Category: Forgotten Franchises

Destruction Derby Series – Forgotten Franchise

As I sat down to write this piece, I initially planned to write this as a straight retrospective piece on the first destruction derby game, reflecting on the game as a whole and reminiscing a bit about an old favourite. I mean, everyone will have heard about Destruction derby right? It was a big thing when it came out during the PlayStation era and was, for a while, a major title.

But that’s the thing, it was the PlayStation era and that’s 4 consoles ago, generationally. While the PlayStation era might not feel like that long ago to me, in reality it was aaagggessss ago. The console came out in 1995; nearly 19 years ago. Wow, that’s a reality check; Destruction Derby is now old enough to drink legally in the UK…

Suffice to say that, while I remember it and at 28 I’m, by no means even close to being considered middle-aged (hell I barely qualify as an adult depending on who you ask!) 18 years is long enough for a great many of our readers to have never heard of.

Right then, surely the later entries of the series will at least vindicate my assertion that everyone will have heard of the Destruction Derby series? Destruction Derby Arenas was the last game in the series and, while it was a bit… rubbish… it at least continued the name right? So when did that come out?

2004?? Ah…ok then…

Tell me that doesn’t look fun…

So then, Destruction Derby…

Destruction Derby was released, as we’ve established, in 1995 by Psygnosis (after being developed by Reflections Interactive) as part of the first wave of PlayStation games. Indeed, Psygnosis were rather prolific in their racing/driving games and were also responsible for Wipeout, which I covered previously.

The game, as you may guess from the name, tasks the player with competing in stock car races, eschewing the traditional jockeying for position, lap times and overtaking lanes for all out violent destruction. Starting to see why it was so good yet? Pretty much anything went when it came to battling for position in the game, with players actively encouraged to bash, smash and crash competitors off the track in a bid to finish first. While hardly endowed with finesse, subtlety or, admittedly, much variety, the stock car race mode was certainly entertaining.

To add a layer of tactical consideration and some level of realism, the cars had a level of destructibility, with areas of the car having a finite limit to the damage they could absorb before your car broke down. This was represented by an image of your car on the HUD with various parts that would change colour progressively from green to red as you took damage, finally changing to black when the limit was reached. Along with the progression of damage levels, the vehicle became more visually damaged, which was something new to players at the time and drew a lot of attention.

While the stock car racing was the more extensive aspect of the game, the second, eponymous, Destruction Derby mode was the one that really gained the most favour with the fans. This mode placed the cars in a large circular arena, inspiringly named ‘The Bowl’ with the target of wrecking the most cars before everyone was damaged beyond repair. This mode, while consisting of a single track and little to no variety was the standout aspect of the game and pretty much the reason the game gained the following it did. The was also a Wreckin’ Racing mode, which took the stock car mode and added the awarding of points for wrecking other cars, but that was rather hit or miss compared to the guaranteed action of the main Derby mode.

Following on from the success of the first game, its sequel, Destruction Derby 2 arrived hot on its heels the following year. Differing little from its predecessor, Destruction Derby 2 essentially offered more of the same. Basically, for a review of the 2nd game, just re-read the above paragraphs and add a 2 to the name. Everything from the race modes to the mechanics was the same. The main difference from a race perspective was the addition of several jumps on various tracks, which delivered even more carnage to proceedings.

Wreckin’ Mode – like racking, but better.

The reception for the game was on a similar level to that of its predecessor, though on a slightly lower trajectory, most likely due to the aforementioned lack of any real progression in gameplay.

This was not the case for the slightly belated sequel, Destruction Derby Raw. Released in 2000, the game was the first to be developed by a different studio, being taken up, as it was, by Studio 33.

