King’s Quest VI: Final Rating

From The Adventure Gamer


It’s time to rate the best King’s Quest game, based on most opinions I’ve read. Will I agree? Spoiler alert: Yes, I will.

Before I start I’ll quickly mention that I attempted to play the Amiga version for comparison purposes but couldn’t get it working. I did find a comprehensive list of the differences online and seeing as the Amiga version largely just skipped some puzzles I’m happy to give up without trying too hard to get it working. I did end up playing the game using both the original and CD enhanced graphics, with my final perfect ending playthrough happening with the old/lower quality character portraits.

So let’s get to it. On with the PISSED rating…

Puzzles and Solvability

The puzzles in King’s Quest VI are pretty good and have sensible solutions.

I just gave a milk bottle I took from a bottlebrush bush to a baby’s tear to make the other baby’s tears cry harder so I can collect their tears and use them to cast a spell that requires salt water – like I said, perfectly sensible solutions!

My biggest gripe about King’s Quest V’s puzzles was that by and large they can’t be reasoned through. There’s a little of that randomness here but there were many puzzles I was actively looking to solutions for – this was a big part of my motivation for putting the Predictions section at the end of my post – I had thoughts as to what puzzles I’d need to solve and how, and wanted to know if I was right.

An example would be the ‘Sense Gnome’ puzzle. It’s a simple puzzle in five stages that became easy to predict after the first one or two. Knowing that I’ll need to trick them with something to see, hear, smell, taste and touch quickly gets my brain working on the five items I’ll need. It’s actually a very easy puzzle if you already have the items needed or even if you just know where they are (the nightingale toy being the example of this) so even if you didn’t have the required item, when you found, for example, the stinky flower, you’d know it would be used for this puzzle. Nice work, game!

I also wish to commend the multiple endings. I did three endings, but only two of them were distinctly different – the best ending was just the downstairs ending without me missing the jester. While not nearly as diverse as Fate of Atlantis’ three paths, and one of the paths was clearly the ‘complete’ path, with the other one (serving girl disguise) mostly just skipping a significant section of the game. Even so, the extra puzzles in the upstairs area of the castle during the sub-optimal ending was something I liked.

I did have issues with the easy way to dead-end myself from getting the best ending without realising I’d done so, and also with the obscure clues to the treasure room’s passphrase. And if that was the only way to win the game it would have negatively impacted this score by a noticeable amount. As it was only an option I’m willing to accept (though not prefer) the obscurity.

The game could have gone from good to excellent here if the Cliffs of Logic lived up to their name. I was expecting to solve multiple puzzles using logic and clues here and really taxing my brain, and was disappointed when it turned out to be just be a rather long in-game copy protection system. I was hoping for a puzzle sequence a la Le Serpent Rouge from Gabriel Knight 3 (which may be better in my memory than it actually is – it’s been a while since I played.)

There is no way to solve any of these puzzles with logic – a missed opportunity indeed

When I consider my trilogy of hated puzzles in games, let’s see how this game goes:

  1. Mazes – There was only the labyrinth as far as mazes go in this game. I got through most of it without having to map it – though I did have to come back and make a map in order to find the skull required for the best ending, despite finding other skulls in easier to reach areas that Alexander refused to take. The labyrinth had a useful story reason for being there and wasn’t difficult or too long, which makes it, in my mind, an acceptable maze.
  2. Dead-ends – There were quite a few dead-ends. A few of them were easily worked out as I went into the castle without the toy nightingale but found out quickly that a nightingale would be useful. If I hadn’t found the peppermint while attempting the alternate ending, I’d have been stuck near the end with no way of knowing how to defeat or avoid the genie. The game could have given me the option to leave and re-enter the castle through some kind of secret door or something to avoid these dead-ends and all others I can think of could also have been avoided by providing options to re-enter areas or not leave them at all until a required item is taken.
  3. Complicated or pointless mini-games – I can’t think of any mini-games at all in this game, so no problems there.

So there weren’t any bad or tedious puzzles – the negative of this category only being the numerous dead-ends. There also weren’t any puzzles that gave me an eureka moment after thinking about them for a while. All puzzles were quite simple and straightforward as long as I had or knew of the necessary inventory item – I again mention the missed opportunity for the Cliffs of Logic to increase this score. In all though, a decent but unspectacular effort improved by the variety of alternate endings.

Final score: 6

Interface and Inventory

The interface and inventory are your standard Sierra interface – as usual with King’s Quest there’s no special flavour icons such as taste or smell. It does its job well enough. I could ‘LOOK’ at an item in my inventory for a more detailed description of it, which was sometimes useful.

