of the series (King’s Quest V being it’s closest rival, though I’ve never managed to get hold of KQ6 to date).
Much bigger, there’s much more to explore than do than the previous entries, with the night-time section of game-play particularly standing out.
In my opinion, if you only ever play one King’s Quest game, this should be the one. It has a real nostalgic feel to it, being a reminder of both Sierra adventures and King’s Quest games in their heyday, at their very best.

DOS · by Jayson Firestorm (143) · 2002

Similar to KQ3, technically excellent, letdown by difficulty

The Good
This review can be like copy of my KQ3 review.

From good points, what stands out is that KQ4 is another notable step in technological execution. Moreover, step from KQ3 to KQ4 is way bigger than step from KQ2 to KQ3. New engine (SCI vs AGI), much sharper graphics (full 320x200, 16 colors), Adlib sound, big world, day and night cycle, etc..

The game has also very good writing, good story (compared to KQ1/2), admirable protagonist, very nice locations and generally playing KQ4 after first three installments is refreshing. Sierra made sure that you'll not have déja-vu feeling when playing this title.

The Bad
And similar as to KQ3, my main negative point is difficulty. Although, I must admit, it's a bit better than overly frustrating KQ3, it's still the game from hardcore-games times, when it was ok to play one adventure game for two-three months, talk about it with your friends, exchange experiences and ideas, move a little forward, then finally purchase some magazine with walkthrough in it, to finally beat the game. Apropos difficulty, I'm not talking just about adventure puzzles. Those adventure puzzles, even if some of them are really difficult, are still manageable. But game has action sequences, where one misstep cost you life. I remember passing through dark cave, even when double-checking against walkthrough that I made everything right, it took me maybe like 50-100 attempts to pass it. And "inside whale" screen is just atrocious taking into account today's standards. Literally pixel walking over invisible pixels. I thought that game is buggy, but nope, it was a feature. What game brought you with new fancy graphics and sound, it took you back with some frustrating parts.

But just to be clear, my review is solely from the point of view from new 'modern times' gamer who wants to play the game for the first time. Of course, people playing this game back in 80's and early 90's will probably disagree with me, because back then, it was totally different world. Nostalgia is a strong thing.

The Bottom Line
It's a pity I can't give score 3.5/5 now in Moby review, so I'm resorting to same 3/5 as for KQ3, albeit I think KQ4 is a notch better. If you don't mind higher difficulty and resorting to walkthrough from time to time, I consider KQ4 better play for new-gamer than KQ3.

DOS · by Vladimir Dienes · 2023

[ View all 8 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
KQ4 issues, KQ and Roberta Williams in general Andrew Fisher (697) May 21, 2023
It's not possible to visit the island at night, or is it? Nowhere Girl (8680) Jan 29, 2017
An unconventional credit source Lain Crowley (6629) Feb 26, 2012

Trivia

Development

King's Quest IV began development right around the time Sierra wanted to go with a new game engine, so it was developed simultaneously in both game engines--the new one (SCI) so that they could work the kinks out, and the old one (AGI) so that they could still release a product if any major setbacks occurred with SCI. No such problems occurred, and King's Quest IV was released in two versions: The AGI version which traditional 160x200 graphics and only requiring 256k of RAM, and the new SCI version with 320x200 graphics, but requiring 512K of RAM. The older version is extremely hard to come by--it had a very limited release.

Gags

If you asked Rosella to "undress", she refused by replying that children might be playing the game.

Graphics

At the time of its release (and according to the box) this was the largest game ever made. Over 3 megabytes of code! The new graphics started a trend with the Sierra games of the late 80s and early 90s that would test the limits of how many disks can be crammed into a box... until CD-ROM became standard.

References

If you type in some vulgar words, the game will respond "Perhaps you should purchase a copy of Leisure Suit Larry instead?" For example, try "shit".

References to the game

Rosella makes a cameo appearance in Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (In Several Wrong Places). She can be found tending the barbershop in the airport. In game when you type "look girl" it responds with:

"You find Daventry Women Sexy. (But then you find any woman sexy!)" followed up with the question, "By the way, have you played 'King's Quest IV' yet?

"Why no, I haven't " Larry replies, "is it good?"

"Well I certainly think so," she concludes, "maybe it's just me!"

Indeed, it is you Rosella. It is you. :)

Sound

The big deal with this game when it came out was that it incorporated stereo music support for sound cards. The composer, William Goldstein, also wrote the music for the musical Fame. Another big deal back then was the inclusion of a female protagonist.

Information also contributed by Adam Baratz, Brolin Empey, Michael Palomino, Olivier Masse and woods01

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Related Sites +

  • DJvu Browser Plug-in
    Website containing plug-in needed to view the Spring '89 issue of The Sierra Newsletter.
  • Hints for KQ4
    Wonderful hints nudge you along to help you solve the many puzzles in KQ4.
  • ScummVM
    supports the DOS and Apple IIgs versions of King's Quest IV under Windows, Linux, Macintosh and other platforms.
  • The Sierra Newsletter - Spring '89
    The Spring '89 issue contains an interesting article about "The Making of King's Quest IV". Worth a look. You must have the DJVu Browser plug-in in order to access the magazine.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 129
  • [ Please login / register to view all identifiers ]

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 Guy Chapman. Atari ST added by Terok Nor. Apple IIgs added by Servo.

Additional contributors: Katakis | カタキス, Jeanne, Crawly, Macs Black, Patrick Bregger.

Game added May 23, 1999. Last modified February 13, 2024.