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Review

King's Quest II: Romancing the Stones (King's Quest II VGA remake)

Developer: Tierra Entertainment
Publisher: Tierra Entertainment
Release Date: 2002
Platform: PC


Review by Dimitris Manos
February 24, 2003

 

 

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This review originally appeared in the December 2002 issue of The Inventory and is reprinted here with the permission of its author, Dimitris Manos. The Inventory is an online magazine devoted to the adventure genre. A new issue is available every month from the front page of Just Adventure and previous issues are always available at this link.

King’s Quest is a series of adventure games created by Sierra on-line and it has won a lot of devoted fans. A lot of people began playing adventures with a King’s Quest game. The official King’s Quest series has 8 parts so far and each part is very different than the others. Sierra has abandoned the series with its last and worst part of all King’s Quest 8. It seems though as their fans did not agree with this move.

Tierra a new company made up of old Sierra adventure fans have decided to re-introduce people to the great games of the past by remaking the old ones with enhanced graphics, music and interface and in this case even with enhanced plot. The remake of King’s Quest 1 became a total success and Tierra became known as the best fan-based adventure developer. Their second remake, King’s Quest 2 was eagerly awaited by their devoted fans for many months now. The game was released on the 3rd of December 2002 and as the first one this one was also available to download for free. Was it worth the wait?

Story: I have not played the original King’s Quest 2 so I don’t know what are the differences of the remake with the original. What I do know is that the remake has definitely an interesting and magical story line. It will remind you of many fairy tales and myths you have probably read or heard when you were young.

You take the role of Graham the legendary king of Daventry. The game begins with Graham sitting on his throne in the castle. The leader of his army comes in the throne room to inform Graham of the latest news in Daventry, but Graham seems not so interested and the loneliness of a king’s life has made him think a lot about some companionship. Suddenly the magic mirror lights up and Graham looks inside the mirror. He sees a land not so far away from his land.

The land is called Kolyma and then (through a beautiful 3D sequence) Graham sees a beautiful young woman sitting sadly on the porch of a tower. He knows that this woman is trapped there and he ventures in a quest to save her (apparently he fell in love with at first sight). This is the end of the beautiful and long introduction of King’s Quest 2 remake.

From that point you take control of Graham and you have to find Valanice (that is the name of the girl in the mirror) and rescue her from her captors. But the plot does not only revolve around the location of the girl. The political situation in Kolyma with the conflicts between the Count and the church, the dark forces that are trying to take the control of the kingdom of Daventry and the conflicts of power in the realm of the Mer-people are also sub-plots that tie in with the main plot in a nice way.

In his quest for his queen, king Graham will have to find the three gems of nature and put them in the door of destiny. This is not going to be an easy task, and to accomplish it he will have to travel on earth, in water and on air. During his venturing he will come across many mythical and memorable characters like Poseidon (or Neptune as his Latin name is) god of the sea, a mermaid, a flying horse, a talking pumpkin, vampires, an enchanter, a creature in the haystack (that nobody knows what or who it is), monks, sharks, a girl with a red cap (hmmm familiar?) and a lot more fabulous creatures.

Graphics: The graphics of the game are not the next big thing in games or computer graphics. It’s not your quake 5 3D graphics with anti-alising and fabulous lighting effects. Is that bad? No, definitely not. The graphics are sweet… sweet like chocolate (or candy, in case you don’t like chocolate). It is the closest thing you will find to the graphics of the Sierra adventures of the early 90’s. The game is played from the 3rd person perspective and uses 2D sprites on 2D backgrounds.

They are colourful during the search for the first two gems and quite dark in the search for the last gem. All the hotspots are very clearly depicted and distinguished from the rest of the backgrounds. The only flaw I could find with the graphics would be that some of the close-ups are not so nicely drawn as others (for example I didn’t like the merchant’s close up drawing in the town). But overall a great job especially for a fan made project.