There was at least one time I had to use the inventory items from the inventory screen rather than on an item in the environment – I had to ‘USE’ Cassima’s ribbon in order to discover it contained a strand of pure maiden hair.

Apart from the standard interface there’s also the simple alphabetic keyboard that appears twice, allowing me to type in an answer. It was nice not to have the answer available automatically to force me to have worked it out myself. I’m still not impressed with the Ali Zebu passphrase though.

Like King’s Quest V, there’s no tooltips or ‘What is?’ ability, so the only way to see if something’s part of the background or an actionable icon is to attempt to interact with various parts of the scenery. This is why I didn’t find the peppermint bush until my third or fourth visit to the area and why I didn’t have it with me when I first entered the castle in my serving girl disguise. I can easily see someone missing that cave completely because the graphics look like the cave could easily just be part of the background.

Without tooltips, or making the hole big enough that it looks like Alexander can actually can fit inside it, it’s easy to miss the cave next to the nightshade bush.

Final score: 7

Story and Setting

In another step up from the last King’s Quest game, the story is more interesting. It’s still somewhat of a cliche – a princess locked up in a castle waiting for her handsome prince to save her from a political marriage to an evil man, but the details are much more interesting. The side stories are also more interesting, though on the surface they’re also cliches.

The way each island outside of the first had its own story and puzzles was predictable in a good way. It gave me a sense of how much progress I’d made and a real sense of achievement whenever I ‘solved’ an island’s main puzzle.

The setting was again standard fantasy/mythological stuff. Each island had a surprisingly small number of actual screens – four or so – with the significant exception of the labyrinth which is mostly repeated rooms, the castle and the Isle of the Crown with its three interiors itself. The limited area is a lot more noticeable when thinking about it now rather than while playing, so the game did a decent job of suggesting it had more than it did.

The entire visitable area of the Isle of the Beast – it had four screens, and four puzzles to solve!

Final score: 6

Sound and Graphics

This is one area where there’s not a noticeable improvement over King’s Quest V – the sound and graphics seem to be about on par. If anything it’s slightly less impressive than King’s Quest V.

I can still hum some of the music from King’s Quest V and remember associated puzzles. Just a week or so after finishing playing King’s Quest VI, I can’t remember any of the music apart from the ‘Girl in the Tower’ song that the game refused to play for me when it was supposed to. The music is in the game, and when I hear it again I remember it, and there were specific tunes associated with many screens so it’s not an issue of lack of effort – it clearly just didn’t click with me. But seeing as that’s just my subjective opinion I don’t plan to punish the game for me not liking/noticing the music too much. It does its job so I’m fine with it. 
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Here’s a small sample of some of the sounds and music in the game
I went back to some of my saved games so I could check out and compare some on the environmental sounds of both games and found there seems to be more in the older game. The nightingale tweets and a few other screens have things going on but there’s not enough to really improve on or add to the world.

The graphics were good. About on par with King’s Quest V. I particularly liked the climbing from rock-to-rock animation on the Cliffs of Logic the first time I saw it for some reason. I was more impressed with the closeups of King’s Quest V over this game though.

I think the King’s Quest V closeup graphics look better, but YMMV

Final score: 8

Environment and Atmosphere

I like a world that makes sense. The small size of the islands confirms the fact that each island only exists to give me different puzzles rather than having any coherent atmosphere to it. I can’t think of a simple way to make it better, as just making me walk through an extra few screens on the way to each puzzle screen would have made the environment slightly more convincing but only at the expense of making the game more tedious.

Of all the lands, the Land of the Dead was interesting if only for being different to the other sections. The Lord of the Dead, though easily defeated, was somewhat imposing, though the atmosphere of the area was decreased by the comical skeleton xylophone dance, which seemed completely out of place and way too silly for a ‘serious’ section of the game.

Having skeletons doing the can-can as they slide in from the left is definitely funny, but detracts from a potentially foreboding atmosphere.

The impending disaster (for Alexander’s love life) of Cassima and Alhazred’s wedding certainly added to the game, as the rushed atmosphere of having to find Cassima and do it quickly worked – the wedding proclamation that appeared in the town square after a time somewhat convinced me that things were moving forward and I had to hurry (though not really, because I knew I was playing a game and things were only progressing after solving particular puzzles.)

Final score: 5

Dialogue and Acting

The dialogue was solid. I can’t think of any particularly interesting or funny dialogue in the game though I’m sure there was some.

