Kings Quest 4 for DOS

King Graham is sick!

King Graham is sick!

Kings Quest 4 – The Perils of Rosella was released by Sierra Online back in 1988 and was the first Kings Quest game to use the then new SCI adventure game system. This was the first adventure game we had back on our 386. It was difficult for us to get commercial games because of where we lived when I was a kid, we got this game in the early 90’s from a friend of my older brothers who was kind enough to give/sell us some of his old games.

Genesta the Fairy

Genesta the Fairy

Rosella is the protagonist of this game, and after her father falls ill, her goal is to find the magic fruit that will save him. Genesta the good fairy transports Rosella through the magic mirror to the land of Tamir to find the fruit and to help her get her talisman back. The evil fairy Lolotte had stolen the talisman, and Genesta would not be able to send Rosella back without it.

The Unicorn!

The Unicorn!

When we first played this game I was very impressed with the graphics even though they were technically out of date by the time I played the game. We had fun exploring the land of Tamir and just generally messing about trying to solve the larger puzzle of the game. Many elements of the game are based on fairy tales and myths, but are woven together so that the land doesn’t appear to be fragmented.

The stone bridge

The stone bridge

I’ll always remember finding the seven dwarfs house for the first time, cleaning it for them and getting the lantern and pouch of diamonds. The animation and music were quite immersive and I remember watching and listening as the dwarfs came in sat down and ate their soup.

The dwarf house

The dwarf house

The game supports EGA graphics at best, but also supports a wide variety of older hardware such as hercules and CGA graphics. The backgrounds are very well drawn and colourful. The land is very detailed and animated in some areas. Animations could get slow if your machine wasn’t fast enough to handle the game, but we never had a problem on our 386.

The Dwarves

The Dwarves

Kings Quest 4 was one of the first games to have comprehensive sound support, and as it was released in 1988 there were still many different types of sound card available. An impressive array of sound devices are supported including the Roland MT-32, CMS, IBM music feature card, Tandy sound, and PC speaker. I of course used to use the PC speaker, but playing recently on dosbox with ad lib support I found the sound and music to be very good indeed. I didn’t try the other devices, but I suspect the MT-32 probably would have the best sound.

Diamond mine

Diamond mine

Playing the game is very simple despite not having the complete point and click interface. You controlled Rosella with the arrow keys or by clicking where you wanted her to go, so moving was pretty straight forward. To perform actions and use your inventory you had to use the text parser to tell the game what you wanted to do. This turned out to be fairly straight forward as the text parser was pretty good, and the manual has a nice list of words and phrases that it understands. Of course as kids we typed random naughty things in to see if we could get Rosella to do bad things!

Death screen

Death screen

The puzzles are the most difficult part of the game. For most of them we could work out what we had to do eventually, but finding the bridle for the unicorn eluded us. We had even gone to the island where the bridle was located but didn’t spot it as it was cleverly hidden inside a boat. If you didn’t know it was there you would have had little chance of finding it, and before the internet there was no way to find out where to find it. I found out about it’s location watching a play-through not all that long ago!

Lolotte's throne room

Lolotte’s throne room

Despite never being able to finish the game as a kid I really enjoyed playing it. The puzzles we could solve and the land we had explored felt like a part of a much larger world. Revisiting the game now after such a long time it was still very fun, and I still enjoyed the music and scenery. After completing the game I can see you’d have less incentive to play the game again, but most adventure games have this problem. If you like adventure games you’ll probably replay it even knowing the solutions to the puzzles.


3 Responses to “Kings Quest 4 for DOS”

  1. July 25, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    I love the KQ series. I think I’ve played all the games from 1 to 5. Never completed one though…

    • July 25, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      Given the moon logic that Sierra tended to use it’s no surprise, I’d say lots of people are in the same boat as us. I didn’t mind not being able to complete it when I was young, in a way that meant getting a lot more play time out of it.

      Apart from Man Hunter: San Fransico and this I didn’t get to play the other Sierra games, which is something I’ve been meaning to do.

      • July 25, 2017 at 11:45 pm

        I’ve played some Space Quest and Quest fir Glory in the past. I LOVED and I still love graphic adventures. It’s not a secret my twi favourite companies Sierra and LucasArts…

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