Video Game: King's Quest V: Absence Makes The Heart Go Yonder!
The scene in which Cedric delivers the famous
"Graham, watch out! A POI-sonous snake!"King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder
is the fifth installment in the King's Quest Adventure Game
While Graham is out for a walk, his castle and family are kidnapped by the evil sorcerer Mordack. Cedric, a talking owl and witness to the event, tells Graham about it and takes him to the land of Serenia; Graham must explore the kingdom and reach Mordack's castle before the wizard harms his family.
The game is notable for several reasons: It was the first game of the series to use a point-and-click
interface, ditching the old Text Parser
. It also used a brand-new iteration of the SCI engine, allowing for more complex graphics and cut-scenes, and it was Sierra's first "talkie" game. These factors helped make it the first Sierra game to sell over 500,000 copies, and it was the best-selling PC game of all time
from 1990 until 1995, when it was usurped by Myst
On the downside, the voice acting is sub-par, often managing to be the vocal equivalent of Dull Surprise
having been done entirely by Sierra staff members (although it introduced the designer Josh Mandel as King Graham, who has become the definitive voice of the character in many fans' opinion), and many of the puzzles are maddeningly difficult
, leading to many potentially unwinnable
situations. And of course, there's the much reviled Cedric the Owl
, whose very mention still causes fans to froth at the mouth
. Let's just say it hasn't aged well.Paw Dugan
of Transmission Awesome
did a hilarious Let's Play of the game, which is available at TGWTG
or on YouTube
also gave the game their usual treatment, which can be watched here
This game provides examples of:
- 100% Completion: 260 possible points.
- Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Trope Namer, although not an example of the trope.
- AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: "Graham, watch out! A POIsonous snake!"
- Amateur Cast: The CD version was voiced by Sierra employees. It shows.
- And Call Him George: Keep your distance from Dink, lest you get hugged to death.
- And I Must Scream: Graham's fate if he opens the Genie's Bottle. As well as the witch's ultimate fate.
- Androcles' Lion: Essentially every animal early in the game (the ants, the bees, the rat, the eagle...)
- Avenging the Villain: Mordack didn't take too kindly to Alexander turning Mordack's brother into a cat two games ago.
- Badass Grandpa: Though Graham isn't actually a grandfather, his age is quite evident in the game. Nonetheless, he goes mountain-climbing, desert-scavenging, and into dangerous castles. Provides a Continuity Nod with the previous game, when the fruit that Rosella gave him didn't just save his life, but made him feel much younger than he actually is.
- Baleful Polymorph:
- If you go more than one screen into the swamp without proper protection, the witch turns you into a frog. Time to restore!
- The plot is kicked off due to Alexander permanently trapping Mordack's brother as a cat.
- Beard of Evil: Mordack.
- Bears Are Bad News: Because they punch you in the face!
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Princess Cassima despite being forced as a scullery maid in rags, in the heavily detailed cutscenes she is shown to wear blush and eyeshadow. Kind of odd for a slave. Then again Mordack probably insisted she wear heavy makeup 24/7 (Yet that doesn't explain the rags)
- Behind the Black: In order to hide from the desert bandits, you have to hide Graham behind the rocks next to an oasis; while he's hidden from the player's view, he should be perfectly visible to the bandits.
- Bewitched Amphibians: The witch in the swamp does this.
- Big Bad: Mordack, brother of Manannan, the Big Bad of King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human.
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: You defeat a Yeti in the Ice Kingdom with a pie. Yuuuuup.
- Blatant Lies:
- One puzzle requires you to lure an elf to you with gems to catch him. When you do, he claims that he never takes without giving in return and gives you a pair of boots. Of course, if you don't catch him, he just runs off with the gems and you never see him again. Lying bastard.
- Alexander trying to tell Mordack that he "just happened to stumble across some magic spells" and "accidentally" turned Manannan into a cat. Uh-huh, sure, Alex.
- Border Patrol:
- If you wander from the correct path in the desert, a scorpion shows up and stings you, killing you.
- Go off-course while on the boat and a sea serpent will show up and eat you.