Like usual in Sierra games, there are no dialogue choices. All talking scenes are simple conversations without any input from me. I enjoy dialogue puzzles and multiple dialogue options so I can make a character my own, but particularly well-written dialogue can make up for it – this game has okay dialogue so doesn’t particularly make up for the lack of dialogue options/puzzles.

The acting was okay. The voices we hear most are Alexander’s and the narrator’s. 

The narrator reads all the text boxes, telling us that we’ve picked stuff up and what’s happening when we ‘look’ at stuff for example. He does a good job, sometimes making a corny little joke that could have been extremely groan-worthy only slightly groan-worthy. 
Alexander’s actor, despite being an actor with some pedigree, didn’t bring much to the character. It’s possible that Alexander is just a rather bland character and nobody could make his dialogue terribly interesting. Either way, I don’t feel the performance added a lot to the game. 
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Not exactly the game’s best example of dialogue and acting.
The other actors were okay enough, apart from Saladin who did a good job of sounding commanding and competent, though I’d argue his actual competence is a bit less than his impressive voice suggests.

Final score: 5

Final Rating

So all these scores give us a Final Rating of 6+7+6+8+5+5/.6, which equals… … …

A very good score. It would have hit the top 10 not too long ago, but for now it has to sit as the 14th best game we’ve seen. It’s easily the highest rated King’s Quest game, with the previous high being King’s Quest V’s 56.

Tornado, ShaddamIVth and kind of but not really Joe Pranevich guessed correctly! So they’ll all get some CAPs. The average score guess was 65.6 and ranged from 58 to 75

And now it’s time for me to think about how much fun I had with the game. I give the game an Overall Fun Factor of 7 out of 10 – I enjoyed it a little bit more than the PISSED rating gives it, so the PISSEDOFF rating would be  6+7+6+8+5+5+7+7+7/.9… … … 64!

CAP Distribution

I’ve given a ridiculous amount of awards away this time – but by the time I realised I really should have calmed down and consolidated some of the awards I was too tired and thought – what the hell. The CAPs don’t come out of my pocket anyway. Enjoy!

105 CAPs to TBD

  • Blogger Award -100 CAPs – For playing through the game for everyone’s enjoyment 
  • I speak British Award – 5 CAPs – for knowing what a rubbish tip is and putting unnecessary ‘U’s in normal words like humor and color.
75 CAPs to Laukku
  • Oracle Award – 6 CAPs – for suggesting I should be told about the two routes into the castle and coding it in case it could be too much of a spoiler. Good call on both parts!
  • 40 Minutes of Intro Award – 5 CAPs – for pointing out a video that has all different intro versions of the game
  • Genre Support Award – 5 CAPs – for informing us that some new Myst games had made it to GOG.com
  • My Kingdom For a Tic Tac Award – 7 CAPs – for helping Charles find a mint when he was stuck in the game.
  • Colour Me Impressed Award – 4 CAPs – for mentioning that Saladin’s colours were only reversed in the upgraded Windows portraits.
  • The Whole Hole Award – 5 CAPs – for helping us work out that there’s lots of things a hole-in-the-wall can be, though none of them are a weird insect thingy
  • The Sixth Sense Award – 4 CAPs – for pointing out that there should have been perhaps 33 Gnomes guarding the Isle of Wonder.
  • Don’t Copy That Floppy Award – 5 CAPs – for being part of an interesting discussion about what games had the best copy protection
  • Excuse Me, Monsieur Trottier Award – 4 CAPs – for bringing up the international expert in testing reading comprehension
  • Transformed by a French Kiss Award – 4 CAPs – for knowing why Beast speaks with a French accent.
  • He Chose Poorly Award – 5 CAPs – for noting when I’d chosen one of the two paths towards the ending
  • Check the Map Award – 4 CAPs – for noticing that the map in the manual may give a clue that the pit you’re supposed to fall into is different to the others (though not a terribly useful clue)
  • Talk to the Clown Award – 7 CAPs – for being the first to point out that I couldn’t get the best ending because I didn’t befriend the jester.
  • Any Color As Long As It’s Black Award – 4 CAPs – for telling us more about the Black Cloak Society
  • Evil Minds Think Alike Award – 3 CAPs – for noting a similarity between the villains of King’s Quest VI and Quest for Glory III
  • No Girl In My Tower Award – 3 CAPs – for letting us know about a feature request section on GOG that might get CD images into their releases so future players can hear Girl In the Tower over the end credits as intended

