Friday, August 8, 2014

Quest for Glory II: Final Rating

 

Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire
Sierra On-Line (developer and publisher)
Released 1990 for DOS and Amiga, remade in 2008 for Windows
Date Started: 14 July 2014
Date Ended: 3 August 2014
Total Hours: 26 (four wins)
Difficulty: Easy (2/5)
Final Rating: 50
Ranking at Time of Posting: 134/152 (88%)

Like its predecessor, Quest for Glory II is a fun game, full of wit and humor as it covers a relatively serious and interesting main plot. Also like its predecessor, it isn't a great RPG specifically, but it does deftly blend RPG elements into an adventure-game template. I continue to enjoy its character development system, even if it seemed like (in this game) all that development was mostly unnecessary. That I liked it overall is evidenced by my having played through it four times--something I haven't come close to doing with any other game on my list.

The fourth win was one I did on a lark after the third. I wanted to see how fast I could do it and how low a score I could get. Using a mage character, without engaging in a second of grinding, without speaking to a single NPC except to buy things, without even visiting the Adventurer's Guild, without solving the Julanar-tree quest, without getting the griffin's feather, without even entering the desert or fighting a single monster, I managed to win in about an hour, achieving a score of 323. I think it might be possible to get a lower score with one of the other classes. The mage still has to join WIT to get the "Reversal" spell, but the other classes could eschew their class-specific side quests.

"Congratulations" is hardly the right term.

But my ability to win so quickly and with so little effort speaks a bit to the game's performance as an RPG. The first game also minimized the importance of combat, but at least you still had to kill a cheetaur and a troll for a perfect score. More important, you regularly encountered monsters in the wilderness as you moved from one area to another. Trial by Fire puts all of the combats in a side-desert and makes them completely avoidable. The apothecary buys scorpion and ghoul components but you don't get points for them. Even if you do the desert quests (Julanar, the griffin, the Dervish, and the caged beast), chances are reasonably good that you can hit all of the locations without encountering a wandering monster.

This is a non-sequitur, but trying to harm the tree in the desert breaks your monitor and immediately ends the game. YouTuber MrWhitman has compiled a video of all the creative ways to die in the game.

Thus, without looking at my final rating for Hero's Quest first, I'm going to guess that the sequel will come in slightly under on the GIMLET. I could be wrong, though. I liked the plot and setting better in this game, and while the overall game was still pretty easy, I found its puzzles a little more challenging than its predecessor. Let's see.

1. Game World. I loved the quasi-Arabian setting and the creative way the developers used common themes from the mythology of Arabia, Persia, and North Africa--everything from One Thousand and One Nights to twentieth-century film. Hardly any RPGs use this setting (so far, only Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves comes to mind). The geography and plot hold together reasonably well, though I think key elements of the game's lore (Iblis and Suleiman, specifically) could have been better-integrated into the game and dialogue; miss one paragraph in the manual, and you're a bit lost.

I also like how the game world responds to the actions of the player, with various NPCs acknowledging your deeds and various plot elements tied to player actions, up to the point where the end game dialogue differs depending on the choices the player made. Overall, a very strong part of the game. Score: 7.

It would have been easy to miss the significance of this.

2. Character Creation and Development. The Quest for Glory series continues to be one of the few in which the choice of character class really matters, offering fairly different experiences for mages, thieves, and fighters--far more so than the first game. The "Honor" statistic and the invisible paladin meter add a fun spin to the proceedings, and there are several places in which the player can make an honest role-playing choice, although I wish there had been more of them.

I remain unhappy with the fact that the only choice for the character is the same goofy, yellow-haired guy, but I understand why the creators were limited in this regard.

I continue to admire the character development system, although I was disappointed how little effect it had in this game. The process of building skills and attributes--with a variety of mechanisms for training--is fun and rewarding, but the problem is there's absolutely no need to do it. In my fourth playing, I made it all the way to the end with basically the character's starting attributes. I also missed training features like the climbing tree and the archery target from the first game. Score: 6.

It was always fun to watch my attributes increase, even if they had little effect on gameplay.

3. NPC Interaction. This game does some great stuff with NPCs, and I don't think I highlighted everything that I liked in the postings. Unlike most RPGs, the NPCs here are conceived with the care you might give to characters in a novel or film--everyone has his own back story, attitude, desires, and character traits, and from Aziza's insistence on politeness to Issur's refusal to bargain, the player has to navigate these personality quirks.

Everyone's got an attitude.

The NPCs also keep a schedule, and while it's not quite as complex as Ultima V, it's still reasonably so, with various NPCs appearing in different positions depending on both the time of day and day of week. Of course, like any good RPG, you learn about the game world and your quest from NPC dialogue, and I love that this game used the flexible dialogue system seen in Hero's Quest, offering both ASK ABOUT and TELL ABOUT options. I don't think I hit upon half the possibilities with these two commands, which is a good thing. I lament that Quest for Glory III will jettison these for point-and-click dialogue choices.

