King’s Quest:  The Original Point and Click Adventure without Pointing or Clicking

King’s Quest: The Original Point and Click Adventure without Pointing or Clicking

In 1984, Sierra On-Line revolutionized the computer gaming world with the introduction of King’s Quest for the IBM PCjr.  IBM sought out Sierra and other software makers create games for the newly released PCjr. Rather than taking Big Blue’s money and churning out a mediocre product, Sierra instead pushed the PCjr to its limits.  Not only did King’s Quest showcase the PCjr’s at-the-time advanced graphics, but it also introduced an entirely new genre of interactive adventure game. Sierra called their new format a 3D adventure.

The genre was later christened “point and click” adventure games but the original King’s Quest featured neither pointing nor clicking.  The player controlled the onscreen Knight Graham (he’s not a king yet!) using directional keys and by typing commands. Subsequent mouse-driven adventure games owe a debt of gratitude to Sierra for pioneering the format.

Since Sierra provided the product to IBM for marketing and distribution, the original King’s Quest comes in a plastic box that resembles a large cassette tape holder.  The cover art features a castle and a field of clover which are both relevant to the game. In the foreground there’s a knight in dazzling silver armor who is nowhere to be seen in the actual gameplay.  The description reads:

Take on the challenge!  Find the magic treasure.  Put on your armour – and your thinking cap – as you search the countryside…in the days when knights were bold and brave.

Inside the box, the player would find a single diskette, warranty card, manual with color illustrations, keyboard overlay and a quick reference card.

So, how does the gameplay hold up 35 years later?  Surprisingly well. The game’s parser can be touchy.  On my original playthrough in the 80s, I struggled to find the right phrasing for certain actions.  When addressing the monarch of the realm, typing “bow” did nothing. “Bow to king” was the right format.  These challenges aside, King’s Quest remains an engaging if short adventure.

Later the game would be rechristened, King’s Quest 1:  Quest for the Crown in order to distinguish it from subsequent volumes in the series.  To their credit, Sierra On-Line remained committed to maintaining compatibility with the PCjr for years after IBM cancelled the system.  I played King’s Quest I – IV on my PCjr after expanding the RAM to 256k. Future releases came directly from Sierra, and I have to say I missed the nifty plastic box that IBM provided – although Sierra did a far better job with the box art.

vinvectrex

Vinvectrex has not only reviewed every game made for the Vectrex, but discovered a long lost game for the IBM Jr. and probably changed the history of Star Wars fandom.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Didn’t the original King’s Quest come with an overlay for those awful chicklet keyboards that the first batch of PCjrs shipped with?

  2. GammaDev – I think you’re right. My copy doesn’t have the overlay – but I also got my PCjr after they’d switched to the more traditional keyboard style. It’s possible I lost the overlay or it wasn’t included in the packaging by the time I got my copy of the game.

  3. GammaDev – I went poking around and found the cardboard strip.

  4. Cool. I found a photo online of the overlay for the chicklet keyboard. A nice inclusion (reminiscent of Infocom’s feelies), but not if you had to use that keyboard.
    https://www.mobygames.com/images/i/36/18/892718.jpeg
    Our computer lab had a ton of PCjrs (with proper keyboards) that they clearly got from some sort of firesale. They were fully decked out as many of those side-mounted memory expansion modules as allowed which made them almost a foot wider. I suppose it was a smart way to cheaply supply a school with IBM-compatible computers to replace the aging Apple IIs they had.

  5. That is a nice little bonus. I could also see why they seem rare. Any overlay I had as a kid got wrecked.

  6. That overlay is neat. Interesting your school had PCjrs. I’m surprised they didn’t do more to pursue the educational market. Or, maybe they tried and Apple just had too much of a stranglehold. Our jr had two sidecars – one for expanded memory, and one for the printer port. Any more, and it wouldn’t have fit into the space in our computer hutch.

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