King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
Description official descriptions
For months Prince Alexander of Daventry has shut himself away from the world, thinking only of Princess Cassima, who he met while imprisoned in the previous game. Eventually he can take it no longer, and he hires a ship to search for the Land of the Green Isles located on the edge of the world. After months of searching he finally sets sight upon the island kingdom, only for a freak storm to strike the ship, destroying it and leaving him the only survivor. His troubles are far from over, however, as he soon finds out that the King and Queen have passed away, the Greens Isles are on the brink of war, and his beloved Princess Cassima may even be held prisoner by the royal vizier.
Like its predecessors in the series, King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow is a third-person puzzle-solving adventure game. For Alexander to save the Isles, he must travel between the Land's four magical islands, each based on myth and fables, and encounter people and strange beasts that will either help or hinder him. Alexander must be careful as well, because, as with all the King's Quest games, poor choices or missteps will often prove fatal for the Prince. Puzzles are solved linearly, although late in the game there are two completely different paths to take to reach the final confrontation. Like the previous game, actions are performed using a point-and-click interface with icons that represent verbs ("walk", "examine", "use", "talk", etc.).
The CD-ROM version of the game includes both DOS and Windows versions, full speech, a pre-rendered introduction, and the Girl in the Tower theme song.
- 國王密使 VI：希望之旅 - Traditional Chinese spelling
Credits (DOS version)
39 People (37 developers, 2 thanks) · View all
|Written & Designed by|
|Text & Dialogue|
|Additional Sound Effects|
|[ full credits ]|
Average score: 83% (based on 26 ratings)
Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 161 ratings with 11 reviews)
(First of all, a disclaimer: I am anything but a diehard "King's Quest" fan. The only games in the series that I have played is this and "King's Quest VII".)
"King's Quest VI" casts the player in the role of Prince Alexander of Daventry, shipwrecked on the island where his lost love, Princess Cassima, lives. The object of the game is to get in contact with Cassima and save her from the dark machinations of a Grand Vizier (of course; never trust the Grand Vizier). I wouldn't say that this is a particularly original storyline, but it does have a serious, emotive appeal, even if one isn't a big fan of romance. The plot also develops nicely throughout the game, as Alexander travels to the other islands ruled by Cassima and delves deeper into the intrigues.
The writing is good for a computer game. It does get melodramatic in places, but most of the time the dialogue and narrative holds up, and the object descriptions are concise and useful.
Graphics-wise, the game is little short of excellent. Some character sprites are a bit undistinguished, but the backgrounds are consistently beautiful. Some of the locations (the forest, for example, or the top of the Sacred Mountain) will stay with me. The cutscenes are also outstanding (particularly the Oracle).
The sound effects are very real-sounding. (Unfortunately, the sound on my computer gave in around this time, so I played the second half of the game with no music.)
The H.P. Lovecraft reference got a big "YAY!" from me.
Controls are very good, and the invisible interface must have been quite groundbreaking for the time.
The puzzles are varied. While I liked some better than others, on average they were quite good. I particularly enjoyed the showdown with the Five Gnomes and the various spell ingredients. The way you use the two old coins is great as well.
More impressive than writing, graphics or puzzles, however, is the very scope of the game. The world is big, new areas being unlocked is the best incentive to keep playing. Usually, they don't disappoint. On a related note, the two different (but both successful) endings is a brilliant innovation that I haven't seen very often in old, or for that matter new, games. (OK, "Maniac Mansion" did it first, but its alternative endings were on a smaller scope.) When I got one of the endings, I immediately replayed it to get the other one.
The fairy-tale simplicity of the plot and characters didn't allow much depth. The characters are flat, though not unrealistic. The only people in the game I actually felt for were all in the Land of the Dead, which is probably significant.
A slight problem, but still a problem: the two mutually exclusive endings, as I said above, were a brilliant idea, and great in execution - but it still felt rather evident that one wasn't as good (conclusive, extensive) as the other. In consequence, the shorter ending felt less satisfying than the other.
(Only after reading the reviews on this site did I try to listen to "Girl In The Tower" online. I can now say: I'm glad I missed it in the game. That song wouldn't even be shortlisted for the Eurovision.)
There are two people named Ali in this game. This caused me confusion.
There is very little thematic coherence. Early in the game, I went to the town and the castle, and expected a serious fantasy game set in an "Arabian Nights"-like milieu - rather unusual, as far as games go. Unfortunately, the faux-Arabic setting was confined to the Island of the Crown. The other significant places in the game were disappointingly based on North European fairytales, Lewis Carroll-inspired nonsense stories, British druid lore, or Classical myth. Quite apart from the lack of unity (I can't believe how a couple of adjacent islands could be so dissimilar in culture), it also feels disappointingly unoriginal. I am certain Ms Williams could come up with her own plotlines, rather than ransacking unconnected myths and fairytales.
On a related note, there is some inappropriate comic relief in wrong places. One death scene, for example, taking place in one of the best-written and moodiest parts of the game, is unbearably cartoonish.
In the matter of gameplay, "King's Quest VI" have some features that are not as popular today. You can die by performing explicitly stupid actions, which I don't mind. You can also die by, for instance, accidentally clicking next to a block you're stepping on to, causing Alexander to jump off. You can render the game unwinnable, I am pretty sure, by failing to pick up something in a place you can only visit once, or by entering the Catacombs without the right equipment (however you are meant to know what the right equipment is). Make sure to save before doing something that might be risky.
Objects simply turn up in places, for no other reason than that the plot demands them, and this happens several times. In quite a few places, the answer to: "How do I find [object] that I need for this puzzle?" is simply: "Go back to [place] and it'll be there." I give them credit for the fact that the objects turn up in places where they could realistically be (a teacup on a coffee table, for example). But it breaks immersion.
Not so much so, however, as an unfortunately central puzzle near the end (the one involving the "drink me" potion and the lamp). It ranks among the worst adventure game puzzles I know. I can't start to explain what's wrong with it, but think about this: why does Alexander perform this admittedly clever action? So that Alhazred will think he's dead and be off his guard? (Presumably, though this is never addressed.) What is accomplished, however, is that the player gets vital information through a cutscene, and then makes Alexander act on this, even though he hasn't got the information. The creators were aware of the weirdness of this (note Alexander's dialogue when handing over the lamp), which means that they knew how stupid it was, and didn't do anything about it.
Yes, there is one thing I hated more than that puzzle, and that was the Island of the Internal Copy-Protection. Let me explain what an idiotic idea this was. If a company is worried about pirated copies of a game, they should put the copy-protection bit before the start of the game, where it belongs. The only thing they accomplish by putting copy-protection questions INSIDE the game, dressed up as puzzles, is to make themselves look like morons.
I may serve as a test case, since I bought the game in a classics edition, where the manual was a very slim thing containing only an explanation of the controls and the key of the Language of the Ancients. When I got to the Island of the Sacred Mountain, the following happened: I solved the first puzzle more or less by trial and error, solved the second puzzle after much thinking, and then I was stuck. Eventually, I looked the solution to the third puzzle up on the Internet, and it turned out to be... four different symbols that did not make up any word, sequence or pattern I could understand. Why? Because that's how the creators of the game ordained, and hey, it said so in the original manual. The rest of the puzzles I solved by trial and error, again. By the time I got to the trapped flagstones in the Catacombs, I simply got by by save-and-restore.
To clarify to any budding programmers reading this review: puzzles in a game can be based on pure logic (like certain types of riddles), or they can follow the game-world's internal logic (give the pecan chocolates to the guy who likes them and get information in return), or they can be based on common knowledge (garlic kills vampires). Most of the Sacred Mountain puzzles conformed to nothing of the above. They weren't out of place in themselves (everyone knows that ancient civilisations loved to surround themselves with puzzles and traps, or you haven't watched "Indiana Jones"), but they were not solvable unless the player had the manual. And even then, they made no sense.
Might I add, the "real" manual (when I eventually found it) was one of the worst examples of such that I've read. It explained everything: not just the copy-protection puzzles, which deserved it, but also, for instance, the identity of the people of the Sacred Mountain, which would have been much better left for the player to find out. What is the point of putting the player in a "marooned on an unknown island" scenario if you're going to provide him or her with all the information about it?
The Bottom Line
In spite of my whining, "King's Quest VI" is a beautiful, well-written game with a large and exciting (if somewhat stale) fantasy world, a decent plot and many twisty puzzles. I just wish it could have been less heavy on the stuff I didn't like.
DOS · by Christina Nordlander (24) · 2005
King's Quest 6 plays as a classic fairy tale might. The plot is unusually complex and rich for the series, thanks to contributions by Gabriel Knight writer/designer Jane Jensen, who's design methods complemented Roberta Williams' perfectly in this installment.
