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and now, for something completely different.

Quest for Glory I: So You Want To Be A Hero

The Hero's Quest and Quest for Glory covers.

The Hero’s Quest and Quest for Glory covers.

You may have seen a post I did about Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire. How did it get to be #2? Well, this post tells you how. When I first played this game, it was called “Hero’s Quest I: So You Want To Be A Hero.” At the same time, there was a board game (which I also owned) called “Hero Quest.” A trademark dispute with the makers of the board game eventually made Sierra (the publisher) change the name of the series to “Quest for Glory.” These were very different times: EGA graphics (16-colour), VGA (256-colour) at best, and these games were distributed on floppy disks. Well, Hero’s Quest came with 5.25s and 3.5s, and was eventually released on CD (wow!) so it wasn’t that archaic I guess (sarcasm!). Still, it was definitely a different time. It was a time when the term “Animated 3D Adventure Game” meant series like King’s Quest and Space Quest (which probably rivaled the Monkey Island series for comedy). 3D meant that your character could walk “behind” bushes and trees… wow! It was different enough time that a video game company was pushed around by a board game company – I doubt the board game industry has the same clout today they once had. Today, games like Assassin’s Creed III sell 3.5 million copies in the first week they’re offered, and Starcraft is a spectator sport!

No matter how it was released or what name it was called, Lori and Corey Cole did an absolutely marvelous job of inventing a classic and now borderline legendary adventure game.  When I heard that they were going to get back into game design and that it would have something to do with being a hero, I absolutely had to sink my teeth back into this original and best Quest for Glory game.

Up your stats for maximum kick-butt-ness.

Up your stats for maximum kick-butt-ness.

One of the great things about these adventure games is that they were not linear: there was no direct path to completion. There were steps, but they could often be done in different orders and at different times. For me, this game took it to a whole new level. I was so thrilled when Gog.com offered the entire Quest for Glory series as an anthology. While I love the games in this series, the first will always be my favorite. It was so awesome, that after being released in 1989 with just EGA graphics, it was re-released in 1992 with a completely new set of VGA artwork. No other game in the series got this treatment!

Quest for Glory came along as I was playing other Sierra games, and it was an absolute revelation. At the time, I was also interested in (but too lazy to play) Dungeons and Dragons – all of those character stats and fantasy-based stories really appealed to me. Quest for Glory brought the character stats to the 3D animated adventure game. I could develop and build my character the way I saw fit, and I could do it as three different character classes. To top it all off, they even included a day/night cycle in the game, and not just as in half of the game takes place during the day and the other at night.  Night time meant a whole new opportunity to explore… and get yourself killed!

Victory is mine!  Goblins are no match for the future hero of the north.

Victory is mine! Goblins are no match for the future hero of the north.

Unlike the (frequent) instant death sequences of other Sierra adventures, Quest for Glory let you die in combat. There were all sorts of monsters in the snowy valley where the game takes place, and it was inevitable that you would eventually run into some. It’s dangerous business, being a hero.

The game also had an upper hand in comedy over its more serious D&D cousins – while D&D products always seemed to take themselves too seriously, Quest for Glory created a rich fantasy universe and storyline and imbued it with just the right amount of comedy to make sure the player understood that the game wasn’t “everything.”

The game begins with your hero entering the town of Spielburg as either a Fighter, Magic User or a Thief. You talk to the Sheriff, and then you’re on your own to explore and figure out what kind of trouble to get yourself in. You get to find different trouble as each of the character classes as well, and while the top score remains the same regardless of the character class, your path to get there is different. You get more points for doing thief-like things as a thief, and you won’t get rewarded if you solve puzzles the same way as a fighter!

Entering the town in 16 and 256 colours.

Entering the town in 16 and 256 colours.

Before long, our hero finds out that the valley has a rich history, and it also has some problems. The current monarch (the Baron von Spielburg) has had a curse placed on him by a witch named Baba Yaga. If the name sounds familiar, it is. Each game in the Quest for Glory series bases itself on the mythology of a different earthly culture or region, and this game is very Slavic in its roots and feel. Back to the story. Baba Yaga has placed a curse on the Baron, and both his son and his daughter have disappeared. After a little digging, you discover a prophecy that will have to be fulfilled to free the valley of the curse, and it goes like this:

“Come a hero from the east,
free the man from the beast,
bring the child out of the band,
and drive the Ogress from the land.”

498/500?  Seriously?!  What the heck did I miss?  Oh well, at least my teeth are great.

498/500? Seriously?! What the heck did I miss? Oh well, at least my teeth are great.

Sounds like an opportunity for Glory! Obviously, a job for you, the hero. For the rest of the game, you run into a cast of colourful characters and situations before you reach the final showdown and are finally dubbed the hero of the north. Not satisfied with saving just one small valley, the hero eventually leaves with a merchant and the innkeeper to travel to Shapeir, which you’ve already read about in my previous post. As a final symbol of excellence, the last thing you do is save your character out for use with that Shapeir adventure… you don’t start from scratch!

Honestly, if you have never played this game, you owe it to yourself to check it out. The anthology is like 10 bucks or something on Gog.com, and it’s worth every penny. You’ll see a bit of history and feel the predecessor for many of today’s action RPGs.

Here are a few more sights from the game – I’ve mixed up some EGA screenshots with some from the VGA version for completeness. Both versions are awesome to play, and I’ve recently smashed them both! While the VGA version has a very good point and click interface (much easier than typing everything you want your character to do in a command prompt), the EGA version has an awesome cheat… err… debug mode invoked by typing in the command “razzle dazzle root beer.”

Honestly, do yourself a serious favor:  if you appreciate video games at all, experience one of modern adventure gaming’s pioneering creations, beef yourself up, and become the hero of the north!

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