King's Quest 5
Way back in King's Quest III, Gwydion, the kidnapped prince, turned the tables on his captor, the evil wizard Manannan, and transformed him into a cat. Now Manannan's mirror image, Mordack, is seething over his bro's feline condition. Not only does King Graham's son, Gwydion, disappear, but so does Graham's entire castle! Needles to say, the king is not amused. Graham's duty to his kingdom is to subdue Mordack before he hooks up with Manannan.
Return of the King
The King's Quest games are legendary sagas for the PC, and this NES version maintains their same top-quality storytelling. Also like the personal computer version, King's Quest V (originally by Sierra On-Line and reprogrammed by Kona-mi for the NES) requires you to think on your feet and direct the hero in the correct course of action. Hack-n-bash and experience-point gathering are out. Storytelling and plot complexity are in.
Gameplay is totally three-dimension-al. You can walk in any direction, or exit into the next area by leaving the top, bottom, left side, or right side of the current screen. The interface is a snap to learn and implement. You select an icon -- the Eye to view, the Mouth to talk, or the Legs to walk -- then click on the object for the appropriate interaction.
Owls and Senile Magicians
Now that you know the basics, here's what's goin' down. As we pick up the tale, you (as Graham) are staring vacantly at a gaping hole in the side of Daventry, which used to be your palace. They say royalty hath its privileges, but there are downsides too. The silence is broken when a friendly talking owl explains that all is not lost.
Graham's newfound feathered friend, Cedric, airlifts you to the land of Serenia. There you meet the kindly but slightly befuddled wizard, Crispin. Crispin gives you a few words of encouragement, but then dumps you on his front lawn with only Cedric as a guide. Oh well, looks like Graham must take matters into his own hands, as usual!
During your travels, you'll encounter people and creatures, many of whom will need your assistance. You begin with no money, no food, no supplies, and little hope. Best head to town and see what's to see. Along the way, you'll notice a bear nosing around a beehive. If you could get rid of this nuisance, might the bees be grateful? Then there's a fair maiden who's been turned into a tree. She needs her heart back, but a nasty witch has locked it away in a dark forest. What would protect you from the witch's magic?
- Talk to the fellow in town with the broken wagon. When he leaves, pocket the silver coin he drops. Also, check the barrel and grab the smelly fish.
- Make a map when you brave the desert heat, and be sure to quench your thirst at the oases along the way. When you're warned of a parched throat, you'll be vulture lunch in a few more screens! Look for three important locations here: a corpse with an old shoe, a temple, and a bandits'camp.
You'll encounter many such situations as you journey through town, the surrounding countryside, a mountain range, a coastal region, and of course, Mordack's island stronghold. Konami estimates gameplay at 50 plus hours, so save, save, save. Also, make sure to record your password before you clock out for the day.
Don't worry if your inventory is loaded with items which seem worthless. You'll use them all, eventually. The honeycomb will come in handy when you're trying to escape from the dark forest The old shoe will help you save a rat from a cat Finally, the custard pie will help inside the ice cave.
King Questing, Step by Step
As you've probably discerned, King's Quest games are object and puzzle oriented. You'll find an item, and then use that item to deal with a problem. You may also trade in that item for a better one you can use elsewhere, and so on and so forth. Occasionally, you'll get hung up on a puzzle and not be able to progress until you figure out how to complete it, which can be quite frustrating. On the other hand, your sense of accomplishment when you unravel a particularly unnerving dilemma is indescribable!
King's Quest V breathes new life into 8-bit, or for that matter, any-bit adventure games. The scenery paints a pretty portrait, despite the limitations of the NES machine. You'll be impressed with the olden-times music, too. The only shortcoming observed in KQ V is that small items are sometimes indistinguishable against the bright backgrounds.
All too often, video RPGs are combat-heavy clones of one another. Sure, monster-crunching can be a blast now and then, but King's Quest V's creativity makes it one of Konami's crowning achievements.
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Absence Makes The Heart Go Yonder
You bought a VGA graphics board. And you waited. Each time Sierra released a new graphics adventure, you rushed to the store. Would this be the one? Would this be the time that Sierra finally joined the other software companies and embraced VGA graphics?
The wait is over. King's Quest V, the latest chapter in Roberta Williams's long-running saga, has amazing VGA graphics. So amazing, in fact, that unless you're using a computer with the speed of an 80386 processor, you'll spend a lot more time looking at the graphics than you might like. On all but the fastest computers, this game runs slooowww.
What makes this especially surprising is that, aside from the main characters, there's not much animation going on. The forest is foggy, but the fog doesn't drift. Waterfalls don't splash. The screens look more like static paintings - which is exactly what they are. This is the first King's Quest game that uses digitized paintings for backdrops instead of computer artwork. The result is a very distinctive - if inanimate - look.
The story adheres more closely to tradition. By this fifth King's Quest game, each of the ruling members of Daventry (King Graham, Queen Valanice, Prince Alexander, and Princess Rosella) has starred in his or her own adventure. Now the cycle is beginning again. King Graham returns from a pleasant walk through the woods to find that his entire castle, royal family and all, has been whisked away.
An owl named Cedric tells the king what happened: Mordack, a powerful wizard, spirited the royal family to his castle in a far-away land. Cedric takes King Graham to a man named Crispin, who is the owl's owner and a has-been magician. Crispin arms King Graham with a fizzled-out magic wand and sends Cedric with him to rescue the royal family.
The action in King's Quest V will be familiar to anyone who has played the previous adventures. During the first part of the game it's important to gather items and help other characters, who eventually show up later in the game to return the favor. After completing these early tasks and acquiring a strong inventory, you enter a section that's more traditional to graphics-adventure games - encountering danger and finally overcoming the evil.
King's Quest V, however, introduces a new form of interaction. Instead of typing in each command on the keyboard, you select an icon that rotates among the Walk, Look, Talk, and Manipulate commands. The new system has its pros and cons, but it certainly makes a mouse more necessary than ever before.
Enjoyable for loyal fans and newcomers alike, King's Quest V ushers in a new age for Sierra games. Whether or not you believe it was worth the wait, however, will be a matter of personal taste.
Called once again by the king to rid the land of the menacing forces that befell the land. Fight your way through perilous lands, caves and castles to finally confront the ultimate evil.
King Graham returns home to discover he's been tricked -- his castle and family have vanished into thin air! Now the king and his owl Cedric must journey through the land to find the missing castle. It's an enchanting adventure.