70 CAPs to MisterKerr

  • Don’t Spend It All At Once Award – 5 CAPs – for spending all of his birthday money on a single adventure game.
  • IIRC Award – 4 CAPs – for recalling correctly about the different versions of the game
  • Red Shift Award – 5 CAPs – for making me see that most of the Isle of the Crown residents have red faces with the enhanced graphics, and therefore noticing that for the rest of the game
  • My Kingdom For a Tic Tac Award – 7 CAPs – for helping Charles find a mint when he was stuck in the game.
  • The Whole Hole Award – 5 CAPs – for helping us work out that there’s lots of things a hole-in-the-wall can be, though none of them are a weird insect thingy
  • Nostalgia Award – 3 CAPs – for enjoying being reminded of how someone who hasn’t played the game before sees things a veteran doesn’t
  • Ogh Award – 3 CAPs – for having some fun with TBD’s refusal to let the game get away with spelling thru incorrectly.
  • Wonderland Award – 5 CAPSs – for reminding us that a lot of the Isle of Wonder seems reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s world.
  • Avatar of Legend Award – 4 CAPs – for prompting TBD’s nostalgic feelings for the Ultima series.
  • Don’t Copy That Floppy Award – 5 CAPs – for being part of an interesting discussion about what games had the best copy protection
  • Back To Monte Carlo Award – 5 CAPs – for an excellent and hilarious reference to a previous game’s character
  • A Bird In The Hand Award – 7 CAPs – for mentioning that if we give the nightingale gifts in the right order, we get cutscenes – this information was used to get the good ending.
  • Puzzling Songs Award – 4 CAPs – for giving us information about potentially using music to help solve puzzles
  • Any Color As Long As It’s Black Award – 4 CAPs – for telling us more about the Black Cloak Society
  • Player and Doodler Award – 2 CAPs and a free plug – for pointing us to his youtube channel’s playthrough of King’s Quest VI
60 CAPs to Joe Pranevich
  • Not Quite Psychic Prediction Award – 1 CAPs – for correctly predicting the PISSED score King’s Quest VI would get, but under the wrong (or only partly right) circumstances.
  • If You Only Purchase One King’s Quest Game, Make It This One – 4 CAPs – for correctly choosing the best King’s Quest game for his one and only King’s Quest purchase
  • Fowl or Fair Award – 5 CAPs – for being confused about whether TBD’s title was a paltry attempt at humour or perhaps a spelling error
  • Classic Blogger Award – 50 CAPs – for playing through the Missed Classic For Good Reason earlier game version of The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for everyone’s enjoyment

58 CAPs to Michael

  • I’m Reaching Out, Please Tell Me What To Do Award – 5 CAPs – For mentioning and linking to my new favourite 90s song, Girl in the Tower
  • Word Crime Award – 1 CAP – For also linking to a Weird Al song, while referencing a game character I wouldn’t meet for two more posts
  • Oracle Award – 6 CAPs – for suggesting I read Laukku’s coded suggestion, but only the first part. Good call on both parts!
  • Ogh Award – 3 CAPs – for having some fun with TBD’s refusal to let the game get away with spelling thru incorrectly.
  • Avatar of Legend Award – 3 CAPs – for prompting TBD’s nostalgic feelings for the Ultima series.
  • Don’t Copy That Floppy Award – 5 CAPs – for being part of an interesting discussion about what games had the best copy protection
  • He Chose Poorly Award – 5 CAPs – for noting when I’d chosen one of the two paths towards the ending
  • Nobody Calls Me Chicken Award – 4 CAPs – for remembering Alexander’s interactions with poultry at an appropriate moment.
  • Play It Again Sam Award – 4 CAPs – for correctly suggesting TBD might want to get the best ending after finishing the game sub-optimally
  • You Only Die Once Award – 4 CAPs – for noticing a potential plot hole of dying after passing the Land of the Dead’s concierge
  • All Dogs Go To Heaven Award – 5 CAPs – for wondering if house pets go to the human afterlife – and where Manannan’s spirit would end up if he’s spent significant time as both – deep thoughts!
  • Permutation Award – 3 CAPs – for a nice list of the different ways the ending can change
  • Questbuster Award – 5 CAPs for the first minute, 1 CAP for every subsequent minute – for spending money on BBSs and newsletters before internet walkthroughs were commonplace.
  • Reading For Extra Credit Award – 5 CAPs – for discovering that Bob Chappell was a game reviewer and hint guide writer as well as the Hitch Hiker’s guide game writer.
30 CAPs to Charles
  • True Companion Award – 20 CAPs – for playing along with King’s Quest VI.
  • Solidarity Award – 5 CAPs – for letting me know that I’m not the only one who missed the obviously glinting ring on the first screen of the game
  • Wonderland Award – 5 CAPSs – for reminding us that a lot of the Isle of Wonder seems reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s world.