- Boring Return Journey: You have to cross the mountains and sail the sea to reach Mordack's island. After you defeat Mordack, Crispin just teleports you and your family home.
- Bound and Gagged: When Graham is caught by the Innkeeper and his goons, he is left tied up in the cellar. Becomes Unwinnable if you didn't save the mouse who comes to chew through your ropes.
- Bowdlerise: Nintendo of America worked hard to modify the game for an NES adaptation by toning down the violence and nudity and removing religious themes. For example, compare the narrator's words when Graham drinks water from the oasis in both the PC and NES versions:
PC!King's Quest V: Ah, life-giving water. Nectar of the Gods. Graham can now feel strength and renewal flowing through him.
NES!King's Quest V: Ah! The cool water felt wonderful on Graham's parched lips and his body now feels rejuvenated.
- Camp Gay: The tailor.
- Captain Obvious:
- Crispin loves to point out the evident.
- Even more infamous is Cedric: "Oh, Graham, that dog looks mean! That swamp looks dangerous! That desert looks hot! That sea looks endless! Those harpies look evil! That castle looks scary! That boat is sinking! THAT SNAKE IS POISONOUS!" Cedric even yells "Watch out! There's a sea monster!"...after Graham gets eaten by a sea monster.
- The narrator, when pointing at certain objects.
- Cartoon Creature: Mordack turns himself in a scorpion-like, winged "Flying Being" for the final battle. Who apparently hates tigers.
- Cats Are Mean: It's best for your own survival to have this attitude when you see the cat chasing the mouse. Not, "Good! The cat is fulfilling the primary reason cats were domesticated in the first place: to get rid of the food stealing and spoiling, disease spreading vermin," nor, "Well isn't that just the normal cycle of nature, the predator chasing its prey," but, "Oh, that cat is so mean for chasing that poor, innocent mouse! I want to throw a shoe (or stick) at that mean cat!" If you don't throw a shoe/stick at the cat, the game becomes Unwinnable
- Played straight with Manannan.
- Chekhov's Gun: Crispin's wand, which is not useful until the big fight at the end
- Circling Vultures: Two vultures descend if Graham dies of thirst in the desert.
- Contest Winner Cameo: Amanda, the lady in the pie shop voiced by Roberta Williams, and her son Austin (voiced by Kevin Orcutt), are named after two contestants chosen as the winners in the "Be a Character in King's Quest V" contest in Inter Action Magazine. Entrants had to submit photos of themselves in outfits that would fit into the King's Quest world — those costumes are exactly what the characters are wearing.
- Continuity Nod: Mordack uses the same style of randomly teleporting in to killing you, as his brother Manannan did.
- Cool Old Guy: Graham himself (his age is indicated by his hair turning grey). Though it's implied his hair was prematurely turned grey due to the complete hell he had to endure for the past 18 years. his son kidnapped as a baby, a dragon ravaging the land and his daughter forced as a sacrifice, with Graham too morbidly depressed to slay it himself As canon states he was around 38 during the time of this game. note
- Copy Protection: The early diskettes and the NES adaptation are examples of this, when the player has to refer to the manual in order to have Graham cast a spell. Averted in the CD-ROM adaptation.
- Cowardly Sidekick: Cedric the Owl tags along with Graham on his journey, but he'll regularly try to stay behind if things look even remotely dangerous.
- Creator Cameo: Roberta Williams does the voices of the woman in Serenia, one of the Harpies, a rat, and the pie shop's customer Amanda.
- Crystal Ball: The gypsie Fortune Teller has one.
- Cutscene: In the original edition, there are unskippable ones all over the place, which makes the prerequisite Save Scumming rather annoying. Later versions allow you to skip most of them.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: You need to win the favor of Queen Icebella to advance in the game.
- Death by Falling Over: Once reaching Mordack's Castle, it's possible to die by falling off a flight of stairs that's barely as tall as Graham is. He even does his "falling to his death" scream, only to get cut off when he hits the ground a half-second later.
- Death by Materialism: If Graham tries to take anything in the Treasure Room except for two items specifically needed to win, the door closes instantly, and it's curtains for our King. Of course, the two items in question are much closer to the door and more conspicuous than the rest of the treasure.
