King's Quest VII
|King's Quest VII:
The Princeless Bride
Jay D. Usher
|Platform(s)||MS-DOS, Windows, Macintosh|
|Release||November 23, 1994|
King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride is a graphic adventure game developed and published by Sierra On-Line for the MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows and Macintosh computers in 1994. It features high-resolution graphics in a style reminiscent of Disney animated films and is the only King's Quest game with multiple protagonists: Queen Valanice and Princess Rosella, who are both spirited away to the land of Eldritch, and Rosella is transformed into a troll. They must find a way to return Rosella to normal and find her true love, rid of a powerful evil force threatening this realm, and get back to their kingdom Daventry.
King's Quest VII is the only game in the series to divide the story into chapters. Although less linear in terms of ending than earlier entries in the series, King's Quest VII does not include as many different endings or optional tasks and plot threads as King's Quest VI. Some puzzles do have multiple solutions, and there are two possible endings. The game's reception was highly divisive, but ultimately mostly positive.
King's Quest VII is different from the previous King's Quest games in terms of structure. The action is separated into six chapters, each set primarily in a different region of the realm of Eldritch. The player alternates between two heroines, Valanice and Rosella, with each chapter. The two heroines travel through some of the same places during the course of the game, finally meeting up again in the end.
Aside from the multi-chapter layout, the most significant change in game structure is the simplification of user interface by the use of smart pointer. When playing the game, the pointer lights up when passed over an object that can be used. Players can get or use objects and talk to characters by directly clicking on them, whereas previous games required the player to select an action icon and then click on the environment, and can click on the environment without indicating which parts of the game could be interacted with.
One of the game's highlights is its graphics; King's Quest VII has very elaborate and colorful graphics, compared to other games of the time, with painted backgrounds and animation techniques. The game makes use of SVGA graphics, new at the time, before The Dig and Space Quest 6. Also included are certain areas that pan from one side to the other, rather than going from screen to screen. Despite the cartoonish graphics characteristic of family-friendly computer games, the game includes several violent death scenes.
The name of this entry, The Princeless Bride, is a pun on the title of the novel and film The Princess Bride. Like most King's Quest titles, it is also a reference to the plot: Princess Rosella is soon to be a bride, but ends up in another world shortly before her marriage. It is the only entry in the series to feature Queen Valanice in a major role, and also the only one in which King Graham is not shown or mentioned at all (with one minor exception in version 1.4).[note 1] Sierra marketed the game as an improvement in the series by stating that completion of earlier KQ adventures was not necessary to fully enjoy the game, even though the final chapter revealed a strong connection to the events of King's Quest IV.
As the game opens, Queen Valanice is lecturing her daughter, Princess Rosella about the importance of marriage. Rosella is somewhat rebellious, and dreams of adventure rather than marriage. She catches a glimpse of a seahorse-like creature momentarily jumping out of and into a pond, leaving behind an image of a castle in clouds. Rosella dives in and Valanice follows, and they find themselves caught inside a gigantic magical whirlpool-like vortex. Rosella and Valanice desperately try to reach each other while being sucked down, but suddenly, a troll-like arm sticks in from the side of the whirlpool, grabs Rosella, and snatches her away.
When the actual game begins, Valanice lands in a desert in the realm of Eldritch, while Rosella finds herself transformed into a troll and engaged to be married to the king of the trolls. As the two characters attempt to find each other, they discover a terrible plot of the evil sorceress Malicia, who schemes to destroy anyone and anything that gets in her way as she seeks to become the ruler of Eldritch.
The game offers two different endings after the final confrontation with Malicia. The good ending is triggered when the extra life is used to revive Rosella's love interest Prince Edgar (introduced in King's Quest IV) at the very end of the game, which results in a grand wedding ceremony. The bad ending occurs if nothing is done or is triggered when the flower is used.
- Valanice (voiced by Carol Bach y Rita) - After her daughter disappears, Queen Valanice ends up in the desert with nothing but Rosella's comb, which she picked up before going after her. Now the Queen of Daventry is on a quest to find her daughter, bring peace to Eldritch, and return to her kingdom.
