The fourth game in Roberta Williams' popular King's Quest series of Sierra adventure games. You are Rosella, the daughter of King Graham, who has fallen mysteriously ill. You must travel through the magic mirror to the land of Tamir to finish two quests: first, to find the magic fruit that will cure your father's illness, and second, to retrieve the fairy Genesta's magical talisman from the evil witch Lolotte, because without it Genesta will die and be unable to send you back to Daventry to cure King Graham.

The interface is a simple text parser for actions other than movement, and either a mouse or the cursor keys to move within screens. Gameplay is generally smooth, but there are a few irritations. The spiral staircase in Lolotte's castle is incredibly evil. It is almost impossible to traverse because the point of view means you can't see part of it - and your character, whether you use the mouse or the keyboard, only travels in straight lines. You have to find out the path by trial and error (god help you if you haven't saved before this), and then repeat it several times perfectly to get to the top of the tower without falling to your doom. Unlike some other irritating pointless arcade sequences in Sierra games, this one has no conceivable purpose for the plot, which makes it all the more frustrating. So the need for judicious saving throughout the game because there are numerous situations where you can get in to unescapable positions which would mean you'd wasted the entire game, is a bit of a downer.

Otherwise, though, it's a lovely game. I consider it the best of the King's Quests. Simple and cute. For it's time it was considered amazingly complex, featuring not only many screens, but cycling through day and night, with different activities possible in each time. (Lord knows I, nine years old at the time, needed the help of the $9.99 hint book.) The cut scenes are all wonderful, and while the puzzles aren't always intuitive, they do make sense after you see them done - unlike the bizarre rapunzel password puzzle in King's Quest 1. The graphics are beautiful EGA screens.

It came on three floppy disks, required 512k of ram and AT LEAST an 8088 or a tandy compatible (gosh!). Copy protection involved entering a specific word from the preamble in the manual. (eg, it'll ask you "what is the seventh word of the third paragraph on page 10?")

The thing I'll never forget about King's Quest 4 was the interface. Unlike most other Sierra point and click games, KQ 4 made you type in everything you wanted to do. Like Zork, but with graphics. Being the randy 9 year old I was, of course the first thing I typed was a curse. Sierra, knowing damn well that just about everyone would do this, had funny reactions for just about every bad word my adolescent mind could come up with. Stuff like "This is a family game!".

Also amusing was commanding Rosella to undress. The game would respond "Rosella is not that kind of girl!"

Great game.

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