The graphics will definitely bring nostalgia to the older ones that had the luck to experience the great adventures of Sierra in the past.

Sound: The sound of the game is also phenomenal for a fan based game. The soundtrack of the game exceeds 2 hours of music, and when you bear in mind that Syberia’s soundtrack was about half an hour long it makes you understand that these people really love what they are doing.

This time they did not produce a voice pack because according to Tierra due the excessive dialogues of King’s Quest 2, it would take a considerable amount of time to produce a voice pack. Actually sometimes if the people that are doing the voice-overs are not professional it is maybe preferred to not have voices at all. But the truth is that those used to the new games will find the game quite ‘silent’ because of the absence of voices. It is uncertain however whether they are going to produce a voice-pack in the future for the game or not.

The sound effects were also great and actually I even jumped from my chair at one point because of a sudden sound effect (and I’m not a person that jumps from his chair, I have never done it during a movie). In the end credits there is even a real song and it is also quite well performed.

The soundtrack of the game is also available for download for free from the site:
http://www.queststudios.com/quest/kq2rts/kq2music/kq2music.html

Gameplay: The interface is the classic point and click interface of the older Sierra games. You have 5 different cursors for walk, look, action, talk and inventory item. The cool new feature in KQ2 is that for the players who own a mouse with a roller have the possibility of scrolling through the different cursors with the roller, which I found very helpful and user friendly.

The puzzles are quite hard but logical. The downside of the gameplay is that there are a lot of limited time sequences and it happens that king Graham dies quite often. The fact that you cannot skip the death sequences makes it even worse. For example (*spoilers*) when you have to find the right fairy tales I got really tired of seeing the maws eating king Graham. It was quite funny in the beginning but after 2,3 times it just seemed like a waist of time especially when I had to use trial and error to solve this puzzle (*end of spoilers*).

There are five or six puzzles that are going to keep you stuck for some time, but a little logical thinking and some trial and error should do the trick. The puzzles themselves are quite smart and there are a lot of puzzles based on riddles, which really suits the theme of the game. One more bad thing about the gameplay is that Graham has to take care of where he is walking in a couple of occasions, otherwise he is going to fall and die or touch something deadly and die again. This could have been avoided by the programmers, at least the falling part.

Maps: To help you find your way around KQ2 The Inventory made maps for the land of Kolyma and the realm of the Sharkees.

The Land of Kolyma

The Realm Of Sharkees

General info: The game is available for download from Tierra’s site for free. The version I played contained a couple of bugs but Tierra has already produced a patch that will hopefully solve the remaining technical problems.

The game is full of easter eggs. The funniest I saw was the batmobil from the batman comics, coming out of Hagatha’s cave. I have no idea how I triggered this easter egg, but I did and it was very funny to watch. Another easter egg is the reference to other Sierra’s (and Tierra’s) games. In one part the hero from Quest for Glory makes a guest appearance but doesn’t say a lot. In other occasions the game is mentioning even The Longest Journey and the Star Wars movies. These are only few of the easter eggs that are spread throughout the game.

In a few words…Definitely the best fan-made project made so far. I guess everybody that played KQ1 the remake had high expectations for the second one, but Tierra made a good job to surpass all of them. It is a shame that these people are not getting paid for their work. Let’s hope that glory will suffice and glory they shall have. My favourite King’s Quest before I played this one was KQ6. But not anymore. Tierra’s KQ2 took its place. Sierra is dead as an adventure games company, but usually along with a death of something old, comes the birth of a new hope, and in this case the new hope is Tierra. If you haven’t played this game yet, then make yourselves a favour and download it from their site.


Final Grade: A

System Requirements:

  • Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP
  • Pentium 233/500 MHZ
  • 32 MB RAM
  • 95MB FREE HARD DISK
  • DIRECT SOUND SOUNDCARD
  • SVGA GRAPHICS CARD
  • DIRECT X 5