Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / King's Quest I: Quest For The Crown

Go To

King's Quest: Quest for the Crown (originally simply "King's Quest") is the first game in the long-running King's Quest series. It was released in 1984 and had a huge impact on the world of gaming: It was one of the first animated adventure games, and it cemented Sierra as the premier maker of Adventure Games in the '80s, and it helped popularize the adventure game genre and many of the tropes associated with it (for better or for worse).

The plot is simple. You are Graham, a knight in the realm of Daventry. Your king has tasked you with finding Daventry's three lost treasures: A magic shield that protects the kingdom from war; a magic mirror that can see the future; and a magic treasure chest that magically replenishes itself. To find these treasures, Graham must explore the kingdom and solve puzzles. Oh, and avoid random deaths — that's important, too.

The game is best known for its Fantasy Kitchen Sink setting, limited graphics and interface (blocky 8-bit characters and Text Parser), often exasperating puzzles, random deaths and Unwinnable situations (though the fan remake has a "no unwinnable situations" mode). It has been remade with better graphics twice, once by Sierra themselves, and once as a Fan Remake by AGD Interactive.

This game proves examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The story of how King Edward lost the Three Great Treasures is described in a booklet that came with the game.
  • All Trolls Are Different: There's a troll guarding a series of bridges that demands a toll if you try to cross. It's a hunchbacked, hairy humanoid with a long nose.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • The remakes accept a more intuitive backwards name for the gnome.
    • The AGDI version has a visible spot for Graham to stand on to be picked up by the eagle.
    • The beanstalk is much easier to climb in the remakes.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Your reward for winning the game.
  • A Winner Is You: In the original game, Graham simply sits on the throne after King Edward dies, his body just lying there.
  • Back from the Dead: Due to a bug in the original AGI version, Graham can kill the goat with the dagger and then show the goat's corpse a carrot. This resurrects the goat and makes it follow you as if it had never died.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Inverted with the Gingerbread House in the Remake: the interior is small and poor compared to the outside.
  • Cooked to Death: Graham disposes of the witch by pushing her into her own cauldron. To be expected, since the whole scenario is a Shout-Out to "Hansel and Gretel".
  • Covers Always Lie: The IBM PCjr version shows up front and center a character clad in head-to-toe full armor and wielding a sword and defending with a shield, making the game look like a standard PC RPG of the time. In no part of the game does such a character exist, and Graham does not wear any armor or wield a sword in the game. (Only the shield exists.)
  • Death by Despair: Subverted: the ominous mood when Graham returns to the castle makes it seem like the trope at first glance, but the king was already old and feeble to begin with, and didn't have much longer to live. If anything, he dies by pure joy and excitement of seeing Graham return with the magic treasures, finally able to die in peace knowing Daventry has a worthy new ruler to watch over it.
  • Excuse Plot: There is very little plot outside of the manual, which is present mostly as an excuse to mash different fairy tale characters and situations together.
  • Fairy Tale: A major source of characters and puzzles. This game includes references to The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Rumplestiltskin, and Hansel and Gretel, among others.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: In the same game as Rumplestiltskin, there are leprechauns. And a goat and troll. And a fairy godmother. And a gingerbread house with a witch inside. And many more. Yeah.
  • Four-Leaf Clover: Having one in the player's possession keeps him safe around leprechauns.
  • Giant Flyer: The condor, big enough to carry Graham to a nearby island.
  • The Good King: King Edward is known as "King Edward The Benevolent".
  • Grows on Trees: There's a seemingly normal walnut tree, but one of the nuts Graham picks up ends up containing gold.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The Rumplestilkin of the game has a hint for his name: it's "backwards." And by hint, we mean that there is a random note in the witch's house which does not mention where to apply this knowledge. And in the original game, "backwards" meant that you were supposed to write the name down, transpose each letter with its opposite (A becomes Z, B to Y, C to X, etc), and come up with the solution "Ifnkovhgroghprm." The remakes changed this, so that the direct opposite of the expected name "Rumplestiltskin" was just "Nikstlitselpmur," the inverse. It really doesn't help that "Rumpelstiltskin" is a common alternate spelling, meaning that it's still possible to get it wrong. This was also fixed in the remake, which accepts both spellings.