Another great thing is all the background NPCs that wander in and out of the frame, including guards and villagers. They give a strong sense of a living world, and while you don't get much interaction with them, they help avoid the empty, depopulated feeling that you get in many RPG cities. I can't remember any other game that has generic "background" NPCs so far in my chronology.

I was disappointed that we still don't get any romances and that so many of the late-game NPC interactions are scripted, with little chance to have flexible dialogue. Overall, I have to save a perfect score for games with more NPCs, especially those where you have more role-playing opportunities in talking with them, but Quest for Glory II is one of the best so far on my list. Score: 7.

4. Encounters and Foes. The puzzle encounters in Trial by Fire are probably better than the first game. There are more of them, first off, and they're a bit harder. They also offer occasional role-playing opportunities, by both class and (unlike the first game) alignment. The timed nature of many of the encounters lends an urgency that the first game didn't have.

I didn't find the foes quite as original or as much fun as the first game, but they did offer some special attacks (the scorpion's sting, the ghoul's strength-drain) and varied approaches to combat that were welcome. Score: 5.

The consequences of not taking a poison cure pill before fighting the scorpion.

5. Magic and Combat. On one hand, I appreciated that there were more combat options and that the engine offered more opportunity to anticipate and defend against attacks. On the other, it stopped being remotely challenging too early in the game. More important, combat is almost entirely optional: with the exception of the fighter, no quests depend on it, and the monsters are all segregated in an essentially optional area.

The magic system expanded here with a few new spells, but the system remains flawed. Even mage characters who grind offensive spells up to impressive levels cannot fully rely on spells. The game offers little opportunity to nail approaching enemies with multiple spells and thrown objects. And the puzzle-based spells are used so rarely (and work at such low levels) that there's hardly any reason to grind them. I found no difference between a score of 25 and a score of 200 on spells like "Calm," "Open," "Levitate," and "Fetch." Overall, an under-emphasized part of the game. Score: 3.

6. Equipment. Also not up to RPG standards--even less so than the first game. For the fighter, there was a chance to get one weapon upgrade. For the other classes, no one could do any better than the weapons and armor they brought from Hero's Quest. With the exception of the health, mana, and vigor pills (replacing potions), all of the inventory items are puzzle items. Score: 2.

My thief's inventory towards the end. Encumbrance issues dogged me until I ground my strength up to Herculean levels.

7. Economy. You know the economy is bad when your big problem, for almost the entirety of the game, is that your funds are weighing you down. As I discovered with my fourth playing, an imported character with a decent amount of Spielburgian gold never has to earn a cent in the sequel. Characters who start in this game might have to gather a few scorpion tails if they want to buy extra pills, but in general, the starting funds and the reward funds for slaying the elementals are more than enough to buy everything you need to buy. A disappointing part of the game. Score: 2.

8. Quests. We're back to a strong category here. The game has a fun, compelling main quest that proceeds in multiple steps and has different choices for the different classes. Although the primary outcome is the same, various elements of the endgame (who speaks for you, how many points you have, whether you become a paladin) differ in satisfying ways. I liked that each class had a primary side-quest and that there were a few side quests that all classes could perform. Score: 7.

The time limits lent a sense of urgency but weren't overly difficult.

9. Graphics, Sound, and Interface. If this ends up ranking different from Hero's Quest, something is wrong with my GIMLET. It's fundamentally the same interface. It makes as good a use of the EGA graphics as possible (slightly better than the first game), and while the sound effects continue to be a little sparse, I love the leitmotifs that accompany various characters and settings--this is one of the few games so far in my chronology that I think does music well, using it for accent and mood rather than just constant background noise. I continue to like the text parser, although there were a few places in which it misbehaved, and in general I don't think the developers spent quite as much time on synonyms as they did in Hero's Quest. BASH DOOR produces no results where SMASH DOOR does, for instance. LOOK IN CABINET fails to reveal an object that SEARCH CABINET reveals.

I also didn't care for the targeting system. In Hero's Quest, casting a spell or throwing an object would always automatically target the obvious (or only) legitimate target on the screen. This, among other things, made it possible to huck a few daggers at an approaching enemy. In this game, the auto-targeting is replaced with a manual target. While I agree that this makes more sense, it didn't work well for me to have to type THROW KNIFE, hit ENTER, and then quickly move my right hand off the keyboard to the mouse so I could get the target in the right place and click. It's a minor part of gameplay, but it bugged me a little. Score: 5.

10. Gameplay. The overall gameplay was far more linear than in the first game, but in a way that still offered lots of padding. Players can do many things in whatever order they choose in between the scripted plot events. The different classes and side-quests make the game extremely replayable (as we saw by my doing it four times!).

