It was released in 1988, was the first computer adventure game with a female protagonist. The player takes on the role of Princess Rosella, daughter of King Graham of Daventry (KQI and KQII) and the twin sister of Gwydion/Alexander (KQIII).
This chapter is the only one in the official King's Quest series where the action takes place during a specific and limited amount of time— the events of the game cover about 24 hours (8:00 A.M. to 8:00 A.M.). In fact the game, much like King's Quest III, had a real time clock and time would pass even if the player wasn't solving puzzles. Some activities must be completed during the day, while other puzzles can only be solved at night, and solving certain puzzles would cause the clock to skip ahead.
King Graham has suffered a heart attack and is on the brink of death. The good fairy Genesta contacts his daughter Rosella through the Magic Mirror and offers her assistance. Genesta then teleports Rosella to the land of Tamir, where she learns of a magical fruit that can heal her father. However, Genesta herself will be unable to teleport the princess back to Daventry, and die if her magical talisman— stolen by the evil Lolotte— is not returned.
Rosella must win Lolotte's trust by performing three tasks for the evil fairy; Rosella must bring Lolotte a Unicorn, a Magic Hen and Pandora's Box so she may rule the world. Fortunately, Lolotte's son Edgar develops a crush on Rosella and will aid her when Lolotte imprisons her for the wedding. She must then defeat the evil fairy to recover the talisman and return home to Daventry.
It is possible to complete KQIV without retrieving the magical fruit, but failure to do so leads to a tragic ending.
As stated in the game scripts KQ4 is largely a serious game. It has one of the solemn stories in the series and touches on some tough topics. There are puns but they are limited to the deaths only, and even then many of the deaths do not have puns (but are rather melancholy in nature). However, the game still includes some whimsical characters and situations much like previous games in the series.
There were two versions of King's Quest 4 simultaneously produced and published which included using both the AGI and SCI engines. The AGI engine was used in all earlier Sierra adventure games, the SCI in all later ones. The main advantages of SCI are a higher video resolution (320x200 rather than 160x200 in AGI), sound card support, mouse support, and a more versatile scripting system.
The AGI version was made because Sierra supposed that contemporary low-end systems would be unable to run the SCI version and would require a "lighter" version of the game. However, sales figures proved them wrong and the AGI version was swiftly discontinued. Because of its rarity, the AGI version could be considered a collector's item. The Apple IIGS version had improved sound compared to the PC AGI version.
The two games are identical in gameplay, except that the SCI version was updated with some additional or alternate parser responses. Also typing in the AGI version does not pause the game (so puzzles are more 'real time' when solving them). Some script material was actually removed or changed in the SCI version.
However, AGI version 2.0 contains the famous "BEAM ME" easter egg (which transports Rosella to a Star Trek-esque room with the development team present.) This easter egg is neither present in any SCI version nor in AGI version 2.2 or 2.3. There are a few other easter eggs and animations that exist in AGI version that does not appear in the SCI version as well. Such as a squirrel in a tree (not seen in the SCI version). Other differences include a few differences in geography such as extra bushes in a few screens in the AGI version. There is also a hint added to SCI version that will remind observant players to look inside the boat to find the bridle (the narrator will tell the player that she sees a glint coming from the boat). In the AGI version it is very possible to leave the island without noticing the bridle (as there is no given clue using the look command).
- Rosella does not lie down 'seeing stars' when falling from heights.
- When advancing into the Dwarfs' bedroom, a Dwarf inexplicably appears and ousts Rosella outside
- When the Seven Dwarfs serve themselves, Rosella doesn't notice that the last dwarf takes two plates (although he is clearly seen by the player).
- The ocean sparkles from time to time
- Squirrels and bluebirds can be seen in the trees occasionally.
- The drips of saliva drop from whale's mouth
- The dolphin arrives at the south of the little island.
- The Hen does not walk on the Ogre's table, it stands still.
- The grandfather clock makes a clicking sound.
- Night does not fall as soon as Rosella finishes her first 2 tasks. It falls real-time, when clock shows 9:00
- The artifacts she exhumes from the graves don't appear in the holes
- Betty Cowden's ghost doesn't materialize until after she enter the room. It is already there (however she de-materializes when Rosella gives her the locket)
- The tree is specifically called the Tree of Life.
- In Lolotte's Castle, Rosella can reenter the dungeon cell (which actually triggers an easter egg, see below); in the SCI version the narration says that Rosella is not eager to see again her cell.
- When opening Pandora's Box the game switches to a cutscene in an extra screen enveloped in smoke showing Rosella opening the box (the Graham opening Genie's Bottle scene in KQ5 is somewhat reminiscent).
Apple IIGS versionEdit
- The door to the fisherman's shack, Dwarf's House, and other locations make creaking noises when opened.
- The unicorn whinnies.
- The parrots and/or swan squawks, and parrots tweets.
- Improved IIGS music.
- Some color variations compared to other AGI versions.
AGI Version 2.0 has three Easter eggs which were removed from later versions (2.2, 2.3, and 1.0K (Apple IIGS version)), never included in the SCI versions:
- At the copy protection screen, entering debug mode (alt-D) and typing 'pirate' will play a pirate tune and will show a relevant picture with the message "Your privileges to the game have been suspended because you are a pirate! "Yo ho ho!"
- After killing Lolotte and entering the dungeon where Rosella was kept earlier, and typing "rap kq" will make her dance, with the display of some rhymes:
We are the KQ4,
Now we're out the door!
The Bert wanted more,
We said, 'What For?!'
The game's already a sight to see,
We ship the most discs in history!
More changes keep coming from the Bert everyday,
But we just had to say 'No Way!'
She went to Rick with changes to make,
He said to her, 'Give us a break!'
She continues on an gave him lip,
Rick finally said 'But Bert, it's shipped!'
So we are the KQ4,
Pick up our book at your local store,
'Cuz now we're gone, there ain't no more!
- Outside the dungeon, typing "beam me up", will make Rosella teleport to a space station-like room with a viewport towards Earth and objects orbiting (like a PC or a hamburger). Several individuals are present. The player can 'look at men' to get an identification or 'talk to men' to see a comment from each of them. There is an exit at the south side, which returns Rosella to the point of the game she left.
The persons there are: Vu Nguyen, Chris Hoyt, John Hamilton, Teresa Baker, Sol Ackerman, Doug Oldfield, Ken Koch, Jim Heintz, Chane Fullmer,
- 2.0 (easter egg edition)
- 2.2 (no easter eggs)
- 2.3 (no easter eggs)
- 1.0K (Apple IIGS version, no easter eggs, improved sound)
- ↑ Narrator (KQ4SCI): This is not a humorous game, Rosella!