King's Quest V
|King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!|
DOS cover art
|Publisher(s)||Sierra, Konami (NES Version)|
|Release date(s)||November 9, 1990|
King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! is a 1990 adventure game released by Sierra. Released in November 1990, it featured a significant improvement in graphics (achieved through the introduction of VGA into the series). It was also the first King's Quest installment to replace the typing user interface with a point-and-click user interface. It was also the last King's Quest to feature EGA graphics at 320x200: a separate EGA release contained 16-color 320x200 versions of the graphics, whereas the VGA release featured 320x200 256-color VGA graphics (and, unlike later SCI games, did not support rendering these into 16 colours at 640x200 resolution on EGA cards). The title is a spoof on the proverb, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."
King's Quest V won Computer Gaming World's 1991 Adventure Game of the Year award. It was later released as a "talkie" CD-ROM, meaning the characters have voices, done by members of the Sierra staff. The music was MIDI based and written by Mark Seibert and Ken Allen.
In the introduction to the game, a view of Castle Daventry is shown, when suddenly, a mysterious cloaked figure appears. He enchants the castle, causing a whirlwind to appear, which soon engulfs the castle and lifts it out of sight. Because he is out walking when this happens, King Graham is the only member of the royal family to be left behind. He returns to the castle to find that it has disappeared, and is soon confronted by a talking owl named Cedric.
Cedric witnessed the cloaked figure's attack, and tells Graham that it was a powerful, evil wizard named Mordack who stole the castle. Cedric then brings Graham to the land of Serenia, where his master Crispin resides. Crispin is also a wizard, but a good one, who gives Graham some advice, his old wand, and a piece of white snake which allows Graham to speak with animals. Graham then starts on his journey.
Later, Graham learns that Mordack is the brother of the wizard Mannanan, whom Graham's son, Prince Alexander, turned into a cat in King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human. Mordack has imprisoned the castle and royal family of Daventry out of revenge, and threatens to feed the royal family to Mannanan unless Prince Alexander agrees to restore him to his true form. King Graham travels through the land of Serenia, gathering helpful items and information, and eventually makes his way to Mordack's island to save his family from their impending doom.
Connections to other King's Quest games
Though still largely stand alone, King's Quest V is one of the few where the elements of the plot itself are directly connected to events or individuals in both previous and future games. The location the game is set, Serenia, was first visited in the earlier game, Wizard and the Princess. The transformation of Manannan into a cat is a necessary task to completing King's Quest III. And this act has profound consequences for Alexander (and his family), as it is the impetus for the KQV storyline. Also, KQV's ending ties into its sequel, King's Quest VI. Cassima was introduced as a slave to the wizard Mordack. Before she is sent home at the end, Alexander mentions wanting to visit her in the Land of the Green Isles, which happens at the beginning of KQVI. And Cassima mentions her Vizier, who first introduced Mordack to her. In KQVI, we find out that Mordack and the Vizier (who is the primary antagonist of KQVI) are both part of an organization known as the Society of the Black Cloak (technically only the Vizier is confirmed to be a member, but members of the organization know of Mordack). Even the music for Cassima in Mordack's castle is enhanced and used for the love theme for Alexander and Cassima. In the end of that game the Vizier is defeated by Alexander and Cassima and the two marry.
The owl Cedric accompanies Graham through the entire game to provide commentary and advice. He has to be rescued from danger at several points, but the owl rarely says or does anything useful, except towards the end when he saves Graham's life from a spell.
The diskette (EGA and VGA) require Graham to cast spells throughout the game, requiring the user to refer to the manual as a form of copy protection. This was omitted in the CD-ROM version. The disk version has a slightly different game interface, similar to the version used in the NES version. Mainly difference being that there is an additional walk option.
Several of the animated characters including the rat, the ant, and the bee, have large closeup pictures of their upper torsos, that are fully animated, including arms and for the insects antenna. The ant for example even raises up the golden needle. These closeups and animations were modified or mostly cut from the CD-ROM version (which only shows closeups on the character's faces).
The CD version also added voice acting. There is also many script differences between the floppy and CD-ROM versions. Many of the narrative descriptions were modified, and lines were added to characters that didn't have speaking roles. For example, the snake and some of the villagers are given a few quotes, where as they didn't speak at all, and ignored Graham in the floppy version. In another example, Cedric is killed by Mordack's wand magic in the CD-ROM adaptation instead of turning into stone in the floppy version or any other adaptations; and Mordack simply leaves Graham's family to rot in said CD-ROM adaptation instead of threatening to feed them to Manannan in other versions.