Graphically the game was a step up, as you would expect, but the main change was in the development of the game modes. The existing modes were, in the main, repurposed, with only stock car racing being omitted. Wrecking Racing takes its place as the main race mode, retaining the same format as its predecessor, with a greatly-expanded quota of 25 tracks and 19 competitors. Smash 4 $ was a career mode, in which a player purchased and upgraded vehicles by earning money from in-race challenges. The previously simple Destruction Derby mode returned, but with much more variety, with a series of tracks and new game modes, which can be split into 2 categories, team events and solo challenges. The solo challenges were Armageddon, which tasked the player with surviving as long as possible, Vampyre; where players steal points from their opponent when they hit them, Skyscraper; a standard Derby mode, but with the ability to push cars off the edges of the track and Classic Mode, which remained the same as previous years. The team events were Assault; which tasked players with protecting a CPU-controlled partner car and Pass Da Bomb, where players had to hit an opponent to pass a bomb to them and the player holding the bomb when it went off was eliminated.

The game itself was relatively well-received, with average reviews at the time, though significantly down on previous iterations, mostly down to the lack of refined controls and, again, lack of major gaming variety.

Again, a 4 year delay occurred before the next, and final, game in the series arrived in the form of Destruction Derby: Arenas. Still developed by Studio 33, Arenas was quite a deviation in theme from the previous titles. The overall purpose remained the same, but the presentation was very different, shifting away from the realism of the previous titles to a more arcade experience. The game was poorly received, with many citing the cartoon-like stylings and rather outlandish characters. Indeed, the very fact that the game had characters at all was a huge change in style, one that put many players off.

The overall reaction to the game sounded the death knell for the series and Arenas proved to be the last Destruction Derby game to be released to date. Studio 33 were bought out by EA in 2003 and became EA North West and the Destruction Derby name disappeared from the industry, though similar games such as Empire Interactive’s Flatout continue its legacy.

Destruction Derby wasn’t big and it certainly wasn’t clever, but what it was, was damn good fun and the fact that the last version of note to appear was over 13 years ago means that few younger gamers will have ever had the chance to play such a brilliantly joyous game.

If ever there was a franchise in gaming that is ripe for a revival its Destruction Derby… so long as they don’t mess about with the formula too much.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to listen to some Steppenwolf and get some pixelated smashing on.

Destroy All Humans – The Greatest Game You’ve Never Played

We all know the story of The War Of The Worlds. In fact if you don’t, get out as you are no longer welcome reading this article. It was the radio show that frightened your grandparents, the film that enthralled your parents, the musical score that has engaged so many, and the American remake which has disappointed almost everyone who watched it. And it was whilst I was watching the American remake that my distracted mind stumbled on a question I had not asked myself before; if I was an invading alien, how would I go about taking over the planet? That is why today I am writing about Destroy All Humans, the greatest game you’ve never played.
Read more …

Forgotten Franchises – Cool Spot

The 1980s to 1990s was undoubtedly the era  of the platformer. Bearing witness, as it did, to the spiritual birth of the console era proper, the period can boast many of the best examples of the genre. In those heady days of discovery, the games industry had something of a wild west feel to it; a feeling of a new frontier with fantastic new discoveries being unveiled seemingly every week.

From this brave new world came some of the true luminaries of the industry. The stomping ground of titans like Sonic and Mario, the final decades of the 20th century set the tone for what could be argued to be platforming perfection, refining the genre to the point of virtual perfection. Read more …

Delta Force 2 – A Blast From The Past

All I wanted in my early teens was a Sega Saturn. I was desperate for one, however my mum would never buy me one. She was more interested in making sure that I went outside, socialised and got some exercise. Because of this, I can’t really remember how I ended up with this game. It’s also why I hate the outside world and actively avoid conversation with other people. Nevertheless, what I do know is that Delta Force 2 was my first proper first person shooter and formed my expectations of the genre all the way up until Call of Duty Finest Hour. Read more …

King’s Quest Part 2

I realize I’ve been doing the Forgotten Franchise articles a lot lately and I SWEAR I’ll talk about a game made within the last 20 years soon. I’d love to do a review on Darksiders 2 or something but while checking on my money I realized that I spent 400 bucks on the Steam Summer Sale. It was just so easy when it was several dozen 5 dollar games! Imagine my embarrassment. Anyway King’s Quest is a long franchise and we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Last time I mentioned we hadn’t even made it out of the 80’s yet but fortunately the next game to cover was released in 1989.


