The Legend of Kyrandia
|The Legend of Kyrandia|
Book One cover art.
|Platform(s)||Amiga, DOS, FM Towns, Mac, PC-98, Windows|
|Release||August 1992, 1993, 1994|
It primarily takes place in the fantasy land of Kyrandia, where the player assumes the role of the young hero Brandon (Book One), the royal mystic Zanthia (Book Two) and the evil court jester Malcolm (Book Three); the antagonist of the first game. Played in a 2D format from a third-person perspective, each game uses a point-and-click interface to guide said characters throughout the game's world; solving puzzles and quests, while interacting with the in-game characters and environment.
The series began in 1992 with the release of Fables and Fiends (changed from The Legend of Kyrandia), and spawned two sequels The Hand of Fate (1993) and Malcolm's Revenge (1994). The series is now owned by Electronic Arts and is available digitally on GOG.com.
The Legend of Kyrandia became known for its extremely simple interface, a feature present in all three games in the series. Though vaguely reminiscent of point-and-click adventure games of the period, the primary detail that distinguished Westwood's trilogy was the use of a single "use" action, as opposed to multi-action interfaces.
All three games are characterized by a quite innovative inventory system. It is notable for the variety of allowed physical actions you could subject the items to, especially the great freedom of dropping and picking up objects, which was used for some of the puzzles. In general, the puzzles in the series are based on experimenting with inventory items, combining them or depositing them in the correct places.
Book One - Fables and Fiends
In the fantasy kingdom of Kyrandia, King William and his wife, Queen Katherine, have been murdered by the evil court jester Malcolm, a madman who possesses vast magical powers. Brandon, the prince, has been hidden in the forest by his grandfather (Queen Katherine's father) Kallak, who is also chief of the Mystics.
Malcolm has fun destroying trees of the country, and faces Kallak, turning him into stone. Brandon, oblivious of his past, soon discovers the truth about his origins. He finds out that Malcolm has stolen the Kyragem, a mystic stone that contains the kingdom's energy. Brandon has to recover the Kyragem and defeat Malcolm.
After many adventures, also including the king's chalice along the way (not to mention learning four different magical spells), Brandon heads to the king's castle, which Malcolm now occupies. Here he finds most of his former friends and allies turned to stone by Malcolm as well as a magical sceptre and king's crown. Putting these together he unlocks the way to Malcolm's personal chamber, where the Kyragem lies. He confronts Malcolm and heads into the Kyragem chamber. After becoming invisible (one of his magic powers) he walks up to a giant mirror, where Malcolm casts a magic orb, which bounces off the mirror, turning Malcolm to stone. Brandon becomes King, his friends are freed, and the Kyragem is returned to its proper place.
Book Two - The Hand of Fate
Years later, Zanthia, a young beautiful female alchemist and wizard encountered in the first game, discovers that the kingdom of Kyrandia is in great danger, disappearing piece by piece. The Mystics hold a meeting, and The Hand (a giant glove serving as an assistant to Marko, one of the Mystics) formulates a plan, which requires a magic anchor stone from the center of the world. He chooses Zanthia to be the one who shall recover the stone. As it turns out, however, the quest for the anchor stone is a snipe hunt, used by The Hand to distract Zanthia and the other Mystics while it enacts its evil deeds. The Hand, supposedly a fragment of a long-deceased gigantic evil sorcerer, is the game's true villain, and Zanthia must defeat him by the end. This game was characterized by far more whimsical humor than its predecessor.
Also in this game Marko, who actually loves Zanthia, must be rescued several times by the player (if s/he so chooses; they can otherwise leave Marko to escape on his own). This game also features many more non-optional side quests. Rather, it is not as straightforward as the predecessor, which was intent on finding and defeating Malcolm. In this game the player must go to several different locations and perform various tasks to eventually be able to reach the main destination. For example, one major plot point is to reach a volcanic island named "Volcania," which involves an extensive side quest with many different objectives, to reach the center of the Earth (where more tasks await Zanthia, such as playing fetch with a Stegosaurus or riding a T-Rex, retrieving items to be used to make potions — a major part of the game — before she can advance). For different destinations, Zanthia always magically changes her attire.
But after Zanthia retrieves an anchor stone, Marko opens a portal and tells her to meet with him at the "Wheels of Fate." After many other extensive quests, Zanthia reaches a floating island and uses an old rainbow machine to reach her destination. There, after retrieving several important items including a gear (through a difficult Tower of Hanoi puzzle), she is able to go to the "control room" of sorts. There it turns out that the machine controlling Kyrandia has had a gear removed (thus causing everything to disappear). After she fixes it, the Hand appears again with a tied-up Marko. After a "battle" (mostly which includes Zanthia dodging the Hand's attacks until Marko is able to free himself), Marko throws the hand over the edge and it is ripped up by the massive gears and other machines outside of the control room. Marko then tells Zanthia that they should leave and that he has magic parachutes, calling her "sweetheart," which she repeats questioningly (shocked to hear the word).
