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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Retro Review: King’s Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella


Back in the hey day of point and click games Sierra was king. They brought notable series such as Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and King’s Quest to gamers everywhere. I, sadly, was not able to play the series from the beginning due to a lack of a computer with good enough specs to run it and I was a bit too young. I started with the fourth installment in the King Quest series, The Perils of Rosella, which quickly became one of my favorite PC games of all time.


The basic story is that King Graham, the protagonist of the previous three King's Quest games, lies dying. Princess Rosella, his daughter  feels incredibly sad and gets sucked into a mirror which pulls her into another world. In this strange world you can find a fruit that will save your father, good thing you go sucked through that mirror huh?  However the fairy that brought you here through the mirror is ALSO dying. So you're going to have try and save her too, otherwise you will never get back to your world.  Stupid fairy. 


The controls for this game are pretty basic, but can be a bit complex to execute. You can use the arrow keys to make Rosella walk from place to place or you can use the mouse. The mouse is safer in the long run a Rosella is apt to wandering into various forms of peril. There are times in this game where neither control will be beneficial and it’s all up to saving (literally) every step of the way. 

The part of the game that comes to mind right here is the whale. There is only one way to climb and the game does not hint where it is safe to walk. I will not mention how many hours, days, weeks I was stuck here as a kid. You either figure it out, or you died. That simple and that aggravated.

One thing that makes this game stand out compared to other point-and-click games, is it requires you to type in what you want Rosella to do. It’s a beautiful combination of  the super old school text RPG and those new fangled graphical point-and-click interfaces. As a child who never won any spelling bees, this did made the game that much longer for me when trying to learn to spell everything it wanted. Thankfully, if you're spelling challenge like I am,  typing “inventory” shows the name of everything you were holding. Also, the developers made life easier by letting you choose shorter words. So if you wanted to talk to the fisherman, you could type in “talk to man” and the game will figure out what you want. Though occasionally, when you need to type something specific, they game will tell you to “say it another way.”


Graphically this game is  mostly on par with anything that came out during the time period. Bright MS Paint style colored characters and environments not super detailed, but nicely shadowed and full of life.  The different areas are full of moving pixels that suggest running water, wildlife going by, and smoke from a fire. Now we take these types of things for granted but at the time it took away the dull and lifeless world it could have been. You feel more involved in the game and in the story of the characters that are around you.

What makes this stand above some of the others of the time period is it has “fully animated” cut scenes. They are pretty amazing all things considered. They might be MS Paint styled moving animations, but dammit they were full screen MS paint styled moving animations!


It's on par for the period, but on par doesn't make it particularly great. It’s very mechanical and computerized. There are a few places that actually have background music, which do really add to the game as a whole, but it’s not exactly orchestrated. So overall the sound does add some feeling to the game and the game would be missing something without it there.


This plays like pretty much every other point and click you'll ever play, you need to find various items around the area and give them to people/creatures for them to give you other things. It may seem simple but even if you know where everything is, walking is time consuming. Since this is an old game, warping is out of the question (unless you cheat) so the only thing Rosella can rely on is her own two feet. Even though I am an old school gamer, this got really old for me after a while. You can speed up her walking by upping the actual game speed, but this often leads to Rosella’s speed walking to her death off some sort of precipice. Those spiral stairs in the tower in particular are a real doozy.

One thing that makes this a little different from every other point and click is the passage of time. The game changes from day to night and back into day again. This gives you a whole new set of things to worry about, like Zombies at night, and changes what you can and can not do.

There's also a points system. The total is 230 points if you do everything and talk to everyone you should. Most tasks are worth 2 points so you can see how this adds up to a lot of work for poor Rosella. Some of the tasks are minor and you won’t even notice that you missed doing them until the score is tallied at the end. Getting the full points doesn't give you anything better at the end except the knowledge that you are a thorough explorer and tried and typed everything you could. In olden times we just had to feel personally satisfied with our obsessive game playing accomplishments, none of these crazy digital trophies you see these days.

So you pick up stuff, you give away stuff, you talk to people and accomplish tasks both day and night. If you're successful you earn some points and save King Graham and the fairy. It doesn't sound like much but it really us hours of old school adventure fun.


This game was one of the first games of this type I really played as a kid and it stuck with me. I have loved it ever since and have bought many different versions of it over the years. It isn’t a very long game by today’s standards but it will definitely take up a decent amount of your time both due to tediousness and the sheer amount of stuff to do within the game. I would highly recommend it to anyone who either loves a good text RPG (and wants a few pictures to go with it) or someone who has played their share of point-and-clicks. My only piece of advice while playing it is to save through every doorway and have a couple different save slots, just in case.


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1 comment:

  1. I love this game so much I was like 8 or 9 when my big brother played it. I was so excited to be just as an observer. I actually never played it.



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