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Video Game / King's Quest IV: The Perils Of Rosella


King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella is the fourth game in the King's Quest series. Release in 1988, it was one of the first games to implement beyond-PC sound, improving overall sound quality, and the first Sierra game with high(er) resolution graphics with its newest game engine, the Sierra Creative Interpreter (SCI). It also has a largely-unknown version with the graphics and (lack of) music of the previous three games running on its earlier AGI engine, created because Sierra (wrongly) feared there were too many low-end computers on the market that wouldn't be able to run the high-quality version, making the AGI version quite the collector's item among King's Quest fans.

In this game, you play as Rosella, the twin sister of Alexander and daughter of King Graham. Literally picking up where King's Quest III left off, Graham has just tossed his adventurer's cap to his children, but before they can catch it, Graham suddenly falls ill and is now on Death's door. His only hope is a magical fruit that grows in the island of Tamir. A good fairy named Genesta sends Rosella to this land, but her powers are weakened by the evil sorceress Lolotte, meaning the trip is one-way. To win the game, you must find the fruit, defeat Lolotte, and return Genesta's powers to her— all in the span of a single day.

Sadly, while AGD Interactive remade King's Quest 1, 2 and 3, they have since admitted they will not remake this game, as they decided to instead spend their time working on their own original games.

This game provides examples of:

  • Always Check Behind the Chair: There's an island where you have to check behind a ship's detached front, which is lying in the sand. Rearward of the wreckage is a golden bridle that: 1) has no business being there; 2) is completely necessary to win the game. The island is only accessible at one point during play, and after leaving, you can't go back. Oh, and using “look” on the shipwreck only works when you're standing in exactly the right spot.
    • There is some justification behind this: you're put on the island after a complicated series of events, and the only other object you can find there does nothing but get you back to the mainland from the island. As per standard adventure game mind-think, there has to be something else there.
    • In later versions of the game, the narrator draws your attention to the gleam coming from inside the boat. You must be close enough to the boat to get additional clues.
  • Badass: Sure, Rosella is a princess, and unaccustomed to adventuring. She's also pulled to a land she's unfamiliar with and given no resources to accomplish her quest. And given her predicament in King's Quest III, it's likely that she hadn't slept or eaten for days. But she successfully evades or defeats ogres, evil witches, zombies, a mummy, evil trees, and a deadly powerful evil fairy. She may have inherited it from her father, but she can certainly hold her own.
  • Beautiful All Along: Edgar, if you know about King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride.
  • But Thou Must: All your dealings with Lolotte, except for the last one.
  • Care-Bear Stare / Good Hurts Evil: How to slay Lolotte.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: That you can only access in the form of a frog.
  • Chekhov's Skill: She was taught to play the organ in her youth and is as the game states "A Virtuoso" yet despite the fact you can discover this skill early on, it doesn't actually have a purpose until near the end.
  • Cool Horse / Unicorn: It's widely agreed that getting to befriend and ride the unicorn is one of the best parts in the game. It's too bad it didn't want to still be your friend longer than a day (at least you can kiss it's nose while it's "tame"!)
  • Copy Protection: This game is notorious for this, as you can't even start the game unless you insert a keyword from the manual. Luckily all newer compilation manuals have all the keywords bunched in one section instead of having to painstakingly look up the third word of the second paragraph on page 8, etc...
  • Covers Always Lie: That picture of Rosella in her princess outfit riding a unicorn away from a winged goon is... not accurate. At one point in the game, Rosella does ride a unicorn, but (a) she's wearing a peasant's outfit at the time, and (b), she's riding it towards Lolotte's winged goons.
  • Cutscene: That unskippable cutscene with the dwarves...
  • Darker and Edgier: Along with King's Quest VI, this is considered to be the scariest game in the series. Despite coming from King's Quest III to this, III becomes notably lighter once you leave Manannan's tower.
  • Developer's Room: At one point, if you type "Beam Me Up, Scotty!" you get sent to a secret room full of Sierra's game developers. This only works in the AGI version.
  • Developers' Foresight: Averted, in that this is the first Sierra game to feature the infamous "oops, you tried something we didn't think of" error message, after which the game terminates.
  • Dreadful Musician: The stupid minstrel.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Rosella definitely does. So does Edgar - even though it takes several games for it to happen.
  • Easter Egg: Aside from the aforementioned Developer's Room, there's "rap kq".
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Subverted— Rosella is a princess, but must dress like a commoner to avoid raising suspicion. On the other hand it was a nice change of pace for the series to have a female protagonist.
  • Expy: Judging from their designs, Genesta and Lolotte are clearly based on Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. In fact, Lolotte's death at the end of the game directly references the famous "I'm melting, melting!" line from the movie.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Rosella's many meetings with Lolotte.
  • Fairy Tale: Standard for the series. Unless you know your Grimm, you have no reason to start cleaning the Dwarf house you come across.
  • "Far Side" Island: A far side island becomes an actual walkable terrain and part of the story.
  • Game Over Man: Every time you die, you are greeted with a pixelated portrait of Roberta Williams smiling at you. Though whether the player sees this smile as friendly, or mocking, depends on who is playing, and how frustrating the puzzle is that killed him/her.
  • Genre Blindness: The Frog Prince is too oblivious to realize that Rosella's kiss outright proves that she can't be anything other than a Princess.
  • Grave Humor: In the graveyard.
  • Gorgeous Garment Generation: Inverted at first when Genesta changes Rosella's gown into peasant clothing. Played straight with Rosella and Edgar at the end.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy
  • Have a Nice Death: Standard practice for a King's Quest game, but there are a few unique situations. You can open PandorasBox, fail to sneak through Lolotte's castle, and many more.
  • Haunted House: Whatley Manor (Yes, It's named for what you think), complete with zombies running about the grounds and ghosts a-plenty at night.
  • Heroic Dolphin: Well, a helpful one at least. It gets you off the deserted island.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The ogres and their dog.
  • Immediate Sequel: This game picks up the second King's Quest III ends, starting from its final scene.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: You only have a day to get the fruit and save Genesta, plus some tasks have to be completed at night.
    • Fortunately, night normally won't fall until you need it to fall, and dawn won't come until you reach the end of the game. Night will fall on its own if you wait long enough, at which point you end up getting killed by zombies pretty quick. Fortunately, the time it takes is literally hours of Real Time, and if you do the event that causes night to fall earlier then the zombies aren't a problem.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Edgar...poor Edgar.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: The manor ghosts. The miser is a very literal case.