The plot itself has been done before, even in the series (Prince Alexander sets out to rescue his love after seeing her trapped in a tower through an enchanted mirror), but the flair and atmosphere with which the game executed is phenomenal. Charmingly quirky at times and dark and mysterious at others, the game provides brain-teasing puzzles set against a vibrant environment that ranges in influence from Arabian Knights to Alice in Wonderland.
Beauty and the Beast's Robbie Benson does a solid job as the protagonist, and its ironically funny to hear him interact with the game's own equivalent of Beast. This was also the first entry in the series to offer multiple solutions to solve the game, one of which permitted you to skip a good 1/3rd of the game (this component was half-heartedly featured in the series' next installment as well).
The Windows version features newly-detailed character portraits that are a nice, if unnecessary, addition.
Despite the multiple paths, the game's replayability factor is somewhat limited. Some of the puzzles are unnecessarily frustrating (this is during a time when Sierra cruelly worked anti-piracy techniques into the game's structure, frustrating those who owned legitimate copies), requiring you to save often and reattempt all-too-often. It's also very easy to miss something or make a mistake that will have fantastically bad and unforeseen consequences for the future. One such puzzle involves descending to the underworld to save the love interest's parents, only to discover that if when you get back, you forgot to pick up water from the River Styx, you are stuck without recourse and must load from a previous save. There are several instances like this where even people who have played the game multiple times before (myself included) can easily get stuck.
The Bottom Line
If you're an adventure gamer, you've already played this, and I don't have to say anything. If you're just getting into the series or the genre, this is an essential. A true classic.
Windows 3.x · by jTrippy (58) · 2007
What I like? I like the size of this game - it is much bigger than previous installments thus giving the player much more puzzles too solve. It is also good that the game engine was changed. It serves good for the performance. The game is no longer slow as it might be encountered in case of the previous parts. The gameplay is also non-linear - you may finish it in a few ways watching different endings depending on your achievements.
What I don't like? Well, the graphics are as always badly converted in Sierra games. This time instead of dithering mistakes there are colour palette locks making some screen looks not quite nice. The ugliest screen in Amiga's history adventure games is inventory. I guess 8 colours is all we have here and the items are so badly drawn that Revolution should be ashamed of it. Problematic are also cuts made in this version of the game - Amiga version lacks of some puzzles, some screens and some items.
The Bottom Line
Overall "King's Quest VI" is a good adventure game but if they had put attention to small details and avoided obvious bugs and they had got rid of them before the release it could have been a diamond among Amiga adventure games. Right now it is a rough diamond - needs to be polished, it has its value but it is far less than others staying in a competition.
Amiga · by mailmanppa (5484) · 2022
The back cover of the Amiga version contains information: "Beautiful graphics in 256 colours or 32 colours (two versions available)." but the game was released only in 32 colours version.
According to KQ VI reviews in Amiga Computing, Amiga Format and Amiga Power magazines Sierra originally planned to release a 256 colours version but decided that 32 colours version looked so good already so they shelved the idea.
The game was ported to the Amiga by Revolution Software, though the company wasn't credited on the box or in the manual. This is why this version uses Revolution's Virtual Theatre engine instead of SCI.
The CD version of King's Quest VI includes Girl in the Tower , the theme song to the game, composed by Mark Seibertm in full length. A sample of it can be heard on the floppy version for five seconds, then the game urges you to ring up radio stations that was listed in the manual and request it. Also the introduction was also extended in the CD version.
Chris Braymen, the game's composer, quoted a Gregorian chant (Dies Irae) in the theme that plays when Prince Alexander is captured in the Catacombs of the Isle of the Sacred Mountain. It's a famous theme, quoted as well in many classical compositions such as Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique (5th part), in Stanley Kubrick's films The Shining and A Clockwork Orange, and also in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (Room of the God Machine).
King's Quest VI's villain is named Abdul Alhazred; this name was taken from the work of horror and sci-fi writer H.P. Lovecraft. Abdul was a fictional character (also dubbed ''the Mad Arab'') who wrote the Necronomicon.
This was Sierra's first adventure game to feature their lipsyncing technology that they got when they bought out Bright Star Technology.
- Power Play
- Issue 02/1993 – #2 Best Presentation in 1992
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Andy Roark.
Game added May 23rd, 1999. Last modified August 14th, 2023.