There are some game series that really change the way that gamers experience their hobby. Zork, being the first text-based RPG, was one of the first programs to allow people to play games on a real computer rather than an arcade machine or a video game set.
And, while it and its equally awesome counterpart, Nethack, were known for bringing reading into the mix, they weren't really the games that brought storytelling to the forefront of gaming.
No, it was a small game called King's Quest I that began an adventure series that unlocked new dimensions of graphics and storytelling that changed how people saw computer gaming for the rest of history.
One of the first games to involve both text and graphics was King's Quest I.
Though this screenshot seems laughably low quality today, 20 years ago, it was a game-changer. It was one of the very first games to have animated graphics, movement, as well as a rich storyboard that followed Sir Graham as he tried to save the kingdom of Daventry from an evil witch.
Its use of text input made it similar to other text adventures, but unlike others, it had a graphic interface filled with colors, designs, and recognizable items. It had a then-new 16-color interface, and every line of color had to be drawn in using programs of the time.
Moreover, the legacy of King's Quest I also includes being one of the first games that had graphics that characters could hide behind. This makes it the first "3-D animated" adventure game to have ever been made. The sheer amount of work put into the game was visible, and it made huge waves in the gaming community.
In a word, it blew Nethack out of the water and raised the bar on what adventure gaming needed to be.
A gentle, intricate storyline filled with lore.
While there were other fantasy-based games out there, most of them involved warriors fighting monsters similar to what one would see in Dungeons and Dragons. With King's Quest, the entire storyline was based off of fairy tales, and it was nonviolent.
As a result of its fairy tale-based story, its ease of use, and the fact that it allowed minimal reading skills to use, the legacy of King's Quest I includes its role as one of the very first computer games that got picked up by elementary school kids and adults alike.
The game's popularity alone gave creators of the game the green light for sequel after sequel where the newly crowned King Graham of Daventry went out to seek his queen. As each game was released, more lore was added to the mix and its fanbase continued to grow.
By the time that King's Quest VII rolled around, King Graham's entire family had gone on at least one adventure each. Queen Valanice had ventured through multiple strange worlds and faced a troll king to rescue her daughter, Princess Rosella.
Meanwhile, Graham's son, Alexander, followed in his father's footsteps to rescue the beautifully exotic princess Cassima of the Emerald Isles - and later marry her. Graham himself starred in several more adventures, including one where he rescued the rest of his family from the grasp of the evil wizard Manannan.
With every single game, new characters and kingdoms were introduced, each one with its own flavor. For example, the Green Isles all had unique fairy tale themes to them, including an island that had a retelling of the old story of Beauty and the Beast going on. On the other hand, Ooga Booga Land was literally a country that was completely Halloween-themed and filled with monsters, ghosts, and a mortician named Mort Cadaver.
Simply put, the KQ Universe was one meant to be easy to get lost in... and we mean that in the best way possible.
One of the first series to have an entire book devoted to its lore, too.
What really set King's Quest apart from other games as a series was how much storytelling one could find in the world presented by the game. Today this remains a legacy of King's Quest in modern gaming. Every single character had a backstory. No character was perfect, and every single person in the game series had their own needs, personalities, and struggles they needed to overcome.
Because people couldn't get enough of the game's rich characters and awesome fairy tale stories, Sierra Games ended up publishing The King's Quest Companion to help players learn more about the the games and the KQ World. It was a smash hit that ended up having multiple editions.
The game also ushered in a small spin-off book series...and was the first computer game to have that honor as well.
This is one of the first game series to be created by a woman.
Roberta Williams was the head of Sierra Games at the time of the creation of King's Quest, and played a heavy role in the game's storyline, character, and graphics development. She's now considered to be one of the most influential game designers of the 1980s and 1990s and this remains a legacy of King's Quest in modern gaming.
After the 8th game in the King's Quest series was made, Williams took a ten year long hiatus in game making. But, she eventually came back into the scene and created five additional chapters to the KQ saga.
Right now, there's over 15 games that have been part of the official King's Quest series - as well as a slew of remakes done by fans. Needless to say, she's proved that game development isn't just a boy's thing.
One good turn deserves another...
The runaway success of the King's Quest saga sparked a slew of different game spinoffs at the time. These spinoffs included Police Quest, Space Quest, and Quest for Glory. George Lucas, when he dabbled in computer game creation, also pulled inspiration from Roberta Williams when he created his Monkey Island saga.
By the time that 1995 had rolled around, role playing games were expected to have killer storylines, interesting puzzles, and of course, engaging graphics. It was an unforgettable golden age of gaming - one that many still look back on with nostalgia.
Without all the amazing game concepts that came up during this time, it's hard to tell if computer gaming would have really ever caught on. And, if it weren't for King's Quest, there's no saying how long it would have taken for computer games to get to the point of excellence they're at now.