- Rosella (voiced by Maureen McVerry) - Not wanting to be married, Princess Rosella believes she saw a castle in the reflection of a lake and jumped in. She now must stop her marriage to the Troll King, find a way to put an end to the wicked Malicia's diabolical plan, and return home with her mother.
- Malicia (voiced by Ruth Kobart) - The main villain of the game, Lady Malicia is a vain and narcissistic enchantress who is both human and faerie. She has been banished from Etheria, a faerie kingdom in the clouds above Eldritch, after attempting to overthrow her good sister. After regaining her powers, the witch decided to destroy Etheria in revenge and started attacking the various lands Eldritch to take over the world. During the game, she is thwarted by Rosella and Valanice and ultimately defeated by the latter.[note 2]
- Edgar (voiced by Jesse Moises) - Not seen until Chapter 6, Edgar is the Prince of Etheria who had previously appeared in King's Quest IV, where he was kidnapped by the faerie witch Lolotte before he was rescued by Rosella. He was then enchanted by Malicia and turned into the troll king, taking the place of the real king as her puppet. Edgar plays an important role towards the end of the game; when he gets hit by Malicia's spell, Rosella has a few seconds to revive him. Depending on Rosella's actions and choices, Edgar either dies or lives, and his parents subsequently mourn his death or celebrate his return to Etheria.
The developers aimed for the effect of traditional animation works by Walt Disney Pictures and Don Bluth. As such, the full game contains more than five times the animation of any other Sierra game of the time. Art director Andy Hoyos specifically cited the intensity of the colors in Disney's Aladdin as an inspiration model. Composer Jay Usher said, "Just seeing how a character carries himself, acts, or walks ultimately determines the outcome of the music. We've tried to give each character [their] own 'mini-theme'. Each character is unique, so the music should be as well." The final game was much shortened from an earlier concept in order to fit the game on a single CD-ROM.
The game's backgrounds were hand-drawn and scanned. The game sprites were pencil-drawn on paper and also scanned, and then edited and colored digitally, not unlike the traditional animation process in animated feature films of the era. Of the 70 characters that appear in the game, some are more realistic and human-like (like the protagonists) and others more cartoony. According to lead animator (and character designer) Marc Hudgins, it was the first time when the art department had to use outside (Russian and Croatian) animation houses. Part of the challenge had to do with the fact that the animators had no experience in computer game animation.
|King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride||US||1994|
|King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride||EU||1994|
|King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride (Version 2.0)[note 3]||US||1995|
|King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride (Sierra Originals)||EU||1998|
Original reviews have been mixed, as some considered King's Quest VII to be a big letdown, especially since its predecessor was a groundbreaking success. Some critics and fans of the series disliked the use of Disney-style cartoon graphics.
On the other hand, upon release PCZone praised its "stunning graphics and superb gameplay." A reviewer for Next Generation approved of the series's transition from idealized fantasy imagery to highly detailed cartoon graphics, and said the game maintained the King's Quest standard for outstanding soundtracks. He concluded, "While it's certainly not the most challenging game available, it may be one of the most impressive in look and feel, and fans of the series should definitely check this one out." A review in Computer Gaming World hailed the game's "animation of quality that would make Disney proud." A retrospective verdict in Adventure Gamers described it as "an eminently playable, if not revolutionary, adventure game," and "a solid—if not stellar—entry in the King’s Quest collection."
Computer Gaming World nominated King's Quest VII as its 1994 "Adventure of the Year", although it lost to Relentless: Twinsen's Adventure. The editors called King's Quest VII "one of the year's most charming releases", and concluded, "The feature-quality animation and the hodge-podge of classic tales make it the closest we're likely to come to a fairy tale on the computer."
- However, Graham is listed in the voice credits, so he may have been originally intended to appear in the game.
- In King's Quest III Redux, Malicia is said to be a former consort of Lolotte, an evil witch killed by Rosella in King's Quest IV.
- The Version 2.0 release of King's Quest VII omits certain parts of the game. It removes Valanice continuously dying from carrying a lit firecracker with her (the game allows the user to continue where the character died), as well as the volcano scene with Rosella in peril having the time limit removed (which would eventually have the volcano erupt).
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Sierra Creates Their Own Magic Kingdom in KING'S QUEST VII: THE PRINCELESS BRIDE
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