- Deus ex Machina: A remarkably clear example. Once you've defeated Mordack, Crispin magically appears, undoes the shrinking spell on your family, resurrects Cedric (at least in the PC CD-ROM version; all other versions, including the NES adaptation, have Crispin restore him from stone back to flesh and blood), and teleports you, your family and Princess Cassima to your respective homes. Lampshaded in the Abridged version:
- Disproportionate Retribution: The shady innkeepers are perfectly willing to knock you out, tie you up in the basement, and presumably kill you just for "looking like a real troublemaker."
- Distracted by the Sexy: The bandits in the desert camp are distracted by watching a belly dancer performance.
- Drop-In Nemesis: Doing the endgame, Mordack can, at any time you enter a room, randomly appear out of the blue and kill you for trespassing in his castle. (Apparently runs in the family) Hopefully you have learned to frequently save your game at this point. There ARE triggers for this. Good luck figuring out what you did wrong, though.
- Dummied Out: This death screen probably because it was too damn creepy.
- Ear Trumpet: Graham encounters an old hermit that uses a conch seashell as one. Without it the only thing he can hear is the incredibly loud bell he has hanging outside his door.
- Endless Corridor: The desert; the sea, but less so.
- Evil Sorcerer: Mordack. And the witch. And the ice queen. The last one, however, can make a Heel-Face Turn.
- Fanservice: The servant girl in her sexy outfit.
- Freeing The Genie/Genie in a Bottle: The freeing has a twist to it that will be familiar to those who've read the Arabian Nights tale "The Fisherman and the Genie"
- Giant Flyer: The roc.
- Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The two monsters in Mordack's castle, which you must defeat with the Tambourine (the one monster in the dungeons, who is called Dink) and the sack of peas for the latter.
- Gratuitous German: The toymaker speaks a bit of German in the CD-ROM adaptation.
- Guide Dang It: Pretty much every single puzzle.
- Hairpin Lockpick: Graham has to use a hairpin on a door lock to exit the castle's dungeon.
- Harping On About Harpies: You use a harp to beat them. Get it?
- Have a Nice Death: Among them, "Dying for a drink, Graham?" Unfortunately, it looks like the writers got lazy for this game, as quite a few deaths near the end just give you a generic "Thanks for playing King's Quest V" message.
- High-Class Glass: Cedric's monocle.
- Hurricane of Puns: See Pungeon Master and Meaningful Name, as well as the fact that you free yourself from the harpies by playing the harp. This game loooooves its terrible puns.
- I Ate WHAT?: Graham has this moment early on, when Crispin explains that what he just gave him to eat was an old piece of magical white snake he had left over from last year.
- Item Crafting: Surprisingly averted in this installment. None of the items in your inventory are combinable.
- Jackass Genie: You free the genie and he rewards you by imprisoning you in the lamp for 500 years. Restore, Restart, Quit? Of course, you can use this knowledge to your benefit...
- Kleptomaniac Hero: In true adventure game fashion.
- "Oh, what's that? A dead, rotting fish just lying on the ground? Oh, you bet I'm taking that!"
- "Oh crap, I got kidnapped by mobsters and I gotta get out of their house before they find out I'm escaping. But first I need to raid their kitchen for food."
- Averted in the Desert Temple. (See Death by Materialism above.)
- Leitmotif: Cassima's theme is reprised in King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow as "Girl in the Tower"
- Let's Play:
- The Load: Cedric does absolutely nothing of any worth throughout the game (other than warning you about the POOOOOOOOOOISONOUS snake and other hazards you can clearly see on your own, sometimes when it's too late to do anything about them,) and at a few points even has to be rescued. Lampshaded by the game itself, as Graham grows increasingly less and less patient with Cedric as the game progresses. "Come on, Cedric!". At only one point in the game does Cedric actually make himself useful by inadvertently Taking the Bullet for Graham at the end of the game and wasting the last of Mordack's wand's power.
- The Lost Woods: Graham in the witch's forest.
- Luck-Based Mission: Get ready to save every time you enter a new room in Mordack's castle, because there's a random chance that he'll just suddenly teleport in and force choke you to death.
- The Maze: There are three.