On the negative side, I thought the pacing was poor, and the game too linear, during the Raseir portion. And just like its predecessor, Quest for Glory II also remains a bit too easy. Score: 6.

Add 'em up and we get a final score of 50, which turns out to be (as I suspected) just shy of the 53 I gave to Hero's Quest. It's still a reasonably high score--the fourth highest so far in 1990, as it happens. Do remember that I'm rating it as an RPG specifically. I wouldn't be surprised if Trickster over at The Adventurer Gamer ended up scoring it higher than the first game, because I do think it performs better as an adventure game than the first Quest for Glory.

(While I'm linking to other blogs, I just discovered that Andy Panthro recently completed a summary of the game, including his quest to get 200 points in every skill. It's a good summary if you find my nine posts on the game a little too much to digest.)

The back of the box shows a griffin attacking during a cut-scene and the PC fighting Uhura on a regular combat screen. I'm reasonably sure that neither occurs in the actual game.
  
Given modern admiration for the game, I was surprised to find how few contemporary reviews offered any praise for it. Scorpia's curiously breezy review/walkthrough in the February 1991 Computer Gaming World is probably the most positive, particularly regarding the ending, which she calls "one of the better game endings anywhere." I agree. She bemoans (but not seriously) the bad jokes and puns and notes the game is a trifle harder than its predecessor. Overall, though, the review seems more interested in delivering spoilers than telling readers whether they should buy the game, and I'm having trouble discerning her overall opinion.

The review in the July 1991 issue of Advanced Computer Entertainment, written by Chris Jenkins, may be the first review I've read that actively enrages me. It illustrates everything I can't stand about Amiga-philes, so in love with their graphics and sound that they frankly didn't deserve RPGs with complex mechanics, plots, and encounters. The poncy little crumpet-stuffer said he "lost interest" during the "obligatory boring maze" and quit. This can only refer to the streets of Shapeir, which aren't that hard in the first place and stop being difficult at all once you get the map, meaning he must've played about six minutes of it.
 
After characterizing the music as "grating," the graphics as "coloured with all the subtlety of a four-year-old's fingerpainting," and the sense of humor as one that "only Americans could find funny," the review concludes with the advice to "steer clear of adventure games written by husband-and-wife teams called Lori and Corey." I'm two gimlets away from tracking down this Chris Jenkins and challenging him to a fist fight.

Because only Americans find Monty Python references funny.
  
European Amiga journals tended to rate it average. The only wildly positive review I see is from the October 1991 Dragon, which gave it 5/5 stars. (The review is worth reading for comments by Lori and Corey.) This would be more meaningful if the average Dragon review wasn't also 5/5 stars.

Incidentally, the Dragon review promises that both Quest for Glory and its sequel would get VGA upgrades in the coming year, but as we know now, that only happened with the first game. The third game was developed natively in VGA, so for decades Trial by Fire was left hanging as the only EGA entry in the series. This changed in 2008, when AGD Interactive remade the game using an open-source development tool called Adventure Game Studio. AGD offers it for free on its web site, along with remakes of the first three King's Quest games.

The welcome screen of AGD Interactive's remake.

I downloaded and played a bit of the game in Shapeir. I think it does a very good job mimicking what Quest for Glory II would have looked like using the SCI1.1 interpreter while still allowing the option to use the old text parser for dialogue.

The Adventurer's Guild in the remake. They even got the moose.

I played it with the point-and-click interpreter just to see what dialogue options I'd missed. Most of them were minor--descriptions of the wares sold by various shops, usually--but among them, I realized I missed Uhura's entire back story in the regular version of the game. She is a Simbani warrior, but a "Simbani woman cannot be [a] wife and [a] warrior," so she came to Shapeir to find a husband and still retain her warrior status. One of the Sultan's guards is the father of Simba. I don't know what keyword should have delivered this information in the regular edition, but neither PEOPLE nor SIMBANI (the keyword given in the remake) works.

Combat is more complex, involving jumping, ducking, and moving backwards and forwards as well as just dodging and parrying; I'm not sure if this is taken from Quest for Glory III or is unique to this remake. Uhura gives you a nice tutorial in everything.

Uhura explains how to fight.

Speaking of Quest for Glory III, it looks like I'll have to burn through two years' worth of games before I can get to it. As we now know, the subtitle of the next game was not, as announced on the closing screen of II, Shadows of Darkness. Rather, in Wages of War, the Hero will follow Rakeesh and Uhura to the land of Fricana, where African and Indian influences blend to create perhaps the most unique game world we'll have seen by then. Having the game already installed on my computer creates near-irresistible temptation, and I can't promise I won't play a bit of the game on my "off-time" before I get to it officially.

I've had an enormous amount of fun with Quest for Glory II, and I lingered on it for a while because I remain completely unexcited about the next game coming up on the 1990 list: Captive. No escaping it now, though.

