King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown

Made by Sierra, released in 1984/1990

The Magic Mirror

Current Zar note: I did this LP in 2006! I left my write-up mostly unchanged.

That's right, King's Quest I. Well, okay, not the original. I'll be playing the SCI version. BUT STILL.

King's Quest I was a landmark game for various reasons. It was first released in 1984 by Sierra, which was just beginning to come into its own at the time. The brainchild of Roberta Williams (as it proudly proclaims in its information), King's Quest I was the very first PC game to have a "3d" world, real animation, and a movable avatar. All games before KQ1 had mostly involved text (Zork, Hitchhiker's Guide) or occasionally mixed pictures with text (Mystery House) but there was nothing like King's Quest. For the very first time, a gamer could actually move a character around a screen. Graham could interact with objects, climb, swim, jump, duck, and most frequently, DIE. It's hard to comphrehend this as being a big deal nowadays of course, but this was HUGE back then. KQ1 was completely technologically amazing at the time, and ushered in a new era of pc games. The 16-color graphics were amazing. If I remember right, it either had no music at all or used the internal PC speaker for music. Have you guys ever heard an internal PC speaker?

The closest match I think (and a fantastic parody of King's Quest) can be heard with the music and sounds in the Homestar Runner Peasant's Quest, which is loads of fun and hugely nostalgic for me. I recommend giving Peasant's Quest a try. One of my favorite messages in that game was when I typed LOOK BERRIES and the response was just "Shut up." hee hee hee.


If I remember right, the story basically goes that while Ken Williams was the president of Sierra at the time, Roberta was fairly influential in how games were developed. She wanted to have something move across the screen, so she and the team got together and they made it happen. This would be a pattern that'd continue through Sierra's history, that Roberta Williams would want to push the software to the limit, and Sierra would find a way to do it.

Gamers back in 1984 were blown away, but I guarantee you that gamers today WOULD NOT tolerate games like these and other early parser-based games.

Here's what the original King's Quest looked like. AMAZING, EH? Seriously, this was shocking at the time. If you look carefully, you can make out Graham on the left there.

There's no mouse support at this stage. Do you see that > down at the bottom? That's where you type your commands.

Older games, like mentioned, don't support a mouse (heck, Starcon2 doesn't support a mouse. Did you notice?) and therefore, the only way to interact with the game is to type your commands. For example, typing GET WALNUT if you're close enough will make Graham pick it up. This can range from CLIMB TREE to KILL SNAKE (that stupid bridle) to FILL BUCKET and everything in between.

However, the parser only understands a few words. If you don't type the right command, the game won't listen to you. Most often, you get a "I don't understand *word*" notice.

Now, you notice that the > is at the bottom here? One of the more frustrating parts of early Sierra games with the AGI system used here is that the game DOES NOT PAUSE when you type.

For example, let's say I walk on a screen aaaand...I dunno, a yeti comes after me. I have to type "put feather in essence" fast enough so that the yeti can't get me. If I make a typo, I'm dead. If you don't type fast enough, you're dead.

One of the things you will do A LOT in Sierra games is DIE.

So anyway, where was I?

Right. This game broke a lot of barriers for its time and helped launch all of Sierra's other titles, which used similar technology. That's why I'm starting with King's Quest.

BUT, you ask, why did I mention SCI up there?

At some point...I think around 1990, Sierra was doing very well for itself. They decided that they would re-release some of their earlier titles with new technology, enhanced graphics, sound support, the whole shebang. These remakes were a huge flop, since most fans at the time didn't see the point of them.

I know this makes me a horrible heretic to the hardcore Sierra fans, but mostly, I like the remakes better. Or rather, I'm more familiar with them. I know it's not the same and blah blah blah but SHUT UP THESE ARE MY SCREENCAP ADVENTURES AND IF I WANT TO PLAY THE SCI VERSION I WILL.

As usual, King's Quest was the first one to try out a new technology, thus why the King's Quest remake is not as advanced as some of the ones for the other series (like Quest for Glory or Space Quest). It's still parser based and while its graphics are improved, they aren't as improved as some others.

However, the SCI version DOES PAUSE when you type, and it's the version I played the most. So that's the one you're going to see. The SCI version and AGI version have the same solution, so if you follow along with me, you'll probably be able to beat both.

So okay let's get this started.

I like that that's ALL the info it gives you. THANKS ROBERTA WILLIAMS.

Okay enough of that. Let's boot up the SCI version.

As you can see, there IS mouse support here! However, it's mostly just to click on buttons (save, restore, restart) or move Graham around (which is INVALUABLE LATER).

Compare this to the original screen up there. You see the difference? This is in six years. Not bad, I'd say. The jump in graphics quality from 1990 to 1996 though is much more impressive, but consider how long ago this was.