- The desert: If you walk more than five screens without drinking water, you die. There are three oases, and three screens you have to visit, and the only way to find them is by wandering. The desert is possible to navigate, but only if you make up your own map. If you try to go past the border of the map (which you'll have no idea where it is until it happens,) a scorpion will instantly kill you.
- Navigating the sea around the harpies' island in a small sailing boat serves as a maritime equivalent, and is set up very similarly to the desert section.
- The dungeon is Mordack's castle, which is a labyrinth where the screen's orientation changes depending on which direction you come from. Argh argh argh argh argh!
- Meaningful Name: Crossed with Punny Name— Queen Beatrice of the Bees, King Antony of the Ants, and probably the worst of the lot— Queen Icebella. Ouch.
- Mercy Rewarded:
- At one point, you have the option of leaving Cedric to die on an island. At this point, it is very tempting to just leave him there. Of course, if you do, you get a Game Over later in the game.
- Feeding the starving eagle in the mountains half your meat (not the pie) makes him save you from the roc's nest later.
- Rescuing a mouse from a cat means that the mouse will free you from your bonds when you are bound up later in the game.
- Moon Logic Puzzle:
- Quick, what tool should you use to defeat a Yeti? A hammer? A lute? A, uh, broken wand? Duh! Isn't it obvious? A custard pie!
- Getting rid of the snake. How do you do it? With a tambourine!
- How to you power up a machine that transfers wand energy? Why, with a rotten piece of cheese! What else?
- Mordor: Mordack's castle is located in such a place.
- Mr. Exposition: Crispin is basically this, as not only does he give exposition to what happened to Graham's family at the beginning, but at the very end he recaps the entire plot behind Mordack's motives (Which was already revealed to the player in an earlier cutscene)
- Mundane Made Awesome: Much of the omnipresent narrator's commentary, paradoxically combined with Dull Surprise.
- When Graham takes a drink: "Ah, life-giving water. Nectar of the Gods. Graham can now feel strength and renewal flowing through him.".
- "The pouch is empty!" The narrator is completely shocked by this each and every time, even though we've already seen Graham take out what was in it.
- Lampshaded by Paw in his "Let's Play", when he hears a cartoony sound effect made when the blue alien slips and falls on the peas on the floor.
"Oh, it had to play the Flintstones
sound. Like it wasn't stupid enough!"
- Nice Birdie: Graham says this just as the roc hatchling is about to eat him. Of course, the death is averted if he gave the remaining meat to an eagle and grabbed the pendant on the roc's nest before the egg hatched.
- One-Winged Angel: During the Shape Shifter Showdown, when Mordack turns into a winged "Flying Being" and then into a dragon.
- Only Idiots May Pass: You'd think that getting caught in Mordack's castle and taken to prison would be something you'd want to avoid... You'd be gravely mistaken! Earlier, Graham had to get locked up by an uncouth innkeeper, too.
- Open Sesame: It's even the password.
- The Owl-Knowing One: The premise behind Cedric was he'd serve as an adviser and helpful informant to the player. It... didn't work out that way. Cedric does something useful for you precisely once, at the very end of the game. And it wasn't even intentional. (See Unwinnable and Video Game Cruelty Punishment below.)
- Pie in the Face: How you defeat the Yeti. Yes, really.
- Pixel Hunt: The moldy cheese. THE MOLDY CHEESE.
- Furthermore - the old shoe. The necklace. The piece of crystal. Pixel hunts are all over the place. This was Sierra's first point-and-click adventure and their first VGA, higher-definition game as well. They figured they could use the same tactics they'd used in the past, not realizing that if you didn't know exactly what you were looking for, you rarely had a way of seeing it.
- Point of No Return: Once you're beyond the sledding ridge you'd better pray you have everything you need, because you can't go back. Also, when you're sent to the dungeon, you better get that cheese first time around, because otherwise you are screwed.
- These are also all over the place. Another example would be that you can't go more than one screen into the forest without finding yourself trapped, so you'd better have the requisite items at the time. Of course, each of these situations has the opportunity of making an item Lost Forever.
- The Pratfall: The blue alien slips and falls on the peas on the floor.