    • In general, many puzzle solutions are based off fairy tales, and the game assumes that the player is familiar with them. If you never read these stories, can't remember them, or just expect to find hints in-game, you'll probably need a walkthrough.
  • Heroic Mime: Averted for the opening and closing cutscenes, but that's it.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: You kill the witch by pushing her in her own cauldron.
  • Impact Silhouette: Graham makes one if he falls off the beanstalk (at least in the remade version).
  • Informed Attribute: Carrying the magic shield will make you invincible. Except against the dragon who will melt your shield (and you) to ashes. This Plot Hole was fixed in the SCI and VGA remake: You can't get the magic shield before getting the magic mirror.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: Generally yes, but you will not, say, steal the fiddle from the woodcutter.
  • Last Lousy Point: Several, such as eating the candy house; bowing to the king, giving the bowl to the poor couple after saying the magic word, finding all the optional treasures, etc.
  • Limited Animation: Not everything is animated in the game, especially the AGI version. Picking up objects, eating food, playing violin, ramming the troll with a goat, pushing old witches and so forth is all explained in window messages. This is one of the earliest animated adventure game after all.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: On the IBM PCjr version, going from one screen to another was not instantaneous. You had to sit and wait for the screen to fully load the data, which was about 5 seconds (a huge deal back then). You could actually see the computer draw all the backgrounds and objects one by one, then fill them with colors. If you were very observant, sprites were drawn last, giving you clues of hidden objects.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Somewhat, in that the game has random encounters with several nasty monsters, albeit always in the same room. This feature is notably absent in pretty much all later graphic adventure games.
  • MacGuffin Guardian: A Dragon keeps the Mirror in his lair, while the Giant carries the Chest with him. Zig Zagged with the shield which is in possession of the Leprechauns but not guarded by a specific monster.
  • Magic Mirror: The magic Mirror, one of the Three Treasures of Daventry. It foretells that you shall win the game, and then serves to magically kick off the plot of roughly half the sequels.
  • Magic Mushroom: In a reference to Alice in Wonderland, there is a shrinking mushroom that you need to get out of the Land of the Leprechauns and back to the west side of the river. Wasted it or went underground without it? Congrats, now your game is unwinnable.
  • Miracle Food: The bowl that fills with stew, which you must give to the woodcutter and his wife.
  • Monster in the Moat: In the original version, Castle Daventry has a crocodile-filled moat. In the remake, instead they have the serpentine "moat monsters" who fulfil the same role.
  • Mundane Solution: How to beat a dragon? Just throw a bucket of water at it and it will run away in shame at having its fire extinguished.
  • Nintendo Hard: The beanstalk (in the original EGA version, that is). And some of the puzzles as well.
    • Grabbing the damn eagle in the remake. You have to jump as precisely the right time, as it's swooping down. Though you have to time yourself a few seconds before it swoops down, and you have to be standing in the exact right spot.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: One of the antagonists is the giant from Jack and the Beanstalk. However, he's not any bigger than the troll or the ogre you've met.
  • Optional Stealth: When you reach the land beyond the clouds you can either kill the giant with the slingshot or wear the invisibility ring obtained by the elf and wait for him to fall asleep and steal his treasure. The stealthy solution requires more time and is not immediately obvious but gives more points.
  • Oxygen Meter: If you walk into the water, Graham will flounder helplessly until he drowns. Unless you type "swim" or press the "=" button at which point he will start swimming. He will drown if you stay in the water too long, however.
  • Pacifist Run: Very minor example, but pacifist solutions to a few problems yield more points. For example, you could kill the dragon with the dagger, but chasing him away by pouring a bucket of water at it to douse its fire is just as effective, and yields more points.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The later AGI versions use "Greensleeves" as the game's theme.
  • Random Encounter: In certain areas you may stumble into a dangerous being (The Ogre, The Wolf, the Sorcerer or Dahlia the Witch) and you'll have to evade them before they get you. There's also the Dwarf, who steals an item from your inventory. All these encounters can also be avoided thanks to the Invisibility Ring or the blessing from you Fairy Godmother.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: There's a giant snake dangling from a tree branch near the swampy pond, but it won't kill you if you stay at bay.
