Mr. Bill's Adventureland Review
Reviewed by Mr. Bill & Lela
This landmark game was the start of graphical adventures as we know them today. It was first published in 1983 and was developed by Roberta Williams of Sierra to showcase the capabilities of a new IBM computer. For the first time gamers were not limited to still pictures but could actually control an animated character onscreen, and even walk behind things in the picture!
It may look ancient by today's standards, but at the time it was a sensation and the beginning of the most successful adventure game series in history, which today numbers millions of fans worldwide. But although the innovative technology was indeed a breakthrough, undoubtedly the reason for the game's long term success is that it was solidly based on a proven formula that has worked for centuries: a good romantic fairytale .....
Once upon a time in a land far away, there lived a benevolent King and his beautiful Queen in a magical kingdom called Daventry. The kingdom was peaceful, prosperous and rich because they had 3 ancient and magical artifacts: a magic Mirror, which they used to forecast the weather for bountiful crops; a magic Shield, which ensured victory in battle; and a magic Chest, which was always filled with gold.
But tragically they were childless and had no heir to inherit the kingdom. So when an evil wizard promised conception in exchange for the Mirror, they agreed. But no child arrived and the Queen grew very ill. So when an evil dwarf promised a cure in exchange for the Shield, the King agreed. But the Queen died anyway. And then finally the magic Chest, the last of Daventry's treasures, was stolen by a witch.
Now the good King is an old man and nearing death. He has no heir and his once proud kingdom of Daventry lies in ruins: poor, with blighted crops, and at the mercy of every enemy. What to do? He calls for his bravest and most noble Knight, the young and handsome Sir Graham, and promises him the kingdom if he can find and recover the 3 lost treasures of Daventry. Thus Graham's quest begins .....
The game world is small and there are few characters to interact with due to the space and memory limitations of the time, and mice and sound cards did not exist. Movement is accomplished with the keyboard arrow keys (you can use the mouse for movement and descriptions in the upgraded version), but all actions have to be typed in and the commands must be simple (like 'Open Door') due to a small game vocabulary.
The original release used EGA graphics which had only 16 colors and were extremely pixelated, making objects difficult to identify (it was finally upgraded to VGA in 1990 with vastly improved graphics and the addition of music... turn on your speakers and refresh to hear some now). All of the pictures shown on this page are from the original version except the one in this paragraph which is from the upgraded version. Compare it to the same troll scene from the original game at the bottom of this page.
But with all of those limitations, Ms. Williams managed to produce a little game that is both challenging and fun to play, and one that is literally packed with puzzles and danger. All is not sweetness and light in this fairyland world. You have to be careful (and Save often) for you may die.
Among other things, you will encounter a nasty troll, a giant and a wicked witch. You must swim and climb and figure out how to fly. And even the puzzles, most of which are fairly simple ones based on classic children's tales, are not always that easy to solve. There is one particularly devious one that became famous for stumping people: the 'Old Gnome puzzle' (it was made easier in the upgraded version).
So despite the limitations of the technology it was a great little game, with a romantic fairytale story set in a magical world that players could actually see and explore ..... and it spelled the end for text adventures.
Produced (1983) and published by Sierra-On-Line.
The first seven of the King's Quest games plus three other games (The Colonel's Bequest, The Dagger of Amon Ra and Mixed Up Mother Goose Deluxe) were released in a three CD ROM set called The King's Quest Collection Series 2.
Where To Buy This Game:
The best chance for finding this game would be at used software places or auctions or trading sites. Our Places To Buy Games page may be able to assist you in finding a copy of this game.
Walkthroughs or Hints: