Queen Valanice of Daventry has always thought that getting married would be the best course of action for her daughter Rosella. However, the young princess seems to be more interested in adventure, recklessly following a mysterious magical creature into a whirlpool that eventually transfer herself and her mother to another world. The two end up in different parts of a land known as Eldritch, with Rosella being transformed into a troll. They must find each other and eventually defeat an evil sorceress who plots to ruin the land.
Like its predecessors, King's Quest VII is an adventure game primarily based on solving inventory puzzles. It discards the icon-based interface of the two previous installments, and instead features a simplified "smart cursor" used for general interaction with highlighted objects and characters, as well as significantly fewer text descriptions. The game is divided into chapters, alternating between the queen and the princess as protagonists. As opposed to the realistic drawing style of all the preceding game, it has brightly colored visuals reminiscent of Walt Disney cartoons.
The latest incarnation in the King's Quest series continues with the adventures of Princess Rosella and Queen Valanice in the magical realm of Eldritch. In King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride, the central story involves the marital status, or rather lack of, of Princess Rosella. Designed by the venerable game designer Roberta Williams as well as Lorelei Shannon, the latest King's Quest tells the story of a classic fairy tale of love and justice. Featuring animation that rivals that of Disney, the game's simplistic interface sports a new level of intuitive gameplay.
In the magical kingdom of Daventry, Queen Valanice is concern about the lack of interest by Princess Rosella in pursuing marriage. As they stroll along the Daventry countryside discussing the princess' future, Rosella is distracted by a reflection she sees in a pond. When a strange creature pops out of the water and then back in, Rosella is intrigued and dives into the magical pond to follow. The startled Valanice immediately plunges in to save Rosella, but a whirlpool has whisked each to a different part of a magical realm called Eldritch. While searching for each other, they both learn that this wondrous world is haunted by an evil enchantress named Malicia. Traveling between the Desert, the Vulcanix Underground, the town of Falderal, the land of Ooga Booga, and Etheria among others, each meets many interesting characters including the Three Fates, the Headless Horseman, and the Troll King. You must help Queen Valanice and Princess Rosella to defeat the evil Malicia who plans to destroy Eldritch. Only then will Princess Rosella find her true love and long-lasting romance.
The King's Quest series has long represented a triumph in graphic adventure gaming since its debut. Each game in the series is known to set groundbreaking technologies and new standards for all other adventure games to strive. King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride is no exception. The name of the game obviously draws parody from the movie The Princess' Bride. According to Sierra On-Line, two other subtitles "What's Lava Got to Do with It" and "Rosella Vs. The Volcano" have also been considered before being replaced by the current subtitle.
This game is the seventh installment in the series to be set in the magical realm of Daventry. The game represents Sierra On-Line's first attempt to bring the series into the CD-ROM format from the outset. The large storage capacity of CD-ROM allows the designers to show off the most dramatic transformation of this series from its predecessors - the animation. Simply stunning, all characters and backdrops are drawn in Disney quality cel animation style in SVGA resolution. All the characters are fully animated and have voiceovers. A scrolling slide control even allows for smooth scrolling across screens. A completely revamped interface simplifies control to merely pointing and clicking a single button. Hotspots are indicated by a cursor in the form of a highlighted wand. Puzzles are similar in style to previous games in the series, with most being inventory based. The controls icon holds the inventory, an eye to examine objects, and access to various game controls. A fast forward button is available during certain non-interactive transitional scenes to allow for fast forwarding to the end should the player have seen the scenes previously.
With over 70 different characters, thousands of animation shots have to be created. Over 120 artists are used to create this masterpiece animation. In fact, Sierra On-Line has delegated the animations in different chapters to four animation houses. The quality of these animations are evident and yet consistent throughout the entire game. All the dialogs are recorded by professional voice actors. The voices of Rosella and Valanice are provided by Maureen Mcverry and Carol Bach Y Rita respectively. Over 100 fully orchestrated melodies and original compositions have been scored for this game.
In King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride, the player alternates in controlling between Valanice and Rosella during each of the 6 chapters of the game. Puzzle enthusiasts may be disappointed by the quality of some of the puzzles. However, there are a number of clever puzzles, each with a number of different solutions, which should help to silence the critics. Although it is possible for the player to get killed in the game, an option is available to replay last sequence prior to the fatal move. True to the traditional of King's Quest, ample amount of clues are available to solve the puzzles which are all quite logical.
Playing this game is indeed like watching a Disney quality cartoon, but one that unfolds under the player's control. The qualities and details in both the character and background animations are simply extraordinary. Both protagonists are fully animated with multiple poses. All animation playbacks are smooth, except perhaps the background scrolling. This is one of the few games published which features a female figure as the main protagonist. In fact, this game is the first adventure game ever published that features two female protagonists.
Not only are the animations stunning, the music and speech also stand head and shoulder above its predecessors. The musical score is context sensitive. Each different scene triggers a different piece of MIDI quality music. The voiceovers are likewise superbly done with a crisp and clear quality. In the option menu, one can see what chapter is currently playing and how far along in that chapter the player resides.
The developer has said, "King's Quest VII featured an innovative chapter-based design, an intelligent bookmarking system for saving games, and an easy point and click interface, making the game more intuitive for the novice gamer, while still being challenging for those who had enjoyed the series for the past 10 years." The developer has also claimed, "The graphics were breathtaking in scope, created by a team of animators who drew individual images, cel-style, and then digitally added color and sequenced the images to produce motion. The resulting animation not only set new standards for game graphics, but also rivaled or surpassed the animation available on TV or film."
The release of King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride is not without some growing pains. The initial release of this game is unfortunately plagued with a multitude of bugs during both installation and play. This is evident from the various lengthy help files that come with the game. Lockups are not uncommon and can really annoy the player since there is only a single save slot. Somehow Sierra On-Line has the idea that a player will not want to keep multiple saved games to allow replay through exploration down the different paths. The bookmark feature is rarely used, since one can start at the beginning of any chapter at any time without playing the previous ones. While the animations are beautiful to watch, they are quite slow to play out. This means it takes quite a while for the character to travel from one screen to the next. The animations can also appear choppy when the background side scrolling is turned on.
Overall, King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride is a decent graphic adventure game set in the King's Quest tradition that boasts trend setting cel animations with much mass and family appeal. The oversimplified one icon, one button interface may have shunted away some diehard adventure gamers. Some puzzles are way too tricky for the novice player. Interestingly, there are two endings to this game. Both are stored in AVI format which can be viewed directly with Windows Media Player. Still, fans of the King's Quest series should find much comfort in playing this game from start to end, so there is no need to cheat to just find out how the game ends.
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