- Protective Charm: The gypsy's amulet protects Graham from the witch's magic.
- Pungeon Master: The voiceover narrator.
"The old witch caught you toadally unexpected."
"Dying for a drink, Graham?"
- Save Scumming: There are some puzzles that you will never figure out unless you die by them first. The genie in the bottle springs to mind. The desert, too. The final battle, as well.
- Scary Scorpions: They show up in the desert from time to time; and their (pOIsonous) sting kills Graham instantly, so you want to avoid them at all cost.
- Scenery Porn: Sierra's first game to support the 256 color VGA mode. The backgrounds were hand-drawn and scanned, and they look gorgeous.
- Schmuck Bait: The organ in Mordack's castle is probably the most apparent. Play it, and you'll immediately alert the wizard to your presence. Have a Nice Death.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Genie, and presumably the witch after being defeated.
- Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: What the Treasure Room can become if Graham doesn't pick up the right items or get out in time.
- Shape Shifter Showdown: The finale.
- Shout-Out: The desert temple is one big 'hello' to Indiana Jones. Except the action, that is.
- Sssssnake Talk: If you click the "Talk" icon on the (pOIsonous) snake, it tells you to "Sssssstay back!" Also, Mordack's snake form in the final battle.
- Solve the Soup Cans: The entire first half of the game. What is Graham's incentive for exploring the desert or the dark forest considering that he needs to travel through the mountains?
- Speaks Fluent Animal: At the start of the game, Crispin has Graham eat a piece of white snake (no, not Whitesnake) that allows him to speak with animals.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Manannan, the bad guy from King's Quest III, appears, but his name is consistently misspelled in this game, except in the NES adaptation.
- Super Drowning Skills: Unlike in the earlier games in the series, Graham can no longer swim. Though the game tries to justify this with either strong currents Graham apparently can't swim against and low stamina.
- Taken for Granite: Cedric, via Mordack's weakened wand magic, near the end of the PC version and any other adaptation except the PC CD-ROM adaptation (where he just gets killed). Of course, if you didn't save Cedric from the harpies, you'll end up in this example too. In either game console version either way, he is the only reason for...
- Taking the Bullet: The only, only useful thing Cedric does in the entire game and its adaptations is serve as your meat shield in the climatic battle, and even then it's only by accident.
- Talking Animal:
- Crispin gives Graham some white snake to eat so he can communicate with animals.
- Manannan isn't very chatty in the cutscenes with Mordack. If you run across him in Mordack's castle, however, he'll sound the alarm with a human voice, In King's Quest III once he turned into a cat he didn't talk then either, it was implied he was too pissed off to talk at the time so if not for that one line of dialogue, you'd easily assume he couldn't talk at all.
- though whether he can speak human as a cat, or the fact Graham can simply understand him because of the whitesnake is still up in the air The only animal we know for certain that can actually speak human tongue is Cedric.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: One of the more ridiculous examples in the series. To get to Mordack's castle, Graham must go through the mountains. The mountain path is blocked by a (pOIsonous!) snake. It's not until you've played half the game that you find a way to get the snake out of the way so you can go find your family. Graham, sweetie, WHY DON'T YOU JUST KILL THE SNAKE?! Even more glaring considering Graham kills Mordack later in the game. And kills a yeti. And a witch, too (although not technically, as she is doomed to a Fate Worse Than Death).
- Tiger Versus Dragon: In the final battle, Mordack will eventually turn into a dragon and you have the chance of turning into a tiger. But you'll get roasted. Would you believe bunny beats dragon?!.
- Timed Mission: Several actions give you only a few seconds to complete, such as throwing the shoe at the cat.
- Trial-and-Error Gameplay: Normally rubbing a lamp and getting a genie is a good thing; not so much this time. Not like you have any way of knowing beforehand without a guide. There's also the hole in the boat that is completely undetectable until you're already sinking. To say nothing of the Moon Logic Puzzles mentioned above.
- Tricking the Shapeshifter: The final battle.
- Ungrateful Bitch: The cursed willow-tree princess doesn't even bother to speak to Graham after he returns her to human form, let alone thank him for it or offer him a reward. The only reason Graham gets her magical harp is because she callously throws it aside before wandering off with her just-arrived boyfriend.