Many of the characters have close up pictures (taken from the floppy) that were given various colored backgrounds behind them, and a frame around them (though the frame cuts off some details).
The snake is even given a close up picture for its new speaking parts. A few of the characters are given more lines.
NES censorship alterations
In order to make the Nintendo Entertainment System adaptation a bit more family-friendly and release it to stores everywhere, Nintendo of America had to follow its Video Game Content Guidelines requiring it to tone down violence, nudity, language, and religious themes in the games it released. One example is Graham's water-drinking scene in the desert: where the narrator's words say, "Ah, life-giving water. Nectar of the Gods. Graham can now feel strength and renewal flowing through him" in the PC version, in the NES adaptation it says, "Ah! The cool water felt wonderful on Graham's parched lips and his body now feels rejuvenated." This was edited due to religious themes. Another example has Queen Icebella ordering the wolves to take Graham and Cedric to the dungeons forever, instead of flat out killing them. This obviously was to censor out the threatened violence.
Computer Gaming World in 1991 praised the "tour de force" VGA graphics, sound card audio, non-typing parser and user interface, but criticized the gigantic, yet almost pointless, desert map. The magazine concluded that the game was best for new adventurers because of its easy puzzles, and a "pleasant diversion" for more-experienced players. In 1991, Dragon gave the game 4 out of 5 stars. In 1993 Computer Gaming World called the voice acting in the CD-ROM version of the game "wooden".
King's Quest V won the 1991 Software Publishing Association Excellence in Software Award for Best Fantasy Role-Playing/Adventure Program, Computer Gaming World named the game as its 1991 Adventure Game of the Year, and in 1992 named it to the magazine's Hall of Fame for games readers rated highly over time. King's Quest V was voted "Best Multimedia Fantasy/Adventure Game" by readers of MPC World. It originally sold 500,000 copies, making it the bestselling computer game for the next five years.
An Atari ST version was announced via Sierra Online's magazine: Sierra News Magazine for a Spring 1991 release but was later canceled. Sierra's Srini Vasan and Sierra UK fought for continued Atari ST development  but Sierra Online discontinued Atari ST support entirely shortly afterwards.
In other games
Sierra displayed their acknowledgement at the criticisms of King's Quest V through references to the game in several of their releases:
- In Space Quest IV, Cedric acts as an enemy in the Ms. Astro Chicken arcade game.
- In Space Quest 6, the game mocks Cedric whenever Roger tries to tell the elevator door to open or close.
- In Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist, Cedric can be seen perched atop a cactus, and then later eviscerated by vultures.
- In King's Quest VI, the pawn shop features various references to the problems with KQV and other past games in the series
- In Quest For Glory: Shadow of Darkness, one of the possible wrong answers to a riddle from Leshy is Cedric, to which Leshy then shudders.
King's Quest V also inspired a text-based remake, King's Quest V – The Text Adventure, and also another parody fan-game Owl's Quest: Every Owl Has It's Day starring Cedric which pokes fun of many of the situations and mannerisms of Cedric.
- Staff (November 1991). "Computer Gaming World's 1991 Games of the Year Awards". Computer Gaming World (Golden Empire Publications, Inc) (88): 38–40, 58.
- Nintendo's Era of Censorship
- Scorpia (March 1991). "When Is a Sequel More Than a Sequel? Sierra's King's Quest V". Computer Gaming World. p. 50. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (June 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (170): 55–58, 118–119.
- Ardai, Charles (1993-04). "Sierra's CD-ROM Version of Space Quest IV". Computer Gaming World. p. 34. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- "Celebrating Software". Computer Gaming World. June 1991. p. 64. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- "Computer Gaming World's 1991 Games of the Year Awards". Computer Gaming World. November 1991. p. 38. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- "Isn't That Just Spiffy?". Computer Gaming World. February 1992. p. 112. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
- Interaction Winter 1992, pg 49
- Roberta Williams Biography
- Morganti, Emily (May 25, 2007). "King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder review". Adventure Gamers. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
- "King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! – Overview". Allgame. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
- "King's Quest V – Overview". Allgame. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
- Staff (Spring 1991). "Atari ST Owners Set To Enjoy Two Brand New Products Plus Reillustrated Versions Of Two Classics In Spring '91", Sierra News Magazine. p. 13,22
- Magpie, Johnny (Spring 1991), "Rumor Mill: Atari ST Owners Will Still Be Supported...", Sierra News Magazine. p. 46
- King's Quest V Review at Adventure Classic Gaming
- King's Quest V at MobyGames
- King's Quest V Technical Help on the Sierra Help Pages
- King's Quest V on the Sierra Chest