68 comments:

  1. Typically I'm on the side of the "it's your blog, do what you want" party in conversations about your rules. But when it comes to sequence breaking, I would strongly advise against it. Once you break sequence for one game, it's difficult to say where you should draw the line for others. At most, shift it to the top of your list for its respective year and wait until you reach that year to play.

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    1. No, I wouldn't sequence-break for the purposes of the blog. That doesn't necessarily mean I won't play it for my own amusement and not blog about it. I sank almost 8 hours into Fallout: New Vegas yesterday, and I'm not blogging about that, either.

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  2. Awesome! And the game comes in at #19 on your list so I'm pleased that it cracked the Top 20. (The last one to do so was Lord of the Rings, but only in the 1992 version. My guess is that by the time we get to 1992 for real, it will not be a Top 20 game.)

    23 games either played or skipped in 1990, 22 left to go! Still a great mix of obscure titles and well-known ones. One more Gold Box game this year (that has to be some kind of record), one more Ultima game, and a lot more fun. I'm still hoping you manage to beat Moria so we can get it and Angband reviewed. ;) (They are probably not as good as I remember, but I loved them as a kid.) Good procrastination while you avoid the next game...

    When I beat this game, I immediately had to start Wages of War as well. I love a game that so leaves me wanting more that I start the next game immediately. Ultima 5 is another.

    Congratulations!

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    1. I didn't realize I was only halfway through 1990. Man, that's depressing. I started 1990 a year ago this month.

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    2. I didn't mean it to be depressing. It's exciting! You're playing a lot of older games in your catch up that is slowing you down, plus these games are getting longer.

      If the older games are becoming "work", then stop. We like a happy addict who is joyous in his discovery of cRPG roots. Or only play ones that seem to connect with newer games in some way-- a developer or series that we will see later, a mechanic explored for the first time, a fictional universe or licensed game with ties to later games, etc. It's your blog, your rules, but I know that each and every one of us would prefer you not get burned out.

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    3. Indeed Joe, the Addict has not taken a year for just 1990, no, but also for 1981-83 games on the other platforms. I don't know the 1990 share of complete playing time, but I guess that, in the end, it's not going to be that much different from 1989. Also, the years 1988-1993 (the golden age of RPGs because of the Gold Box games) are probably those with the most platforms. Commodore died in 1994. Atari development ceased in 1993, The last Spectrum games were released in 1993... So these years are supposed to take the longest time. I guess the year 1992 is going to take the longest time overall.

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    4. From looking at the master game list:

      The Addict took from June 2012 until August 2013 to complete 1989 (barring a few missed games that were played during 1990). Counting backtracks, 30 games from the list were played during that time, several of which were extremely short (although the 262 hours used by Nethack alone skew any average value you might generate.) In the year since entering 1990, he has completed (again counting backtrack games) 43 games, which appear to have a somewhat longer average playtime. In other words, the pace of getting through the list is accellerating.

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  3. Not really surprised of what Chris Jenkins said that about the humor. I personally find most of the puns, baseball jokes, and pop culture references not only unfunny, but also out of place, breaking the forth wall, and detracting from the game's setting.
    This game would have achieved much greater glory if it would have taken itself more seriously, or if it would have made use of a more universal kind of humor.

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    1. Good thing the game was not going on a Quest for Greater Glory then, eh? Eh? TROLOLOL

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    2. The humor made me laugh sometimes, cringe other times. I can understand why it wouldn't be everyone's thing, but for a representative of a culture known for absurdist humor to characterize it as uniquely "American" is just idiotic. My bigger problem is that he clearly didn't play it long enough to have grounds for criticizing ANYTHING about the game.

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    3. Japanese games are the bestAugust 9, 2014 at 2:02 AM

      I love the jokes in Sierra games: The weird and random nature makes them unpredictable, and they are often hilarious. Space Quest, Police Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Freddy Pharkas, Quest for Glory and Gabriel Knight still make me laugh to this day, and I really do thank the Coles and the other programmers from Sierra for making me laugh so much.

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    4. There was another negative review of a Quest for Glory (I don't recall which or where) that started out with the author saying, "I hate graphic adventure games, and this is one of them." We could not figure out why the magazine would possibly have assigned him to review a Sierra game.

      It goes with my general rule: "Never make the mistake of assuming that anyone in the game industry is a professional." That applies to reviewers as well as developers.

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    5. I know we have the Internet these days, but running into a major name from Sierra still kinda knocks me for a loop. I'd like to take a time-out here and say thanks from a demographic you might not know very well: little kids who couldn't understand them.

      I'm a Finn. Adventure games were a big part of my childhood, and those of my friends, at a time when our English skills ranged from inadequate to completely absent. I started with Space Quest I on my father's knee - adventures make such wonderful co-op with the right people. ("You think you hear footsteps!" still creeps me out.) Later on I ended up translating for others. It's a tough posting, but still preferable to repeating everything the subtitles say on television for the littler kids.

      Was this enough? Nope! We won the games with walkthroughs in hand, or not at all. We loved them anyway. Even reading about strange adventures in the walkthroughs of our local gaming magazine was fun. We loved the visual gags, (the half-understood pieces of) the dialogue, finding all the deaths, writing insults into the parser, and just exploring strange new worlds and finding out what we could do, and seeing characters and events much better-crafted and memorable than jumping on turtles or reducing hit points to zero.

      The Quests for Glory, especially 2, were among these games. I came to them late, and they didn't draw a crowd the way Monkey Island 2 or the Larry games did, but dang if crossing that tightrope far above Raseir's streets didn't leave an impression. Thanks for some of those worlds, and thank you for all the good memories.

      Er.

      And now that I'm an adult, I've bought many of my old adventure games already.

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    6. Thanks for sharing that, very cool. We've heard from several fans who learned to read by playing our early parser-based games.

      Personally, I'm pretty terrible at adventure gaming, and often resort to hints and walkthroughs. I do better at RPGs (and usually enjoy them more).

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    7. Japanese games are the bestAugust 9, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      You may not be good at playing adventure games, but you are very good at making them, and I will get Hero U when it is released.

      I learned some obscure words from Sierra games, like crepuscular from The Dagger of Amon Ra. I also learned a few German words by playing Wolfenstein 3D with a couple of German speakers.

      I remember one time the parser failed in a Sierra game: In Leisure Suit Larry 2, the programmer accidentally ruined a puzzle by changing a variable during last-minute playtesting. Normally in text adventures, you could use shorthand to express your commands, like "hit man with sword," but the final puzzle was changed so that the command had to be worded, "put the bottle in the airsickness bag," which confused a lot of players who were used to simpler sentences. I wonder if the experience of playing such games with a limited understanding of English was similar to the experience of trying to figure out that puzzle?

      I also love a variety of genres: Action, adventure, action-adventure, CRPG, JRPG, space shooter and shoot-em-up games I am not so good at shoot-em-ups, but I have loved them ever since The Guardian Legend. I get annoyed by guys who focus on specific genres and refuse to try anything different, especially if they do so because they lack imagination. Habermann and the CRPG Addict are great Let's Players, and are very good at pointing out the flaws in bad games but their obdurate nature is annoying.

      I also loved the humor in Sierra's spinoff company, Dynamix's games like Willy Beamish and Heart of China. Corey, did you or your wife do any work for Dynamix?

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  4. Being a huge QFG fan and a completist at heart, I thoroughly enjoyed both reviews. I never came around to doing playthroughs for multiple classes and also still have to play parts 4 & 5 (which were exceptionally hard to get in my country at the time they were published). I have the anthology now, so I'll have no excuse to not play them. I am a bit wary of part 5 though, I have a feeling that one will be a letdown because they "modernized" the look and feel. But I'm happy both parts 1 & 2 get your approval!

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  5. "Hardly any RPGs use this setting (so far, only Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves comes to mind)."

    Defenders of Oasis is an Arabian-nights JRPG released in 1992 for the Sega Game Gear portable system. The easiest way to play it now is to download it from the 3DS eshop. It's a very simple little game, and definitely not in Quest for Glory 2's league.

    Beyond Oasis is a completely different action-RPG for the Sega Genesis, released in 1994. It can be found in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, and apparently has a PC version now.

    That's all I can think of, even though there's an extraordinarily rich history of folktales and fairy tales to fuel world-building. Folks who want to role-play in the setting may be best served by a Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

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    1. There's also Al Qadim and Stone Prophet.

      For India, there's this little Indie RPG called Unrest coming soon.

      I guess you can call it an Indian Indie.

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  6. Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse also retains this setting. Charming little ARPG relased in 1994 by SSI.

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  7. Speaking of hero quest, you're planning to play those two actual (Milton Bradley) hero quests and space crusade aren't you ?

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    1. The two HeroQuest games are on my list. Space Crusade is not tagged as an RPG anywhere and thus is not.

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    2. Well space crusade has inventory, your commander gets ranks and such but as the game play is well brutal and more towards tactical game play then actual RPG most leave it out.

      I guess a tactical shooter with mild RPG elements would be accurate, SC has more replay value then HQ though and is worth checking out.

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  8. Only tangentially related to your post, but I had to laugh at your comment about Dragon Magazine's rating scale. My favorite incident revolved around the game Wing Commander. Ratings had been so inflated by that point that the review felt the normal 5/5 was not sufficient for the game. Thus, Wing Commander was awarded 6 out of 5 stars. Truly a reviewing feat for the ages.

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  9. Ah, QfG III is also a 1992 game, which, I guess is the golden year of RPGs. Ultima 7, Ultima Underworld, Wizardry 7, Star Control 2, Might and Magic 4... 1991 is rather average I'm afraid..

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    1. Japanese games are the bestAugust 9, 2014 at 2:33 AM

      I love Quest for Glory 3, Ultima 7 is a classic, Wizardry 7 is kind of interesting and fun, but compared to other R.P.G.s around the same time like the previous, Shin Megami Tensei, Final Fantasy 4 and 6, Chrono Trigger and Phantasy Star 3 and 4, it really aged poorly, and Might and Magic is just terrible. 1992 was a pretty good year, yes.

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    2. Ultima 7 and Star Control 2 remain some of my all-time favorites. (Quest for Glory 3 is wonderful, of course, though I'd say it's not as strong as Trial by Fire or Shadows of Darkness.)

      Wizardry 7, though, is one I'm really curious to see our friendly Addict analyze. It has some great puzzles and (to my mind, though I know others will disagree) a really moody and interesting atmosphere. I also find it almost unbearably combat-heavy, and could see a lot of frustration develop from aspects like the maps and the dungeon mechanics.

      Darklands should also be a fun 1992 writeup.

      (Technically, does Star Control 2 qualify as an RPG by Chester's definition? I'm not convinced it does, though it's awfully close to Starflight and I'm sure he'd enjoy it.)

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    3. Star Control 2 has significant NPC interaction and non-puzzle based inventory in pursuit of an overarching plot. Not sure how it fits with "character development" but to consider it something other than an RPG is hard to justify in my mind.

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    4. I think the Addict put it on the list because of the recommendations of others in the Starflight posts. I regard it as an "honorary" or "adopted" RPG. I saw that it was fairly popular with the RPG codex crowd, and it doesn't fit anywhere else. In a way, the starship is the character and so there is a lot of character development.

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  10. Why no love for Captive? ;_;

    I was waiting for it!

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    1. Captive is an amazing game. Probably not an amazing RPG though, it's one of those games where the whole story is in the manual, but as a pure action-based dungeoncrawler with RPG elements it's super tightly designed and put together (by one person, no less). Impressive technological achievement too with the way it generates infinite extra dungeons for you after you've finished the main quest. I'm pretty sure it's the first game with a "New Game +".

      Super fond memories of that game.

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    2. Let's how Chester will go into it expecting very little and will then get a pleasant surprise.

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    3. If you love it, you've played it, so tell me how to get out of the first base after planting the explosives. When I go back out the main door, I just face a dead-end wall, and I can't go anywhere before the base explodes and I die.

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    4. I remember hitting a dead end pretty early as well, when I played Captive back in the days on the ST. Despite the staggeringly high frustration tolerance I had as a kid, I couldn't be bothered to keep trying and never got into the game.

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    5. Err, would this help?

      http://captive.atari.org/Environment/Walls/Walls.php#WallBalls

      (hoping it doesn't get spam-blocked)

      That site is pretty amazing.

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    6. That's the same site I linked to in the review. It's not that kind of wall, unfortunately.

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    7. Forgot for a moment I hadn't published that review yet. Sorry about that. Yes, the site is very helpful.

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  11. Fighting the Griffin does occur in the game. If you anger it while getting the feather there is a chance that it will intercept you in the desert if you are on a screen not bordering a mountain. I vaguely remember that you have to fight it multiple times, as it will flee the first battle.

    Defeating it doesn't get you anything though. I suspect the sole purpose is to make the game slightly more difficult in retaliation for waking up the otherwise harmless creature.

    Can't remember seeing the 'normal' combat screen with Uhura though.

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    1. Yes, I fought the griffin that way with my mage character. He doesn't come charging at you on that particular screen, though. They've spliced together the griffin and the "interlude" screen before the caravan journey.

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    2. Fighting the Griffin also prevents you from becoming a Paladin, IIRC.

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  12. http://sierra.com/

    Sierra is back :D

    More information at Gamescom!

    mpx

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    1. I hope this is a good thing, but I have serious doubts. A lot of the big name Sierra folks are retired or working on other projects.

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  13. Scorpia, the most reputed RPG reviewer of the 80s and 90s, had also given QfG2 a positive review on CGW: http://www.cgwmuseum.org/galleries/issues/cgw_87.pdf

    QfG2 was the only game in the series I didn't finish more than once, as the time constraints annoyed me a bit. I did finish QfG1 three or four times, which is my record on any RPG :)

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    1. That "review" is a paragraph in a longer article about available CRPGs at the time. This is what she says:

      "Second in the series, this one is more structured and linear than its predecessor. Not as replayable, as many events are time-dependent with little to do in between after you've gone through the game once. Slightly harder than the first game, but not by much. Save the home town of the Kattas, and 'Kill Foozle' at the end. Each 'Foozle' battle is different, depending on character class, with the thief ending being the most difficult and involved. Has one of the best 'reward' sequences around."