King’s Quest 4: The Perils of Rosella was actually the second Kings Quest game I played, and it was also the few games at the time that featured a female protagonist. Looking back I wonder if this was part of my mom’s sinister plan to prevent me from assuming gender roles. After all, girls can be heroes too! The story in this one picks up immediately after where the third game ends. Spoiler alert Gwydion from 3 is one of King Graham’s two children. He escaped his enslavement, discovered his origin, sailed across the sea to rescue his sister and return home to his parents. However it was all cut short when Graham had a heart attack and collapsed. Everyone’s pretty bummed and Rosella goes off to cry alone. While sobbing the famed Magic Mirror is activated and a solution to save Graham is presented to Rosella: If she helps Genesta the Fairy Queen retrieve her lost amulet she may also find a rare fruit that will save Graham . Standing in her way is the Dark Fairy Lolotte and as always the cruel dangers of Sierra games.

Now were talking! A haunted mansion in the middle of a graveyard! It’s even got a ghost baby inside!

Ok it’s not exactly the most masculine sounding of plots but you know Fantasy doesn’t always have to be The Witcher and Lord of the Rings damn it, there used to be room for whimsy! Besides, there are zombies. The graphics have been given quite a boost finally with this installment but the interface is still done by typing. This one also has a handful of notoriously annoying segments. I bet you never realized how hard it was to climb a whales tongue, or for that matter, find the required whale in the first place. Or make it through a trolls cave entirely by random chance. The game returns to the formula of the first 2 games by having you seek out 3 special items as the meat of the game, this time in the style of payment for Lolotte allowing you to live. All in all, it’s still a solid game and an enjoyable adventure. I think what makes it so good is that the villain is present throughout a large majority of the game, giving a sense of accomplishment at the end. It’s the last hurrah of the carefree days of old in the series, for the next game would become a thing of infamy…

What kind of witch gives people fair warning?

It should come as no surprise to me that King’s Quest 5: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder has seen some popularity as of late with Let’s Plays and the mockery of them. King’s Quest 5 is presented on Sierras brand new SCI engine that has done away with typing in favor of 4-5 icons with which you will now interact with the world. Gone are the days of typing profanity and seeing if it gets you a comical Easter egg. Not only have the graphics been bumped and interface simplified, but the game now has ambiance sound, a musical score, and perhaps most damningly, it’s fully voiced. Voice acting these days has people assuming quality, but for Kings Quest 5 it means the art department was brought in to read some lines. I won’t pick on the voices and dialogue too much since that freak show has already been covered much more humorously by the likes of Retsupurae and JonTron.

You will learn to loathe this useless bag of feathers and his Betty Childs voice.

What can’t be stressed enough is how stultifyingly difficult the game is to figure out. Sure the old ones took some strange thinking to finish but none were as bizarre and unforgiving as 5. Seemly minor occurrences early on have grave consequences later in the game. Did you notice the sled in town? I hope you got it because you can’t get through the mountains without it, AND you can’t go back to get it if you didn’t! Oh you got it? How did you get it? Did you buy it with the one gold coin you get in the game? I HOPE NOT BECAUSE THAT WILL BE REQUIRED TO BUY THE PIE! And don’t scoff at how important the pie is! What do you mean you fed the pie to the hungry eagle? NOW WHAT WILL YOU THROW AT THE YETI?!?! And don’t think that you can just avoid these situations, THERE ARE NO OPTIONAL SOLUTIONS TO PROBLEMS IN THIS GAME YOU WILL DO IT RIGHT OR NOT AT ALL! If the difficulty wasn’t enough the game is also buggy, as were all Sierra games at the time. Ah the halcyon days of early PC gaming! Thank god the internet came around and let people fix things themselves. At the time though, the flashy graphics, voice acting, and the fancy new CD-Rom disc were enough to win over quite a few people! (18 megabytes, how immense! Games will never exceed THAT size they said!)

