Growing up as a young boy on a farm we had plenty to do outdoors, especially being home-schooled. This didn’t keep me away from our brand new Compaq Deskpro 386n (SX-16 with 3MB of memory) though.
My Dad brought this beauty home one day and my mind was blown from that day forward. Coming from our Commodore 64, this baby was a Cadillac. Turning it on for the first time, watching Windows 3.1 boot up and spending hours looking at all the programs; all the buttons; all the flying toasters, Tetris, Ski Free, Paint. I couldn’t get enough.
“It’s not a Game Boy!” my dad would yell into the office, after my “homework” was taking just a little longer than it should have. He likely would have compared it to an NES, but we didn’t have one of those.
After about 6 months of learning more every day, getting on bulletin boards, Prodigy and the like, I had stumbled across a few random shareware games here and there but then our neighbors lent me a copy of the game… the one game that set the standard for me.
King’s Quest V
Now, before you laugh- keep in mind, I’m not saying this is the best game ever, or even the best adventure game, but to me, only months after being stuck with Q-Bert using a controller that barely worked on an 8-bit palette, I couldn’t believe it. So much to explore, so many ways to die. What do I spend this coin on? How the heck am I supposed to find the golden needle? look at these graphics! I was immersed. I only wish my mom had been video taping me once I finally got that needle!
Heck, we didn’t even have a sound card, but ignorance was none-the-less bliss.
King’s Quest V has some pretty poor puzzle design, I’ll admit. At the same time though, it wasn’t predictable by any means (for the most part). It urged me to have to think outside the box- something that’s stuck with me to this day in my every day life and even when playing other games. Something I likely wouldn’t have gained by just playing side scrollers, or Super Off Road all day long like my lucky friends did who had an NES.
This way of thinking has gone into my projects. For example- when I walk into a hardware store and see a ‘bracket’, or any other item, some may say “this bracket was designed for one thing and one thing only”… no… just no. It’s a piece of metal that can be used for whatever you need it for. I’m sure if King Graham had a bow and arrow for that yeti, it would have taken care of the problem, but he didn’t… he had a pie (that is, if he hadn’t eaten it already).
All that being said, adventure gaming for me as a generation x-er, when computer gaming was at its peak and helped children’s minds develop and grow, was invaluable, both then and now.
And it all started with 8 floppy disks and “Not a Game Boy!”
So, thank you to Sierra Online; to Ken & Roberta Williams, but mostly to my Dad who, even though he would’ve never admitted it, liked the games just as much as I did. What, you think I bought that Q-Bert and cheap controller?
PS. King’s Quest VI is better (by far)