  • King Incognito: Rosella is a princess in disguise, dressed that way to avoid the suspicion of the evil Lolotte. It doesn't really work, as Lolotte nonetheless suspects that Rosella is something more than she seems because she's just too beautiful for a simple peasant girl.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Navigating the damn cave and avoiding the troll. The troll can appear from any of the room entrances, at any time, and kills you instantly if it touches you. And it moves faster than you. And it will always show up. You have no defense other than running away, and you can't even do that. And you have to navigate the cave twice.
  • The Maze: The maze of caverns behind the waterfall, which you have to navigate in the dark. Well, you do have a lantern, but it doesn't give off any light note . Oh, and there's a troll in the cave trying to eat you.
    • It's not really a maze: it is four rooms arranged in a square.
  • Mercy Rewarded: You should be nice to Edgar. Not that you have much of a choice...
  • Message in a Bottle: Rosella finds one containing ads for the previous games.
  • Modest Royalty: Justified - Rosella is intentionally disguised as a peasant girl.
  • Multiple Endings: It's quite easy to get through the game and forget to look for the Magic Fruit - which is the main reason you traveled to Tamir in the first place!
    • Fortunately, you can do that particular quest at almost any point of the game (after you get the crown, the lantern, and the flute). Even the ending, when you really should be getting to Genesta as quickly as possible.
    • Even worse, you can go to all the trouble of getting the fruit— and then eat the damn thing yourself. What the Hell, Hero?!
    • Worst of all, since the game is on a 24hr clock you can end the game without getting either the fruit or the talisman leading to the ultimate Downer Ending.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: You never exactly see what the troll in the cave looks like since there's no light. You can only make out his silhouette and glowing green eyes.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Played with: you can fall from small heights and just feel dazed, but if you're attacked at all you still die.
  • Prince Charmless: The unnamed obnoxious prince you save from being a frog. Also, Edgar at least until he meets Genesta.
  • The Power of Love: With which Rosella kills the fairy witch Lolotte.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Even in braids, Rosella's golden tresses reach her bottom.
  • Real Time: With the exception of a couple of Time Skips, every minute in real life is a minute in-game. You can even check the time using the clock in the haunted mansion.
  • Red Herring: Turns out neither of Graham's kids gets his Cool Hat.
  • Royal Brat: The Frog Prince, who is rude to you because you're a "peasant girl".
  • Standard Hero Reward: Nastily subverted, in that after bringing her three treasures, the evil witch Lolotte offers to marry you to her ugly son. And promptly locks you up to have this carried out. That's a Non-Standard Game Over if you don't escape in time.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Near the end of the game, you have to sneak through Lolotte's castle.
  • Suddenly Suitable Suitor: Rosella's suddenly a lot more interested in Edgar after Genesta transforms him.
  • Swallowed Whole: While swimming out in the vast ocean, Rosella gets swallowed up by an enormous whale. She must escape or share the fate of the skeletal remains of a man inside who she affectionately calls "James". The whale is too massive to escape via brute force. You have to climb back up to the mouth and tickle its uvula with a feather to make it sneeze Rosella out. This is arguably the most annoying part of the game, not only because escaping the whale by climbing out its throat often results in you sliding back down, but you also have to escape before Rosella passes out from lack of fresh air.
  • Swans A-Swimming: There is a swan swimming around in a pond on Genesta's island. It doesn't affect the game in any way, but it's certainly very pretty.
  • Timed Mission: Although you'll never notice it in actual gameplay, you really do have exactly twenty-four hours to save Genesta and Graham.
  • Threatening Sharks: There's a shark to dodge off Tamir's coast, and a whale that you'll also have to escape.
  • Unfinished Business: The ghosts at the manor.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The bratty Prince who treats you like crap because of your clothes, stating that you're not a princess but "a ragged commoner". He could at least be thankful regardless.
  • Wandering Minstrel: Rosella meets one who is absolutely terrible at his job. She gives him a copy of "The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare" [sic], so he can go off and become an absolutely terrible actor.
    • His official name is Frankie of Avalon.note 
  • When Trees Attack
  • Wicked Witch: Lolotte
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The cemetery and manor house after dark. One touch should result in Rosella turning into a zombie, but this is unlikely to happen: zombies don't show up until night falls, and night won't fall for 12 hours of real-life time or once you get the item that protects Rosella from zombies. The zombies end up being a little pointless, even. The final Fetch Quest of the game even requires Rosella to venture into a tomb where a mummy tries to attack her, but it's repelled by the protective item! What a waste of a puzzle!
    • Lampshaded in that the death message for the mummy literally asks how you got there. It's probably not possible to enter that room without the undead-repelling item, except by using the teleport cheat.
    • In at least one version, the mummy was simply programmed to be repelled, full-stop. Even cheat-teleporting straight into the room without having the item produces the same animation.
    • It's possible that this was a Throw the Dog a Bone moment, (the dog being the player) especially considering all the stairs Rosella needs to traverse in the game. Plus, it would have been a puzzle just like the dog puzzle at the Ogre's house. Maybe the creators wanted a giggle.

Alternative Title(s): Kings Quest IV