All right! We’re back to the whimsical days in wacky-town!

Fortunately when Kings Quest 6: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow rolled around Sierra had gotten their act together again. Returning to the spotlight is Alexander/Gwydion from Kings Quest 3, having fully recovered from the events of the past 2 games Alexander fell in love with the last games antagonists slave girl who turned out to be a Princess herself. In a foolhardy act of a love-struck young man he sets of to her mysterious homeland in the Green Isles. Upon arrival he discovers that the Green Isles are in disarray and he in unable to talk to the Princess. With no means of leaving the island he runs amok and unravels the conspiracy behind everything.

The Lord of the Dead actually looks pretty badass

Kings Quest 6 isn’t nearly as brutally unforgiving and bizarre as 5, and like the 4th game the villain is present throughout the game and the goal is so-close-yet-so-far. Solutions to problems make a bit more sense and the setting and hints are tied together well enough to let you figure things out yourself much easier. This could have been due to what was going on outside of Sierra, mainly that they were having competition. Lucasarts was churning out quality adventure games thanks to Tim Schafer and Myst was skyrocketing in popularity and redefining what adventure games were. Some of the Lucasarts games even had a feature where you couldn’t enter a no-win situation which made the games more accessible. Sierra took notice but not quite in the way expected.

Oh God I don’t like where this is going

Kings Quest 7: The Princeless Bride was almost a complete overhaul from previous games. The art style was lifted somewhat from Lucasarts games and instead of realism the games tried to look like an interactive Disney movie. If you’ve ever seen the Legend of Zelda CD-I games you’ll get the idea. Even the item interaction was done similar to Lucasarts, except without the 9 options for ways to interact. This game would bring back the star of Kings Quest 4, Princess Rosella, and for the first time her mother, Queen Valenice who had mostly been in the background of the previous games since 2. The game was divided into chapters and featuring short sequences switching off between the two protagonists.

I always wondered what it would be like if Queen Elizabeth fought a giant scorpion.

Whoops, I forgot to mention the story. Like the previous game, the other child of King Graham sought love too, or rather to avoid being forced to marry at first. While arguing by a nearby lake after a peculiar musical number, they are whisked away by an evil witch/queen person to a fanciful realm not unlike Disneyland. Separated and confused, Valenice awakens in a strange desert temple with a rather large scorpion nearby. Rosella on the other hand is in the Kingdom of Trolls having been transformed into one herself. Of all the Kings Quest games this is the one I’ve played the least (8 doesn’t count but more on that later). Mostly because the art style and animation are fairly unlikable and while some aspects of Kings Quest are there the game feels seriously lacking. Maybe it’s the inconsistent and poorly made movements like the Clutch Cargo style mouth movements, or that EVERYONE at the time seemed to think that the CD-I style graphics were the greatest thing ever despite the gameplay suffering for it. For better or worse, the game wrapped things up for King Graham’s family. His kids were married and moved on and all was calm and peaceful without the previous games subtext being explored.

I don’t want to spoil whats in store for the final installment but it involves skeletons.

Sierra would churn out one more Kings Quest game that had very little to do with the previous titles. However, I wanted to save it and a few more games related to Kings Quest in the next and final installment. Don’t worry, I’m almost done milking this cow dry.

Kings Quest Part 1

Pretend you are listening to a MIDI version of “Greensleeves” here

Last time I gushed over beloved Sierra franchise Quest for Glory and while those games hold a special place in my cold black heart they were not my first games. That honor belongs to Sierras flagship franchise Kings Quest, a series known at first for breaking ground in pc gaming as a real adventure game. As time passed, gaming grew and improved upon the genre while Sierra continued to crank out 7 more Kings Quest games that progressed down the path of complexity and cruelty. While the game taught puzzle solving skills through methods like trial and error and trivia knowledge of classic fables, it also taught you that death was waiting everywhere for you and needed little excuse to cut your adventuring short in ways that still boggle my mind. I’ve decided to split this article into two parts because the series it 8 games long and splitting content is the hip thing to do. The Hobbit Movies and Starcraft get away with it so why shouldn’t I? Probably because they have something I don’t; fans.

