For the first
time in the series, Roberta has shared the writing of the plot with another
author. Jane Jensen, designer of Eco Quest and later on the
creator of the Gabriel Knight series, worked together with Roberta
Williams on the plot. She was also the writer of the text and dialogue
in the game. In addition, Sierra veteran William D. Skirvin co-directed
the game in addition to being producer and art designer. The result is
sensational, and Roberta and Jane has created a rich plot that is both
touching, funny and exciting, and it is full of memorable characters. Based
on the old-fashioned story of a prince trying to rescue a captured princess
(not too distant from the basic plot of King's Quest II: Romancing the
Throne) the plot thickens and divides into several sub-plots as the
player goes further into it. The puzzles are logical and range from very
easy to very hard. But the most interesting with the plot and the puzzles
is that nearly half of the gameplay is optional. The inexperienced player
can finish the game without solving most of the sub-quests while the more
experienced one can try to solve all of the sub-quests and finish the game
with the maximum possible score. The most important feature of this layout
is that at a particular point in the game, the story breaks up into two
different paths where the player can only choose one. They both lead to
slightly different endings, where the longer and harder path results in
the most rewarding one, and there are many possible variations of the ending
depending on how many of the optional puzzles were solved. Nevertheless,
whatever path the player has chosen, there is a great replay value as the
other path is filled with completely different puzzles and challenges.
This results in a non-linear gameplay that works out great. The interface
in the game is basically the same as the one seen in King's Quest V:
Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder, as the same interpreter is used,
but a few new options has been added. One of the key inventory objects
that Alexander obtains in the game is a magic map that enables him to travel
between the different islands that make up the Land of the Green Isles.
However, this map doesn't have the features of the criticized magic map
seen in King's Quest III: To Heir is Human and only works as Alexander's
way of travel between the islands. The final conclusion can only be that
the plot and gameplay is the best one ever in the King's Quest series.
The graphics seen
in King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow was created in the
same way as in the previous game, but the visual quality has many improvements.
Not only is the quality of the background paintings extremely good, but
there are many subtle effects applied to it that makes it look even better.
Leaves moving in the wind, waves splashing at the shores and torches that
casts a flickering light on walls are examples of this. The character animations
has also become more realistic, with the introduction of a scaling technique
that makes characters look smaller from a distance without actually using
different character graphics there. The extensive use of video-captured
actors as a base for character animations in the game gives the characters
a very life-like look even though they are animated. The game also features
a lot of cinematic cutscenes with close-ups of characters that looks very
good. Close-ups of characters as they speak are beautifully drawn and looks
very realistic, especially in the multimedia version where their lips move
in synch with what they are saying. This was the first of Sierra's adventure
games to feature lip-synched characters and was the result of Sierra's
purchase of Bright Star Technologies, a company that had developed
a technique to do this. For the Windows Multimedia version of the game,
the character faces, inventory objects and menu graphics were enhanced
even more by being redrawn in SVGA versions with double the resolution
of the rest of the graphics in the game.
But the thing
that really makes the graphics in this game to stand out is the 3D-animated
introduction to the game, created by Kronos. This game was released
at the time when 3D-rendered animation had just found its way into the
movie industry where it was used to create a new generation of special
effects that resulted in many blockbuster hits. An animated introduction
scene of this graphical quality had never been seen before in a computer
game and was truly one of the most impressive features of the game. Although
the quality of 3D-rendered animation has improved greatly since the early
nineties, it still looks very good. The multimedia version of the game
features a much longer and better-looking introduction than the disk version.
Conclusion: King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow not only
follows the tradition of improving graphics quality with each new game
in the series, it takes a major leap ahead and creates graphics that can
only be described as incredible.
Music and Sound
A rich, exciting
storyline and great graphics is not all it takes to make a great adventure
game. Music and sound effects are important as well. And this game has
great music and sound effects! Chris Braymen has created a score
full of memorable music that really captures the atmosphere of the many
different locations in the game. From the oriental themes of the Isle of
the Crown to the haunting ghost music heard in the Land of the Dead, the
music fits the game like a glove. Ambient sounds fills the game in areas
without music and convincing sound effects are heard whenever expected.
The multimedia version of the game features a cast of professional voice
actors that makes the amateur voices of King's Quest V: Absence Makes
the Heart Go Yonder sound almost embarrassing in comparison. Robby
Benson, the voice of Alexander, was also the voice of the Beast in
Disney's animated movie Beauty and the Beast, and he received great
acclaim for his performances on both productions. Using professional voice
actors was a successful move for Sierra and increases the joy of playing
this game even further. One thing that also has to be mentioned is Girl
in the Tower, the song played at the end of the game. This song was
recorded in full digital audio as a musical CD track on the multimedia
version of the game and it rivals famous theme songs heard in the big Disney
blockbusters and similar movies. Quite a reward for finishing the game!
VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, as all SCI 1 games, suffers from a lot
of compatibility issues with modern computers, and actually with a lot
of older computers as well. This game works better than King's Quest
V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder, but there may still be problems.
The main issue is the music and sound. The game supports multiple music
cards and sound cards, but even a card supposed to be compatible with one
of these may not be able to work properly with the game due to many factors.
The game may assume a different setting of the card than you have on your
problem in SCI games, something that can also be responsible for music
and/or sound problems, is that it's not designed to work properly at the
CPU speeds of modern computers. This may result in unsuccessful card detections,
lockups in various parts of the game and time-based actions in the gameplay
that goes way too fast. These problems can often be solved by running a
program to reduce the speed of the computer at the same time.
another common problem with SCI 1 games. The game is very hungry for memory,
so unloading certain TSR programs (such as device drivers) may be necessary.
With modern versions of Windows, emulation of old DOS memory layouts may
fix these problems nicely, or make it impossible to play the game at all,
depending on the specific system used.
multimedia version of the game is the one most likely to work on a modern
system, but it's necessary to set the number of colors displayed on the
screen down to 256 in order to get the game to work. The game looks best
with a screen resolution of 640x480, but 800x600 and 1024x768 are also
supported even though they make the graphics looks pretty small.
game to work on a modern computer is part lottery, part engineering and
part pure luck. It's unfortunate that this has to be the case, but there's
nothing to do about it. The best option is actually to play the game on
an old computer with the hardware and software that was the most common
in the early 90's.
VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow is one of only three games in the series
not to introduce a new version of the interpreter. Instead, it takes the
technology to its limits and the result is one of the best Sierra adventure
games of all time. From the impressive 3D-animated introduction to the
digitally recorded ending song, the game sets new standards in every field.
The non-linear storyline and the game graphics, sound and interface are
all of excellent quality and blends together perfectly. This is an adventure
game that even people that are not fans of the series should take care
not to miss. It is King's Quest at its best.
Getting in contact
with Cassima and learning that she still loves Alexander.