20 CAPs to ShaddamIVth

  • Psychic Prediction Award – 10 CAPs – for correctly predicting the PISSED score King’s Quest VI would get. 
  • Aloe Blacc Award – 5 CAPs – for asking the question that’s in everybody’s heart
  • Ancient Greek Scholar Award – 5 CAPs – for knowing more about ancient Greek burial practices than anyone living today will ever need.

20 CAPS to Tornado

  • Psychic Prediction Award – 10 CAPs – for correctly predicting the PISSED score King’s Quest VI would get.
  • Solidarity Award – 5 CAPs – for letting me know that I’m not the only one who missed the obviously glinting ring on the first screen of the game
  • Invisible Spoiler Award – 5 CAPs – for putting in a spoiler so subtle that even the person who wrote the spoiler didn’t notice it until re-reading it three or more times.
18 CAPs to Andy Panthro
  • Pirate Friend Award – 5 CAPs – for pointing out that Alexander might have befriended a pirate from his past.
  • Roses Are Red Award – 4 CAPs – for mentioning a King’s Quest VI video so TBD can justify watching youtube instead of getting the final rating done in a timely manner.
  • Evil Dead Award – 4 CAPs – for noticing that Abdul Alhazred wrote the Necrinomicon as well as some extremely incriminating letters to Shadrack.
  • Don’t Copy That Floppy Award – 5 CAPs – for being part of an interesting discussion about what games had the best copy protection

14 CAPs to Lisa H

  • Clown Talk Award – 5 CAPs – for trying to help TBD work out how far back he had to backtrack to get the best ending
  • Softie Award – 4 CAPs – for being moved by a puzzle that was, perhaps unfairly, barely given a mention in the writeup.
  • Head Counting Award – 5 CAPs – for knowing how many heads (and arms) the President of the Galaxy has.
14 CAP to Ilmari
  • Economics 101 Award – 5 CAPs – for giving us a layman’s description of the hyperinflative effects of an infinite chest of gold on a pre-industrial society!
  • Senseless Award – 4 CAPs – for starting a discussion on what the Sense Gnome puzzle seems similar to.
  • Aloe Blacc Award – 5 CAPs – for asking the question that’s in everybody’s heart

10 CAPs to Niklas

  • Falaises De Logique Award – 5 CAPs – For telling us that he would have beaten the game if it weren’t for those meddling French and their unreadable manuals.
  • Beauty… Beauty Never Changes Award – 5 CAPs – for remembering the old TV show about Beauty and the Beast that has nothing to do with the story referenced in this game

10 CAPs to Rowan Lipkovitz

  • Well, That Was Quick Award – 5 CAPs – For turning a simple typo into a new definition of the term ‘quickie’.
  • I Know Something of These Early Sixties Sitcoms Award – 5 CAPs – for knowing that mice like cheese

9 CAPs to MrValdez

  • Yarrrr Award – 5 CAPs – for not knowing if his uncle is a pirate.
  • Coming Soon to The Adventure Gamer Award – 4 CAPs – for noticing a Hitch Hiker’s Guide reference a few days before our Missed Classic of the first Hitch Hiker’s game.

5 CAPs to Voltgloss

  • That Was No Boating Accident Award – 5 CAPs – For noticing a weird similarity between the beaches in King’s Quest II and VI
5 CAPs to Reiko
  • Not All That Glitters Is a Ring Award – 5 CAPs – for noticing that Tornado had accidentally put a spoiler in a comment that nobody else noticed at all.
5 CAPs to Corey Cole
  • That’s Not How Our Office Worked Award – 5 CAPs – for reminding us that Sierra was not just one big group of people but split into multiple teams.

5 CAPs to Gui

  • My First Love Award – 5 CAPs – for telling us about King’s Quest VI being the first adventure game you finished
5 CAPs to Brad Snibson

  • Don’t Copy That Floppy Award – 5 CAPs – for being part of an interesting discussion about what games had the best copy protection
4 CAPs to toddvdw

  • Lucky We Didn’t Step On It Award – 4 CAPs – for showing us an old Indian parable that nicely shows why Sense Gnomes should never be used as guards


Original URL: https://advgamer.blogspot.com/2018/09/kings-quest-vi-final-rating.html