IT BEGINS! Prepare to die and return to this screen shortly.

Kings Quest: Quest for the Crown came out about a year before I was born, making it alarmingly difficult for me to play. Truth is I didn’t actually play the first game until 1989 and by that time the series was up to its fourth installment. Nonetheless, I started at the first game. The game was enthralling to my puny toddler mind and in order to play it I would have to learn 2 things; 1: how to read, and 2: how to write. Until I did my playing consisted mostly of my mom playing it and reading the game to me while I offered bizarre possible solutions to the games problems, some of which actually worked, eliciting much giggling and squealing in joy from me and surprised praise from my mom. When I finally learned how to play it on my own I quickly learned how to spell things correctly, as the game would demand perfect spelling to even its most esoteric of words.

Look, mermaid. I’m a king and I’m on a Quest. I don’t have time for prepositions!

I’m neglecting to tell the story of the game. Fortunately as it was made in 1984 its not a particularly complicated one. You are Sir Graham of the kingdom of Daventry. Last of the knights as the kingdom has fallen on pretty rough times. The current King, Edward, is old and near death and has just endured a chain of terrible events that have left the kingdom in shambles. The most important of which are the loss of the 3 treasures: a shield that can deflect any harm, a chest of gold that never empties, and a magic mirror. Your task is to retrieve these treasures, become the king, and restore Daventry to its former glory. Taken at face value the kingdom is rather puny! The only other people are a woodcutter and his wife and I supposed technically a roaming wizard whose only concern is casting a paralysis spell on you and running away. Other than them the kingdom has numerous monsters ready to kill you, and even if you are familiar with the game they will definitely kill you at least once per play-through. The quest itself is pretty simple by todays standards, or maybe it just seems that way to me because I’ve got it committed to muscle memory at this point. New players can look forward to weeks of frustration and confusion most likely. And that holds true for all the games in the series.

For the first time in his immortal life Neptune helps a mortal instead of screwing with them.

Kings Quest 2: Romancing the Throne sends you on a quest to find a queen. The lady in question just happens to be a beautiful maiden locked in a tower that your magic mirror showed you. So its off to the far off land of Kolyma to seek her out. The only path to her lies behind 3 magic doors near a canyon that you will need to find 3 magic keys to unlock. Once again you are subjected to cameos from famous fairy tales. Fortunately the game isn’t quite as harsh on you as the previous one. There seem to be slightly fewer monsters out to kill you and while your possessions can be stolen by a speedy local dwarf you can get all of it back, no harm done. Graphically it’s a slight improvement over the first game. Slight in that they seem to know how to work the 16 available colors better to make things look nice. Gameplay-wise nothing really changed quite yet. Graham would still take anything that wasn’t nailed down and stuff it in his bottomless trousers and then apply the items to everything that was nailed down.

Ah the wonders of indentured servitude. That’s what the hip youth of today want!

It wasn’t until Kings Quest 3: To Heir is Human that things would really change. Now Graham was nowhere to be seen, nor his new wife. Instead you are given command of a pink and blue suited youth named Gwydion who is a slave to the evil wizard Manannan. Hes a big jerk who makes you do chores when he’s around. He has pledged to kill you on your 18th birthday which is quickly approaching. Your task is to wait until he takes one of his numerous naps or trips to figure out a way to dispose of him and escape to discover your origin and fate. The game has a rather powerful sense of urgency by installing a timer at the top of the screen as a reminder of your impending doom. You get about 15 minutes or so of time when Manannan isn’t a threat to figure things out and explore the land searching for a way to stop him. If you are found outside the house or in possession of certain items you will be killed on the spot by him, so you have to do things quickly and allow enough time for you to return to your slave post, make sure nothing is out of place, and then hide the forbidden items before he sees you with them.