  • Rodent of Unusual Size: A giant rat can be encountered in a tunnel leading to the Leprechaun's kingdom.
  • Savage Wolves: A single bad wolf may appear in a certain area. Unlike the Ogre and the Sorcerer, it's fast.
  • Sequel Hook: In the remake's epilogue, it's mentioned that King Graham looks into the magic mirror and sees his descendants having many more adventures...
  • Starter Equipment: One of the first items you can obtain is a knife inscribed with runes. It is possible to throw said knife at various creatures to kill them, but it's not recommended.
  • Stock Animal Diet: The only way to pass the giant rat is to feed it some cheese. (You can also give it one of your treasures, but you'll lose points. And if you give it the magic mirror or magic chest, the game will become unwinnable.)
  • Tech-Demo Game: IBM commissioned Sierra to create the game to show off the graphics and sound capabilities of the IBM PCjr.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Not killing some of the monsters (and resorting to trickery instead) gets you more points, but isn't required to win the game.
    • The official hintbook written by Al Lowe actually tells the player to kill the dragon as the primary solution. It only treats the 'better' solution as a secondary non-violent solution that the player will have to discover for themselves. Al in the book has a tendency to tell the player to take the least point option in most cases as the primary solution, rather than going for the highest score (giving away treasures, rather than going for optimum item choice). The better options are regulated to the 'did you try...?' section at the end of the book.
    • You score points though if you kill the witch and troll.
  • Trespassing Hero: Averted with Rumplestiltskin in the remake. After he helps you on your quest, he goes back inside his home. If you try to have Graham enter the home, the game will call you out and say that it's impolite to enter someone's house uninvited.
  • Troll Bridge: Graham must get onto an island accessible by three bridges, all of which are guarded by a troll. Options are giving it treasure, or re-enacting "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" by coaxing a friendly goat to the scene.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: In the PCjr version, there was a 'drop <item_name>' command which would dump your item on the ground. Any item dropped could never be recovered. If you drop any of three great treasures, well... you know.
  • The Unpronounceable: The gnome's real name is "IFNKOVHGROGHPRM". Or "NIKSTLITSELPMUR" if you're playing the SCI's version.
  • Unwinnable by Design:
    • You need all three treasures to win the game. There's a dwarf that goes around stealing your things. He appears semi-randomly (always on the same two screens, but at random times) and is difficult to evade. If you have any of the Three Treasures on you when he shows up, he steals them. And you can never get them back. Have fun playing the rest of the game!
    • Earlier versions of the game allow you to drop things from your inventory, including those three treasures. Whatever you drop can never be recovered. Ironically, you can drop the treasures between the moment that the game checks for them to get to the endgame, and the actual endgame.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • The 1987 AGI PC version runs in MS-DOS instead of as a booter game. It also has the text display in pop-up windows, pull-down menus, as well as other graphical tweaks.
    • The 1989 port version for the Sega Master System with a LucasArts-style menu command interface, but it had some changes deliberately put in to slap people relying on information from earlier versions. This is so bad that rocks can somehow roll uphill in that game's universe.
    • The 1990 version with upgraded graphics and soundtrack.
    • The fan remake and its update.
  • Useless Useful Skill: There is a command for ducking, which you need precisely never in the game. It's only used to avoid the witch, which can be done easier by simply leaving the screen.
  • Victory by Endurance: One way to win against the giant in the clouds (and the way that scores the most points) is to wait out the giant until he falls asleep. The other way is to reenact the battle between David vs. Goliath.
  • Video Game Remake: It has both an official one and a fan one, which is available for free online.
  • Zillion-Dollar Bill: The bottomless gold chest filled with gold coins, never seen nor referred to again. (The King's Quest Companion issued with each game suggests this is the reason why none of the Royal family from Daventry seems to carry much money around with them, and generally choose to live without greed. Of course, in King's Quest 6, Alexander does bring a box with him to the Green Isles, which likely had some money in it. Most of the box's contents are lost in the shipwreck though, save for one copper coin.)

Alternative Title(s): Kings Quest I