It's been twenty years since the evil wizard Manannan first appeared on our computer screens, but now, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the team at Infamous Adventures, he's back!
Kings Quest 3 : To Heir is Human was first released by Sierra On-Line back in 1986. As the second sequel to the hugely popular and successful Kings Quest series, it fast became a fan favorite. Roberta Williams, author of the Kings Quest series, broke new ground in computer games, introducing players to the magic map concept (making travel quicker between screens), timed puzzles and an in-depth spell casting system. All these things are standard fare in today's games, but were original concepts in 1986.
Unfortunately, due to the advances made in computer technology over the last twenty years, such classic games no longer run on the modern computer. It was with this in mind that Infamous Adventures decided to remake this game, bringing it up to the quality of Kings Quest 5 & 6. Klytos, Executive Producer of IA's Kings Quest 3 had this to say. "We just love this game and felt that even twenty years later the story was relevant and, more importantly, still fun. We wanted to introduce a new generation of gamers to this classic and show older players who remember the original something new and special. We think we've done this, but it's up to the fans to tell us what they think."
Boasting all new full VGA backgrounds, enhanced hand-drawn close up cut-scenes, dialog portraits for all the characters, original music by our professional composer, full speech pack (including narrator) and a new point-and-click interface, make Infamous Adventures' remake of Kings Quest III one of the best remakes on the fan-game market.
For many people King's Quest, the celebrated classic series by Sierra, Inc. is a source of many fond memories for most old-school gamers. We remember the hours we spent tearing our hair out in frustration, and we remember the victory dances on the tabletops after we finally solved "that damn puzzle." Whenever a remake of one of the games of this series is announced, anticipation starts building for those of us who remember the classics. In 2006, the nail-biting came to an end as Infamous Adventures finally released their remake of King's Quest 3.
The original KQ3 was itself a gem among the series. It was hard, and I mean climbing an iceberg while covered in superslick oil hard. One slip of the finger while navigating treacherous cliffs, or the even smallest typo while attempting to cast a spell could send Gwydion to his untimely demise in an instant. Not to mention it's a race against time to figure out how to kill your captor, the evil wizard Mannanan, while not alerting him as to your plans to gain freedom. Let's just say that when you beat this game, it was a real feather to put in your adventuring cap.
The KQ3 VGA-style remake by IA is a very faithful adaptation of the original game. This approach to updating the original definitely creates some big pros and cons for playing. Therefore, check out the next sections to see what's old, what's new, and what that means for your gaming experience.
The KQ3 remake sticks wholeheartedly to the original script, including the timed sequences of the original design. There are few "extras" in the story to create a new experience for an old-school gamer. Traditionalists will love this, though it makes for a very short game with all the new aspects. Fans of ... well, fandom may also be disappointed by the lack of pontification, imagination, and interpretation in the remake.
Okay, that's it for the old. Surprised? Yep, pretty much everything else is completely redone, from the controls to the music.
The new aspects of the remake is where evaluating the game starts getting tricky. As I mentioned, the KQ3 remake is a very short game. Because it's been remade in VGA-style with a point-n-click interface, much of the agonizing complexity of the original has been devolved to the level of simple primordial ooze. There's no more sweating over typing the spell casting commands 100% correctly, and IA has kindly made it impossible to fall off the evil cliff path down from Mannanan's mansion after you manage it once. Thankfully, there's none of that nonsense where the pointer lights up or starts dancing around when it hovers over an "interactable object", so for those of you who have never played the original, it will still retain some difficulty. However, the bottom line here is that the updated interface really dumbs down what was originally a fantastically intelligent game. You'll probably find yourself dying more from those intensely aggravating cliff and stairs navigation puzzles than anything else (I think I died about 20 times in 15 minutes from the developer's particularly nasty interpretation of the mountain stairs - it really can't be helped, so be sure to save often in these types of sections if you want to avoid getting really cheesed off).
In addition, since the remake (like the original) also involves timed sequences where you have a certain amount of time to do what you want until the next trigger event, you may find that at times, the game is paced a little to slow for the ease of the interface. You may find yourself completing everything possible, and then find yourself sitting on your thumbs until the next timed trigger event allows you to continue.
Everything else is pretty much gravy. The inner geek child within will experience a little thrill at seeing an old favorite with updated graphics and sound. The only negative aspect of the new graphics is that in some areas, the compression seems pretty bad - that, or someone's idea of a good ground texture is to pick a color and sprinkle it with random pixels of different colors. I'm thinking the former. Overall, the designs themselves are faithful to the original, and very richly redone.
The sound is redone very well in soothing MIDI, and where possible (deaths, recovering from a fall), also faithful to the original - I'll grant that it's difficult to re-arrange music when you're working with computer blips and beeps, and I for one am impressed. In addition, there's quite a bit of original music added, including a finale track that accompanies the credits. Kudos to IA's music team for that special touch. The bottom line on the music is that it's a definite upgrade, and very well done.
The voice pack (included in the download) deserves its own section. While it's a bit amateurish at times, the voice acting is really pretty good. There are a few awkward moments (Graham sounding pissed off at Rosella rather than worried that she's about to be the main course for a dragon's dinner, for example), and the recording quality of some actor's voices (Rosella) suffer, but overall, the voice acting lends the characters a bit more life. The actors for Gwydion and Rosella, as well as the general narration in particular are fresh and deliver their lines well, without the pretentious-sounding heavily accented voices that you generally hear voicing fantasy genres. Though it has to be said - that Scottish brogue of the the gnome with the unpronounceable name makes his (actually very useless) cameo appearance worth it.
It was also an interesting decision to do a vocal track for -every- written word down to the simple "no" when you're trying to perform an action that's not possible, as that's more of a modern phenomenon, not really typical to VGA-style voicing. It's not a bad thing, but it adds to the hugeness of the plugin's file size (a matter of enthusiasm over logistics, perhaps), and can be slightly obnoxious when you're trying to find the "sweet spot" when clicking around to perform a desired action.
If you played the original game and loved it, you'll love the remake, too - though you may be slightly disappointed by its simplicity when compared to its predecessor. If you've never heard of or played the original, it's one of the better freeware fantasy adventure titles available, so you'll enjoy it. As a KQ remake, it doesn't quite hit the same level as Anonymous Game Developers Interactive's KQ1-VGA or KQ2-VGA remakes, but it's still very, very good. Definitely worth a download.
People who downloaded King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human have also downloaded:
King's Quest 7: The Princeless Bride, King's Quest: Quest for the Crown VGA, King's Quest 4: The Perils of Rosella, King's Quest 6: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, King's Quest 5: Absence Makes the Heart go Yonder, Kings Quest 2: Romancing the Stones VGA, King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown VGA, King's Quest 2: Romancing the Throne
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