If by “could” you mean “will”

The pressure is pretty heavy and almost maddening some times, but in a way its also a big part of the fun. To make it even harder, you have to cast spells that require you to input commands quickly, and without spelling or phrasing errors, AND type out the incantation from the manual perfectly or you will be killed by your sloppy magic. To be honest this might be my favorite of the series for its unique playstyle and challenge even on repeat playthroughs. The timer is especially handy for speed runs. Other than the timer and the spells, the gameplay still hasn’t really changed, and the graphics are again only slightly improved.
The next game in the series would finally improve the graphics, but that will have to wait another week until I write Forgotten Franchises: Kings Quest Part 2: The Search for More Readers. We’ve got a ways to go in this franchise and we aren’t even out of the 80’s yet!

Quest for Glory


Oh god oh man! Imagine my excitement when I saw we were going to start writing about forgotten franchises. Hell most of my most beloved games are dead and gone! You see, dear reader back in 1988 when I was 3 I started playing video games (in those days called Electronic Image Enhancement Demons) on our old Tandy computer. This predated windows and games were run through a thing called “Doshell” which we had to feed hard square disks to in order to play the games. It was a simpler time before life was cheapened by convenience and “games without crippling bugs.” A young me was just learning how to read and type on a computer through the magic of a game series to be featured later called “Kings Quest.” First, though, I want to talk about a much better series that came out around the same time, with the same quest theme, from the same company (Sierra). That game was a game called “Quest for Glory” and over the next decade they would set the stage for games today before vanishing in the late 90’s.

Your first steps into the world of Quest for Glory! And who better to welcome you than the Germans?

The year was 1989 and “Quest for Glory 1: So you Want to be a Hero” was released. Although for a short time it was called Hero’s Quest before a lawsuit with Milton Bradley / Games Workshop would force them to change it. The game has you take on the role of an unnamed Hero, fresh from completing an adventuring correspondence course (the game dips into a more light-hearted tone frequently, each game includes cameos by depression-era comedians) he stumbles into a snowed in valley home to the small town of Spielburg which is fraught with troubles. The local “Germans” are in dire need of a hero to restore the town to a happy state. What set this apart from Sierras other “Quest” games was that you chose one of 3 paths of heroship complete with personal stats and Dungeons and Dragons style stats. You could be a “fighter” and work your way through a game relying entirely on your physical prowess, a “magic user” who could solve problems with his laundry list of spells, or a “thief” who could sneak and steal and dodge his way out of anything.

Sweet crackers is he about to punch that giant cat monster?

In addition to interacting with the people of the town and talking to them in classic Sierra style (typing “ask man about noun” ) and using items you picked up for specific purposes (think of how items worked in Lucas Arts games), the bulk of the game involved you running around the forest battling monsters and villains to raise your stats until they were strong enough to complete the main quest. The battle system was almost arcade style fun and was changed quite a bit after the first game. If you ever played the game “Crossed Swords” at the arcades it worked somewhat like that, if not then I’ll explain. With the camera behind you, you could dodge to the left and right and block with your shield if you had one for defense, and stab with your sword or dagger and cast spells. Doing anything in combat (mainly “winning) would earn you some spoils and some increases in your stats. Some beasts would drop items you could sell to people in town for potions and money. These are all fairly simple things to gush over and these days are considered the minimum requirement for an RPG game but back in the 80’s this was gnarly to the max!
The crown jewel of the Quest for Glory series was at the end you could save your character to a disk to carry over the stats and a VERY short list of bonus items into the next game of the series. I’m not entirely sure if this was the first game to do this but it was at least one of the earliest. However, the multiple paths through the game all still ended the same story-wise so there wasn’t much to carry over into the other games other than a better knowledge of the world and very rarely you could question someone on the well being of a character you met before. The Mass Effect series improved upon the idea of save transfers to be sure, but even they buckled under the sheer complexity of carrying over all the possible choices and decisions. I think they realized the difficulty, or maybe EA just got cheap. Anyway sorry for the derail.

