Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Great Classic Sierra Computer Games

These are some of the Sierra computer games I grew up playing, all about adventures in fairy tale lands in King's Quest and Mixed Up Mother Goose, and on spaceships and alien planets in the future in Space Quest. These originated in the 1980s, and were created by Ken and Roberta Williams. Mother Goose was the first computer game I played when I was younger, where you find the items that different rhyme characters need, and return them to their proper locations. My parents still refer to the characters from the game, like the Fiddlers Three that always follow your character around, and bump into you if you stop too quickly, until they are returned to Old King Cole.

The King's Quest games had great storylines and you can see the computer graphics evolve over time. The first game in the series (1984) is about Sir Graham who goes in search of treasures for the King of Daventry, a perilous journey with lots of mythical beasts and fairy tale characters. It was one of the first animated adventure games, that allowed the user to control a character and interact with the environment, walking using arrow keys, and giving commands through a text input where the player types what Sir Graham should do next. The series allows the player to explore different fantasy worlds as a variety of characters. Later on the games incorporated point and click instead of text input, beginning with King's Quest V, and users could choose an icon for looking, picking up an object or talking to other characters. These later games featured a voice cast and more detailed graphics. I still like replaying the King's Quest adventures, and want to pick up the eighth game in the series to complete the series and see how the 3D graphics were used. Another genre game series designed by Roberta Williams is the Laura Bow mysteries, in which the detective explores an old house and grounds in "The Colonel's Bequest," then goes to 1920s New York in "The Dagger of Amon-Ra."

Space Quest is a comedic science fiction adventure game series, first released in 1986, with the parody of genre conventions that would later be seen in television series like Red Dwarf and Futurama. Roger Wilco, an outer space janitor, is given the task of saving the universe in this game created by the "Two Guys from Andromeda."

This year I played The Hobbit game from Sierra Entertainment (2003), a fun, epic game which adapts the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. The game is in a similar style to the King's Quest games, but with more realistic and immersive graphics. As Bilbo Baggins, the player can use a staff to jump great distances, throw rocks and wield the sword Sting to defend themselves against goblins and wolves, and sneak past trolls and the dragon Smaug, as well as solving puzzles and finding treasure. While in previous Sierra games you could save the game at any point, this story has pedestals at certain points for bookmarking your place. Players can still wander around and explore the area, and it's quite challenging to find all the hidden coins and health points. It's a great part of the Sierra legacy.

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