Really, I think these are pretty good graphics. I like them. You can bite me.

Note that goofy hat that Graham is wearing? You're going to be seeing that a lot through various King's Quest games.


Oh yeah, here's a fun tidbit. In the original AGI version, you can walk Graham into the castle and then nothing will happen until you BOW to the king. A lot of people got stuck at this point. No there is no hint telling you to bow. Welcome to Sierra games.

The SCI version does the whole intro automatically though.

"How are yoooou?"

Man, wouldn't it be sweet to have a chest like that?

Dangers are many INDEED

Brains? Naaaah.


Alright, enough backstory. Let's adventure!

Because I love you guys, I'm going to die at various points just to show you what it's like. I know where most of the dangers are in this game and can generally avoid them, so you won't get the intense, constantly-dying experience you'd get playing it yerself.

Dum de dum

You will get well acquainted with the save menu if you play this yourself. Or at least, YOU BETTER. Rule 1 of Sierra games is SAVE OFTEN.


Yuk yuk yuk. Yes you can die within 2 seconds of starting the game.

Alright enough of that.

What a rock!

Actually, I was on the wrong side of the rock. WOOPS. Yes it is picky.

No it will not tell you it's in there unless you look.

Did you notice the points in the corner there? That became a staple of Sierra games for a very long time. KQ1 has a bunch of random things that give you points with no real rhyme or reason. It's not as bad as like...Leisure Suit Larry or Space Quest tho.


Huh, I lived! I thought that'd kill me for sure. Oh well.

In KQ1 there are random creatures and things that will find you and attempt to kill you on certain screens. This is one of those screens. I distinctly remember getting killed by a wolf on this screen when I wasn't paying attention.

While it's trickier in the AGI version, in the SCI version you can usually linger near the edge of the screen and use that to avoid enemies. By the way, all enemies move faster than you and they all move right towards you. More on each was we run into them.

This screen is generally safe.

A bowl!

Rule 2 of Sierra games - PICK UP EVERYTHING.

Looking in the bowl gives you a point. Does this bowl confuse you? The thing is I'm so used to this game and the logic behind it that I completely understand this, but I wonder if it comes off as weird to other people who haven't played these games before.

That river there is called the River Fools. At least, that's what this one huge King's Quest book I had called it once. There is a lot of detail in the King's Quest world, as goofy as it is at times. If I remember right, the story went that the river was so evil and fast that no one ever traveled down it. Then a bunch of morons thought that making a raft of inflated pig bladders would take them safely down since the air in the bladders would keep them safe from the sharp rocks. Yeah, right. No one ever saw them again, and the river was thusly named River Fools. True or false? I should find that book and see how much of it is conjecture and how much of it is Roberta approved. It's Roberta William's world after all.

Hey see that mushroom? It's extremely important. I can't emphasize this enough. I can't get it right now but the fact that it's there is very important. If you don't take note of it, it will screw you up later.

This screen is instant death. If you even get close to the center of the screen a monster will almost invariably show up to kill you. I avoid this screen at all costs.

This screen, likewise, is deadly.

Those are walnuts, if you couldn't tell.


Would you think to do that? I just know that I'm supposed to. I don't even question it anymore.


Boy this screen looks safe doesn't it.

This is the witch screen. Without fail, if you try to walk into the woods, the witch will come and try to grab you. There was actually a fairly in-depth backstory on the with and why she hated King Edward or something in that book but I can't remember it off hand. She had a name too, but I can't remember it either. Maybe something with an E.

Aha, here we go. A well.




It's always a good idea to keep multiple saved games, because you never know when you missed an item back an hour ago that you need now that you can NEVER GET AGAIN AND THEREFORE YOU HAVE TO START OVER ARGARHAUHFUHAF

Space Quest 2 added a horrible dimension to this. More on that if I do that one.

No you can't open that chest. We've tried.

No, despite the fact you were completely underwater, your bucket is bone dry.

Well there's the mirror! We're off to a good start.

Okay. This is easier in the SCI version but in the original, you had to be in the EXACT RIGHT SPOT to throw the water/stab the dragon right. This is a pixel away from the dragon eating you. If you're not in the right spot it won't work. You can die here very easily. The SCI version is more forgiving.

Also yes, you can stab the dragon and kill it or at least, I think you can. I've never done it, I think it costs you points. In Sierra games, generally the non-violent solution is the best.

I notice that I have a tendency to leave the cursor in the middle of textboxes. I HOPE YOU'LL SURVIVE.

Why not.


It plays a special fanfare when you do this.

Yes, those vague blue scribbles up there are the way out. Try and make out the pathway up. I got stuck in this cave the first time I played this.

And voila! We'll be coming back to this screen eventually. One treasure down, two to go.

Next up, the Magic Chest!

Next | Index