Nothing weird here. Just a weird blonde guy landing in the market with 2 cat people and a fat old guy.

The second game, “Quest for Glory 2: Trial by Fire” would send you to an Arabian setting with a new tone. Word of your accomplishments in the first game have won over the cat people of the new town and not only are you treated like a hero from the start but also expected to be a Hero when the prophesied trouble arrives. Taking the form of 4 elementals (Fire, Air, Earth, and Water) you must save the town from them and solve the more minor problems in order to prepare to travel to the sister town and save them from its fascist ruling wizard and his plans to summon an evil Djinn to destroy the world. A new stat is introduced in this game, “Honor” and throughout the game numerous chances to be honorable appear to test you. Should you accumulate enough honor you unlock the illustrious “Paladin” class. Any of the original 3 classes can unlock it but it is typically taken by fighters as the gameplay is mostly the same for them with the addition of spells.


Your hero takes on a pack of Jacklemen.

Combat was at its best in Quest for Glory 2. The actual combat screen seen here has a more overhead perspective that allows for better dodging, parrying, and 3 areas of attack (high, middle, and low). Enemies had their own strategies to learn and fighting felt dynamic, pretty impressive stuff in 1990! Originally the sequel was supposed to be “Shadows of Darkness” which would become the fourth in the series but “Quest for Glory 3: Wages of War” was made instead.

I find it hard to believe that cats built a city.

Quest for Glory 3 would take place in Tarna in the savannahs and jungles of “Fricana.” Your mentor from Quest for Glory 2, a “Liontaur” (lion head, human torso, lion lower body) named Rakeesh brings you to his homeland of Tarna to enlist your help in preventing a war between the local tribes, the cattle-raising Simbani and the magic-using Leopardmen. Demonic influence is suspected to be the cause.

This is the combat? It looks like a behind the scenes shot of “The Muppet Show”

While Quest for Glory 3 was a step up in graphics it was also a step back. The difference between the classes in terms of quests and paths was minimal at best, the combat was drastically different and clunky and unresponsive, and the game was riddled with bugs notorious on Sierras SCI engine. While still fun, the story was mostly inconsequential in regards to the other games and the problems mentioned detracted from the overall experience. Fortunately the best was about to come.


Enter “Quest for Glory 4: Shadows of Darkness,” a game that will live in infamy! Where oh where to begin? Quest for Glory 4 was a masterpiece. The game was fully voiced with recognizable voices like Jeff Bennet (Dexters Lab, Freakazoid, and several hundred other cartoons), Jim Cummings and Cam Clarke (Everything, trust me look them up on IMDB), and Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect Femshep, and hundreds of other things). To top it all off, the games narrator is John Rhys-Davis (Lord of the Rings, Sliders) who fondly remembers his unbelievable amount of recorded lines as “The Script from Hell.” After that the atmosphere of the game and setting are brilliantly set in a Transylvania like village of Mordavia. The townsfolk don’t trust you and are living terrified and superstitious lives under the watchful shadow of the nearby castle, whose inhabitants are rarely seen and believed to be vampires. The story and tone take on a Lovecraftian style with a cult trying to raise the Dark One from beneath the land.

Yeah it LOOKS like an improvement and in some ways it was, but it was still really goofy to use.