"You're welcome, you ungrateful biiiiiiiiiiiiitch!"
- Unwinnable: Many situations: If you eat the pie, you die. If you enter the dark forest without the bottle, the amulet, and the honeycomb, you die. If you don't save the rat, you die. If you don't save Cedric, you die. If you don't get the cheese, you die. If you don't grab the necklace in the Roc's nest in the three seconds you have between being eaten and getting rescued — you die. But in all these cases, you only die looooong after you made the initial action. Hope you didn't overwrite your saves!
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Sure, you can leave Cedric to die on the island, but you'll pay for it later...
- Violation of Common Sense: Early to advance in the game, you must go through a huge, hot, deadly desert with NO provisions whatsoever.
- Waiting Puzzle: In Mordack's castle, you have to hang out in his library until he goes to bed so you can steal his wand while he's asleep.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: What happened to Manannan at the end of the game? He was last seen imprisoned in a sack of peas. Did he claw his way out or did he starve/suffocate to death?
- The official King's Quest companion hints (while it's an official approved book, many things in it are still fanon) that Hagatha rescued Manannan and together are plotting a further revenge.
- When the castle was taken by Mordack, it never once mentions the servants, maids, cooks, guards, royal court, etc... who were no doubt also inside.
- Winter Royal Lady: Queen Icebella, a Captain Ersatz of Andersen's Snow Queen.
- Wizard Needs Food Badly: Graham needs to eat something while crossing the mountains. Be sure, it's not going to be the pie.
- You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You:
- Graham says this pretty much word-for-word to Cedric after being rescued from a roc's nest by an eagle... although, given that they'd both been imprisoned by an ice queen and her wolf lords, why Graham thought that would be so incredible is anyone's guess.
- He says it again to a servant girl in Mordack's castle, which is completely understandable.
The Abridged Series provides pOIsonous examples of:
- The Abridged Series
- Affectionate Parody: Of the game, of course.
- Blatant Lies: (When Cedric is kidnapped) "Cedric! You've been so important to my adventure so far!"
- Brick Joke: The series is divided into two videos, hence some jokes are repeated once in each part.
- Character Exaggeration: Cedric, Crispin, the Tailor ("Did someone say offensive stereotype?").
- Disproportionate Retribution: What Mordack thinks of Manannan's fate.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Mordack's first line in-game.
- Hypocritical Humor
Cedric: "Watch your money around the gypsies, Graham! They come from far away and wear weird clothes!"
- Improbable Weapon User: Graham seriously thinks that Mordack's kitchen is actually his armoury. Why else would he leave those deadly peas lying around?
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Apparently Harpies like harps. And also when Graham dispatches the blue monster in Mordack's castle.
Graham: "It's time to give peas a chance!!"
- Ironic Echo: The opening.
- Lampshade Hanging: Just about everything in the game. In many cases regarding the Moon Logic Puzzle nature of some parts of the game.
- Large Ham: Everyone, especially Graham and Mordack. Probably done to mock the game's voice acting.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Crispin's spell used to revive Cedric.
- Running Gag: See also Verbal Tic. Also, "Crispin's spells suck!"
- Shout-Out: When Graham defeats Mordack, the victory tune from Final Fantasy VII plays. Furthermore, one of the spells used by Crispin is Flipendo!
- The Stinger: Revealing Manannan's whereabouts.
Manannan: "I'll have my revenge, Graham! You'll see! One day, I'll pee in your shoes!!"
- Up to Eleven: Many details and accents are exaggerated for a humorous effect.
- Verbal Tic: Cedric has "Is a pOIsonous X" and "Graham, Help me!" Mordack too has his "swAIn!"
- Vocal Dissonance: The Ice Queen speaks with an emotionless, manly voice. Cassima too has a male-sounding voice. Justified by the tiny cast.
- Weaksauce Weakness: "Everyone know that flying beings hate tigers!"
- Weapon of X-Slaying: Parodied.
Graham: "Cedric! Fetch me the snake-repelling tambourine!"
"Look out, troper! A pOIsonous index!"