Game 98: King’s Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow (1992) – Introduction

From The Adventure Gamer

Written by TBD

Who will win – the giant minotaur with the spiked bracers… or the dude wearing a scarf?

It’s time for King’s Quest VI. I played through 1990’s King’s Quest V a little over three years ago (we’re a bit slow around here) and my most lasting memories are good graphics but nonsensical puzzles and lots of annoying dead-ends. I’m hoping for a better game this time around.

With King Graham perhaps ensuring Daventry’s army is properly armed with custard pies in case the yetis invade, we’ll be controlling his son, Prince Alexander, this time around. We last played as Alexander in King’s Quest III: To Heir is Human.
According to the extremely cheesy and pixelated Making of King’s Quest VI documentary that I found in the game folder, King’s Quest VI took about 1.5 years to produce and cost over $1 million.

The video nicely shows the important steps in getting the game from concept to release

First you make storyboards…

Then you put people in costumes and film them for more realistic animations

Finally two child actors pretend to excitedly convince dad to buy the game

Okay it’s actually much more of an advertisement than a documentary but it did contain some interesting comments from Roberta Williams and Jane Jensen.

The game was released in October of 1992, with a CD version coming out the next year and an Amiga version soon after, Apparently there are some significant differences in the various versions of the game, specifically the Amiga version which was ported by Revolution using their Virtual Theatre engine instead of Sierra’s familiar SCI engine that the PC version uses. We’ve seen the Virtual Theatre engine in action during our playthrough of “Lure of the Temptress”.

Remember this game?

It seems that the Amiga version even has some different puzzles. I’ll be playing the Dos version – specifically the CD version available from Steam. I’ll be wanting to play with voices, but also want subtitles for the purpose of screenshots. I don’t think I can play with both voices and subtitles with Dosbox but I know I can with ScummVM. I usually play the Dosbox versions of games to ensure I have a more authentic 90s experience, but if I can’t get subtitles and voices together I can either play the ScummVM version or just play on Dosbox with either speech or subtitles. If anyone knows of a good solution to my quandary or a suggestion for what version you’d prefer me to play, feel free to suggest…

Of particular note in the voice cast, Prince Alexander was voiced by Robby Benson.

Robby Benson is better known in voice acting circles as ‘Beast’ from ‘Beauty and the Beast’

King’s Quest History

Here’s a short plot summary of the previous games in the King’s Quest series.

  1. King’s Quest I – Find three treasures in order to prove my ability to be a good King (insert Monty Python discussion on systems of government here)
  2. King’s Quest II – go on a long journey to a faraway land to rescue my future wife who I saw in a magic mirror
  3. King’s Quest III – rescue Alexander (as Alexander) from a wizard
  4. King’s Quest IV – catch a hat before my sibling in order to determine which of us would be a good adventurer (actually that’s only the plot summary of the first half of the opening cutscene)
  5. King’s Quest V – rescue Alexander and family (as Graham) from a wizard

So far in the King’s Quest series we’ve had…

  • …two games that start with the premise of performing unrelated tasks in order to determine your future vocation…
  • …two games where you rescue Alexander from a wizard…
  • …but only one game where you go on a long journey to a faraway land to rescue your future wife after seeing her in a magic mirror…

To achieve some kind of plot equality King’s Quest VI should have me go on a long journey to a faraway land to rescue my future wife who I saw in a magic mirror. But hoping for such symmetry might be asking too much


Let’s have a look at the game’s intro to see if it’s anything at all like King’s Quest II

Sitting in the royal throne room, King Graham is lonely
Sitting in the royal throne room, Prince Alexander is lonely
The magic mirror suddenly shows an image of a beautiful woman in a tower
The magic mirror suddenly shows an image of a beautiful woman in a tower
Using knowledge gained from the magic mirror, King Graham makes his way to the shore of the land of Kolyma to find his future wife
Using knowledge gained from the magic mirror, Prince Alexander makes his way to the shore of the Land of the Green Isles to find his future wife

Hmmm. I suppose I see some similarities. The newest game has a much longer opening cutscene of course, with more detail.

In the cutscene, Alexander sulks about his inability to find the Land of the Green Isles where the love of his life (who he met for two minutes at the end of King’s Quest V) lives. While sulking, he has a discussion with his mother (Queen Valanice) who was nervous about the concept of him travelling to a faraway land to find love.

Alexander and Valanice have the entire discussion in this extremely… ummm… original?… choice of camera angle

Valanice eventually gives in, perhaps after realising the only eligible princess in Daventry is Alexander’s own sister, Rosella…

So mother wished him luck and off he went.

Valanice quietly leaves before the cameraman wakes up

Taking a royal ship, Alexander travels for three months through the known seas and beyond, following the stars he saw in the mirror. Eventually he sights land.

Is the royal navy’s uniform policy really lax or did Alexander just grab the first three drunken sailors he found at the local pub?

As he arrives, a storm appears and destroys the ship. Alexander sees his crew to the lifeboats before washing ashore himself. Time for the opening credits!

The title spins into view like the old Windows screensaver
This makes me happy. I was very impressed with Jane’s writing on the Gabriel Knight games – particularly in regard to historical and mythical research. Hopefully her writing skills are as good here.
After being unconscious during the credits, Alexander wakes on the beach.
It took three months on the open sea BEYOND the known seas on a proper sailing ship full of provisions that was destroyed by a storm… I’m sure the crew will find their way safely back to Daventry on their medieval lifeboats – not a problem…

Leaving Alexander in his state of denial, we get ready to explore the Land of the Green Isles, which we’ll do next week.

Place your bets

So what type of scores do these King’s Quest games typically get?

Here’s the scores of the previous games in the series…

  • King’s Quest                             48
  • King’s Quest II                         53
  • King’s Quest III                        52
  • King’s Quest IV                        55
  • King’s Quest I VGA remake    44
  • King’s Quest V                         56

So far the series has seen a small improvement per game (with the exception of King’s Quest III and the significant drop off with the remake of the first game.) The only one I personally rated was King’s Quest V. When I played King’s Quest V I was unimpressed with the puzzles in particular but pleased with its graphical improvements. Have Sierra learned to create better puzzles for their point-and-click games? Our Quest for Glory III rating suggests no, but we’ll soon see how this game goes. I’m hoping for some solid puzzle solving in my near future.

I’ve never played the game before so I’m going in blind apart from generally having heard it’s a good game and being a big fan of Jane Jensen’s later games.

So get your final rating guesses in and any bets for potential requests for assistance I make.

For the record, I almost always ask for assistance. I didn’t need help with Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis or Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2, but those are the only two games I’ve played that didn’t have any dead-ends. I assume this game will follow Sierra’s policy of giving us dead-ends but I’ve been deliberately not reading much about the game for fear of spoilers so they might have changed their tune on that one. Be assured that if there is a single dead-end in the game, I’m a good chance of finding it.

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it’s an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won’t be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return. It’s also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

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