In a final scene after the credits, the still-stone Malcolm is seen in a junkyard not far from the castle. He is struck by lightning and the camera focuses on his hand, as his fingers slowly move and off-screen screams are heard. The story is then continued in Book Three: Malcolm's Revenge.
Book Three - Malcolm's Revenge
After Malcolm's defeat against Brandon in the first game, Malcolm had been turned into a statue, but after having been struck by lightning, he was liberated from the spell. Malcolm then decides to take his revenge upon Brandon and Kallak, helped by his evil conscience, Gunther. Even though he lost his powerful magic, Malcolm decides to use his malicious wit and cunning to go through with his revenge. He eventually proves his innocence of the murder of Brandon's parents.
- Brandon Voiced by Joseph D. Kucan: The protagonist of the first game in the series. A humble young woodsman in the forest of Kyrandia, Brandon is in fact the Prince of Kyrandia and heir to the throne. When he was just a baby, his parents, King William and Queen Katherine, were murdered. Soon afterward, his grandfather Kallak, chief of the Mystics, fled beyond the Timbermist woods and raised him in the forest. When Malcolm attacks Kyrandia and turns Kallak into stone, Brandon sets out to defeat the evil jester. In the tradition of adventure game heroes like Roger Wilco and Guybrush Threepwood, Brandon is depicted as well-meaning, but not particularly bright. By the third game in the series, Brandon has inherited the throne and becomes King of Kyrandia, but his grandfather Kallak (Queen Katherine's father) holds the real power due to Brandon's somewhat dim-witted nature.
- Zanthia Voiced by Bonnie Lynn Toups (voiced by Ginalyn Torrecilla in Book One): The protagonist of the second game in the series. Zanthia is a member of the Counsel of Mystics and a powerful magic-user, although she is highly dependent on the use of reagents in order to cast spells. Perhaps the sanest of Kyrandia's inhabitants, Zanthia's personality is witty, confident, and level-headed.
- Malcolm Voiced by Eric Randall (voiced by Gary W. Hyatt in Book One): The main antagonist of the series, and the protagonist of the third and final game. Malcolm is a mean-spirited, sarcastic, and slightly deranged jester who commands incredibly powerful magic. He is also the cousin of the late King of Kyrandia, and widely believed to be the murderer of the royal family (although this is revealed to be untrue at the very end of the last game). At the end of the first game, Malcolm is defeated by Brandon, who reflects his own magic back at him and turns him into stone. In the third game, Malcolm is freed by a bolt of lightning, but loses his magical powers, forcing him to rely on his wits to survive, get his revenge and ultimately clear his name.
In 1992, Computer Gaming World's Robin Matthews described The Legend of Kyrandia "as a cross between Loom, King's Quest V and Secret of Monkey Island 2", praising the "beautifully drawn" VGA graphics and humor. The magazine concluded that the "storyline is hardly original ... but the presentation of the game, the general quality and the feel, make this a promising debut and a welcome addition to the world of graphic adventures". In April 1994 the magazine said that the CD version "is a quality product throughout" that added digitized voices to the "excellent, if somewhat short" game's "Stunning graphics and sound", and advised Westwood to "just release the CD version of their titles first". The first installment in the series received 5/5 in Dragon magazine, while The Hand of Fate received 4/5.
In 1994, Computer Gaming World's Scorpia approved of The Hand of Fate's avoidance of unwinnable gameplay and "definite improvement in puzzle construction over Kyrandia" although "Westwood is still a little too fond of red herrings". She criticized the game's short length and "really sore point", the arcade endgame, but concluded that Hand of Fate improved on "Much of what was wrong with Legend of Kyrandia", and good for anyone looking for a short adventure game.
Malcolm's Revenge won Electronic Entertainment's 1994 "Best Adventure Game" award. The editors wrote that the game "offers more of the same, and then some." PC Gamer US nominated Malcolm's Revenge for its 1994 "Best Adventure Game" award, but it lost to System Shock.
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Originally the series was known as the Fables & Fiends series with the first installment titled: Fables & Fiends - Book One: The Legend of Kyrandia. When the first sequel Fables & Fiends - The Hand of Fate was released, "Book Two" was omitted from the title, yet alternative versions of the game's cover art showed it was also called The Legend of Kyrandia - Book Two, with "The Hand of Fate" omitted instead. The Hand of Fate name was still present from within the game itself however.
When the next sequel Fables & Fiends - Malcolm's Revenge arrived, confusingly again, alternative cover art showed it was also called The Legend of Kyrandia - Book 3: Malcolm's Revenge. In yet another error of continuity was the display of a numerical 3 instead of the alphabetical Three, but within the game the alphabetical form was still used.
Finally, a compilation of the series was released despite only the box art being new. This new artwork officially named the trilogy as The Legend of Kyrandia series, with all three installments unified underneath as Book One - Fables and Fiends, Book Two - The Hand of Fate and Book Three - Malcolm's Revenge. Also, the ampersand symbol within the Fables and Fiends title was changed to an alphabetical one.
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