      With the sole exception of that final sentence, do you really see this review as being positive? To me, it sounds lukewarm at best, just like the longer one I quoted.

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    2. Incidentally, I object to her use of "Kill Foozle" here as if the game and its final confrontation are just some generic ho-hum experience. If you're going to call every game's endgame confrontation a "foozle," then the term loses any purpose.

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    3. I feel like Quest for Glory 2 is an example of a "Kill Foozle" ending done well. Granted, it's not a "Kill Foozle" plot overall (the need to defeat Ad Avis doesn't become clear until near the end), but it's also not Lord of the Rings, Ultima IV, V, or VI, or even Hero's Quest 1--I'm literally fighting an evil world-conquering wizard in the final playable scenes.

      I always felt the point of the "Kill Foozle" appellation was to draw attention to the sheer number of RPGs that end with a fight against a Big Bad Guy (usually a wizard). It's not an inherently flawed trope, but it's often a sign of a lack of imagination.

      So far as I'm concerned, Quest for Glory 2 "earned" its Foozle moment (particularly after the more relaxed first game--it's a nice next step for the Hero to save the world in pretty classic fashion), but it's really an exception.

      Anyway, I've been really enjoying this series of writeups. I enjoy them all, of course, but the Quest for Glory games are among my "formative" games--I imprinted on them young and still love (and admire) them to death.

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    4. "So far as I'm concerned, Quest for Glory 2 'earned' its Foozle moment." I agree. I think it earned for it not to be called a "Foozle." The only point to inventing a generic word like that is to suggest that the game offers a similar experience to any other game, and Quest for Glory II simply doesn't. If every end-game confrontation is a "Foozle" then every RPG has a "Foozle" and thus we don't need a special term. I hate the word anyway. I'm not typing it ever again.

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  14. European Amiga journals or _British_ Amiga journals? Making sweeping generalisations about Europe based entirely on the British gaming press is unfortunately much too common and not really a good idea, as gaming culture can differ alot between individual countries.

    Not trying to accuse you or anything, I'm genuinely curious how far you checked.

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    1. UK and German. I suppose I could have said that. They're almost all Amiga magazines. I don't think the problem is a European attitude; I think it's an Amiga attitude.

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    2. The German magazines Power Play (70%) and Amiga Joker (64%) complained about the similarities to Hero's Quest. They argue that QfGII is the same game with just a different setting.

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    3. How do they feel about Wizardry 1-5? :P

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    4. It's certainly the prevailing attitude among some (usually very loud) Amiga owners, although I'm not sure how widespread it really was back in the day. I can't imagine Sierra would keep porting their games for all those years if no one was buying them.

      @Helm: Wiz 1-5 was never released for the Amiga so they wouldn't have been reviewed at all. I seem to recall Wizardry 6 got decent reviews though. Despite the not so pretty graphics and sound.

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    5. Didn't PC game magazines and many PC game players also disparage games when their graphics technology was a bit outdated, for example an EGA game published after VGA became standard?

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    6. (Damn you, blogspot, for eating my comments!)

      I think you let your bias get the better of you here... :)
      I have to defend German mags here - the only noteworthy Amiga mag back then was the Amiga Joker, and the mags from that publisher were of questionable quality in general (Case in point: Their infamous Wing Commander Amiga "review" which was obviously based solely on the preview screenshots which had nothing in common with the actual released game...)
      If anything, the multiplatform mags (esp. Power Play) had a Lucasarts bias vs. Sierra ;)

      I imported a lot of british mags back then (Amiga coverdisks!!), and while their style was refreshing compared to the rather...ahem, "German" style (I'm Austrian after all! ;) ), the elitism and extreme unreflected subjectivity were rather annoying and made many reviews quite useless.

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  15. Full and considered warning! If you decide to play through QFGIII on your 'own time', so to speak.. make sure you've got a fully patched version. I'm somewhat sure that I recall something about the GoG version coming unpatched, and in it you usually get random crashes stating 'Oops! You tried something we didn't think of.' Problem being, you get this on the main fighter quest throwing spears through rings.. ugh.

    If I recall, it's just a change to one of the files in the directory. If you don't do it beforehand, your savegames become incompatible with the newly patched game.

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    1. They fixed that in a later version. If you download it from GoG now, it's fine.

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  16. Japanese games are the bestAugust 9, 2014 at 2:08 AM

    I am nothing like the Amiga fanboys: I love great, imaginative games despite poor graphics and sound. I still sometimes play Nintendo, Super Nintendo and Genesis games through emulators, I love the 2D Mario games almost as much as the 3D ones, and I like indie games like Super Meat Boy, Binding of Isaac and Cave Story. I hate games that focus on the aesthetics and have no substance, like Call of Duty clones and rhythm games.

    I also love to play these old Sierra games, and its competitors Lucasarts, Legend and Infocom even after replaying them repeatedly over the years.