I could go on and on about it but it is something best experienced. IF, and it’s a big if, you can get the game to work! These days a fix is easy to find but this game was held back by its legendary game breaking bugs and glitches. Chances are if you tried the game when it came out you were not able to get far as few machines could run the game without problems. Even if you could there were several bugs at important plot moments that you had to hope to be able to pass. If you know what the phrase “Out of Heap!” means chances are you played this game. Personally I wasn’t wild about the combat in this one. It had a pseudo-Mortal Kombat camera position and playstyle that I felt was a bit clunky and inconsistent to make any sense of. Shame too, as the coolest looking enemies were in this game. It’s too bad the game had so many bugs though, so much of it was so beautifully done and the people of the town grow on you despite their initial distrust. If you can, give this game a try, but there’s one more game in the series to cover.

These were pretty good graphics for the time.

Five years have passed since the release of Quest for Glory 4 and the closing chapter to the series is finally released after a lengthy development. “Quest for Glory 5: Dragon Fire” is released in 1998 by a dying Sierra. Your hero has been brought to the Greco-Roman land of Silmaria which, like the other towns, has fallen upon the hardest of times. Invaders have pillaged and taken over the fishing towns, monsters rule the countryside, the merfolk are attacking the remaining fishermen, some jerk is trying to awaken a dragon and now someones gone and assassinated the king. Your pals from the previous games tell you that you’d make a dandy king and endorse your entry into the contest to become him. All your chickens come home to roost in this game, love affairs get serious and you can pick a queen, the people of your past return once again, and you get to meet the man responsible for training you to become a hero. So basically fan service is dolloped out in heaping portions.

It just wouldn’t be Greece-Roman without a gladiator arena. Unless Caligula was in charge I doubt the lady would be in bondage armor.

The playstyle is brand new, environments are panoramic and scrolling and the graphics look pretty much like Half-Life 1. You now have choices in weapons and armor which can alter your appearance and fighting style. Spells work strangly in the panoramic view of the game and can sometimes work poorly, but not nearly as poorly as the combat. No longer do you enter a separate screen to fight now you simply do it in real time. This does not work out that well at all. Combats not particularly hard but its also not particularly interesting! While it’s nice to end the story and finally make your hero from the past 4 games into a King the magic of the earlier games just isn’t there. I didn’t get as attached to these people as I did the vibrant personalities of the 4th game. This game could probably be remade and fleshed out a lot more if made today as a labor of love instead of during the death throes of one of gamings Founding Fathers.

Oh Jennifer Hale, you were my first waifu.

What this series brought to the table was the idea of carrying a hero across multiple games. A concept that has proven to be a popular desire but ultimately very difficult to pull off effectively. Additonally it brought a Dungeons and Dragons style stat system to us lesser nerds and allowed for a smoother, more gradual growth process in an RPG instead of the popular “level up” system of RPGs like Final Fantasy and the like. Strangely you don’t see many RPGs not use the leveling system so maybe I’m wrong about how great it is. To me it felt more realistic, or at least less restrictive as levels. The game also offered different paths for the classes which usually made for very different game experiences but ultimately the same end result. I’d love for these games to become a proto-type for future games or at least be experience by a newer generation so that maybe they can learn something from them. Like all Sierra games these games could be very unforgiving which doesn’t fly these days with the consumer. The biggest reason I stuck with these games was because my Glorious Matriarch generally refused to buy me a new game until I had completed the last one she bought. It was hard to pull the wool over her eyes since she was, and still is, a computer wiz. It warmed my heart to see a fan group called AGD Interactive remake Quest for Glory 2 with somewhat updated graphics and a reworking of the combat system. They are known for their updates of the first couple Kings Quest games too, but with Quest for Glory 2 they didn’t add too much additional story. What they really did exceptionally was fine tune the combat into a genuinely challenging system that took some time and effort to learn, but made the combat sublime. I recommend downloading it since its free and giving it a whirl. It might be the gateway to the other games which you are on your own to find and play.

The cover art lacks the bad-ass “subtlety” of Frank Frazetta fantasy

I miss this franchise and would welcome its return. Barring that, maybe I should just stop waiting for someone else to love it and make my own damn game as a homage and expose a new generation to the wonders I saw. The games made me feel like a hero, so they succeeded in their original intention. For now though, I’ll simply dream about what could be.