King's Quest IV
|King's Quest IV:|
The Perils of Rosella
Apple II cover art
|Artist(s)||William D. Skirvin|
|Engine||AGI and SCI0|
|Platform(s)||MS-DOS, Amiga, Apple II, Apple IIGS, Atari ST|
King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella is a graphic adventure game developed and released by Sierra On-Line in 1988. The player takes on the role of Princess Rosella, daughter of King Graham of Daventry (King's Quest I and King's Quest II) and the twin sister of Gwydion/Alexander (King's Quest III), who must save her father and a good fairy and defeat an evil witch. Critically acclaimed, it was one of the first PC games to support a sound card.
King's Quest IV uses the Adventure Game Interpreter and Sierra's Creative Interpreter systems. This is the only chapter in the King's Quest series where the action takes place in real-time. The events of the game cover about 24 hours. Some activities must be completed during the day, while other puzzles can be solved only at night. The difficulty of King's Quest III was toned down in King's Quest IV.
King Graham of Daventry has suffered a heart attack during quality time with his family and is on the brink of death. The good fairy queen Genesta contacts Rosella through a magic mirror and offers her assistance. Rosella is teleported to the fairy land of Tamir, where she learns about a magical fruit that can heal her father. However, Genesta herself is in a weakened state because her dark rival, Lolotte the witch queen, stole the talisman that gives Genesta power. If Rosella fails to vanquish Lolotte and return the talisman within one day and one night, Genesta will be unable to help her return to Daventry in time to save her father, and will even die.
Upon getting into Lolotte's castle, Rosella, disguised as a peasant girl, is charged with performing three tasks for the evil queen, who seeks Pandora's Box to rule the world. Completing these, Rosella earns the witch's trust and gains an opportunity to destroy her and recover the stolen talisman, and also to rescue a cursed prince named Edgar. Although Rosella's primary quest is to retrieve the magic fruit needed to save King Graham, it is possible to return to Daventry without completing this task, but this leads to a tragic alternate ending to the game. Winning the game will not resolve all storylines, although that will be the goal in the sequels.
Development and release
With the SCI engine, Sierra dropped disk-based copy protection schemes in favor of requiring the user to enter a word from the manual, as the new-generation games were designed primarily to be installed and run from a hard disk. King's Quest IV was the first commercially released game for PC compatibles to support sound cards instead of only the standard built-in speaker. In addition to the familiar PC speaker and Tandy sound, it could utilize AdLib, CMS, Disney Sound Source, IBM Music Feature Card, or Roland boards. The new Sierra's Creative Interpreter engine allowed the game's designers to incorporate an orchestrated musical score along with more complex sound effects, a previously unattainable feat. To ensure an immersive soundtrack, composer William Goldstein was hired to write the game's musical score, totaling over 75 short music pieces.
The series' author Roberta Williams wrote in the notes to the King's Quest Collection Series, "Before King's Quest IV was released, word leaked out that Graham would have a heart attack and might die. Fans were upset enough to write in, asking to save Graham. I wanted King's Quest IV to have some pressure applied to you: a timed game, taking place over a 24-hour period, so you roam around during the day and eventually it turns to night. I don't remember other games using the same scenes at night; it looked creepy."
The game was simultaneously produced and published in the AGI and SCI engines. The AGI engine was used in all earlier Sierra adventure games, the SCI in all later ones. SCI supported higher-resolution graphics (320×200 resolution versus 160×200), more sophisticated animation, mouse, and sound card support. Some older features like CGA composite mode and PCjr support were removed. Memory requirements for SCI games were thus double those of AGI games (512 kB vs 256k). The new engine was designed for then-current PC hardware (i.e. 8–16 MHz 286 or 386 machines with EGA or VGA graphics and a hard disk) and ran poorly on older 8086 PCs.
King's Quest IV was the only native-mode SCI game to also have an AGI version (some games originally made with the AGI engine like KQ1 were released in updated SCI versions). This was done mostly as a fall-back measure because the SCI engine was new and unproven, and also for the large existing user base of 8086 machines. However, only a quite small number of copies were sold. It was discontinued within a few months of the game's August 1988 release. The two games are identical in gameplay, except that the SCI version was updated with some additional parser responses. The AGI version 2.0 contains the "beam me" Easter egg, which transported Rosella to a Star Trek-esque room with all of the development team present (this Easter egg is not present in any SCI version). A version identical to the AGI version was released on the Apple IIGS with improved music and effects (over the PC AGI counterpart); the IIGS port does not use the SCI engine for performance reasons.
The game was previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show on June 4, 1988, and an advertisement for the game stated that a preview of the introduction of the game had made a person in the audience cry (although it probably wasn't the first computer game to make people cry, as it erroneously stated).
King’s Quest IV sold 100,000 copies in its first two weeks. According to Sierra On-Line, combined sales of the King's Quest series surpassed 3.8 million units by the end of March 1996. By November 2000, PC Data reported that King's Quest IV's sales in the United States alone had reached between 300,000 and 400,000 units. GameSpot's staff wrote that the game "marked a dramatic increase in the series' commercial success".
King's Quest IV was very well received by the trade press, including being awarded review scores of 79% from Amiga Action, 81% from Amiga Computing, 85% from Commodore User, 91% from Computer & Video Games, 85% from CU Amiga, 9/10 from Datormagazin, 90% from The Games Machine (Italia), and 79% from Zzap!. It was also selected as "Best Adventure Game of 1988" by the Software Publishers Association.
Scorpia of Computer Gaming World reviewed King's Quest IV, noting the beautiful graphics, but also mentioning the game ran slowly if the screen contained animations. She described the game's puzzles as "uneven", but considered the presentation as cinematic in quality. David Stanton of Compute! praised the graphics and sound of the IBM PC version, including its support of VGA and sound cards such as AdLib and Roland MT-32, and concluded that "King's Quest IV sets a gaming standard others will be hard-pressed to match, much less surpass," describing the game's soundtrack as "40 minutes of the best sound available on any computer disk anywhere." Page 6's John Sweeney wrote the game was "undoubtedly excellent", but personally he preferred King's Quest III.
In 2009, Atomic named King's Quest IV one of the "50 Games to Play Before You Die". The magazine's Ben Hardwidge called it "a classic". IGN's Kosta Andreadis wrote in 2014, "The Perils of Rosella stands the test of time despite its shortcomings (and you can buy it on GOG.com), for above all providing a memorable and at times thrilling adventure, on top of being one of the first games to ever feature both a female protagonist as well as sound card support."
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