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  17. Ah, such an enjoyable game. Can't argue with the slightly lower score, but it's impressive that it can hold it's own against more pure RPGs in your ranking table!

    Also, thanks for the link to my blog. I tried to summarise the game as briefly as I could, probably too much really!

    Can't wait for the next in the series, although it'll be quite some time by the looks of things.

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  18. Incidentally, two valid criticisms of QfG2: Trial By Fire are the city maze and waiting for the fixed-day Elemental events. I think the maze would be fine if we had enough resources to populate the streets with NPC's and combat as originally planned. One 64K memory segment to hold all game code and data (except graphics and sound) was much too paltry to allow that. That's why we ended up with our complex, intentionally difficult to navigate, city with little going on in the streets. Almost all the memory went to drawing the maze.

    As for the set time scale, I just discussed that with Lori. She said she would design that differently today, with the player's actions defining the events. The essential article on this for all game designers is Ron Gilbert's "Why Adventure Games Suck..." ([url]http://grumpygamer.com/why_adventure_games_suck[/url]), in this case the "Real time is bad drama" section. That article came out a month or two into QfG2 design. We incorporated it into the staged combats (EOF and Khaveen), but not into the day event structure. Anyway, that is the greatest article on adventure game design ever written.

    Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption also features a linear day-event structure, but it is much easier for the player to skip ahead, e.g. by going to sleep earlier. Balancing the events is challenging because we decided to give "pure" adventure game players the option of playing without ever entering combat. Those players may find themselves waiting more often.

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    1. It's a school, so no problem there. The real problem with such a format will be the interactions with the NPCs who will respond accordingly to your past actions and current events.

      I loved how The Walking Dead handled that but it was more of a QTE Visual Novel than an actual Adventure Game. On top of that, Hero-U also has a mix of RPG blended in to make it even more complex. It's going to be a nightmare to do it well.

      But if it's done well, it's gonna be a masterpiece.

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    2. I'm not sure I understand why the "maze" aspect of the city is so bad. It's not very big, you provided a map, and except for having to find the moneychanger, you mostly just click around on the automap. I didn't mind it at all. I was surprise there weren't combats with brigands at night and whatnot, but otherwise I thought it was good design. The alleys did a good job of rendering non-obvious certain quest locations that would have stuck out like a sore thumb if they'd been on a regular screen.

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    3. You'd understand if you're looking it from an Adventure game perspective and not from a CRPG perspective. Labyrinths had always been "padding" used to bulk up the length of gameplay in Adventure games because, let's not kid ourselves, we can finish it in 2-3 hours time if we know what to do.

      And since QFG already has that RPG aspect in it (through grinding and amassing wealth), Adventure gamers seriously don't see the point of having these mazes.

      And don't you find it strange that the Kattas didn't provide the Hero with a map since this item complements with their trade (innkeepers for travelers? Hello?) and should have plenty of them for sale like condoms in Circle K.

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    4. LucasArts also liked to insert mazes into their games. From side-scrolling mazes that leave you with no sense of orientation in Zak McCracken, to real mini-games in Indiana Jones 4 (and probably beyond but I haven't played their classic adventure games after Day of the Tentacle). I hated them as a child and couldn't see their purpose. Now I can see their structure and certain regularities so I can finish them rather quickly and they don't break the game for me anymore, but still, they disrupt the flow.

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    5. There have been games with overly-long and complicated labyrinths that I hated--both The Third Courier and B.A.T. come to mind. But I find it hard to regard QfG2's as even a "labyrinth" given how small it is and that, again, the game came with a map.

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    6. Oh man. Corey: I just read that. There is a web comedy group I love (Loading Ready Run) that has branched into video game streaming, and one person plays a ton of survival horror and he has canned rants he gives about several of those points (arbitrary puzzles most of all) that occur in a ton of games.Why does solving the chess puzzle left on the table open the secret door in the fireplaces, etc etc.

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  19. I found your blog a couple weeks ago while searching the net for Ultima IV commands, and ended up getting the QfG series based on your recommendations. I remember avoiding these games in the '90s, just based on the looks (the bright blue/pink clothing on the hero was not very appealing to my teenage self).

    I did really enjoy the first one, other than the combat. I wasn't quite as impressed with the sequel but it still had some nice ideas. It was great to read about the quests and ending sequences for the other classes as well, thanks for showing all of them.

    I ended the first game with 489 points but my final score for part II was terrible, didn't even break 400. It took me a while to realize that the game assumed my imported character was a fighter instead of a thief. I think I'll wait a while to start part 3, but probably not as long as you're going to be waiting.

    I also downloaded The Dark Heart of Uukrul based on your score, it looks fascinating!

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  20. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/transolargames/hero-u-adventure-role-playing-game

    4 more days to go and short of more than $8,000.

    Really hope it will come through.

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